The American automobile industry is a testament to the history of industrial innovation. Historians will tell you that over 120 years of automobile production have yielded both highly successful cars and some that were real dogs. Want to know more? Sit back, relax, and take a look at some of the worst.
1955 Dodge La Femme
Apparently someone at Chrysler Corporation felt that the women of the world needed their own car. And this realization was the start of the design process that gave the world the Dodge LaFemme. Released in 1955, the LaFemme came in pink and white, just the right color for women worldwide. The car was essentially just the same as the Dodge Royal Lancer but spruced up with feminine touches. It also had sick pink seats and matching purse. Unfortunately, the pink and white womens-mobile didn’t sell too well. It was only on the market for around two years.
1971 Chevrolet Vega
One of General Motors most famous blunders was the 1971 Chevy Vega. Apparently, the engine of this car was a radical new design. Our technical advisor at Miller Honda (Winchester, VA) helped us with the details. Apparently aluminum block engines have cast iron cylinder sleeves for the pistons to ride up and down in. The Vega engineers, however, developed a “superior” method that involved additives to the aluminum casting that made the cast iron cylinder sleeves unnecessary. Problem was that it didn’t work and Vegas quickly developed a reputation of burning oil at ferocious rates. Plus, the engine would also heat to such a high temperature that it would break down the head gasket.
1974 Mustang II
Few people are unaware of the remarkable success of the Ford Mustang. Released in 1965, the Mustang took the auto industry by storm and made Lee Iacocca a household name. By the end of its run in 1973, Ford had sold almost 4 million first generation Mustangs. And then along came the second generation.
The second iteration of the Mustang was much like the sequel to many famed movies—Jaws II, Highlander II, Dumb and Dumber To – pretty lame. In essence, the car was a redesigned Pinto, a car that developed a nasty reputation of bursting into flames if the rear was struck in a collision. Also, uncharacteristically of Mustang, the car had very little power. Ford had decided that low-power, economy cars were the wave of the future.
1976 Chevy Chevette
After the devastating Arab oil embargo of 1974, Detroit switched to making smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles quickly. It was under this mindset that the the Chevy Chevette was developed. While the Chevette was a cute, little car to drive, it lacked a few things, such as any sort of meaningful horsepower. The Chevette had 51 horsepower, which gave it the acceleration of your average lawnmower. It was also unusually loud. Some said the engineers were probably trying to get back at Chevy for unreasonable working hours and too little vacation time.