Do You Remember These American Auto Flops and Failures?


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay by adonyig

About This Quiz

As with all things in life, not all automobiles manufactured over a century and a bit of car making could all be a massive success. For every Ford Model, Toyota Corolla or Volkswagen Beetle, there has been a flop that simply has not sold as well as automakers would have liked.

While automotive flops have happened all over the world, in the United States, in particular, there have been some massive failures. And there are many reasons for that. From poor build quality, horrible design to ideas that just didn't make sense to the public and outright dangerous vehicles, these cars just didn't sell. Why? Well, you can't pull the wool over the motoring public's eyes. Once word gets out that your product is poor, sales drop, even if your model got off to the best possible start.

In this quiz, we have 40 motor vehicles that flopped in America for one reason or another. Do you think you will be able to identify them all?  And they range from vehicles produced years ago to more modern failures. Four options are what you will have, make sure you pick the right one! If you aren't sure, you can always use a hint!

Good luck!

Aerodynamics? In 1930? Yes, apparently certain designers thought it necessary but the public disagreed. Which car listed below just didn't sell?

Ahead of its time, the Chrysler Airflow incorporated aerodynamics in its design in the 1930s. Sadly, the public didn't care and it sold poorly, lasting just three years in production.


A faulty ignition switch saw 100,000 units of this vehicle recalled in 2007. Which car are we talking about?

Recalling 100,000 cars is a serious matter, and something that Chevrolet had to do in 2007 for their Cobalt model. The reason? They did not meet federal safety standards. This was all down to a faulty ignition switch which would just turn the car off, along with many of its safety systems.


Even legends can have problems. Which of the vehicles below, a firm favorite in America, had a massive gearbox problem?

One of the America's most famous automakers saw a problem with their automatic gearboxes between 1966 and 1980. Before the problem was fixed, they had a tendency to slip from park into reverse. This didn't only affect the F150 but all vehicles using Ford automatic transmissions.


"Breaking Bad's" Walter White drove one. In the real world, however, it was a massive flop. Do you know which vehicle we are referring to?

Not even a complimentary tent and inflatable mattress could save the Pontiac Aztek. The first SUV offered by Pontiac was not much of a success and only around 100,000 sold during the five years the Aztek was marketed at from 2001 to 2005. Oh, and it was a horrible drive.


A fuel crisis does not a muscle car make. Which vehicle proved to be a massive flop in the early '70s?

Introduced during the fuel crisis of the '70s, the Mustang II is frowned upon for one thing - its powerplant options. No longer a gas-guzzling V8 muscle car, the Mustang II now had either four- or six-cylinder engines. Mustang aficionados were not impressed.


Picture this in 1913? That's right, no one knew what it was really. It didn't sell. Can you tell us the name of this "vehicle?"

Is it a car? Is it a motorbike? Back in 1913, no one who saw James Scripps-Booth's invention was sure and certainly didn't want to own one! It just didn't sell.


Due to safety reasons, the government stopped this mini car in the 1950s. Pick it out from the list below, please.

This company had been trying to make the perfect mini car for years. Their third attempt in the '50s still wasn't much better than their earlier attempts and eventually, safety regulations enforced by the US government put an end to the King Midget III models.


When tennis star Andre Agassi buys one of your cars and it almost kills him in a fire, you're probably in a bit of trouble. What manufacturer and car are we talking about?

The Vector W8, an American sports car, only sold 17 units. It didn't help that one almost killed tennis star Andre Agassi when it caught alight soon after he purchased it.


This vehicle was severely hampered by emission laws in California. Do you know what it is?

Believe it or not, but because of laws in California governing emission requirements, the Corvette 304 was only fitted with a small-block V8 motor pushing out a paltry 180 brake horsepower. Certainly not enough for a Corvette! The 305 made the Time Magazine list of 50 Worst Cars of All Time.


Back to the Future? More like back to the drawing board for this flop. What is it?

The dream of John DeLorean, the DMC-12 had its 5 minutes of fame thanks to the Back to the Future movies. It remained a terrible car with sluggish performance and was only produced for a year before the company went bankrupt.


