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Worst Cars Of Your Childhood


PittsburghTiger
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I really enjoy the Classic & New Car threads and I got to thinking about some of the worst cars that my father had when we were kids. My grandfather was a car guy in the sense that he always bought nice cars but, he took care of them for shit. I did manage to save the 1968 Buick Riviera. He also had a Buick Wildcat, I think from 1963, or 1964. He also had a 1961 Lincoln Continental with the suicide doors. My dad always said Grandpa bought great cars but didn’t know a thing about them.

I think that is why Dad was never really into cars, although he did, when possible buy cars with a manual transmission.

I was wracking my brain thinking about some of the bad cars my father bought when we were kids.

Some notable cars; an early-70s Toyota Corona, 1976, or ‘77, Chevrolet Vega, a mid-70s Plymouth Volaré, a couple Ambassador Station Wagons, a 1995 Dodge Dakota and a first generation Ford Focus.

The Corona was not a bad car and I think it is credited with really giving Toyota a foothold in America so, it should probably not be on the “bad car” list. The Vega was pure shit. It was rusty, the engine was horrendous and it was always broken. It was also the car that I went a bit through the windshield and had my forehead sluiced off. So I really didn’t like that one.

I just remember the Volaré as being extremely bland and gutless. It had that crushed velour interior and a brown color scheme. One of the Ambassadors caught fire in the Ninth Street Garage in downtown Pittsburgh. That was not a good day. The Dakota was horrible. It would stall, while in drive, frequently, and the dealership never could figure out why. The Focus was a hoot to drive, with a five-speed manual, but it also had around nine recalls.

He bought some that were pretty good cars, a couple Mercury Sables and a Lincoln Towncar for Mom. The second Sable was totaled in West Virginia so he ended up buying a Toyota Avalon, which was a fantastically  competent auto.

 

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my dad had one of these when i was growing up:

Quote

For a car obsessive such as myself, encountering a car so boring you’re not even sure you’ve ever heard the name spoken out loud is a disturbing experience, one that makes you question the very fabric of reality. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a Mitsubishi Tredia before, but have I, really? Maybe it was an Isuzu I-Mark, or an old Stanza, or almost anything else? And the name? Tredia? What the hell is that? Is this real life?

https://jalopnik.com/meh-car-monday-im-not-certain-i-didnt-just-make-up-the-1829281092

 

 

 

Edited by elfenix
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In my opinion, that maroon Chrysler is the only real piece of shit car posted so far.  The others might not be great everyday vehicles, of course, but they have something going for them in the style or utility department. 

I love the lines on the Monte Carlo, though I agree that the color leaves a bit to be desired. 

This is a couple of years older and a different shade than our rusty orange Olds Omega sedan, but it's the closest picture that I could find. 

My parents generally kept their cars for a while, but my mom couldn't get rid of this thing fast enough. We replaced it with a banana cream pie colored Buick LeSabre with a beige vinyl roof - a much better vehicle in every regard, which really says a lot about the Omega. 

 

Olds-Omega-X.jpg

Olds-Omega-X-r.jpg

Edited by Prepuce of Doom
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We had one Nissan that was so incredibly shitty, despite being somewhat of a car enyclopedia, i didnt recognize or remember its name. 

Our family had previously had shit cars out of necessity, but after our situation improved, so did the cars. Except one day, out of the blue, dad brought home a 15 year old Nissan. Apparently he felt driving his van (first car new from dealership!) wasnt appropriate. And despite its old age, he determined on the basis of it having “only” 40,000mi that if was “good”. 

That turd genuinely felt like a tin can lined with cardboard. I’d never been in a car that felt immediately and obviously so cheap. The automatic transmission had 3 forward speeds; this hadnt been the norm in like 4 decades. 

I borrowed the car once and while going down a mild grade at low speeds, when I hit the brakes for a traffic light, the car came to a stop at the end of the intersection. I never drove it again. 

This was the first time in my life I felt legitimate concern for my dads physical safety. I considered burning down the car because he couldnt he convinced to get rid of it. Eventually after a few months he did….dont know how, but I prayed for its new owner. 

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Not sure we had one that made it to 30k miles.

And we had three.

It was so bad, the editorial cartoonist of the local paper did a cartoon of my Dad getting fleeced by the local "Lemon Cadillac Dealer."

Edited by Rimbo
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Oh man, it's the Pinto and not even close.

pinto.thumb.png.2b25805b8e897e2bc262392ded2a9720.png

We took long road trips (also known as 'vacations') when I was a kid.  The back seat had two comfortable seats and a fucking hump between.  Two older brothers got the seats, I got the hump.  Whenever we went over a bump it launched my head into the roof.  Good times.

