How Well Do You Know European Automaker Flops and Failures?

By: Ian Fortey
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
14 - Volkswagen Thing Which of these failed to meet U.S. safety standards?
Triumph Mayflower
Leyand P76
BMW i3
Volkswagen Thing
The Volkswagen Thing was a mistake on any number of fronts. It was dropped from the U.S. market when it failed to meet safety standards for reasons like the front passengers were far too close to the windshield glass. It also lacked even basic amenities. The windows didn't roll down, and there was only one windshield wiper motor, so a small rod connected the second wiper to the first.

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12 - Ferrari Mondial 8 Which of these cars was heavily critiqued for having four seats?
Lancia Beta
Reliant Robin
Maybach 57
Ferrari Mondial 8
The Ferrari Mondial 8 could have been a much more popular model than it was, but the fact it was released as a mid-engine four-seater that had scaled back performance compared to what you'd expect from a normal Ferrari caused it to suffer.

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18 - MGA Twin Cam The engine of which of these cars was notoriously awful?
MGA Twin Cam
By all accounts, the MG MGA was a good car. Then they tried to soup it up as the MGA Twin Cam, and it was riddled with problems. If the engine wasn't treated with kid gloves at all times, it would overheat, burn oil, leak fluids, burn pistons and rattle to pieces thanks to a faulty carburetor.
Trabant P50
Arona Sterling
Maybach 57

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13 - Triumph Stag Overheating was a major reason for which vehicle's failure?
Morrs Marina
Triumph Stag
The Triumph Stag was riddled with mechanical problems that made it a failure. The water pump was above the engine so that when it heated up, coolant would bubble out. In addition, the iron and aluminum engine parts were susceptible to corrosion and a handful of other issues.
Arona Sterling
Peel Trident

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2 - Renault Le Car In Europe, they just called this model "5." What is it?
Triumph Stag
Aston Martin Lagonda
Renault Le Car
The Renault 5 was sold in North America as the Renault Le Car, which means "the car" in English. It was meant to compete with things like the VW Rabbit, but it only managed a staggeringly bad 51 horsepower when it was imported to the U.S. While the model was a European success, it was a dismal failure in the U.S.
Maserati Biturbo

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20 - Jaguar X-Type Do you know which of these cars was mostly just a rebadged Ford Contour?
Jaguar X-Type
Jaguar turned the Ford Contour into the X-Type by making a few cosmetic changes. It sold about half of what was projected and suffered a blow to its reputation when drivers realized they were basically being scammed into paying Jaguar prices for a Ford.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Fiat 500
Citroën CV2

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10 - Vauxhall Firenza Autofocus.ca once called this "the worst car Canada ever saw." What was it?
Lancia Beta
Triumph Mayflower
Vauxhall Firenza
The Vauxhall Viva was imported to Canada from the U.K. and renamed the Firenza. The cars were plagued by engine fires and brake failures which, as a result of labor strikes in the U.K., often couldn't even be repaired due to a lack of parts.
Rolls Royce Camargue

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27 - Maybach 57:62 Which of these cars was discontinued due to poor sales?
Leyland P76
Maybach 57/62
Daimler resurrected the Maybach brand in 2002 to make these overpriced luxury cars with a starting price of $366,000. Expected sales per year were 2,000, with half coming in the U.S. The best sales year in the car's history saw 244 of them sold in the U.S.
Aston Martin Lagonda
Reliant Robin

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3 - Volkswagen Phaeton Do you know which car failed because of the six figure price tag?
Aston Martin Valkyrie
Bentley Blower
Lancia Stratos
Volkswagen Phaeton
Technically speaking, the VW Phaeton was a good car. The problem was that VW was known for economy cars, and the Phaeton was an extravagant luxury car that cost over $100,000. No one was buying it, literally and figuratively, and the car was soon forgotten.

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30 - Triumph TR7 Do you know which car had numerous design flaws, from leaky sunroofs to boiling engines?
Citroën CV
Leyland P76
Aston Martin Lagonda
Triumph TR7
The Triumph TR7 was criticized right out of the gate for its unattractive design, but the fact nothing worked on it was what killed it. Electronics failed, the foldaway headlights often wouldn't open, the drive chains would snap, and one owner said the rear axel fell off.

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24 - Sterling 825 What car was a modified Rover 800?
Sterling 825
The Sterling 825 was a collaboration between Rover and Honda. It was plagued by electrical issues and even had issues with its paint peeling off. Wood trim would fall off because it had only been glued in place. The car became a commercial failure.
Vauxhall Loren
Alfa Romeo Arna
Rolls Royce Camargue

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19 - Trabant P50 Which car was made from recycled cotton?
Hillman Imp
Reliant Robin
Lancia Beta
Trabant P50
The Trabant P50 enjoys the success of having sold over 3 million units, mostly in Communist countries. It also has the distinction of being garbage ... literally. Recycled Soviet cotton was mixed with East German resin to make the body of the car, including the hood, roof, trunk and doors. It had 18 horsepower, belched horrible pollution, and fell apart constantly.