Probably not a great name for a car that tended to catch fire. Which vehicle listed below are we talking about?

Well, the Pontiac Fiero certainly lived up to its name. Over 200 fires were reported by owners. And the reason, well the Fiero would just go up in flames when it engine reached low oil levels, which happened often. Fiero ... go figure!


Only 51 models of this vehicle were built before the company folded. Do you know what it is called?

The dream of Preston Tucker, the Torpedo only saw 51 units built. Why? Well, Tucker was indicted for fraud and although acquitted, his company folded, ending his dream of providing America with a new car company.


Who wants an upmarket pickup? No one, that's who! Name this flop, please.

If Lincoln had thought this through properly ... I mean, who wants a pickup with a carpeted truck bed? An attempt at an up-market pickup, the Blackwood was a failure in the early 2000s. Only 3,300 ever sold.


Built as competition for the Ford Model T, the vehicle pictured here simply wasn't. Can you name it?

Built as competition for the Ford Model T, this vehicle was very prone to not only engine failure but fires as well. How did Chevy deal with the problem? Well, they recalled 757 cars and destroyed them!


Name this vehicle, please. Time magazine has it as one of the 50 worst cars ever made!

Voted by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time, the Germlin was ugly. Essentially a shortened AMC Hornet, the Gremlin used vacuum-operated wipers, didn't have disk brakes or use radial tires. It wasn't very well received.


Competition for the Ford Pinto, that's what the vehicle here was meant to be. It was poorly built and tended to rust. Do you the make and model?

Built by Chevy as competition for the Ford Pinto, the Vega seemed to be a hit, winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1971. Soon, however, owners found out that it had some problems with reliability, safety, poor engine quality and was liable to rust ... a lot!


Any ideas as the the name of this electric car that saw over 1,000 built and all of them recalled?

The first electric car offered by General Motors, the EV1 was offered as a model between 1996 and 1999. Only 1,100 sold, with General Motors eventually recalling them all and destroying them.


This car maker was not known for smaller vehicles, so introducing this one was a bad move. Can you name it?

A small Cadillac? Well, that was doomed to failure, was it not? Introduced in 1982, this fuel-friendly model only lasted six years as it was not very well received.


Look at it ... who is going to buy that? No one, that's right. Can you name the vehicle we are referring to?

A pickup truck convertible. How did that work out for you Chev? Well, the SSR was only a model option between 2003 and 2006. It did not sell well and is considered a flaw in their range.


Can you name the strange-looking vehicle in this image?

This was a car made in 1910 with EIGHT wheels. People were barely used to cars with four wheels. Not even one was sold.


Once called the "the leading candidate for the unsafest-car title," can you name this car please?

A disaster for Chevrolet, the Corvair had serious handling issues. Problems with this model even reached the Senate, with Ralph Nader calling it "the leading candidate for the unsafest-car title." Naturally, that doomed the Corvair into extinction, but other Chevy models dropped sales as well.


A rear-end collision in this car could result in a fire. Do you know what it is?

Although the budget-friendly Ford Pinto sold well, it had a terrible secret. Thanks to the placement of its fuel tank behind the rear axle, the Pinto was a real fire hazard in a rear impact collision. Ford only fixed the problem from 1976 onward and paid some out of court settlements instead of recall.


Once a famous muscle car, the model pictured here was a damp squib. What is it?

Another Chevy, another entry on Time Magazine's list of 50 Worst Cars of All Time. And again, performance-related. The Camaro came from a muscle car background, so for the 1982 redesign to be powered by a 4-cylinder 90 brake horsepower engine was a travesty.


Pictured here is an entry on Forbes' Worst Cars of All Time list. Can you name it?

Although it received some fame for appearing in the cult slacker comedy 'Wayne's World' at the time of its release, the AMC Pacer was not well received. Since then it has become an entry on Forbes' Worst Cars of All Time list, among others.


With its retro looks, you either loved or hated this car. Most people hated it! Do you know the make and model?

With its retro looks, the Prowler from Plymouth was marketed as something different on the vehicle scene. Its performance didn't match its looks, however, with the Prowler only having a V6 engine with an automatic transmission. Let's just say the Prowler's story is not one of lasting success.


