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"Worst Cars" list


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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">My list of icky cars might inculde the Chevy Cavalier, the Eagle Premiere, Dodge Dynasty, early Hyundais, Renault Dauphine, and Datsun B210. </div></div>

A friend e-mailed me to suggest a really bad car that no one had mentioned yet - the 70's vintage Monza (not the Corvair of the same name); he referred to it as "a Vega in drag."

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Stephen, A Monza? The perfect "first" car! Bought my oldest son one back in '89, $350.00 running. Great little car, didn't burn any oil, hardly any gas, but it hated soybean fields. Seems young son was demonstrating his driving skills on a back road and the bean field got in the way. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> Drove the old beater home. I swear the wheels were wobbling. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> We checked it over and everything still seemed to work. He always had a friend with him, the navigator. I told the boy he should go back to navigator school after the field excusion. Anyway, I get a phone call from navigator's Dad, wants to know when I'm going to buy my boy a decent car since the right door on the Monza had a tendency to open on hard left turns. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> I say, "Hey, it's got seatbelts, besides, what fool would buy a newly licenced driver a newer decent car to run into beanfields with?" Nav's Dad wasn't happy, but he wasn't paying the bills. Actually he was in the Body Shop business! So, this is the lesson learned long ago by me putting young people on the highway.... Buy them the cheapest thing you can find that runs and pray they don't run over YOU before they learn how to drive. MONZA"S Forever!!!! <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The Monza, Skyhawk, Starfire and the Pontiac Sunbird were all the same car. </div></div>

I was aware that the Sunbird was also an H-body, but my recollection was that it did not so closely resemble the Monza as did the other two (Skyhawk & Starfire Firenza).

I would concede that from the standpoint of styling & aerodynamics, the Monza was ahead of its time, for sure.

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The Monza??

I remember back in 1980 my dad and I were at Hershey for the fall meet and we were camped out in the back of the truck in what is now the White Field. I can remember the one night we're sleeping in the back of the truck and heard a loud tire screeching and then a BANG!! We both woke up, to find a brand new Monza with the whole side smashed in that was hit by a pickup pulling into what is now the White Field. When the guy got out of the Monza he was yelling "you dumb S.O.B. this is a brand new car and I haven't been home with this yet!" Everytime I see a dark blue metallic Monza with the turbine style hubcaps painted in the body color, I still remember that night I got woke up while sleeping in the back, and waking up to see a brand new car with the whole side pushed in.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I was aware that the Sunbird was also an H-body, but my recollection was that it did not so closely resemble the Monza as did the other two (Skyhawk & Starfire Firenza). </div></div>

Depends on which Monza you're talking about! (The non-Chevy version images here are from the Monza Clones Homepage.).

78whitesunbirdformula.jpg

Sunbird

80monza.jpg

Monza

rschruefers78blackfirenza.jpg

Firenza

77whiteBuickSkyhawk.jpg

Skyhawk

The Monza and Sunbird were additionally available as notchback coupes:

MarcoGigliosSunbird.jpg76PontiacSunbirdCoupe.gif

Sunbird

monza01.jpg

Monza

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Dave, The Blue notchback coupe was like my son's, except dark blue..faded to light. <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> The interior plastic door panels were deterioating(SIC) like termites had gotten to them. Can't imagine why we put up with cars like that in those days! Oh, yeh, mine was cheap, I forgot! <img src="http://www.aaca.org/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Wayne

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Speaking of Monzas, how many people remember the ones with the 305 V8 in them?? </div></div>

<span style="font-weight: bold">Everybody</span> who ever had to change the rear plugs! shocked.giftongue.giflaugh.giflaugh.gif

BTW--The one Monza picture is of a car in Germany, I think it was from someone's personal history web site. It's amazing what you can find when doing an image search in Yahoo! icon28.gifgrin.gif

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  • 16 years later...

In 1980 my wife and I purchased a new 1980 Chevrolet Monza.  That car was a horror on wheels to control on the road!  It was heavy, had a narrow track, and a relatively long wheelbase....and it came with bias ply tires.  Driving in the rain, going around a corner, climbing a hill -- it was a miracle that the car stayed on the road!

 

So, the first thing I did was go out and purchase a good set of radial tires (radial tires were a new item in those days, but they had a good reputation so far).  And THAT did the trick!  The Monza was much easier to handle with the new radials, but considering the narrow track, long wheelbase, and the unusually heavy weight it was still a challenge to keep it under comfortable control going down the road.

 

In a way, although this was the most "dangerous" car I ever owned, it helped me hone my driving skills better than I would have with an easier car to control.

