Top 10 Scary Cars


It’s that time of year: The weather’s getting colder, leaves are changing, college football is on TV and that scariest of holidays is fast-approaching. To celebrate, enlisted the help of Car Talk's Tom and Ray Magliozzi to give us their Top 10 Scary Cars of all time. Now, this list doesn’t feature any otherwordly cars out of a Stephen King novel. These are real cars that, for one reason or another, legitimately sent chills down the spines of drivers, passengers and onlookers — like the 1971 Ford Pinto shown here. To find out why it and the other nine made the list, go here.   

By David Thomas | October 5, 2006 | Comments (103)


Actually, I have a valid theory that the Pontiac Aztec was a repurpose of the LeMans econobox design. Take a good hard look, familiar? Coincidence? I don't think so.


How about the Vega? Scary for mechanics who had to replace failed engines multiple times. Same goes for several early 80's GM diesel vehicles. I actually liked my old Festiva; it was nimble enough to AVOID danger and had no trouble doing 80+ on the freeway to keep up with traffic. The only thing smaller I owned was a '70 Honda N600. THAT car was scary.

Craig Bennett

Scary! I'll tell you scary...A 1973 AMC Gremlin off the showroom floor. This car was basically a chopping block special it had no back end and with no weight back would jump around like a frog with a hot foot! Even with the standard 6 cylinder engine, it was overpowered and in the winter....forget about it...even 50 lbs of kitty litter couldn't save it. In the rain, the brakes would fail, you had to try to use precognition to predict when a stop was about to occur and pre-dry the breaks by stomping repeatedly on them. During the spring floods in 1974, I crested over a little hill next to the river and where a small stream had once was now a lake...I slammed on the breaks guessed it.....a gyser of water came up over the hood...and water started to flood the cabin through the cracks in the doors...I climbed out through the window, waded ashore ruining my new Hush Puppy Dessert boots and joined numerous other drivers who could stop and were admiring my year one (plus a few days) the rust started to appear and spread like a year two the doors started to sag so that you had to lift them up to open and close them. I had my gascap stolen (probably for the cute gremlin emblem) so many times by drunk students, I kept AMC going an additional year buying replacements, During the rain the sparkplug wires would fail...nothing that a new set every two or thee months wouldn't fix....I barely got it over 80K when it got really hard to start...sensing the end...I got a new Toyota Tercel...A friend and I jump started the ole Gremlin after it sat on the street for a month or two, fittingly a small maple tree had started to grow out of the "soil" accumulating in the giant hole over my right front fender. As I drove to the junk yard watching the maple leaves flap in the wind I mused over all the "great" times I had had it this piece of junk. As I rolled up the owner rushed out and screamed ....don't stop it! Handed me 50 bucks....took my registration and I watched as he drove towards the crusher....I've never looked back and have never bought an American car since. As you can see there is a good reason why AMC isn't around is called the Gremlin

Crash Gordon

I owned a 1978 Ford Pinto for a year and a half.
Despite having no dash lights, having a carburetor that ran rich no matter how you adjusted it, and using a quart of oil a week, it was as reliable a car as I have ever owned. It always started, never broke down, and rarely needed more than routine maintenance. At the time the car was in its early 20's, with an odometer reading in the 80K range and having been turned over once already.
I got this car for free, and I got every penny out of it! Thinking it was worthless and was going to just die on me some day, I acted like nothing I did to it mattered. I drove it hard. HARD. I confess to abusing this vehicle to my heart's content. Over-revving it, doing full-throttle bursts from the green lights to 35 and 40 mph in first gear, holding it for miles at top end in 4th (top gear) on the freeway any time I felt like it (which was about 85-90 mph), driving it like a rally car on mountain curves, sliding it around gravel roads, jumping curbs, hitting speed bumps without slowing, aiming at potholes, slamming on the brakes for no reason, doing e-brake grab 180s in parking lots... basically trying to kill it.
But it never would die. It kept going. I finally decided I needed a pickup and got rid of it, but in the end all it needed was a new carburetor, oil leaks repaired, and some wheel bearings... but not even urgently. It was without a doubt the toughest car I've owned. Anyone who says the Pinto was a piece of junk is dead wrong. They were ugly, sure, and their reputation was irreplaceably besmirched.
But I will attest that short of simply shoving it off a cliff, I was unable to kill this car.

Tim Tom

You forgot about the Gremlin Car, my wife had one. Don't ever sit in the back seat you bound to have the roughest ride ever and if in a accident pray real hard that no one hits from the back.


WTF - Over?? You guys are completely clueless about that 69 Stang. I happen to personally know the guy who owns that very car in the picture (although I'm not sure where you got the picture from... but he's pissed about you trash-talking his ride) and I've had the priviledge of riding in that car sevaral times and it handles quite well with it's 351W and Top Loader tranny. That car is a 69 GT, Nice try about the "Boss V8 in a Falcon" comment though. What part of that car says "Boss" OR "Falcon" to you?? But hey, you guys totally missed the mark on the handling (considering the 69 Stang was the best handling Mustang on the road at that time) it only seems fitting that you'd miss the mark on the engine too.

Oh Yeah, the owner of this car had no trouble getting it stopped after busting very low 14's in the 1/4 mile a couple of months ago during test 'n tune at Tucson Raceway Park (over 2500ft above sea level on a hot night)!

Next time do a little more homework before spewing this crap..


i'm confused as to how the 1969 mustang made the list, yet the mustang II did not? well, you guys did put the pinto on, and since it and the mustang II are pretty much the same car (at least aesthetically), maybe you DID put it on there...


Believe it or not, I used to own a 71 Pinto (and lived to tell the tale!) But, based on my personal experience, I've never understood all the stories about exploding Pintos.
The car was an accident magnet - It was in 4 accidents in 2 years (twice while parked, and run into twice). It was hit twice in the rear, one hard enough so that the driver's door couldn't be opened. Every body part except the roof was replaced at least once in those 2 years - but fuel never leaked even a drop.
And I'm not sure why you picked on the Festiva for being small. Sure, it was small, but so were a lot of vehicles: Hondas, Toyotas, Suburus, etc. And if environmentalists had their way, all cars would be at least this small (if not smaller) - and there would still be big, scary trucks out there.
Finally, how in the world could you overlook the Vega (yeah, I owned one of those, too - engine went through a quart of oil every 50 miles and the body was swiss cheese) or the Yugo!


'72 Merc Capri.

What wasn't recalled on this? The stick shift once broke off in my hand. (Had to drive home in 3rd gear).

Seat lever, broken forcing the spare tire to prop it up from behind.

Side rear windows with a hinged vent...the glue didn't hold and neither did the window.

Mine was the burntest of orange and ghastly to look at...

God, I miss that car.


'72 Merc Capri.

What wasn't recalled on this? The stick shift once broke off in my hand. (Had to drive home in 3rd gear).

Seat lever, broken forcing the spare tire to prop it up from behind.

Side rear windows with a hinged vent...the glue didn't hold and neither did the window.

Mine was the burntest of orange and ghastly to look at...

God, I miss that car.


When a female co-worker of mine first saw the H1 Hummer, her comment was, "Who bought the rolling penis-extension?"

David Edwards

Hmm. America has had its fair share of bad cars, and quite a few of them have been paraded here for laughs. However, if you want a scary car, look beyond your shores ...

No, I'm not going to point you at the Fiat Multipla or the SsangYong Rodius because they're too obvious a target. What I'm going to point you at is something *entirely* different.

Try the Maybach.