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My best friend and I belched soot from this bad boy, diesel-powered 1981 Oldsmobile all the way from Arlington to the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas to San Francisco to LA to Yuma, AZ to El Paso then back to Arlington.

2 week unsupervised high school summer road trip before starting college.

A/C running cold offset the rattles, trim flappage and shuddering engine.  
The douche bag driving the convertible Corvette in Vegas most likely developed lung cancer after I rolled coal on his pompous ass.

  

316F0580-8AE0-4E03-BB76-959FA0352F41.webp

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5 hours ago, Rimbo said:

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Not sure we had one that made it to 30k miles.

And we had three.

It was so bad, the editorial cartoonist of the local paper did a cartoon of my Dad getting fleeced by the local "Lemon Cadillac Dealer."

I said to our old next-door neighbor a few years after his father died that one of the reasons I wished his dad was still around was because it would be nice to see him be able to buy a “good” Cadillac. He had so many shit Cadillacs but, for some reason he stayed loyal. He was in WW2 right at the end and spent time in the Pacific and was a very successful businessman, but for his loyalty to Cadillac. So often his Cadillacs were broken and at the dealership and yes, he had one like you posted.

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10 minutes ago, PittsburghTiger said:

I said to our old next-door neighbor a few years after his father died that one of the reasons I wished his dad was still around was because it would be nice to see him be able to buy a “good” Cadillac. He had so many shit Cadillacs but, for some reason he stayed loyal. He was in WW2 right at the end and spent time in the Pacific and was a very successful businessman, but for his loyalty to Cadillac. So often his Cadillacs were broken and at the dealership and yes, he had one like you posted.

Mom's Dad (my grandpa) was a service advisor for a GM dealer, so there was some loyalty there.

My favorite story about the Seville was the blue one we had. Mom was stopped at a stoplight and someone in a small Toyota pickup forgot how brakes worked and rear-ended her at a stoplight. The Toyota folded like an accordion and was totaled; the only real damage to the Seville was a 2-inch scratch from shock absorbers moving forwards. Those things were battle tanks, physically; a shame they were complete garbage mechanically.

Literally the same year we finally switched to Lexus, this happened: https://www.upi.com/Archives/1992/01/08/Motor-Trend-Magazine-names-Cadillac-Car-of-the-Year/6338694846800/

Now... the Lexus Mom got after that was an original Lexus SC400, one of the first 1000 to be made and shipped stateside. That beauty -- which she named "Scarlett," after Scarlett O'Hara -- lasted forever, until some shitty corner garage back in 2018 or so fucked up the oil change and killed it. (Yes, I'm still salty as fuck about that.) We donated the remains to KPBS and bought a used 5-series that my wife somehow sold for more than we paid for it 2 years later... I don't know how she does that shit.

Mom's dead; wife drives a Honda Fit now.

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1974 Pontiac Catalina like this one:

1973 Pontiac Catalina sedan in Golden Olive. 400-4 (S) | Pontiac cars, Pontiac  bonneville, Pontiac catalina

Worst car ever.  Drank a ton of gas.  It was so bad that my Dad just gave it to me my last semester of college.  (The Narrator:  It wasn't all bad -- sex things happened in that car.)

it ended up blowing a valve, so it ran on 7 pistons until I used it as a trade-in for my spanking new 1981 Honda Accord that I bought over the phone after my last UT final exam.  Good times.

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I have two that I remember were dogs and have decent stories to them. When I was really young my dad had a 1979 Triumph Spirfire 1500, which was a fun car and a pretty car but which was exactly as bad as a malaise era British roadster could be. Like this, but dark blue. Awful build quality, constantly not starting, wretched electronics. The whole experience. 
 

image.jpeg.526f2eed1bacbb593f3329583a8906ef.jpeg

This was also completely unsuited for a family soon to have a second kid so dad decided to trade the car to a neighborhood high school kid for a year’s worth of yard work. And in South Texas, that’s an actual full year of work.  The agreement was, the kid worked half the year, then got the car after six months, then finished the year. 

Dad soon called this kid “brainless” because of various idiotic things he did with the lawn equipment but at the six month mark Brainless got the car. And a few months after that, Brainless decided to change the oil. After the oil was fully drained, Brainless’ friend walked up and proposed running to the Sonic for a burger. Brainless, figuring the short drive would be fine, started it up with no oil, moved less than a few blocks, and seized the engine, rendering this specimen of 1970s British engineering useless.

