Over the years, automakers past and present have offered a variety of cars and light trucks for sale in the American marketplace. Occasionally, the same have attempted to field vehicles that were designed to satisfy a market or meet a need in the marketplace. While some have been successful, others have failed spectacularly. Often exterior design, value proposition or even usefulness for the task at hand left many scratching their heads, while others wondered why the vehicle was ever built in the first place.
This is the second installment of vehicles from the past 40 years or so that often weren’t worth the sheet metal they were stamped from. See if your list matches mine:
Ford Pinto (1971-80)/Mercury Bobcat (1975-80) – Originally developed to combat the new and increasing wave of low-cost Japanese subcompacts that were showing up on America’s shores, the rush to develop this new class of small car ended up with controversy. In 1977 allegations that the Pinto’s structural design allowed its fuel tank filler neck to break off and the fuel tank to be punctured in a rear-end collision resulting in deadly fires from spilled fuel resulted in a recall. The resulting bad publicity was the beginning of the end for this small car.
Saab 9-2X crossover (2005-06) – This was a blatant case of badge-engineering by General Motors who owned Saab Automotive outright at the time and also wanted to leverage its 20 percent ownership in Subaru. As a lightly redone Subaru Impreza wagon, consumers saw right through the ruse and pretty much ignored it.
Suzuki Verona sedan (2004-06) – I actually reviewed several models of this sedan – and found it to be grossly underwhelming. The powertrain made unsettling loud metallic noises when put into gear, the styling was so-so and the car was overpriced when compared to its rivals. Right idea with lousy execution.
Lincoln Aviator SUV (2003-05) – Based on the successful Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer, this upscale sibling was an SUV looking for a market. Seems in the last decade, Lincoln couldn’t catch a break. With Ford Motor feverishly recasting its namesake line-up and Mercury a bit adrift at the time, The Aviator was the nameplate’s second attempt at developing another SUV-based model to go with its successful Navigator. Remember the Lincoln Blackwood? Exactly.
Chevrolet Chevette (1976-87)/Pontiac T1000 (1981-87) – As the replacement for the ill-fated Chevrolet Vega of the early 1970’s, the Chevette didn’t do much better. The automakers at the time were trying to figure out how to build a dependable and reliable small car that will make money. It would take Detroit years (some would argue decades) to finally realize that goal. These siblings didn’t make the cut.