The worst cars in the world

We run down the world's worst cars - as voted for by Carbuyer readers.

16. AMC Gremlin

A car called ‘Gremlin’ doesn’t inspire great confidence. It certainly doesn’t suggest a product of great beauty. And undoubtedly, the AMC [American Motor Corporation] Gremlin was not considered a looker.

Launched in 1970 as a contender in the newish sub-compact car market, the Gremlin immediately caused a stir with its profoundly odd styling. The long bonnet and front overhang contrasted sharply with the abruptly short rear end, to create a design that was unmistakable for all the wrong reasons.

Combine that with a heavy six-cylinder engine and unwieldy handling, plus some incredibly basic equipment – including vacuum operated windscreen wipers – and you had a car that was extremely undesirable. Just over 670,000 were produced before the Gremlin was replaced in 1978.

15. Ford Pinto

The Pinto had a major flaw that made it inherently unsafe and so thoroughly deserving of a place in any countdown of the worst cars in history.

Offered by Ford as a cheap alternative to small imported cars from foreign makers that were making headway in the US in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, it was developed over a much shorter period than usual in the desire to get it to market.

Crash testing during this process revealed that the siting of the fuel tank directly behind the rear bumper made the Pinto a serious fire risk in an impact but, aware of the danger, Ford launched the car regardless.

When the inevitable happened and crashes and fatalities followed, Ford was hit with the accusation that it had decided that dealing with lawsuits from victims was cheaper than fixing the car before production. And so the Pinto earned the unwanted reputation of being the car that put profits before occupants’ safety.

14. Morris Marina

For those of a certain vintage, the Morris Marina is one of the defining cars of 1970s manufacturing mediocrity. Although it sold reasonably well and was a common sight on UK roads, it was a desperately mundane offering that summed up British Leyland’s woes during that era.

Part of the problem was the thinking behind the car in the first place. It was intended as a stop-gap replacement for the ancient Morris Minor to take on mass-market big players such as the Vauxhall Viva and Ford Escort. But the necessity to get a car into showrooms meant it was developed quickly and reliant on old tech. This led to an underwhelming driving experience.

Allied to that were dumpy styling, quality issues – some caused by the regular industrial action that bedevilled the 1970s – and a reputation for rust. It all added up to a car that, although considered acceptable by hundreds of thousands of undemanding drivers, was a shadow of what it could and should have been.

Continue our top 20 countdown of worst cars with the 13th to 11th worst cars in the world

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