Please tell us the name of this flop first marketed in the mid-2000s.

Built on the same platform as the Mercedes SLK roadster, the Crossfire was marketed from 2003 to 2009. In that time only 52,000 were sold. FLOP!


What is the make and model of this American automotive flop, please?

The Chevrolet Chevette regularly makes lists of the worst cars ever produced. It was poorly made and performance wise, there was nothing to write home about. It sold poorly.


Always make sure you have enough cash to see your new car project off the ground. Sadly, this car was a flop because cash ran out. Can you name it?

The Bricklin SV-1 was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin. Simply put, there was never enough money to see the project off the ground properly, and although a few cars were made, they did not generate enough revenue for the project to continue.


A success in Europe, in America, not so much. What is the name if this auto flop?

Although a success in Europe, the Dauphine from Renault tanked when released in the United States in the 1950s. Primarily, this was because of its performance. Let's say it was a little sluggish. It has made numerous worst cars of all time lists, including that of Time Magazine.


When released in the 1920s, this vehicle had bare bones. Other manufacturer's products offered so much more, leading to its failure to sell. What is it?

The Briggs and Stratton Flyer was essentially a wooden bench that moved. It had no protection for the driver from the elements and no shock absorbers. By 1920, however, cars had already evolved to a point of relative comfort, the Flyer just wasn't what the public was looking for.


From "Car of the Year" to discontinued. What vehicle are we talking about?

Another Chevrolet, another problem it seems. 1980's Motor Trend Car of the Year was discontinued just five years later. Why? The Citation was poorly built and suffered from terrible rear brakes. Soon, buyers just steered well clear of the model.


It was the tires on this vehicle that caused all the problems. What is it?

The Ford Explorer recall wasn't so much about the vehicle but more about the tires it came with. After Firestone and Ford first blamed each other, Firestone acknowledges that the Explorer could roll if the tires got too hot while suffering from low pressures. Firestone then recalled 13 million tires soon after.


An underperforming motor was this car's big problem. Do you know what it is?

Introduced in 1917, the D Series was the first Chevrolet to have a V8 engine. Sadly, it was horribly underpowered (only 36 brake horsepower), so much so that other four-cylinder engines were more powerful. By 1918 the D Series had disappeared and Chevy only returned to V8 motors 37 years later.


Can you name this American auto flop, please?

Oldsmobile was already in financial difficulty by the time the Aurora hit the market. Although it initially did very well, a later redesign was not well received and the Aurora tanked.


Nicknamed the "Dustbuster" thanks to its looks, this car was not well received by the American public. Do you know the make and model?

The Lumina was meant to be a stylish APV. Unfortunately, it was ugly and quickly received the nickname of the Dustbuster thanks to its similar shape to the cleaning device. Many also complained about the terrible driving position, with the Lumina often making appearances on the Ugliest Cars of All Time lists.


A rebadged Rover, this vehicle was sold in the the United States from 1987 to 1991. It proved to be a massive flop. Can you identify it?

Released in the United States between 1987 and 1991 by the Austin Rover Group. The Stirling 800 was based on the Rover 800 but proved to be so unreliable and poorly made that it was a massive flop. Rover never returned to America again after 1991.


It had a sport water injection system. It failed. What is it?

Introduced in 1962, the Jetfire from Oldsmobile used a sport water injection system. For this to work, owners had to top up their Turbo Rocket Fuel, essentially a mixture of water and alcohol. They forget and although it wasn't meant to, it affected the performance of the turbocharger and made the engine die. The Jetfire didn't last long.


Can you name this vehicle that made a loss of $2 million during its short lifetime?

Named after Henry Ford's son, the Edsel was a massive flop and only sold between 1958 and 1960. It's not that the car was bad, it was just really overpriced. And that always turns people away!


Name this car aimed at the fairer sex but marketed so poorly that only 2,500 sold.

Produced by Dodge between 1955 and 1956, this 2-door hardtop was specifically aimed at the fairer sex. Only 2,500 were sold in a two-year period, although little evidence suggests that it was well marketed.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!