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22 - Renault Dauphine Do you know which of these cars was originally going to be called a Corvette?
Rols Royce Carmargue
Renault Dauphine
The Renaut Dauphine may be one of the most staggeringly slow cars ever made. While today's best supercars can reach 60 miles per hour in under three seconds, the Dauphine took an incredible 32 seconds to get there. And that was if it didn't rust first.
Leyand P76
Rover CityRover

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26 - Vaz-2101 This car is iconic in Russia. What is it?
Leyland P76
Lancia Stratos
Vaz-2101
The Vaz-2101, also known as the Lada Riva, is likely the only car that had over 10 million units produced but is still arguably a failure. When it was exported outside of the Soviet Union, it was met with near-universal disdain for its poor quality. Jeremy Clarkson once called it the worst car in the world and remarked that pressing the brakes caused it to speed up. Joke or not, there's no way this was a good car.
Rover CityRover

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7 - Maserati Biturbo Which of these cars had serious problems with corrosion?
Maserati Biturbo
The Maserati BiTurbo is one of those strange cars that was both very successful for a time and a horrible failure as well. They sold well and performed well, at first. In time, however, they fell victim to non-existent rust-proofing. Internally, hoses, wires and everything else would degrade and rupture after only a couple of years.
Rover CityRover
MGA Twin Cam
Austin Allegra

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1 - Yugo Do you know which car listed carpeting as one of its standard features?
Yugo
The Yugoslavian-made Yugo is infamous in automotive history as one of the single worst vehicles ever produced. They were known for having massive failures from malfunctioning engines to faulty electrical systems to pieces just falling off. The joke was that you go nowhere in a Yugo.
Hillman Imp
Morris Marina
Renault Le Car

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35 - Aston Martin Lagonda Which car sold 645 units in 14 years?
Aston Martin Lagonda
The Aston Martin Lagonda was meant to be a luxury sports car. It suffered from not just an ugly appearance but overwhelmingly bad electronics and a very high price tag. The car was decked out with the latest electronics available in the '70s, but they would routinely fail almost immediately.
Vauxhall Hammer
Holden EM2
Lancia Stratos

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16 - Peel Trident Do you know which of these had only three wheels?
Trabant
Citroën CV2
Peel Trident
Built on the Isle of Man, the Peel Trident was an ultra compact car that had a serious issue with the top. The Plexiglass bubble top was essentially a magnifying glass. That meant driving it on a sunny day could be an excruciatingly hot experience.
Lada Riva

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21 - Morris Marina "Top Gear" has destroyed several of these cars as a joke during the show. What is it?
Hillman Imp
Reliant Robin
Maybach 57
Morris Marina
The Morris Marina was rife with issues from the start. One of the big problems was poor suspension that led to understeering. During test drives, the car would end up on the wrong side of the road during sharp turns.

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25 - Facel Vega Facellia Which car failed because it had only two bearings supporting each camshaft?
Facel Vega Facellia
Facel was a French company known for sports cars when it tried to make a more consumer-friendly vehicle for the masses. The Facellia was poorly engineered and frequent engine failure effectively ruined not just the car but the entire company.
Alfa Romeo Arna
Citroen CV
Maybach 57

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28 - Lancia Beta Large numbers of which vehicle were recalled due to poor rustproofing?
Reliant Robin
Aston Martin Valhalla
Lancia Beta
The Lancia Beta seemed like a good car at first, until corrosion issues rendered large swaths of them rust buckets. Rumor had it that the car was made with cheap Soviet steel, but that was never proven. Regardless, they rusted and rusted badly.
Bentley Wisp

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15 - Triumph Mayflower "Top Gear's" James May called this the ugliest car ever built. What is it?
Alfa Romeo Arna
Morris Marina
Facel Vega Facellia
Triumph Mayflower
The Triumph Mayflower was designed to appeal to American drivers, but it did not meet the mark. Underpowered and incredibly heavy, it could only reach 63 miles per hour. Numerous writers have described it as one of the ugliest cars ever, as well.

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9 - Austin Allegro A square steering wheel was one of the gimmicks of which of these cars?
Austin Allegro
The Austin Allegro was sold with a square steering wheel that the manufacturer insisted was both avant-garde and high tech. In 2008, it was voted the worst car in British history by iMotormag. It was also infamous for poor quality engineering overall.
Morris Marina
VAZ-2101
Renault Avantime

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23 - Hillman Imp Which of these was the first European car with the engine block and cylinder cast in aluminum?
Renault Avantime
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Reliant Robin
Hillman Imp
The Hillman Imp was praised for its design initially, but some serious problems soon arose. The manufacturing team in Scotland was not made up of skilled automakers. They were shipbuilders, and the result was a poorly manufactured car that had poorly fit panels and an engine that overheated constantly.