Brainless’ dad came to try and negotiate a new contract for the rest of the year since “he doesn’t even have the car now,” but that didn’t fly with dad although he did “fire” the kid after a bunch more idiotic incidents. 
 

After getting rid of the Spitfire, dad started driving mom’s Plymouth Horizon and got mom a Cutless Sierra, like this one:

image.thumb.jpeg.3e4b793e77e7e6bffd01306186212cdc.jpeg

Pretty unremarkable and identical to almost every other kids’ mom in the school parking lot. Except this one had a serious issue with that 1980’s CPU and it would race the engine all the way up to redline when mom’s foot was nowhere near the gas. Stoplights, the garage, etc. The shop had no idea WTF to do with it, and as a kid it scared the hell out of me each time. We kept it far too long for a car with an issue like that, and eventually replaced it with a Buick Roadmaster sedan that remains a car of legendary kickassness in the family. 
 

My dad was a strict Chrysler/GM man back when that kind of brand loyalty was a thing.  Then my mom got a Honda Pilot to replace a 1990s Jeep Grand Cherokee (fantastic car) in the mid-2000s and they’ve never looked back. 

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10 hours ago, PittsburghTiger said:

I said to our old next-door neighbor a few years after his father died that one of the reasons I wished his dad was still around was because it would be nice to see him be able to buy a “good” Cadillac. He had so many shit Cadillacs but, for some reason he stayed loyal. He was in WW2 right at the end and spent time in the Pacific and was a very successful businessman, but for his loyalty to Cadillac. So often his Cadillacs were broken and at the dealership and yes, he had one like you posted.

We had a friend of the family who was wealthy and successful and loved new cars. He’d buy a big Mercedes every two or three years. One year he had some issue with it and the dealer wouldn’t repair it even though it was under warranty, calling it a minor thing. 
 

So this old guy, former USAAC pilot who flew the hump during WWII went to San Antonio from the RGV, to the closest Lexus dealer at the time, paid cash for a new LS 400. Then he drove it to the MB dealer, asked for the manager, and said “I just wanna show you my new car. And it’s gonna be my next one, too….and the next. 

image.jpeg.065b39193ef203d13471f9e8b6c83674.jpeg

He lived a good long while and bought several more big Lexus’. 

Edited by 956 Worldwide
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28 minutes ago, 956 Worldwide said:

We had a friend of the family who was wealthy and successful and loved new cars. He’d buy a big Mercedes every two or three years. One year he had some issue with it and the dealer wouldn’t repair it even though it was under warranty, calling it a minor thing. 
 

So this old guy, former USAAC pilot who flew the hump during WWII went to San Antonio from the RGV, to the closest Lexus dealer at the time, paid cash for a new LS 400. Then he drove it to the MB dealer, asked for the manager, and said “I just wanna show you my new car. And it’s gonna be my next one, too….and the next. 

image.jpeg.065b39193ef203d13471f9e8b6c83674.jpeg

He lived a good long while and bought several more big Lexus’. 

I swear to God, they did the same thing next door. Jeff went out and bought that same car. It was a revelation.

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On 12/2/2022 at 6:53 PM, Mach 1 said:

Oh man, it's the Pinto and not even close.

pinto.thumb.png.2b25805b8e897e2bc262392ded2a9720.png

We took long road trips (also known as 'vacations') when I was a kid.  The back seat had two comfortable seats and a fucking hump between.  Two older brothers got the seats, I got the hump.  Whenever we went over a bump it launched my head into the roof.  Good times.

Agree 100% with this assessment.  Parents bought one (special ordered?) a 1974 version.  Four-banger that generated maybe 90 BHP.  Fortunately it was handed down to my older sister instead of me.  I was "lucky" enough to get a 1977 Nova - not named Nova in Mexico because it means "No Go" in Spanish, which is also an accurate assessment.  I did manage to get a speeding ticket or two in it - wind must have been in my favor.

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On 12/3/2022 at 9:05 AM, NYTransplant said:

We had not one, but two Chrysler K cars in my family. 

A Plymouth Reliant Station Wagon. I think it actually had the wood paneling, but that's one of those repressed childhood memories.

image.jpeg.c171876298011dc1385671319ea4560c.jpeg

 

That was obviously some of the inspiration for that classic ride, the Family Truckster!

A 'National Lampoon's Vacation' Station Wagon Is Going to Auction | Cool  Material

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I forgot two others that Dad had.