For those unfamiliar with this particular creation, it is, in effect, an automotive wet dream that someone at Mercedes had. Following in the footsteps of Ettore Bugatti when he conceived the Royale, some of the top people at Mercedes decided that what the world *really* needed was an über-limo for the über-rich. A self-propelled homage to plutocratic excess, a celebration of corporate larceny coupled with that ineffable Mercedes touch, aimed at people with galactic bank accounts ... Bill Gates, the Sultan of Brunei, that kind of owner. The end result was, as planned, the nearest thing on wheels to a luxury yacht on the inside, but the styling ... this is TRULY scary. Take a double shot glass full of 17th century New Orleans bordello as featured in Brooke Shields' finest hour, add a large helping of SS Totenkopf panzer division and garnish lavishly with every piece of over the top imagery from a bad production of the Ring Cycle, and you have the end result. It is HIDEOUS. At least the folks who bought some of the made-in-America bangers featured here have as an excuse that they were motoring on a budget. There is absolutely NO excuse whatsoever for spending £260,000 here in the UK, or around $357,000 in the US, for this execrable-looking vehicle, unless one is hell-bent upon proving that money and class need not necessarily go hand in hand. This is the car that is described as "obeying its driver's every whim", which is just as well, because if it had a mind of its own, it would invade Poland. If you think that the Pontiac Aztec is a scary car, bear in mind that you could probably buy a small FLEET of Aztecs for the price of one Maybach. Most people who read this will spend less buying a house AND a car together (unless they live in London of course).

If you're looking for the ultimate Blingmobile, this probably qualifies. But how many of you could afford the hub caps for one of these, let alone the whole car?

I used to drive,(beat the crap out of), a '71 Pinto. Aside from distributor breaker plates, burnt points, broken Alt brackets,timing belts, broken seat frames, RUST, need I go on--not a bad car. By the way, the car pictured above is a '72 or '73--the '71 had much thinner bumpers.

Fred Shufane

Remember the early AMC Gremlin's, they had a big gas cap right square in the middle of the back of the car. Their was this guy we didn't like so we would steal his gas cap, they made great garage ornaments. Anyway, in between trips to the junkyard to get a new gas cap, he would stuff a rag in the filler hole, with some of it sticking out, just ready for a match! We called it the Molatov Gremlin!

simon lang

what about the Trebant? three cylinder two stroke I belive? was that not scary, or the Robin Reliant? the engine made a great bike engne but that was about it

Paul Brunsink

Who wrote this, Tom and Ray, or was it Toyota's p.r. dept. and Ralph nader? Oh well, at least we didn't have to read about how bad the AMC Pacer and Ford Edsel were for the millionth time, authored by people who didn't have any experience with those cars either!


I can understand how someone that can not think outside the box would come to the conclusion that the Pontiac Aztec is very unusual... however, I did not like the looks of the Aztec either when it hit the showroom floors, but after renting one for a week, we found it to be a fun vehicle. I bought the very car you have on your page, burnt orange with the rally package, I get alot of complements on my vehicle, especiallly from the younger crowd(15 to 25 years of age). But then again, I am someone who doesnt like to follow the crowd, I am an independant thinker who enjoys the unusual. To all the readers of this article, try one before you judge one, then you can decide for yourself.


The Monza with a V-6 was a very nice compromise. Mine achieved 30 mpg honest on the interstate, won autocrosses in Stock and Prepared and won TSD rallies. The biggest problem with it was that the Bilsteins I installed (their third car!) were stronger than one of the shock mounts so I had to get reinforcements welded in. No more Stock class!

Scariest car for me? Probably a 96" insert Caddy limo with worn out tie rods and ball joints. Move the steering wheel six or eight inches and nothing happens for a while! Not fun at all.


The '69 Mustang and Firebird? ... scariest cars?! Maybe had some of the scariest drivers in them, but the cars!? C'mon ... these and all the "ponycars" (as they were known at the time, as opposed to "musclecars" of which only intermediates were worthy of consideration at that time) were some of the best rides in their day, in terms of handling.

It is interesting that today one can say anything one wants to about these two specific catagories of automobile - long after they have been out of production. But what do we base any negative statements on?
1. Restored vehicles - of which, who in their right mind will let you bang them around?
2. Restified versions - which are presumably better than the originals - but not always are, and in any case do not represent the originals?
3. Unrestored beaters?

... Come on ... the only fair way is to go and read the magazine articles of the time, that reported on testing them as they were in production. I did, and I do not remember reading about how poorly they handled ... with only perhaps a few exceptions for cars with the very heaviest engines. While they were largely not as well balanced perhaps as the better European GTs, they were considered good drivers in their day. Some can even stand up faily well today.

As to the Mustang's being based on the Falcon. We know that to be true, and we know that they had weak front ends. But they were very heavily modified and were more than Falcons overall. Regards,


Sarah Bauman

Okay, I've got a scary car for all of you out there. Chevrolet has a car out that I think is their attempt at a PT Crusier. It's scary to look at and I'm not sure I'd want out on the roads in it either. Ugh. Later.





I was living in Goshen, Indiana the day that the fatefull crash involving a pinto and another took place. In fact, I was living about 2 miles from the accident and could hear the sirens and see the smoke. To add to this story, I used to work for the Elkhart County prosecutor who tried Ford Motor Company. It was sad that two young girls had to die because of poor engineering design and that Ford Motor Co was not held accountable. Needless to say, my family never bought another Ford vehicle

John Russo

Leave it to you old geezers to trash 'Stangs and Firebirds for their power. Big deal. Learn how to drive them, will ya? You want scary? I'll give you scary; You and your lame Valiant pulling out in front of me, desperatelt trying to get 'er on up to 35 mph. That's scary. Be glad that it doesn't have the Pinto's unsafe fuel tank! But the Pinto and Vega were quite reasonable cars for their time when they were working ok.

Speaking of the Vega... Here's what's REALLY scary to me. The Genuine GM Gee-whiz engineering in that car. They decided to create a steel-headed aluminum block combo that used a few microns of mule's milk instead of cylinder walls - a combination that's sufficient if it never overheats... then used a heater core as a radiator. Ya think that could become a problem guys? Add a poorly designed electric fuel pump to round it out. Then leave out the front fender liners and let the rust gradually lighten the car for economy's sake. Here we are 37 years later and the geniuses wonder where their market share went. That's scary.

Jim Zavist

What about my Corvair? The one that leaked oil on the exhaust manifold, the manifold that was directly connected to the defroster?!

Jonathan I. Stern

Two thoughts about Hummers:

1.) Be sure to admire all Hummers that you encounter and don't forget to ask the driver, "How many soldiers per gallon does that thing get?"

2.) I heard this one on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Sales of Hummers have been declining ever since Viagra became readily available. It makes sense, of course. Why buy a substitute, when you can have the real thing.

Jen Allen

My beloved '86 Chevy Sprint hatchback was just as frighteningly small as the Ford Festiva. While driving on the highway at 75 mph, you could reach your arm over and crank down the passenger side window without hardly leaning, meaning that you could roll down the passenger window while driving on the highway at 75 miles per hour without taking your eyes off the road (very handy!). I'm sure this 3-cylinder baby would have crumpled like aluminum foil in an accident with a vehicle of any substantial size. Whenever a passenger weighing more than 100 pounds rode in the backseat, the entire rear end of the car would bounce up and down, "Clunk! Clunk!", banging against the axle underneath. But boy, could that thing maneuver, and the pickup was superb. Not to mention the 40+ mph gas mileage on the highway. The key was to drive the tiny thing fearlessly as if you were in an SUV, swerving in between the semi trucks like they weren't even there. (It also helped to be in your early 20s and fear nothing.) I drove that car until 2001, replacing the entire exhaust system three times, but making no other major repairs (maybe because the '86 Sprints were made in Japan).