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11 - Skoda Felicia Do you know which of these was the first Communist-built car sold in America?
Vaz-2101
Yugo GV
Lada Riva
Skoda Felicia
Skoda beat the Yugo to the American market by several years when it introduced the Felicia in 1959. The car fared poorly because of high import fees and the fact no one was advertising it, not to mention that it was average at best.

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29 - Austin A90 Atlantic Poor engine performance compared to V8s killed which car in the U.S.?
Peugeot 407
Leyland P76
Alfa Romeo Astra
Austin A90 Atlantic
The Austin A90 Atlantic was built specifically to appeal to the U.S. marketplace but vastly underestimated American tastes. While it looked great, the car was equipped with an underpowered 4 cylinder, 2.7 liter engine. Only 350 were sold in the U.S.

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17 - Fiat Ritmo This car was also called the Strada in an effort to distance itself from a bad reputation. What is it?
Renault Dauphine
Lancia Beta
Fiat Ritmo
The Fiat Ritmo was an underperforming vehicle known for poor design quality and a massive, ugly roll bar. It was sold as the Strada in America, but Fiat had released so many poorly received vehicles before it, that few were willing to risk a chance on the Strada. Within a few years, Fiat stopped selling cars in America.
Aston Martin Lagonda

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31 - Reliant Robin This car was called the "Plastic Pig." What is it?
Leyland P90
Peugeot 407
Audi Quattro
Reliant Robin
The Reliant Robin enjoyed some success in the U.K. but mostly by accident. A loophole in definitions saw it fall under the motorcycle category because it only had three wheels. So for a time, someone with a motorcycle permit could drive it. It was also taxed less than a regular car. They were also prone to rolling over, which the show, "Top Gear," faked to make it look even worse than it was.

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34 - Rover CityRover This car was just a Tata Indicator with a different name. Do you know what it is?
Lancia Beta
Hillman Star
NSU Ro 80
Rover CityRover
Rover wanted to make a smaller car to appeal to city drivers in Europe, but the company was in financial trouble and couldn't develop their own. They brokered a deal with the Indian company, Tata, to essentially resell the Indicator with tweaked suspension and a new nose at more than double what a Tata cost. It didn't go over well with drivers.

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33 - Renault Avantime Do you know which car was based on an earlier model called the Espace?
Triumph TR3
Citroën C2
Renault Avantime
The Renault Avantime was a luxury coupe based on a minivan design. The cramped space it ended up providing was not highly desired by drivers and under 9,000 units were sold, making it a massive failure for Renault.
BMW i8

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8 - Lancia Scorpion Which of these was known as the Montecarlo in Europe but rebadged for the American market?
Vauxhall Viva
Alfa Romeo Arna
Lancia Scorpion
The Lancia Montecarlo couldn't be marketed under that name in the U.S. because of the Chevy Monte Carlo, so Lancia chose a new name, the Scorpion. When altered to meet American specifications, it could only muster 81 horsepower. In two years, they sold only 1,800 or so of those cars.
Peel Trident

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5 - Renault Fuego Steering wheels that came off in your hands is one reason which of these cars was recalled?
Jaguar X-Type
Citroën DS2
Renault Fuego
The Renault Fuego was steeped in irony. Aside from removable steering wheels that were never meant to be removable, it also had a bad habit of bursting into flames, something which the name "Fuego," which means "fire" in Spanish, really goes well with.
Reliant Robin

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4 - Jensen GT Which of these was a shooting-brake style car?
Triumph T7
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Fiat 500
Jensen GT
The Jensen GT was a toned-down version of the Jensen-Healey roadster. A shooting-brake is a type of car body style that dates back to the 1800s when parties of hunters were transported in horse-drawn wagons along with their gear. Unfortunately, no one wanted to go shooting in the Jensen GT.

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32 - Alfa Romeo Arna MSN Autos called which of these the most disastrous car ever made?
Alfa Romeo Arna
Nissan teamed up with Alfa Romeo to make the Arna but in the opposite way people wanted. Instead of European styling and Japanese engineering, it was the look of a Nissan with the unreliable technology of Alfa Romeo. Notoriously glitchy and hard to drive, it failed very quickly.
Lancia Stratos
Austin Healey 3000
Aston Martin Lagonda

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6 - Aston Martin Cygnet Do you know which of these 2011 models was just a renamed Toyota iQ ?
Vauxhall Viva
Aston Martin Cygnet
Carmakers have to meet fleet standards for emissions. That means every car they make must meet an average emission level. To reach those standards, Aston Martin rebranded a Toytota/Scion iQ as the Cygnet so they wouldn't have to change any of the other cars in their fleet. That gave it an Aston Martin price tag as well, even though nothing about the car was different. That went over poorly with buyers.
Lancia Beta
Leyland P76

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