One was a convertible Corvair. I can’t really remember the year. I know the reputation was not deserved for that car but then Ralph Nader killed it. Dad sold it for $300 to a gal who worked fro him in his department at the hospital. I remember the car a bit and I liked it.

One that was really bad, a third-generation Mustang convertible. It was just not a good car. The engine, the 2.3, was a dog. The top was ill-fitting, as was the interior. It was just bad. He kept that for a very short time.

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On 12/2/2022 at 6:53 PM, Mach 1 said:

Oh man, it's the Pinto and not even close.

pinto.thumb.png.2b25805b8e897e2bc262392ded2a9720.png

We took long road trips (also known as 'vacations') when I was a kid.  The back seat had two comfortable seats and a fucking hump between.  Two older brothers got the seats, I got the hump.  Whenever we went over a bump it launched my head into the roof.  Good times.

My dad had one of these when I was a very small child - a baby shit green Ford Pinto.  He loves to tell the story of how he had to drive it from Houston to Cleveland for sales training that he would be at for over a month.  He had all of his shit loaded up in it and decided to stop at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along the way.  Back then you could pay a few bucks and drive your car around the track.  He paid his money and gave it all she had - I think he got it up to ~75 mph and said it was wobbling like hell going around the curves.

He also had a Vega and said he'd pull into the service station and tell them to fill her up with oil and check the gas.

#dadjokes

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On 12/3/2022 at 5:54 PM, Gil Bang said:

Vega's were a horrible design.  Aluminum pistons, aluminum block.  Seizeville.

 

My buddy had a fiat spider.  Even in Socal, it rusted like a motherfucker.  You could look down at the floor and see the road. 

Not exactly correct. I got 125K on my Vega without issues. The design issue was aluminum block without steel sleeves for piston. Any temperature issues warped it. Dad bought several for 100 bucks or so and sleeved the engine and they ran fine after. Delorean's book said the beancounters removed the steel sleeves. However the body rust issue was real. They learned the hard way that certain metals rust when touching - like the clips holding trim on. However any mid 70's car was a mess as they tried to go from horsepower to fuel economy overnight

The Vega was fine for me. Also had 2 Fiats which were not fine. We also had a couple of Corvairs which were fine since they were after 1964.

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My dad had a Cutlass Supreme (circa the 76-78 period) that he had special ordered from the factory, and that thing had a ton of problems.  

In the 80's, I learned how to drive on a hand-me-down 1977 Toyota Corolla with a manual transmission.  I think there were lawn mowers with bigger engines than that car.  And the undercarriage rusted through.   Toward the end of its life, if you pulled up the floor mats, you'd see daylight.  

 

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Those of you that grew up in the 70's with those cars and later inherited the cars to drive in the 80's lived through a special kind of hell.  My high school parking lot was littered with their corpses and kept the local tow guys in business.

Although I am squarely in the time period, my brother and I dodged a bullet on that one:

Mom drove a 73' Cadillac Sedan De Ville and dad had a '75 Ford Explorer truck ( Dad is a Ford man  but always got the shitty colors because they cost less at the end of season-I guess.  The '75 was oxidizing brown with orange, tan, black, almost red and white striping and looked like Sark's pregame suit from TCU.)

Any way, the late 70's gas price increase hit and they downsized to a '79 Mazda Station wagon (the car my brother and I would learn to drive on) and a -you guessed it-brown -Ford Courrier pick up.

We eventually picked up an 83' Toyota Tercel for my brother and I and dad got rid of the Courrier when gas prices receded.  Mom got a '84 Lincoln Town Car. Dad got another Big Ford Truck in another shitty color.

In college we replace Mazda wagon with brand new '86 Mazda B2000 bench seater with a standard which I ended up selling in 1997 to one of my employees and that truck is still working a ranch in Durango, Mexico.

My dad's trucks were truly hideous.  I can remember  a metallic turquoise green/blue with tan detailing and a metallic light brown with red detailing.

Those late 70's early 80's imports were small with small engines.  I remember when I bought my first walk behind concrete saw and the engine was bigger than any of the the ones in my learner cars, but not by much, but then again it was a just a saw.

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3 hours ago, AUinHsv said:

 I knew you had an MGA (I still have one) but also a Vega?  if you also had a Corvair we just hit for the cycle

No Corvair, but I did shop for the new basic 500(?) two door model in 1963. IIRC, it listed for $1,995. MSRP.