I feel a pang of nostalgia for that car every evening when I arrive home from work and try to park my big fat Corolla into those 3/4 spaces left by drivers who can't parallel park properly. "My Sprint could have fit in that!!" I grumble, as I putter on and park 4 blocks further down.


If you want to talk about ugly, how about the 2005 Honda Element?


I totally agree with your appraisal of the Ford Festiva. I rented one in Florida, and it scared the pants off me! The raw power it delivered to the cheap crackerbox of a chassis was overwhelming. It was good for cheap laughs, and got great mileage, but I was glad to give it up.

I'd like to nominate the Renault L5 (a/k/a "Le Car", may they rust in peace.

My sister drove a Deux Cheveux in a parade a while back, and related the drive to as a terrifying experience, all rattles and no structure.

Cal Myers

Reading about the VW Microbus reminded me of the two Volkswagon jokes, have you heard them? Winshield wipers and heaters.

john shroad

do not forget the King Midget made is Athens, Ohio. It was tiny, low, and your legs were the "crush zone". Got over 50mpg in the early 50's though

Joe Merrill

Boys Boys Boys, I would still sell My soul for a pristine '69 Mustang with a big block motor, four speed and a nice tall gear in the rear end- I've tried selling several family members but have had no takers.I'd have to agree with you about various safety issues though- those cars were products of a different time- kind of like a rack of ribs, extra sauce, fries and a cold one to wash it down.Definitely not good for you but won't kill you either(you hope!) I'd have to agree with you on the Festiva -actually rode in one, on an interstate, at high speed, in the rain, along side very large trucks.probably won't do that again.

Henry Frank

Do you think the Le Car could make it into the top 10 scariest cars? How about the overhead cam 6 Jeep that had its oil return hose stuffed between the engine and the firewall. Though the Rover 3500 must be waiting in the wings to join the list.

Matt Vogel

Aww, you guys are crazy. The Pontiac Aztek is a fine car. I have a 2004 and it is without a doubt the best utilitarian car I have ever owned. I like the looks. So sue me. A lot of people like the looks.
The Aztek has one of the highest owner satisfaction records. There
are people actually buying 2005s to have an Aztek when their earlier model wears out. Hell, we enjoy the notoriety of the car. From the
group, a resounding KISS MY ASSTEK!!
Now for a truly scary vehicle - A 1968 Dodge Van. The one with the motor sitting comfortably between the two front seats. Shared the honors with that Volkswagen Van as having NOTHING between you and a front end accident. And that accident was coming. The gas pedal linkage would consistently fall off dropping the gas pedal to the floor as the vehicle speeds up. Or the day the drive axle decided to come apart. (That one was real scary) It was almost a blessing when the damned thing caught fire as I was driving. I hopped out and chanted as it burned.

Douglas Wayne

I don't know how you guys would rate this partiticular car but for my money any car that was designed with a pressed sheet metal engine block like the Crosley is just asking for a blown engine.

Mary K. Bates

When I was in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2004, I rented a 2004 Chevy Cavalier. It was a sweet, snazzy-looking car which drove relatively well . . . until it rained. At the slightest drop of rain it would hydroplane, and there was a lot of rain that week. The headlights also seemed to be aimed too low, and driving Tennessee mountain roads at night, where street lighting was almost nonexistent (including the Interstates,)was a horror. Between the hydroplaning and poor lighting, I was so terrified that toward the end of my stay I would not drive at night. The Cavalier was misnamed; it should have been called the "Peligro."

Steve Schrock

You overlooked the extremely fine piece of Automotive Excriment known as the Chevy Vega. My dad bought a new 74 Wagon. In its retched life (6 years 80K Miles) 3 head gasket replacemets, piston rings at 50K to solve the oil burning problem (Fixed it for about 1 month). Towards the end it used upwards of a 2 quarts each fillup. No lets talk about the body. Oh it just pretty much rusted away into vega vapor.

dave thoma

it's interesting to note that FORD had the top three spots in your top ten list.

Dave Willis

I can look out my office window here on the 100 block of Queen Mary Street, Ottawa Canada, and see a Thing parked on the street. Been there for a while now; the tires are flat. It is a beautiful primer red with no visible clear coat. Pretty scary, eh kids?

Tammy Lambdin

What about the AMC Matador? Double UGH! And what AMC product had a spark plug that was virtually impossible to get to? Actually, almost anything AMC made (except the Gremlin) would qualify for this list.

And I LOVE my Element, so don't even go there. Will never drive anything but a Honda...


I can't believe no one mentioned the Corvair! They leaked oil so bad, that people who lived on dirt roads used them to keep the dust down. On an on-ramp on I-75, I was cut off while driving a Corvair. I was going so slowly that I steered between those metal reflector posts at the side. I came to a complete stop on the shoulder, where there was a slight incline. That sucker rolled--in slow motion--and came to rest on its roof. I was suspended by my seatbelt until someone came and helped me out. Because the whole thing happened so slowly, I had no injuries at all. God help anyone who happened to be driving at any speed and hit a patch of uneven pavement.

I think there are still lots of more fugly and scarier vehicles that should be on the list instead. How about the Fiat 500?


For a modern fright, what about the Infiniti FX45? This thing takes what should have been a decent midsize ute, perches it on way-oversize 20" tires and tries to wrap what's left in the lines of a small sports car. What you end up with is a bulbous vehicle that looks to me like a "car of tomorrow" from a 1947 edition of Popular Mechanics ... or, as a car-fanatic friend described it, "take a sneaker, give it an O.D. of steroids, and sit it on a roller skate".

The looming, bloated appearance is bad enough when one of these things comes over a hill from the opposite direction, but it's even scarier due to the tiny greenhouse makes it difficult for the driver to tell where the car's body is in relation to the driving position, and the uber-curved rear quarters that almost force you to have sensors so you don't back into the curb ... or someone's kid.

C'mon designers, enough already with the "swoop" styling, melted-jelly-bean bodies and useless rear windows. I want cool, I want sporty, I want elegant - - - but not weird.

John Scavone

As the owner of a '73 VW Thing, I'm glad I didn't wait until 1974 to get the new model when the design went to hell! :)

Joseph Lee

I survived a 1988 Ford Festiva. Actually I never had a problem out of this car. I agree you do get nervious when surrounded by 18 wheelers.

I have one that you missed.

#1 Ford Aerostar
Scares: Mechanics

I mentioned that I was thinking of getting one of these to my mechanic. His reaction was to tell me to get a new mechanic. LOL!

Sharon Renfroe

So no one is going to mention any Triumph cars? The Spitfire was a beauty and with 8 hours under the hood I could get 4 hours on the road in '79 when it was new, and the planets were perfectly alligned. In '80 I purchased the TR7 - yes, I was drunk. Talk about PTSD - every time I see one of those - well really the only one I see is about a block up the street its been there for the whole 5 years I have lived in this neighborhood, up on blocks rusted, never seen it move. Probably in the same condition that it left the showroom. Turning left caused the engine to stall, drove it for a year - well probably just a few weeks stretched over a year - nothing like seeing both your cars up on the lifts at the mechanic's and having to take a cab home. I left the TR7 in a Parking Lot in Arkansas - never looked back. I kept the Spitfire for 10 years, mostly as a lawn orniment. But every once in a while, that Spitfire would start, I would get a mile or two down the road, and fall in love with her all over again. Then call the tow truck.
Sticking to Miata's now - not as interesting or scary - but the girl starts every time I go out there and hasn't left me stranded. I'd say a list of scary cars that didn't include a Triumph car - is no list of scary cars at all.