 

After a couple of years I was able to drive confidently even on black ice (we usually had/still have a lot of black ice on Route 80 in NJ).  It got so that I could control that car in deep snow, rain, ice, sleet....you name it.  I managed to rack up 169,000 miles on her before letting her go.

Edited by John Donlan (see edit history)
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Holy Thread Resurrection Batman!  This one was dormant for 16 years, must be a record!  
 

Worst car ever = AMC Pacer.  My dad received one as a wedding present from his in-laws (yes, a bit of foreshadowing) and that car was awful.  We went on a road trip from Bisbee, AZ to Cheyenne WY and the car died about every 5 miles. Took 3 days to get there. He replaced everything from the carb to gas cap.  Finally ran right but it was awful.  He spent more on the fuel system replacement than the car was worth new. 

Edited by AURktman (see edit history)
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My wife bought a 78 Chev Monza as her first car before we got married.  4 cyl, AT, PS, Air, etc.  That thing would not get out of its own way.  Between that, stupid stuff breaking, and people running into it for no apparent reason, we were happy to see it gone.  Owned and nursed that thing along for 5 years.  

 

The most annoying thing (aside from being able to out run it up a hill on foot) was the front end would not stay in line.  It ate tires like nothing I ever saw.  Best front end shop I could find told me that the structure just was not sound enough and would get tweaked when it got bumped.  

 

Whatta POS that car was.  

 

 

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I had a girlfriend in HS that had a chevette. Nothing to write home about but that thing would take a beating. I have had pretty good luck with cars. My older brother bought a Triumph Spitfire new, last year of production I believe. Around '79, '80 maybe. WHEN it ran it was a fun little car, but it had problems from day one. After a year he got tired of the issues and traded it in. It literally caught fire on the way to the dealer. He called them to call off the deal, the response he got back was to get the car to them by any means that they had already sold it sight unseen!! I suppose in a bit of irony, he traded it for a Cutlass diesel. It was a later model not a converted and ran great, and had all kinds of power. But the stigma was there and he could hardly give it away when he was ready to move it on.

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I worked for a chevy dealer in 86-87. I remember the chevettes very well. A neighbor lady bought a 79 new....Underpowered with a tiny gas pedal and the goofy steering column that was canted towards the drivers door. I guess engine frame clearance issues?.  Even worse was the Chevy Sprint (Suzuki) 3 cylinder. It wouldnt get out of its own way with a automatic......

Edited by Delco32V (see edit history)
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7 hours ago, TAKerry said:

I had a girlfriend in HS that had a chevette. Nothing to write home about but that thing would take a beating.

 

A man I know bought a new Chevette in 1980,

and used it for 19 years as his regular car.

 

A low-income friend from a local trailer park?

No, he has a 17-bedroom house on 500 acres.

He's a mechanical engineer and is just modest.

 

"Why buy a new car when the old one still works?"

He must have had a very good experience with

that little car.

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Vega and Pinto are the only cars in the >15-years-old OP I have experienced.  The Vega didn't like to start in cold weather and cracked the head once (fixed under warranty).  Otherwise, it was a decent little economy car.  I never owned a Pinto although family members did.  They also were decent little economy cars, course they never got rear-ended.  🤣

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With the V8 in the Sunbird I also found A Lot of braces and struts that did not come with the 4 cyl. Also had a dished flywheel I've never seen anywhere else and an improbably big radiator. Saginaw 4-speed had a torque (is it a tube if flat ?) thingie to the G80 Posi, never experiences any wheel hop. Over the years I broke or cracked everything possible (even punched the clutch assembly through the firewall once) but other than an appetite for oil and plugs the SBC never gave any trouble. 

 

Autocrossed weekly for several years and used to crack the hub on a 13x6 Vega GT wheel (right front) every week. Fortunately were many available for $5.

Won nearly every time it went out (never faded a set of disks before) unless the driver screwed up, just a perfect car for SCCA Solo II F/S, gave B/S Porches fits.

Twice Florida state champ, SouEastern div SCCA champ, ordered & optioned specifically for autocrossing and worked improbably well.

 

ps also had several Vega GTs and an Astre Wagon - with AC you got a real radiator. H bodies were great for a squirrel.

 

2intx.jpg

 

 

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On 6/16/2004 at 6:58 PM, ex98thdrill said:

That Monza that got smashed at Hershey many moons ago was a notchback. Speaking of Monzas, how many people remember the ones with the 305 V8 in them??

