Considering Auto Body Technician Training? Check Out the 4 Biggest Design Failures in Automotive History

It’s no secret that car fanatics love reminiscing about great cars with cool designs and impressive specs. That said, many also enjoy remembering the terrible choices and bad designs that various car manufacturers have made in the past. 

Bad cars can be measured in numerous ways; low sales and poor design choices are just some examples. Sometimes the car itself isn’t necessarily bad, but it was made to appear worse than it actually was. Here, overpromising and under-delivering can be a death sentence. Other times, it’s a terrible combination of multiple factors: bad planning, bad design, bad engineering—and unreasonable pricing. This blog post will cover some of the biggest failures in automotive history for those interested in the auto industry!

Legendary Failures in Automotive History

General Motor’s Pontiac Aztek tops the list as one of the biggest failures in the industry. Around the early 2000s, sport utility vehicles were increasing in popularity, and the concept of GM’s Aztek showed a lot of promise. However, its clunky design (based on a minivan) left a negative impression that was further exacerbated by the detailing and excessive use of plastic cladding. Since its release, the Aztek has essentially become a symbol of automotive design failure. As a result, it’s unlikely for auto body repair technicians to come across many Pontiac Azteks at the body shop.

Another vehicle to discuss is Ford’s Edsel—which also earned legendary status for all the wrong reasons. The Edsel, released in 1958, was originally designed to help Ford increase its market share. Despite its lofty goals, the car fell through and became a model example of what not to do in the industry. The Edsel’s odd design, combined with the economic recession of the time, made it a legendary failure. 

Some Cars Were Doomed to Failure as a Result of Their Wasted Potential 

On a different note, there are vehicles that could have performed better had it not been for other factors that turned people away. The Chevrolet SSR is a great example of a car with wasted potential. Released in 2003, GM’s Chevrolet SSR (which stands for Super Sport Roadster) draws inspiration from the late 1940s Advanced Design trucks—bringing a “retro” look to a newer model. Despite the improvements GM made to its performance (adding a 390-hp 6.0-liter V-8), the car simply wasn’t popular (or appealing) enough. 

Auto Body Repair Technicians Can Learn from Automotive Failures 

The automotive industry has seen a lot of failures, yet some provide an excellent learning experience for those interested in having auto body technician careers. Many automotive failures are caused by poor decisions, like the Volkswagen Phaeton. The Phaeton was originally built to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-class and the BMW 7-series—though it ultimately failed to do so. It is incredibly robust (and heavy), boasting galvanized steel body parts with die-cast aluminum doors and a W-12 engine. These features increased the price, making it less popular. In the end, it was a combination of various decisions that led to the Phaeton’s failure. 

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