Christian Miller

Scariest car for a mechanic? How about the Citroen SM - hydraulic suspension, old electricals, strange power steering, Maserati engine, impossible to find parts. This car was so "ahead of its time", 30 years later it still looks like a concept car.

Agree on the '69 Mustang, one of the worst cars I've ever driven in terms of handling and feel. Especially if you had driven the original Mustang.

How about Renault's Le Car, or the Yugo? These underpowered, poorly built pieces of crap should have never been allowed on U.S. roads!

Andy Spohn-Larkins

I had a 76 pinto. My grandpa got it for $50 and pulled it out of a horse barn after not running for years. He drove it for quite a while to the post office truck yards in Denver where he drove a mail truck. When he passed, it became my first car. That thing wouldn't die! At one point in it's life, it had been silver, but when I got it, it was a nice "rust orange". The headliner was split and stuck to my hair so I always wore a hat when driving it, the grill had gone years before, the turn signals would blink 3 times before blowing the fuse, one day a front shock broke through into the engine compartment, the left front tire clunked every time I'd make a turn, and once a week the engine light flickered letting me know it needed another quart of oil (from leaking, not burning mind you!) At 185k, it still started right up, passed emission tests with no problems and only left me on the side of the road once when the steel bands in the tire decided that they showed to much and wouldn't hold air anymore. It finally went to the junk yard because the stater fell out and stripped the holes in the engine block. Changing the cluch was easier in this car than changing the starter motor!! This car was very fun to drive, got great milage, and really wouldn't die (even after sliding off the icy road and going over a 6 foot drop at 50mph) but it really does deserve to be on this list! Good memories, but I'm glad they stay in the past!! This story's for you grandpa!!

J. M. Ellison

The Pontiac Aztec is so revolting to look at, I find myself questioning the sanity of anyone who had a choice of vehicles, but said "I just have to have this!"

Also, I read that only 4500 or so Aztecs were sold. I live in Missouri, and I see so many with Missouri plates, I could almost swear a good fourth of buyers live here.

kay collins


My sister almost killed us both when she tried to change lanes in the city and got tapped by a refrigerator truck. We rocked side to side a couple of times before we crashed into a huge concrete flower pot in median and tipped over.

Suddenly, the only thing between my face and the pavement was the window, that mercifully, didn't shatter. I looked up to see my sister suspended by her seat belt above me.

We were very lucky: we both walked away uninjured, much to the amazement of the paramedics who were called to the scene. Had we been going faster than 20 mph, I doubt that I would be here sharing the tale of a Near Death Experience. The truck was totalled.

Dan Cronan

Up until the ime I was 5 years old in 1984, my parents had a blue 1977 Chevrolet Nova Concours. It was billed as the more "Upscale version of the Nova as long as you consider a car that came with an AM radio as originaal equipment upscale. Now, thhat's scary! Two more thing that I shoud point out about this lovely car. There seemed to be some ever-preent bug in the charging system that would drain the battery every 2 weeks, plus, the seat belt & key-in-ignition reminder buzzer was so loud that to this day by parents believe it to be a contributing factor to my sensitibity to loud noises. I must admit, though, that as much of a piece of crap s the car was, I would give my right arm to buy another. Maybe my brother who will be getting his license soon would like one; maybe to "pimp" out, huh?

Barry Moore

The Scariest car ever was the AMC Pacer...not only was it one of the worlds ugliest cars that was a combination of a George Jetson attempt of an open cockpit look .It was also one where when it was coming at you you could not figure out WTF it was in style,,Had a 50's 60's and 70's look (barring the George jetson thing).Addtionally the wheel bas was so wide you though it was a boat when you rode in it

Dave Hupke

I consider the PACER as one of the ugliest
cars around.


I nominate the Sunbeam Tiger. It was someone's brilliant idea to stuff a Ford? V-8 into an Alpine, one of the finest 1800-lb., four-cylinder British sports cars ever made. I owned an Alpine. It was like a love affair with a really sexy, really BAD woman. I never owned a Tiger, though. Almost everyone I heard of who did was referred to in the past tense, since when the rear end of that thing got loose at speed (and how else would you drive a thing like that?) it would whip around like a thrown hammer.

Porsche 911 Turbo! Greatest (and scariest) car I have driven. Just WATCH IT WHEN YOU ACCELERATE ONTO THE ON RAMP!!! Even with the many improvements since the 356s of the 60s, you can easily spin out WILDLY simply from the mass in the rear and the extreme power delivered to the rear wheels. The huge tires don't help as the coefficient of friction per square cm. is very low and wheel spin can be easily initiated by the throttle.

Al Sztejter

My scariest car? The 65 Rambler American stationwagon that I was given when I got out of the Navy in 1970 and went to college in California. My dad gave it to me because it wouldn't pass Pa. safety inspection, after only 5 years on the road. Body cancer, rusted exhaust system, the 3rd one in 5 years, and a heating system that wouldn't work in the winter. Where else to go but California? The 195.6 6 banger with a single barrel carb and 3 speed on the column was so under powered when I carried more than 1 passenger. The cooling system was inadequate and kept burning exhaust valves in #3 and 4 cylinders, which were next to each other. Did 3 valve jobs by the time it had 110K on it. The tires were odd sized, don't remember the size, but I bought as close to stock as I could and wound up putting spacers on the lug bolts to keep the tires from wearing on the oddest shock mounting I've ever seen. My mechanic had to build a spring compression tool to replace the shocks that went out after 25K, good thing he kept the tool because I had to replace the shocks again at 55K. The "automatic" choke on the 1bbl carb was S-O-O-O reliable that I had to use a clothspin to hold the chock open in the summer. The crankcase breather went straight into the air cleaner snorkle so the carb got gummed up with crankcase vapors and I lost count of the cans of carb cleaner I went through. After I got out of school in Ca. I moved to Housten Tx and took the car with me. What a mistake. I wouldn't run worth a damn in the humid weather. The ignition system just couldn't handle the rain and high humidity. It finally gave out after 118K, 3 valve jobs , a complete overhaul @ 85K and the inability to find replacement parts anymore. What ever happened to American Motors anyway?

Debbie Deardorff

My most scary car was a TR8. I purchased it new and in the 9,500 miles that I owned it, it caught on fire twice and was towed 3 times. I learned to not drive it more than 10 miles from the nearest AAA tow truck.

The list misses my worst vehicle experience ever too. It was a 2002 Ford "Exploder".

On this, a plastic panel on the tailgate is known to just split from top to bottom, all on it's own. Mine did, and I thougth someone had tried to break in.

The power door locks can quit working, and when they do the SINGLE key lock on the outside of this 5 door vehicle won't work even with the key. If you're lucky you can still unlock the back doors with the remote keyfob, and crawl over the console and between the front seats, to unlock a front door manually. How lucky is that?

There was no dip stick to check the transmission fluid level, and apparently Ford did this on purpose. Of course it was frustrating to not be able to check that fluid level when the lockup torque converter quit working properly. But then they must know what they're doing, because it turned out to be a much worse problem than just low fluid.

The front seat belts don't retract properly when you get out, so they were forever getting slammed in the door.

Plastic latches on the floor compartment covers in the back are fragile, and to replace them Ford wants to sell you a whole new cover for a couple hundred dollars. I guess it's too hard to just make the 15 cent part that breaks.

