Biggest Automotive Flops

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While there have been no shortage of incredible, jaw-dropping automobiles that have come and gone throughout the years, we always seem to remember the ugly ducklings and the massive blunders just a bit clearer. In the automotive world, a car that fails isn’t just a blip on the radar – rather than getting shrugged off, it can become highly publicized, infamous even. The automotive industry is funny like that, when something fails it does so in a spectacular blaze of failure – that’s why automotive blunders are so often called “flops.” Not only does the word denote a large failure, but it does so in a way that’s so extraordinarily terrible that it’s somehow brilliant. Here are just a few of history’s greatest automotive flops.

The Ford Pinto

Kind of the holy grail of automotive failures, the Ford Pinto was an accident waiting to happen. Released in 1970 to a wave of curiosity, and then horror, the Pinto was Ford’s answer to a tiny, efficient car. However, it was also notoriously badly built, prone to the doors locking up, and it had the gas tank located terrifyingly close to the rear bumper. In essence, it was a death trap on wheels. The thing was a nightmare for the auto technician, and people just starting on an auto mechanic apprenticeship feared them more than death. Ford weighed the cost of a recall and refitting to make the car safer against the cost of lawsuits it would incur, and the cost of handling the lawsuits was deemed to be the cheaper option; truly a spectacular flop. Just check out how the car erupts into a ball of flames when being struck from behind!

The Pontiac Aztek

Not even an endorsement from the popular reality television show Survivor could save Pontiac on this one. Why was the Aztek such a flop? Well, popular consensus is that it was just too ugly. Couple that with the fact it was a pretty notorious gas-guzzler, and you have all the makings for a crossover SUV that people wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Oh, and the fact that it came equipped with a tent and a cooler, appearing as thought it were some sort of hybridization of R.V. and SUV, that didn’t go over well either.

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Jaguar X-Type

Legend has it that there were over a thousand ways that the Jaguar X-Type could fall apart. At least you can give the UK automaker points for ingenuity and creativity when it comes to making a real clunker! Engines seizing up were an extremely common occurrence, as were exploding transmissions and absolutely horrific driveshafts. While these days Jaguar is known for being dependable and chic, the X-Type was anything but. It was egregiously overpriced and seemed to be held together with wood glue; it’s a wonder that Jaguar kept producing it for as long as it did!

While this isn’t the be-all end-all of automotive flops, these three are certainly the cream of the crop when it comes to poor decisions in automotive careers. However, rest assured that automakers will continue to drop the ball occasionally, and we’ll have many more flops to look forward to in the future.


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