I had one, along with many, many others of this design. I can't recall at this point what GM body designation they had anymore. I bought and sold a lot of them in the eighties. I thought that they were nice enough at the time. I think that a lot of Detroit's output in the '70s was what we might consider "disposable". I also owned, and sold, a lot of Dusters, Aspens and Volares. Looking back, I think I liked them the best. Later, a lot of the crappy Citations (were they called "X" bodies?) and their cousins passed through my hands. I avoided Pintos, but had a couple of Mavericks.

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3 hours ago, CHuDWah said:

Vega and Pinto are the only cars in the >15-years-old OP I have experienced.  The Vega didn't like to start in cold weather and cracked the head once (fixed under warranty).  Otherwise, it was a decent little economy car.  I never owned a Pinto although family members did.  They also were decent little economy cars, course they never got rear-ended.  🤣


My parents had both of those, my mom had a 71 hatchback from 81-83 (motor blew at 60k-ish) and my dad had a 74 Pinto new, bought in Denver.  It didn’t make it home to Cheyenne at first, apparently they never put oil in after it was delivered to Denver.  It locked up around Wellington on I-25. They put a new engine at no charge (they had some in stock apparently) and he drove it home the next day.  He actually really liked that car, my mom sold her 64 Galaxie 500 convertible and he sold his 67 Galaxie 4 door sedan to buy it.
 

Yeah...  I cried about that too.  
 

I still want a 71 Vega hatchback, I did like that car.  

Edited by AURktman (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, nickelroadster said:

It seems like the Vegas, Monzas and Pintos started a run of really bad cars that went through the eighties.  these cars had really shaky engineering in many places that just tried to save too much money for the car makers.


They were trying to compete with the Datsun and Honda cars which were taking over the small market.  GM/Ford/MOPAR were used to developing large cars and trucks, not the ultra compacts. Between the oil embargo, emissions, and the focus on crashworthiness, I couldn’t imagine being an engineer at one of the big 3 in the mid-late 70’s.  The stress had to be incredible on the compact engineers. 

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Certainly the 10 cars on the list deserve to be there; many times over.  But only naming 10; lets a a lot of cars get away. 

 

From experience, I would like to name another one for Dishonorable Mention. 

 

The early first generation Ford Escort. mainly the 1981 and 1982. 

 

Head gaskets, camshafts, and most importantly cracked heads.  I happened to be a technician at a Ford Dealer, when this Piece of $hit came onto the market. Every one of them, had Milk Chocolate oil running through the engine.  

They were so bad that the Fly-by Night extended warranty company that the dealer sold at time of purchase; would give the customer their money back, for the warranty; when the car came in needing a new head. Yeh, How about that.  You paid for a warranty; but when You tried to use it for a new Escort head; the Warranty company found a clause in the very small print, that allowed them just to give the customer's money back for the warranty. They just had too many claims. Probably would not fly, in  the courts today.  And best of all, the dealership's owner was a Preacher.  The family had some kind of congregation.

 

The cracking head problem was fixed in subsequent, later years. 

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To me,  Cadillacs are large, luxurious cars with powerful torque monster engines. They sure unleashed some doggies back in the ‘80s . HT4100 🤬. And whatever is a Catera, not to mention Cimarron.    -   CC 

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I remember how modern and up to date I felt back in about 1986 when I bought my first really low mileage car that was less than 4 years old: a 1984 Renault Alliance. Or maybe it was an '83. The pretty girl I was dating at the time was impressed with that car. She and other girls tended to think it was "cute." It seemed rather foreign when compared to small American cars of equivalent flimsiness, such as Chevettes or Pintos. And it won Motor Trend's car of the year award about that time, as well.

 

It turns out that all of the above impressions were as wrong as could be. Never were so many people wrong about a car. Completely unreliable, among many other negative things. Even twenty years ago it had been many years since I'd seen a running and driving Alliance on the streets.

 

It was the first car I owned that smelled like a new car, though. That meant a lot to me back then.

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My brother n law bought 2 brand new cars at the same time. A 72 Gran Torino (which i later owned and still regret selling) and a 72 Pinto. The pinto was his daily driver. Manual with a hatch back. He ran that thing for years, but he also kept it well maintained. He talked my dad into getting my sister one when the time came. Hers was a little newer, maybe 74sh. That car was a good little runner too. UNTIL my brother and his buddies were doing donuts in the snow covered parking lot and removed the oil pan on a parking block!  My other brother bought a pinto wagon-woodie- with a v6. That car was a POS. Spent more time in the shop than on the road.