The problems went on and on, but only for 3 years until the lease thankfully ended.

Steve Albert

I nominate the Chevy Chevette, which I owned every so briefly in the 80's. It was nothing short of the worst piece of junk on the road. Why Scary? Ever drive a car that small, with rear-wheel drive, in the snow? Now THAT's SCARY!

Tom Johnson

How about the new Bugatti?
265 mph?
1000 horsepower?
You want scary?
That's scary.
Oh, by the way,
It will set you back $1,400,000.00.

Joseph Oberlander

Two nominations
Scariest to actually drive:The early 911 shuold have been on top. Looke great, goes super fast. But it is twitchy and dangerous in untrained hands. Second though has to go to the VW bus. Not enough can be said about how nasty a vehicle it was.

Ugliest:Ebay Item # 330041413898
Yes, as expected, its a yellow Pacer with the wood trim. ECH.

Well lets see, I've owned over 50 cars since 1978 and I think the worst of the bunch was the 88 Chevy Beretta, what a piece of "Crap!"

And chevy was going to make it the next camaro, sheezz, no wonder they are on the way out.


Gregory Bruno

Definitely, the AMC Gremlin is the beast you should list. When I was working at a factory one summer during college in the early eighties, I didn't have transportation to get to work. My parents' next-door-neighbor was kind enough to let me use their purple Gremlin. This car was precious! There had apparently been a fire inside the car because all of the original upholstery was either singed or missing. There was some kind of a Mexican blanket, wrapped with duct tape, serving to hold the stuffing of the driver's seat together, and the shifter knob was gone. Shifting the car put the screw threads and pointed end of the shifter lever right in the palm of your hand.

That wasn't the worst of the deal. The car had a permanent, significant tilt to the right. I was a big guy, and I would have understood a tilt toward the driver's side of the car, but this one tilted the other way, defying what I knew about gravity. The rear tires did not follow the track of the front tires. This was quite funny to see when there was snow on the ground. Four tracks that only happened to be going in the same general direction. Driving this car at highway speeds on my way to work was a test of one's mettle. At any moment, I felt as if one of the thousands of bolts holding this abomination together would come lose and send me and the Gremlin careening into the nearest drainage ditch.

Somehow, I survived that summer of driving the Gremlin. The vehicle was so unsafe that the police should have thrown me in jail on the first day. I was so grateful to have the transportation that I didn't think twice about driving it. Only later did I realize how my life was spared by the grace of God.

After that summer, I was able to purchase a slightly safer, $650 '74 VW SuperBeetle with 120,000 miles on it.


William Poling


Since you carried over the Aztek, I think it only fitting you also add the current Chrysler 300. Granted, it seems nice enough to sit in, but that doesn't take away from the outright, utter UGLINESS!! Can't put my finger on it, but whenever I see one out on the road, it just gives me the shudders. . .like you expect the window to suddenly open and Al Capone or John Dillinger leans out to spray the vicinity with their Tommyguns!!!


My apologies if alreadt mentioned, but you forgot the following(in no particular order)

Suzuki X-90
Chevy Monte Carlo(any year, but especially the FWD models)
Any of the 'supersized' Nis-finiti (Nissan/Infiniti) sport utes

Larry Robinson

I nominate the Chrysler PT Cruiser. It looks like a gangster would be driving it.

Bill J

- - - -
To: TOM | Oct 18, 2006 11:47:17 AM

... "V8 318 2BBL" in a 3700 lb B body Mopar - raw speed? Come on - they were peppy, yeah, but certainly not raw speed. I know; I had a '74 Charger with the same engine - GREAT CAR!


... Well as you said, you did not order them! My '74 Charder had the options - front disks, front anti-sway bar, PB, PS ... it handled and drove great - yes, by TODAY's standards - and got reasonable mpg too for such a large vehicle, on regular fuel.
- - - -
To: John Russo | Oct 18, 2006 1:00:31 PM

While I agree with you John about the Mustang and Firebird - see my post, above - (Hey, they had disk brake, anti-roll bar options/standard on some trim levels) ... but regarding: "You and your lame Valiant pulling out in front of me, desperatelt trying to get 'er on up to 35 mph. That's scary."

... Those old Valiant /6 were quite peppy and handled quite well. I know, I drove them. They had no trouble getting up to speed. If you've seen a bad example of an old car, don't blame the car's design. That goes for many examples others too have listed here.
- - - -
To: Cal Myers | Oct 18, 2006 4:31:54 PM
and: Bill Plumb | Oct 22, 2006 4:50:23 PM

Regarding: "Reading about the VW Microbus reminded me of the two Volkswagon jokes, have you heard them? Winshield wipers and heaters."

... While I did not like these vehicles either, try to keep in mind that they were born of a different time - people did not drive like they do now in most places. The model 'T' ford would not be a particularly good choice on today's hiways either, but in their day, from what I read, they were just fine. VW was not known for their heaters; I can't domment on the bus wipers.
- - - -
To: Matt Vogel | Oct 18, 2006 9:49:47 PM
Regarding: "Aww, you guys are crazy. The Pontiac Aztek is a fine car. I have a 2004 and it is without a doubt the best utilitarian car I have ever owned. I like the looks. So sue me. A lot of people like the looks."

... I don't think it was mentioned because it's not a good car. As far as alot of people liking it's looks? ... maybe, sir; but those people are in the minority.
- - - -
To: Mary K. Bates | Oct 19, 2006 12:02:27 AM
Regarding: "At the slightest drop of rain it would hydroplane, and there was a lot of rain that week."

... While it's true, some vehicles perform better in the rain than others by design, I strongly suspect that the culprit here were the tires and not the car. Either that or you were just driving too fast - maybe both.
- - - -
To: dave thoma | Oct 20, 2006 11:49:18 AM
Regarding: "it's interesting to note that FORD had the top three spots in your top ten list."

... I see nothing interesting about it. Ford - like every single auto manufacturer that has ever existed, it seems - had made their fair share of both good and not-so-good cars.
- - - -
To: Tammy Lambdin | Oct 20, 2006 4:17:25 PM
Regarding: "And I LOVE my Element, so don't even go there."

... Glad you love it; that's your option. And I wish you the best with it. "But, don't go there"? What, no one else can have an opinion on it because you like it?
- - - -
To: JayKay | Oct 20, 2006 8:15:46 PM
Regarding: "For a modern fright, what about the Infiniti FX45? This thing takes what should have been a decent midsize ute, perches it on way-oversize 20" tires and tries to wrap what's left in the lines of a small sports car. What you end up with is a bulbous vehicle that looks to me like a "car of tomorrow" from a 1947 edition of Popular Mechanics ... or, as a car-fanatic friend described it, "take a sneaker, give it an O.D. of steroids, and sit it on a roller skate"."

... I don't like the looks of it either, but I hear tell that it's a pretty good vehicle.
- - - -
To: Bill Plumb | Oct 22, 2006 4:50:23 PM
and: Joseph Oberlander | Oct 24, 2006 12:49:43 PM
and: Tom Johnson | Oct 24, 2006 8:07:21 A
Regarding: "How about the new Bugatti?"

Regarding: "Porsche 911 Turbo! Greatest (and scariest) car I have driven. Just WATCH IT WHEN YOU ACCELERATE ONTO THE ON RAMP!!!"
and: "The early 911 shuold have been on top. Looke great, goes super fast. But it is twitchy and dangerous in untrained hands."

