Do You Know These Auto Flops from the '70s & '80s?


By: Staff Author

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Why do cars flop?

Well, that is certainly something that is difficult to put a finger on. There are a few main reasons that you can first check, however. 

Firstly, styling. If it's ugly, it is just not going to sell. And many cars have had that problem. Think of the Fiat Multipla. It's very ugly. Who wants to be seen in that? And looking back a couple of decades ago, no one wanted to drive an ugly car. 

Secondly, reliability. Or should we say a lack thereof? A car has got to get you from A to B, a million times over. And hopefully, it doesn't break along the way. Auto flops through the history of time, if they are not ugly, are unreliable. Nobody, but nobody, wants a car that is at a mechanic more than it is on the driveway outside. 

There are other factors, but certainly, those are the most important ... styling and reliability. 

And onto our quiz. We have lined up a number of flops from the '70s and '80s for you to try and identify, all from just a few clues. Some are easy and others are fairly obscure, so you will have to take your time.

But, you got this!

Good luck. 

Let's start with a vehicle with an odd-looking vehicle with a chopped-off back. It made Time Magazine's list of 50 worst cars ever made.

Voted by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time, the Germlin was ugly. Essentially a shortened AMC Hornet, the Gremlin used vacuum-operated wipers, didn't have disc brakes or use radial tires. It wasn't very well-received.


Although it was off to a good start, owners of this vehicle soon found it was poorly built, unreliable and rusted. A poor effort from one of America's most trusted car makers.

Built by Chevy as competition for the Ford Pinto, the Vega seemed to be a hit, winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1971. Soon, however, owners found out that had some problems with reliability, safety, poor engine quality and was liable to rust ... a lot! It was even dubbed a "sloppily crafted, unreliable and unsafe automobile" by the Center for Auto Safety.


Although popular, this vehicle had a tendency to catch fire in accidents. Which of these below is it?

Although the budget-friendly Ford Pinto sold well, it had a terrible secret. Thanks to the placement of its fuel tank behind the rear axle, the Pinto was a real fire hazard in a rear impact collision. Ford only fixed the problem from 1976 onward and paid some out-of-court settlements instead of recall. When this was found out, they were forced to recall the Pintos anyway and fix the problem.


When GM downsized their E-body luxury cars in 1986 sales dropped significantly. Identify a model that this happened to from those below.

Experts believe sales of the Cadillac Eldorado were as as result of GM downsizing the cars and making them similar to entry level models.


Gull-wing doors, an interesting design, built from aluminum. It had the potential to be an amazing car. It wasn't thanks to its poor engine and the company soon folded. What car are we talking about?

The dream of John DeLorean, the DMC-12 had its 5 minutes of fame thanks to the Back to the Future movies. It remained a terrible car with sluggish performance and was only produced for a year before the company went bankrupt.


Based on a car built in the 1940s, the Minor, this vehicle was just terrible! What is it?

Marketed between 1972 and 1980, the Morris Marina was nothing special. Technically, it was based on the Morris Minor, a car that was first developed in the 1940s. It was poorly built, performed poorly and handled like a brick.


If you watch Mr. Bean, you would see this car flip on its side often. Name this three-wheeler, please.

The Reliant Robin was first released in 1973. A three-wheeler, it was made from fiberglass and loved tipping over. It was known as the 'Plastic Pig'.


Can you name this 1970s British auto flop, please.

Recognized as very ugly, the Austin Allegro had nothing going for it in terms of build quality either. Most car pundits continue to rank it as one of the worst cars ever.


This one might surprise you, but in all honesty, it let its mighty forefather down, mostly due to under-powered engine options. Which car are we talking about?

OK, it wasn't the Mustang II's fault that today it is considered an auto flop. Due to the oil crisis in the '70s, 'Stangs now came with under-powered four- and six-cylinder engines. For many, that was a no-no after the success of the V8-powered first generation.


Although it received its five minutes of fame thanks to "Wayne's World," this vehicle was terrible. Tell us what it is, please.

Although it received some fame for appearing in the cult slacker comedy 'Wayne's World' at the time of its release, the AMC Pacer was not well received. Since then it has become an entry on Forbes' Worst Cars of All Time list, among others.


Gull-wing doors ... check. A decent look ... check. Named after the company owner ... warning light flashing. Not enough money to actually produce a number of models ... flop! Just which of these are we talking about?

The Bricklin SV-1 was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin. Simply put, there was never enough money to see the project off the ground properly, and although a few cars were made, they did not generate enough revenue for the project to continue.


Panned for its looks, this vehicle helped bring about the demise of a British car manufacturer.

With its strange looks, the Triumph TR7 was off on the wrong wheel ... umm, foot from the beginning. The TR7 features on the Time Magazine's 50 Worst Cars of all Time list.


Another entry on Time Magazine's 50 Worst Cars list, this American model was poorly built, among other problems.

As one of Chevrolet's most successful brands, the Chevelle was produced over two decades between 1963 and 1978. It included a variety of body options including station wagons, convertibles, coupes and sedans. Truth is, this wasn't a very good car, despite decent sales.


A European entry for auto flop of the 1970s, can you name this car, built in Poland and generally regarded as one of the worst cars ever?

The first Polish car not based on anything else, the FSO Polonez was a three-door hatchback which not only broke down, but had a tendency to break apart in an accident. You see, it may have been made of steel but it was the thinnest steel possible. Unbelievably, this horrible car was built from 1978 till 2002.


How did this get in flops from the '70s and '80s you might say ... well, a terribly under-powered engine in a car that never had that problem before. Which model are we talking about?

