Many auto mechanic students daydream about designing their own car. Unfortunately, not everyone can be Henry Ford, and automotive history is littered with entrepreneurs debuting ambitious plans for innovative vehicles, only to see their visions go up in smoke.
The changing landscape of the auto industry in the past decade has seen a resurgence of new manufacturers, as fledgling companies like Tesla and Faraday Future look to take advantage of established automakers hesitance in investing in new areas like electric and self-driving technology.
While these companies may well be successful, they would do well to remember the failed automakers of the past, and try not to make the same mistakes. Read on for some of the most memorable failed car experiments.
1. DeLorean: If Only Automotive Service Technicians Had a Time Machine
The DeLorean DMC-12 earned iconic status thanks to its appearance in Back To The Future, but owners of the car probably have wished Doc and Marty had travelled back and persuaded creator John DeLorean to correct some its design flaws.
The original’s V6 engine was an automotive student’s nightmare, prone to overheating, while the electrical system and belt-driven water pump also easily failed. And of course, after seeing Back to the Future we all know what happens when it reaches 88mph.
2. Tucker: The 40s Car That Could Have Changed Auto Careers Forever
Still seen by many enthusiasts as a lost classic, the Tucker 48 was dreamt up by designer Preston Tucker in 1948, and could have drastically changed automotive design had it been successful. The car boasted a number of innovative safety features, including a shatter-proof windshield and a center-mounted headlight which turned with the steering wheel for better visibility on corners.
3. Amphicar: The Underwater Auto That Sank Without a Trace
Another car which could have altered many auto careers if successful, the Amphicar was actually the most successful amphibious auto ever, selling almost 4,000 models between 1961 and 1967.
It was equipped with a 1147cc rear-mounted engine which powered a 4-speed rear wheel drive on land, and twin reversible propellers on water. Unfortunately, Amphicar’s attempt to capture the best of both worlds resulted in a disappointing performance on both water and land, and the car ultimately failed.
Check out the Amphicar in action here:
4. Vector: Why Students Pursuing Auto Careers Shouldn’t Judge a Supercar by Its Cover
Conceived as an American competitor to Lamborghini and Ferrari, Vector launched its first production car, the Vector W8, in 1989 with a wave of publicity. Vector claimed the W8’s twin turbo-charged 5.7-litre V8 had a top-speed of 350km/h, but owners reported numerous performance problems, with tennis player Andre Agassi famously returning his model. Experienced automotive service technicians might know that only 17 were ever made, and the company folded in 1992.
5. Fisker Karma: A Cautionary Tale for Today’s Electric Auto Manufacturers
The most recent entry on this list, Fisker emerged in 2011 with an impressive-looking luxury electric sedan, the Karma. Unfortunately, the car received negative publicity for its unreliable performance, with Fisker having to issue two mass recalls for technical faults during its short lifespan. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
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