... Thought this was about very ugly or very poorly made vehicles. And as you said - you need to know how to drive a car with such high performance capabilities as these. They have certainly won their fair share of racing events, and then some; and I imagine these were not designed to be driven by someone who has never driven anything but ordinary passenger vehicles and who has no intentions of learning how to handle such a vehicle.
- - - -
To: Gregory Bruno | Oct 24, 2006 3:16:17 PM
Regarding: "Definitely, the AMC Gremlin is the beast you should list."

... If you go back and read the magazine articles of the time, this car was not reviewed as being so bad. What I suspect you got here is one bad example of the car.
- - - -

Jack Perella

C'mon, guys. Has everybody forgotten the Yugo?
I watched a kid at my son's school close the door on his new Yugo, and the bumper fell off!

Also, the Chevy Celebrity.
Underpowered,horrible handling.


What about the K-car? Turn left and Die! A coworker nearly did. They kept the car for 16 months, took that long to get it to run long enough to finally be able to drive a route, without a left turn, to another dealer and dumped it!


I think the scariest LOOKING car ever is the 1960 Imperial. It looks like it's grimmacing at you. When I was a kid, a little blue haired lady I knew had a gun-metal grey 4-door. It was complete with giant fins, Buck Rodgers tail-lights, a "bird-bath" on the trunklid, and a stainless steel roof!!! Google 1960 Imperial and if you can imagine one of these 3 ton behemoths coming at you, piloted by said old lady, that's pretty frightening!!

Stan Furlong

How could you leave out the Isetta?

Scary both for those brave enough to drive one and all who failed to avert their eyes when one drove by.

C Hrappstead

What about the Dodge Magnum?

They look like a hearse! Also the Chevy HHR, the Gm Dealer where I live, ordered a brand new one in bright purple. Yuck! That thing didn't sell for about 1 year and then it was hauled off to some other place.


A 1977 Plymouth Volare with a 225 slant six! We,no sorry, MY DAD bought one off a rental agency, and I had to learn to drive in this dangerous piece of crap. Not only did they take what used to be a decent motor & make it ungodly sluggish, but you had to study 5 years under a yogi master to work on it from all the smog crap they dumped on it in the '70's! My mom paid me $40 one summer to change the oil in it, even buying the oil & filter. The "slant" was over the oil filter. This was OK in the '60's when you had ample room in the engine compartment, but.... After trying for two hours to either approach the filter from the top, which was prevented by the top manifold & 3 zillion giant vacuum hoses, or go from underneath, which would have involved removing the entire front suspension, I gave up & threw the money back at her. The first & only time I have ever done so. I then decided to kill the car by driving it into the ground over the following year so dad would have to buy a new car. WRONG! The car must have sensed I was trying to kill it, because it then proceeded to die (or commit suicide) in the middle of any intersection where a giant truck was heading my way EVERY morning on my way to classes. A friend of mine, who I partied with at a desert party where we eventually tore the shocks off of it, timed it on his watch: the 1/4 mile in 25 seconds at which time it was also just hitting 60 mph! Everytime I thought I had succeded in destroying the car, it would be back two or three days later to haunt me. Rip the shocks off? Weld 'em on for $25 in two days! Drive it with no oil for a month? The thing wouldn't warp or melt! Oil was simply dumped in & it ran even longer! It was like Christine without the cool Hemi or the ability to kill your enemies....

One of the happiest days of my youth was the day dad finally came home with a new Mazda 626 instead of the evil thing. I just hope it didn't kill the guy who drove it into the junkyard....

fred vainas

I know it's not an American car (Czech?), but the classic dangerous car would be the Tatra-eight cylinders, rear engine. The Germans wouldn't let their officers drive or ride in one.

Chris Parker

The new Toyota Tacoma trucks may be good, but they're no doubt the ugliest truck to look at. Look at the front end grill !! Have you ever seen such an unfriendly scarey looking face ?? And the strange uneven bulging fenders ?? . When will Toyota return to friendly looking truck faces again ?? No wonder we don't see many new Tacomas out there !!

john locke

Wrong Wrong wrong!!!

Howzabout a 1964 Chevy Corvair?

My sister had one of this 1/2 baked contraptions. Pluses: It had good acceleration, nice bucket seats, and a nice AM radio. That's where the pluses end. Minuses...well...the car had a bowlegged stance in the rear end. Due to all of the weight of the cast iron rear engine and transaxle. Per owners manual, The car took a recommended Whopping 32 PSI in the rear tires and 16 PSI in the front. Can you say IMBALANCED? The car had HOT AIR heating, which fumigated the driver with car engine smells and probably a healthy dose of Carbon Monoxide. The engine had a belt that was about 6 miles long and needed a genious to figure how to install it if it ever broke. If it broke, then kiss your aircooled engine that sounds like a tractor goodbye!!! Scary for Ralph Nadar and everyone else. I heard the 69 Corvair was almost OK, but it was too late for the car by then.
Oh, yeah..the Mustang II was a piece of junk too! It had a German Transmission that kept coming loose from the engine. Something about mixing METRIC with Inches. Or maybe just some German Revenge for WW2. Another 1/2 baked concept the was in the shop continuously.

The Dysfunctional Family Car Chronology

Move over guys, here are some real car stories:

Trying to pick one of my scariest cars got to be too scary. So I decided on a list: one of the first-the Plymouth Ford Fury, 383 4 barrel (whatever the hell that meant), push button on the dash, made out of steel. "Remember Car 54 Where Are You?" The car driven by Officer Tutty with the rocket tail lights? Yeah that's the one. I got it wrapped around the basketball pole in my parent's driveway, caved in the driver's door, the more I tried to get it away, the more I got it wrapped around the pole. So I left it there. I don't remember (or want to) what my dad said when he got home.
Then there were the Dodge Coronets I got as hand-me-downs from my brothers after they got done beating the cookies out of them. Obviously, I am the baby in the family, and, the girl. I learned how to fix cars though. On Saturday mornings, when my brothers were wise enough to disappear, I got stuck "holding the flashlight" while my dad re-adjusted carburetors (every Saturday?).

Well, as you may know, holding the flashlight meant that one had to be a mind reader, and exceedingly patient. I also used to have to go get his beers-2 rooms away-with the caps that you needed a church key for. Of course, I always had to take a swig on the way back to the garage. I was 8. I have fond memories of dad and I getting ripped. I digress.

Finally, another scary car was the Subaru Getty. Now that car was a joke, the salesman laughed when I wanted to trade it. It had some type of problem with a "vapor lock", every time I'd try to put gas in it, the pump kept shutting off. Took forever. Gave me the vapors.

The best was a Toyota Corolla, back when it cost $3500.00 new. My dad bought it for me to drive back and forth to Penn State (back when it was really "Happy Valley", we were all stoned!). That little car was great, carried a lot of junk too. When I got done with it, my dad drove it around. He kept putting body putty and newspaper on it to hold it together when it would rust out. (Those were the days). After he died (internal combustion?), I sold the car to a friend for $400.00. She took it to a car wash and it literally melted. Never heard from her again. By the way, the guys at Kumernitsky's junkyard (that was back when they had junkyards, particularly Polish ones........ I won't even go there) referred to my dad as "Andy" for Andy Granatelli, after he souped up the riding mower and mowed the lawn in 2 seconds flat. Aren't you glad you slogged through this message? I'll leave now.
Jane from the land of greedy politicians (Pennsylvania)


What's the difference between a Yugo and a Christian Scientist?

You can close the door on a Christian Scientist.

Bill J

To: JANE | Oct 30, 2006 5:36:14 PM
Regarding: "Move over guys, here are some real car stories:

Trying to pick one of my scariest cars got to be too scary. So I decided on a list: one of the first-the Plymouth Ford Fury, 383 4 barrel (whatever the hell that meant), push button on the dash, made out of steel."