Emission laws in California saw the 1980 model of the Chevrolet Corvette 305 only fitted with a small-block V8 that only produced 180 brake horsepower. It didn't help that it was coupled to a 3-speed automatic gearbox. Another car on Time's 50 Worst Cars of All Time.


Although it was a Car of the Year on release, this vehicle was a junk pile. So much so that it was discontinued after five years. Can you identify it?

Another Chevrolet, another problem, it seems. 1980's Motor Trend Car of the Year was discontinued just five years later. Why? The Citation was poorly built and suffered with terrible rear brakes. Soon, buyers just steered well clear of the model.


Not so much any model but any model featuring a certain terrible engine. Can you guess which one below it might have been paired to?

The Cadillac V8-6-4 engine went into a number of Caddy models including the DeVille in 1981. It featured a revolutionary feature where cylinders were deactivated when cruising as a fuel saving measure. The problem is they never reactivated quick enough, leaving an under-performing mess...


This European car was produced between 1981 and 1994. It was horribly unreliable. Point it out from the list below, please.

Literally anything that could burn, break, fall off or snap did on the Maserati Biturbo. Oh, and it was ugly.


A European car, the American version of which was an absolute dud. Can you name it?

Let's start with the styling. 'A walrus with gas' is what Car and Driver called the Fuego. And then their was the issue of reliability. It just wasn't. And when it did break, parts were few and far between to fix it. A flop indeed.


This was an attempt at a small car by a car maker that just didn't do small. It didn't work out well. Identify the car, please.

A small Cadillac? Well, that was doomed to failure, was it not? Introduced in 1982, this fuel-friendly model only lasted six years as it was not very well received.


A sports car with influence from Maserati. What could go wrong? Lots, apparently. Of these cars below, which are we speaking about.

The Chrysler TC was designed with the help of Maserati. Essentially, it was a higher priced LeBaron with a few minor changes. It was lambasted!


A joint project between American Motor Corporation and Renault led to this flop. Any idea what it is?

The Eagle Premier was also sold as the Dodge Monaco but essentially Chrysler was behind this flop after buying out American Motor Corporation. So bland, it just didn't sell.


This was essentially a Rover 800 (which was an Acura Legend) but for the US market, hence a new name. It didn't help. It didn't sell.

It didn't sell because it was competing against itself in the Acura Legend. What genius thought this plan out? It wasn't as well made either and unreliable to boot. Three strikes and it was out!


This two-door convertible roadster was meant to compete with Mercedes and Jaguar. It didn't. Name it, please.

Only 21,000 of this two-door convertible roadster were sold between 1987 and 1993. It was built to compete with two-door convertibles of other brands, particularly Mercedes and Jaguar. The Allante had three powerplant options ranging from 4.1 to 4.5 liters, all of them V8s.


When General Motors updated their E-body luxury cars in 1986, sales of this car plummeted. What was it?

Unbelievable, sales of the Buick Riviera dropped 87% when General Motors made the change. Experts believe this was a result of GM downsizing the cars and making them similar to entry-level models.


Although it is roundly panned by all and sundry, this vehicle still sold very well in the United States. Weird.

Rubbish looks, rubbish reliability. That about sums about the Yugo. Strangely, over 140,000 were sold in the United States in the 1980s.


It wasn't pretty and it wasn't a hit then. Now, however, apparently there is a demand. What car are we referring to?

Produced into the late '70s, the Ami from Citroen was fairly hideous! Looking like it was designed when a high wind was blowing, the Ami had a large slant from the right to left. Apparently, they are in demand today. There is no accounting for taste, is there?


An electric wedge of cheese. That's the best way to describe this umm, "interesting" car. Designed for city use, thanks to its low range, can you name it?

Released in 1974, the Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar is ... let's try to be nice here ... interesting. This electric car was released during the oil crisis but let's be honest, it looks like a wedge of cheese.


Micro-cars, you either love them or hate them. Not many people loved a British model from the 1970s. Any idea what it was called?

Micro-cars are fun, normally. The Bond Bug is just terrible to look at. First produced in 1974, the Bug looks like something you might want to squish with your shoe.


Engine fires, that was the main problem with our next flop. Strange, the name suited it.

Although it sold well, reliability and engine fires (that would be a big problem then) saw the Fiero quickly become a flop.


A car brand with a history of unreliability and a long line of fans who just love them. Strange world indeed. What auto maker and model are we talking about?

The Arna was a joint venture between Alfa Romeo and Nissan. Promising start. But it all ends there. This was a Nissan Cherry that Alfa bolted a few extras on. It was not a hit at all! Only three still exist in the United Kingdom.


You wouldn't expect this car maker to have a flop, but they did. Who and what model are we referring to?

OK, Rolls Royce cars are expensive so sales are not like a run of the mill sedan. But only 531 Camargues sold over an 11-year period. This was because people didn't like the styling essentially. Oh and its price was greatly inflated. An attempt to entice younger buyers had failed.


This sports car came EIGHT years after the prototype. By that time, potential buyers had moved on and it was a failure.

Vector wanted to produce a sports car that was affordable for Americans. Great idea, but don't then take eight years to build one. Also don't ask $500,000, that's not affordable. Only 22 cars were ever built.


A two-seat British sports car should be fun! This was a lemon thanks to its terrible V8 engine. Name it, please.

The V8 engine in the Stag was terrible. It had aluminium heads that warped, the time chains broke and water pumps packed up for no reason A '70s flop.


Although it made a strong start, one of these cars below quickly was shown to be a rust bucket in the making. Can you name it?

The Alliance was marketed by Renault in the United States and started off well with impressive sales. It was, however, poorly built and unreliable and soon, sales dropped significantly as customers caught on.


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