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Although improbable, my lifelong love of all things automobile began with a Chevette. I don't know the exact date, but I suspect it was Christmas 1985. On that life altering day, I was given a 1/64 version of a Chevette and a Honda Civic, but the Chevette was green...always my favorite color. I was born in October 1984...I don't remember ever not having these cars, and the first picture of me holding a car was from 1986, so in all likelihood it was Christmas '85. It would lead to lead me to collecting diecast replicas (still do...over 10 thousand now in my collection), attending car shows, building models, etc. It led to 95% of all the friends I have. Being a car nut and a collector of many various things all started there...it pretty much defined my life. While I still have my original, I bought a sealed copy on eBay last year to hang on my wall. 

 

I have not seen an actual Chevette at a car show ever...I have not seen any driving on the roads since the 1990s. I don't even have any photos of any. 

 

While looking for the new copy of the diecast I did a general search for Chevettes on eBay. There was not a single one listed at that time. To put it in perspective, I've seen two Tucker, two Yugos, and over 200 other brands of car...but no Chevettes. I don't know if they were poorly made or just no one cared enough to save them. 

 

As for rust issues, our 1990 Ford Aerostar was the worst. It was a regular occurrence to go out every morning on the way to school and find parts of it laying in the driveway, having rusted off sometime overnight. It only ever seemed to happen overnight, although I know it did lose parts while driving as well. One time we hit a pothole on the Taconic Parkway and the headlight came out. It was not very well made, and gave us a lot of problems, but it was also my favorite vehicle that we've ever had as well. 

 

Overall the most frustrating experience we've had was with our 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Always something going wrong on it. Would fix it and it would have somthing else go wrong in a matter of days. Hasn't run since 2015 but I can't let it go, it was the first vehicle I ever had a say in my family getting in my life. Near the end we wouldn't take it any farther than we could walk home from, since we had to so often.

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a) "GM/Ford/MOPAR were used to developing large cars" like Falcon, Corvair, and Valliant

b) "whatever is a Catera" Big Opel. Second car in right column of my .sig is a CTS (Catera Touring Sedan). "V" is one of the fastest American cars.

c) Vega/Monza/Astre/Sunbird/Skyhawk/Starfire were RWD "H" bodies. Were followed (1981) by FWD "X" bodies: Citation, Phoenix, etc. Fiero had a Phoenix drivetrain stuffed in rear including the steering tie rods. I had many of these just like two-seaters better.

Do find that many cars the market considers "lemons" often just have a minor (often stupid - could go on for a ways about why the Vega (base radiator) or Fiero (84 oil capacity) were considered duds but can be summed up in two words. Bean Counters) and fixable issue.

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I had a 1973 Mustang V-8 followed by a 1975 or 76 Mercury Monarch as company cars.  Both were dogs.  The Mustang routinely broke down (carb could not handle early emissions equipt.) One day I was out with my boss in his Mercury Comet when he gave out a loud "Oh s***!"); seems the needle fell off the gas gauge.  I had the Monarch about two weeks when it needed major front end repairs...seems the power steering pump leaked like a sieve and destroyed the bushings.  Waited 6 weeks to get a new PS pump and then another two weeks to get it back together. The Monarch refused to run in cold weather. One morning I let it warm up about 10 minutes, while I scraped ice off the windows.  Put it in gear, backed up two feet and it stalled.  The process continued for about 100 feet when I had enough. I got it in a parking stall. Jumped in my 1959 AH 100-6 which started right up and drove off to work.  I also had a Pontiac Sunbird hatchback with the "Iron Duke" 4 banger.  Not a bad car, just not made well. I also endured one of the last Saab 900S two-doors. By then, the legendary build quality was only legendary.  The dealer's service manager and I became quite good friends.

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On 6/9/2004 at 3:03 PM, Stephen Lyons said:

I will nominate Chrysler's K-cars...

**************************************

I'd defend the K-cars. As a pioneering front wheel drive platform, it saved Chrysler's ass, especially when it proved flexible enough to serve as the basis for the minivan, among other profitable models. Were they great? That'd be a hard case to make. But they were, by 1980's standards, more than good enough in the market segment in which they competed. They had no glaring durability or safety issues, and their quality, while wanting by today's standards, was certainly a great leap forward from the likes of the Aspen/Volare.

Certain aspects of the K-car actually reflect excellent engineering. The 2.2 liter engine is a very easily manufactured design, & yet is capable of being reliably tweaked to upwards of 300 hp fairly easily (the street tuner crowd is well aware of this).

The first year, the 'Horrible-izon'' used the 1.7? volkswagen engine, that was a good little car. About that same time they had the Mitsubishi Colt, that thing was bulletproof.

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