1) Good one! "Plymouth Ford"!?
2) A four barrel was a carburetor type, and there were many very good ones.
3) The 383 was a very good engine.
4) The push button automatic was an innovation at the time, and this was not the only car that had one - or the only make.
5) Virtually all cars had NON-padded dashes in those days.

Regarding: "Then there were the Dodge Coronets I got as hand-me-downs from my brothers after they got done beating the cookies out of them."

Old burned out (read: used) cars can't make the list. This list is about poorly designed automobiles, not old and misused ones. By your standards - and those of many posts I read here - all cars in the junkyard are scary cars. The Coronets were in fact very good cars in their time.
- - - -

To: Chris | Oct 29, 2006 4:45:20 PM
Regarding: "Everytime I thought I had succeded in destroying the car, it would be back two or three days later to haunt me. Rip the shocks off? Weld 'em on for $25 in two days! Drive it with no oil for a month? The thing wouldn't warp or melt! Oil was simply dumped in & it ran even longer!"

I agree that these cars were not very good cars by today's standards, and they had their quirks. Most American brands in those days had to quickly cobble up all kinds of anti-pollution gadgets to meet federal emissions standards; and that was why carburetors went from $150 in the early '70s, to $500 and more by the late '70s. Ever try to buy a Rochester for a 350 chevy from 1980? ... try aome $700 or therebouts. Ever stricter emissions standards were the death nell to the otherwize excellant /6 Mopar engine.

These particular vehicles also had trouble prone front suspensions and the car bodies also tended to rust.

That said, any vehicle that resisted your attempts to "kill" it can't be by design a bad vehicle.


My 1982 Fiat Spider was pretty scary. I remember the one time the head gasket let loose, oil spilled all over the exhaust manifold, and I was soon doing a James Bond 007 imitation. It was stock, so it had questionable brakes and handling. Not much power either.

I had that car almost 14 years never drove it more than 1000 miles a year. I finally sold it after I started to replace parts that I had already replaced at least once before. Nice looking car though...

Jamie Hall

In my younger days, I worked for a wrecking yard and a roadhouse in country Western Australia. Some of the worst stinkers in Australia are either English-made, or Fords. Sometimes they combined the two with terrifying results. Point in case: the 6-cylinder Ford Cortina

In the early 70s, Holden (the Australian division of GM) had the bright idea of putting their 6-cylinder (a 202 cubic-inch inline 6) into their small car, the Torana (name comes from an Aboriginal phrase meaning "to Fly" and it did!) In local racing, it was consistently beating the 351 Cleveland powered Falcons. Seeing this as a niche market, they decided to do something similar.

The imported English Ford Cortina, was a modest 2-litre, 4 cylinder car, about the size of a 60s Chevy Nova. Although plagued by electrical problems, and known for oil leaks, they did an adequate job. What Ford Australia did to this car would make it terrifying. They shoehorned their 6-cylinders from the larger Falcon (200 and 250 cubic inch) into the Cortina. It might have worked if they'd bothered to strenghten and upgrade the suspension, brakes and steering. If somebody got a little enthusiastic in driving them, the extra weight and torque could literally snap the chassis rail in two. Suspension components wore out at a frightening rate. The brakes could fade to nothing. And if this thing crashed with you in it, better hope your health and life insurance policies were paid up.

Having not learned their lesson, they persisted with these horrible machines until it became cheaper to just import something from Japan. In 1979, an enduro rally known as the Repco Endurance Rally was held. Holden had three Commodores, modified with only facial armour (Roo bar,) extra sptolights, and beefed up 202 6 cylinders. Ford spent an absolute fortune getting three Cortina 6-cylinders to compete against them. At first, they were second behind the Commodores. Then they noticed that the bodies started to deform. The Windscreens fell out, and they couldn't put them back in. Then they started to shed suspension components. Until finally they died, leaving Holden to clean-sweep the rally in first, second and third places

Frank Fitz

The Mustang and TransAm weren't that bad if you weren't stupid with them. The Pinto was a tough little car. I think they got a bad rap for exploding but I bet a lot of compact cars from that era were as bad. The early Civic was a piece of crap and so was the B-210 Datsun. I bet either would have blown up if you hit it hard enough. Renaults were scary. The LeCar had only 3 lugs holding the wheel on!! I used to see them stacked up like cordwood at the junk yard. In fact I never saw a renault that wasn't junk. The Dauphine was a horrible car.

Jamie Hall

If you want to see truly scary French cars, I have yet to see anything that will top the Reanault R10. Like all Renaults of the day, they had 3 wheel nuts per wheel, and worse still, didn't have a hole through the centre of the wheel, both to line up the studs, and allow ordinary tyre changing equipment to work on the rims. The R10's problems made this inconvenience tiny, compared to others.

The R10, like the Volkswagen Beetle, was rear-engined. Not a lightweight, magnesium alloy flat four, but a heavy, cast iron, inline, water cooled four cylinder. Air flow for the radiator came from a vent on the right hand rear quarter, from an aperture that looks like it was stolen from a stormwater drain. Just to add to the French bloody-mindedness, the fuel tank was in front of the engine, just behind the rear seat, with a handy pice of masonite to fuel the resulting fire in a rear-end crash.

You know there's something funny going on when the tyre placard tells you that you should have 18psi in the front tyres and 26psi in the rear. If some well-meaning garage attendant pumped up the front tyres, it could ruin your day. The rear of this car was so heavy, it could flip it over like a champion wrestler.

Add to this questionable brakes, typically French bad paint quality, and you've got a disaster waiting to happen.

The car's styling was also blame-the-dog-awful. Besides the previously mentioned hole in the rear quarter, the front and rear leave a lot to be desired. The front bumper is the same shape as that on the rear of a '57 T-Bird, but on an all metal front end, with oval shaped headlights, it's UGLY! The body itself looks somehow as if the designers said "to hell with it, that'll do."


Why does the page have to be so long. Can't you make it short becaues some people don't like reading that long


this site sucks

from kitbrown...

cindy doggrell

Scariest car hands-down was my 94’ Mercedes c220 bought used. It had a sweet tendency to go into accelerate on it's own (once went up to 90 while taking the kids to school (speed limit 40), even my foot on the break pedal down to the floor would not stop it (was yelling “Whoa Whoa” speeding down the street as if I were on a horse while my kids yelled “Mom, STOP IT STOP IT”) I finally yanked the ignition key out. Also would stall regularly often near or on railroad tracks. Especially enjoyed the inability of the car to provide heat for the passengers yet Over-heat the engine...c l e v e r! The car would die if made to idle thus I had to simultaneously brake and accelerate. The only thing that worked on this heap was the thermometer which performed luminously despite the lemon attached to it.


the VW microbus is still a valid form of safe transportation still. Don't be blinded into thinking you actually need crumple zones, air bags, ABS, computers, etc

I think just the fact the bumper is made of metal should be enough in today's world....there is just something about vinyl,plastic,fiberglass,foam bumpers that is kinda scary....I can crush a 2 liter bumper shouldn't be as easy...


So I'm commenting on a year-old post. Sue me. :-P

I'll vouch for the various comments describing the Pinto as a tough old bird. I'm driving a '79 wagon right now, with 210k on the rusted out, faded white mess of a body, and God alone knows what mileage on the (1980 model) engine. It has a hole in the floor, fist-sized rust holes on both rear fenderwells, I had to bodge together a new hood striker out of flat brackets and machine screws to keep the hood shut, the driver side door has no weather stripping at all, and whoever ordered it new clearly didn't need such luxury features as a temperature gauge, oil pressure warning light, or tachometer, if they were even available in the first place.

