There are many, many worthy contenders for the title of worst car ever to be sold in the UK – it isn’t something you can decide easily. When you also consider that in general car development has come a long way over the years, a bad car by modern standards might not necessarily be that awful compared to one from the 1980s. But then again, does that make it even worse when manufacturers horrendously miss the mark in this day and age?
Personal taste and prejudice will always come into it when picking the worst cars ever sold so here at Auto Express we’ve used the tried-and-tested approach to delivering our top 10 worst cars by leaving it up to you, our readers.. We assembled a shortlist and your votes in the resulting poll have determined which really are the worst of the worst.
Truth be told, time sorts the men from the boys and exposes the truly rubbish from the merely mediocre. While there are cars from yesteryear that may have appeared fine for the time, looking back now it is easy to realise just how bad some of these were. There are, of course, some models which were horrendous from the get go, providing marques with a reputation which could hang over them for decades to come.
How the worst cars are made
These days, car manufacturers spend millions on vehicle research and development to ensure that it’s nearly impossible to produce a bad car. Focus groups let firms know what buyers want, and regular planning meetings help to ensure that every department, from engines and chassis to design and marketing, is ‘on message’.
Once a new car is in development, it will be benchmarked against its key rivals to ensure that it can match and preferably beat what’s already being sold. With all of these things in place, a car manufacturer really will have tripped up quite badly if it manages to produce a total dud.
However, it hasn’t always been like this. In the past, it seemed like some manufacturers had a ‘suck it and see’ approach to launching a new model. Some cars probably had good feedback when released as a concept, yet the final production model was so badly executed that it destroyed the goodwill of any car buyers who may have been tempted to buy it.
Then you have the badge-engineered models. Some of these try and add polish to an already ageing design with half-baked upgrades – they tend to be prime ‘worst car’ candidates. And so do efforts where one maker simply takes the fruits of another firm’s labours and slaps different badges on it – the end result often falls short of expectations. Finally you have cars that come about as the result of ungodly partnerships between makers that probably seemed like a good idea at the time but clearly weren’t.
And finally, of course, there was the Seventies. Back then, the UK car industry was lucky if it got a whole working week out of its staff, as they regularly stopped short at the factory gates to set up a picket and go on strike instead. And yet the quality of the cars that were built was so poor, it makes you wonder why anybody bothered turning up for work in the first place.
Choosing the worst of the worst
Taking all of these worst car categories into account, We picked 18 woeful wonders from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s – it seems these decades were ripe for roadgoing rubbish – and readers voted for the best of the worst in our online poll. A total of 4,782 votes were cast on that poll between those 18 cars and the ten with the highest votes make up our list.
Models that just missed the final 10 included crummy convertibles such as the leaky Citroen C3 Pluriel, the creaky Nissan Micra C+C and the pointless Suzuki X-90, while the latter also scored a miss for the 4×4 class, alongside the politically incorrect Hummer H2. The sliding door-equipped Peugeot 1007 was shut out of our top 10, while the Lada Riva, Kia Pride and Perodua Nippa were all beasts from the East that weren’t even bad enough to make the final ranking.
So which models were the worst, as voted for by our readers? The links below reveal all!