Test Your Knowledge: The Worst Cars of the 20th Century

By: Staff
Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Do you know why vehicles like the Edsel, Pinto and Reliant Robin make car lovers roll their eyes or respond with a knowing grin? Do friends turn to you for car-buying advice because you know how to tell a true classic from a real clunker? Sure, plenty of people know the automotive industry's best creations, but how much do you know about the vehicles at the bottom of the barrel?

It's no secret that Americans love their cars. And yet some of the same companies that produced legends like the Mustang and the Corvette also came out with some real rust buckets. For every reliable and beloved vehicle on the showroom floor, there's a lemon that left someone in the lurch.

There's a reason that cars like the Pinto, Reliant Robin, Yugo and Gremlin send chills down the spines of industry experts. From terrible three-wheeled design to ugly exteriors to a tendency to burst into flames, bad cars more than earn their bad reputations. Some are simply too slow to satisfy, while others spew emissions or conk out long before the loan is paid off.

Think you know why these cars rank low for car lovers? Take our quiz to find out!

The 1955 Dodge La Femme came with lots of accessories "designed with the ladies in mind!" Which of the following did NOT come with the car when you bought it new?

Child safety seats weren't invented until the 60s. But umbrellas, purses, lipstick, compact mirrors and much more did indeed come with the 1955 Dodge La Femme.

No one in 1955 was going to devote design time to building a car for women from the ground up. The Dodge La Femme was a feminized version of which car?

The Dodge Lancer was the basis for the La Femme, which was really more like a Lancer package option. The La Femme was upholstered in two shades of lavendar - "misty orchid" and "regal orchid" - to coordinate with its heather rose paint trim. Needless to say, with only 2,500 sold, it was universally considered a flop.

Between its debut as a concept in 1988 and its production in 1992, the Jaguar XJ220 saw a lot of innovations swapped out for more mundane parts and features. Which of these was NOT a compromise made by Jaguar along the way?

Nearly everything that people liked about the concept XJ220, including all-wheel steering, was scrapped for production. The result was many potential customers ejecting themselves from their purchase agreements, but that was never part of the original car concept.

Those who'd plunked down a $100,000 deposit in anticipation of the Jag XJ220 supercar were irked, to say the least, and refused to pay or take delivery. How did Jag respond to this public relations disaster?

Classy move, Jaguar.

When people think of the Edsel, they usually also think "Worst. Car. Ever." But most people don't even know why the Edsel was so terrible. Really, what was its worst sin?

If Ford had been straight with people and marketed this car as an inexpensive but distinctively designed (to put it nicely) car, people would have been cool. But Ford was all, "This is the most awesome car in the universe!" and then delivered it with parts missing. People were not cool.

When exactly did the monstrosity known as the Edsel make its skid mark on the automotive world?

Check out the front end of the Edsel. That's a lot of chrome -- in a kind of obscene shape. Ew.

Putting one over on the consumer is a long-standing automotive manufacturer cliché. Sort of like wearing a lampshade at the company party. But sometimes they really did try to pass off coal as diamonds. The Cadillac Cimarron, for example, was a poorly disguised:

Well, you know it wasn't a Corvette. The Cavalier was a terrible (but cheap) car on the market for many years. So why not slap some fancy Caddy bits on it and jack up the price? Lipstick, meet pig.

The Cadillac Cimarron was intended to compete with which imported autos?

Why the guys at GM thought this poor excuse for a Caddy could compete with German engineering in the early 1980s remains a mystery.

The DeLorean DMC-12 was a disaster at every step of its development and production. Creator John DeLorean was brought low by which 1980s cliché?

While the Iran-Contra Affair (1985 to 1987) is a reasonable guess, it came too late for DeLorean. The answer is a cocaine bust (in 1982). It's probably safe to assume feathered hair and large aviator sunglasses were present.

One of the DeLorean's coolest features was the gullwing doors. But, of course, they didn't always work. What was the worst part?

The DeLorean DMC-12 doors do indeed leak water, so you could maybe give yourself a pat on the back for that answer; however, being trapped inside a DeLorean when the electrical system fails and the doors can't open is far worse.

The Henry J is a nearly forgotten bucket-of-awful that came with two terrible engines. Which of these was NOT on the options list?

Come on, 110-horsepower? You've got to be kidding me. The Henry J would have rattled apart as you drove it if it had that much power, leaving you sitting in a seat with a disconnected steering wheel in your hands.

The Henry J was on the market for how long before it was humanely put down?

Well, you can't say they didn't give it a shot, letting this sad little thing drag along for 3 years.

The Ford Mustang II, in a misguided attempt at economy of scale, shared what with the Ford Pinto?

Because having a gas tank placed so that it explodes into a ball of fire worthy of an action movie is an excellent idea. Let's keep doing that.

The Ford Mustang is a much-loved muscle car. The Ford Mustang II is definitely not. How did the sequel end up with such a feeble engine?

The oil embargo also created the "econobox" movement in car design. Dark days.

The Eastern European Trabant had a body made of Duroplast, which did NOT have one of these ingredients. Which one?

Who needs metal in a car body, anyway? If you're worried about safety in a car crash, well, don't crash.

The Trabant also lacked which of these fancy parts?

Good plan. No one knows when you're stopping and then they rear end you -- right in the Duroplast.

The rotten rust-bucket known as the Chevy Vega was designed by:

Because everyone knows that when you want something done well, you should assign it to a committee who will bicker their way through the entire project and end up with something that everyone hates.

The Chevy Vega's engine performed which neat trick?

Who needs a head gasket, anyway? Oh, everyone? It's kind a crucial engine part? Hmmm. Guess we should have thought of that before we put it on the market, maybe.

Which figure in automotive history imported the godforsaken Yugo to America?

Musk built the Tesla, Chinetti imported Ferraris, and Bricklin … well, he built a terrible Canadian sports car. And imported Yugos.

The Yugo was built in which Soviet-era country?

Obviously. And it could be argued that the country dissolved in shame after this car became known to the rest of the world. Or, you know, the fall of the Soviet Union happened. One or the other.

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