Whatever oil it doesn't burn gets spat through the poor seal between the valve cover and oil filler cap. Nothing I do seems to prevent this, so I keep a 5qt jug of cheap oil in the trunk and check the level every few days.

Yet, it passes inspection, has been solidly reliable, surprises everyone but me in it's ability to keep up with, and even pass, other traffic, and is ridiculously easy to work on.

A multitude of small problems were fixed with nothing more than a screwdriver and a can of WD-40, a busted battery cable cost $4 and 5 minutes of my time to change, and I was able to replace the lower radiator hose *without having to get under the car*. I can't even *see* the lower hose on my wife's 2000 Camry without busting out the 2-ton hydraulic jack and bending myself into something resembling the shape of a pretzel...

Oh, and the heater and lights are far superior to those in the '98 Taurus I used to own. Go figure.

Scariest car ever?

In November 1971, my dad bought a ’70 Toyota Corona 2-door hardtop as a second car. The fact that this aquamarine turdball was sitting on a used-car lot a year-and-a-half after it was built should have told him something, but he found out the hard way.

It had what must have been the first air-conditioning system Toyota had ever attempted, which consisted of shoving the components under the hood with an already underpowered 4-cylinder engine, sticking the A/C vents in place of the glovebox, and bolting a flimsy parcel shelf under the vents. All this to blow lukewarm air in the summer? Madness.

The first winter we had it, my dad was stranded at work during one of our Chicago below-zero nights. The original Japanese Yuasa battery was just not up to the task. Mom and I came to jump-start him in our cold-weather reliable ’68 Impala. This was not the first time we had to do this when the Toyota failed to start.

And even when it did start, it would not BUDGE until it had fully warmed up, which could take up to 15 minutes in winter, during which time its gas mileage would drop from 20 to 13mpg. From a 4-cylinder! Our local Toyota dealer could not diagnose the problem. Their brilliant solution? “Try a thankful of premium”.

Mom and Dad divorced in 1975, and I didn’t see the Toyota again until 1977. It had been parked outside for most of this time, and rust cancer had set in. Wouldn’t you know, this ended up being my first car. And then the trouble really started.

The cigarette lighter popped out of the dash and burst into flames. Even with the Die-Hard battery I installed, cold-weather starts were still an adventure. The passenger-side windshield wiper flew off on the Dan Ryan Expressway during a driving rainstorm. The driver’s-side door latch stopped working, leaving the door constantly ajar. It popped its fan belt blew its radiator on the first day of the Blizzard of ’79. Even after it was repaired, it was constantly getting stuck even on plowed side streets. My fingers and feet are still frozen from pushing it out of drifts, putting cardboard under the tires, attaching jumper cables to the battery, and just sitting in it waiting for the thing to warm up. (Our old ’68 Impala started every day that winter and never got stuck. 60’s American cars rock.)

The last year I had it, 1980, the automatic transmission shift knob broke off in my hand. At that point, I washed my hands of it and gave it back to dad. He was not happy; he had moved on to good old American cars again. It went straight to the salvage yard; it had not even made 80,000 miles. By contrast, my “lemon” ’84 Fiero, bought new, has gone 132,000 miles in 23 years, and has been the picture of reliability.

I don’t know where the Japanese got a reputation for quality, but it wasn’t on the basis of this piece of junk. If every first-generation Corona was like this, they truly got their revenge for losing WWII. To this day, 27 years later, I will not own a Japanese car.


My girl friend in grad school had a '69 Triumph Spitfire. We were driving on I-95 near Emporia, VA when she swerved a bit at 70 mph and the swing axle rear end started an aweful fish tailing that concluded with a roll over on the median when the tubeless tires peeled off the rims. After that incident, she bought a Plymouth Satellite, we started reading the Bible, and we've been married for the last 37 years.


1975 Ford Pinto 3 door hatchback...

Believe it or not, I had it for five years (1987-1992) It was steel blue, it had no upholstery until I fitted it with covers and back beads, and in spite of the fact it was hung with monikers such as "suicide jockey" and "blue bomb", it was the most dependable, most economical car I ever owned before I got my first Toyota (1997)... It got about 35 miles to the gallon so I travelled all over the southwest and west in it... It was simple... No power anything, so even though everything had to be manhandled, it was real low maintenance. I miss it.

With the VW Microbus (scariest for the driver). At the time, it wasn't scary but for those of us who have come clean, straight and survived, the memory now in our dotage is "O mah gosh!" We drove those and THOUGHT we weren't in any danger. But, the photo sure looks like the 69 I have just restored. I can't wait to get back "on the road" with my red/white bus and the camping gear.

Old Hippie in the Red/white 69 Microbus.

My son, has found himself being cavalier for one of the young ladies at the church. She's not been taught preventive maintance on her 1982 toyota tercel. So Ben has volunteered . DA where's the stinken dip stick for the transmission???


Thats not a 71 pinto, the large bumpers were not a feature until 1974. From the looks of the grille, it is probably a 1976


Actually this could be a 71. The heavier bumpers came along in 74 with the new safety standards. 71-73 had this bumper.


I owned every lemon that ever existed.. gremlin.. cordoba. corvair, ford econoline. two le cars , on alliance, borrowed my sisters vega too learn stick shifting.. 80's monte carlo.. suzuki.. all most bought a daihatsu.. mistsubishi truck.. you name it i must be a magnet for bad cars.. i will tell you the horror stories when i have more time.;-0

Stanley Rames

maureen nagle
Oct 18, 2006 12:37:49 PM
I was living in Goshen, Indiana the day that the fatefull crash involving a pinto and another took place. In fact, I was living about 2 miles from the accident and could hear the sirens and see the smoke. To add to this story, I used to work for the Elkhart County prosecutor who tried Ford Motor Company. It was sad that two young girls had to die because of poor engineering design and that Ford Motor Co was not held accountable. Needless to say, my family never bought another Ford vehicle

I think you missed to reason Ford was not responsible.
They had the Hospital Orderly who sat with the lone survivor until she passed, who recounted what was basically a "death bed statement":

Three girls had stopped for gas, gotten on an un-divided 4-lane highway, heard tha gas cap they had left on the roof slide off.
They made a u-turn, stopped in the midle of the highway, opened both doors to get out and retreive the cap, and some guy driving (I think) a 3/4 ton GMC pickup with a camper doing 60 in a 55, playing with his stereo, never saw them and hit them square in the back end.
Pushed the rear bumper under the front seats.
Pushed the engine out the grille.
The ONLY place on that car you could have put a gas tank and not had it smashed flat was on top of the front tires.
We had a Pinto/Vega wrecking yard locally for years. They never, as in ever, saw a burned Pinto.
I saw one, flat LR tire, drove it off the bridge, caught fire and burned the 1/4 panel off the car, never blew up. We drove a 72 Pinto Wagon (2.0L, auto) for years and years.
I still drive ONLY Fords.


My Sister bought a brand new '79 Dodge Omni fastback
and went through 6 waterpumps in a year before the car quit running completley and she abandoned it in '81.
There is a reason you why don't see them on the road anymore and Chrysler needed Ronald Reagan to bail them out in the 80's, it was that damned car.


i have a 2001 aztek an i have noticed that when i excelerate an let off the gas my car will continue to go fast with out me doin a thing this is when i just start off goin an when i already am driving does anyone know what would cause this?

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