Also looked at a nice used red 1958 Corvette with hardtop, & 283…. dude was asking $1,895. 
I only had $1,000 to spend, but Dad wouldn’t loan me the balance (smart man, he was). So it was the used MGA for $900.

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On 12/3/2022 at 1:38 PM, LebongJames said:

3D0707AB-04EF-462A-9F3B-578BDBE22F6E.jpeg

Man, I have a ton of great road trip memories in our Aerostar. The winstar that replaced it, just never lived up.

 

dad had a Mazda truck fetish for a decade Or two. Had an 85 model that he blew the engine on around 95. Mom gave him the green light to get whatever he wanted, and he showed up in the house in the exact same truck, just a 92 model. Finally sold it in 02. I tried to kill that motherfucker. Buried it twice in mud above the frame, and it wouldn’t die. Last we heard, some little old man was still driving it around Muleshoe. I think it made 11 horses.

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My highschool car. 

+s were heads up display, super adjustable seats with 9 different buttons to adjust the seat in every way possible, cool screen that showed image of car and when doors were open and the like, 3.6 liter V6, bass that sounded like someone was kicking the door

-s we're having to replace the alternator about once every 6 months, the engine just about falling out of the car while driving, and the car randomly shutting off while driving several times a year. 

Love and hate relationship with that car. 

image.png.5640f2a8e7101c75161abddc6f2347c0.png

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This has been an interesting warmup by you all, but it’s time to get serious.  I give you, the Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport.

This car checks all the boxes.

1.  American made.  Has a v6 in it so you’ve got all that American muscle.

2.  Front wheel drive so that commie neighbor of yours won’t have a step on you with his Honda.

3.  It’s got euro in the name so the young single guy down the street with the BMW will know you’re serious.

4.  It’s computerized so those bureaucrats at the EPA are satisfied.

5.  It’s got so much shit in the intake and exhaust system that somehow, magically, it can simultaneously get shitty gas mileage and create no power.  If the fuel is t creating power… and it’s not creating exhaust … what is it doing?

6.  It’s got an AC Delco stereo with knobs, levers, an equalizer and a clock.

No matter the time, era or nostalgia, this car will never be in style or back in style. All of your shit cars pale in comparison to this shit.

image.jpeg

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20 minutes ago, CoTex said:

This has been an interesting warmup by you all, but it’s time to get serious.  I give you, the Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport.

This car checks all the boxes.

1.  American made.  Has a v6 in it so you’ve got all that American muscle.

2.  Front wheel drive so that commie neighbor of yours won’t have a step on you with his Honda.

3.  It’s got euro in the name so the young single guy down the street with the BMW will know you’re serious.

4.  It’s computerized so those bureaucrats at the EPA are satisfied.

5.  It’s got so much shit in the intake and exhaust system that somehow, magically, it can simultaneously get shitty gas mileage and create no power.  If the fuel is t creating power… and it’s not creating exhaust … what is it doing?

6.  It’s got an AC Delco stereo with knobs, levers, an equalizer and a clock.

No matter the time, era or nostalgia, this car will never be in style or back in style. All of your shit cars pale in comparison to this shit.

image.jpeg

Still and all, American offerings at that time were pretty miserable across the board.  That and a Pontiac something or other that was similar, were about the best there was.

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Mom had one of these.  
 

image.jpeg.9bb39d723e6ba7d7a5552c1f01ebe6f2.jpeg

 

Mitsubishi 2 liter 4 banger for the power and Detroit attention to detail for the assembly.

This is the LE which was too much for our budget apparently because we had the lesser SE edition.

My asshole older brother would sit in the third row, I would sit in the front, and he would demand we play his guns and roses and Beatles tape.  If I didn’t dj to his liking we had to resolve the dispute by hand to hand combat when we arrived at our destination.

To this day I tell my wife and family stories from my childhood and they don’t believe me.  
 

Believe it.  It was real.
 

 

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On 12/2/2022 at 3:18 PM, Rimbo said:

spacer.png

Not sure we had one that made it to 30k miles.

And we had three.

It was so bad, the editorial cartoonist of the local paper did a cartoon of my Dad getting fleeced by the local "Lemon Cadillac Dealer."

But you looked like Saudi Royalty rolling around town in that thing, and that’s all that really mattered.

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For several years, our fleet consisted of these Fords in these colors.  Dad was rear-ended twice in the Pinto with nary an explosion.  2.0L / auto, but he had it for more than a decade.

The brightest memory of the Gran Torino wagon was one of the 3500 mile vacations.  We spent hours in a dealership in BFE, NM when the AC went south.

 

 

 

1975 ford gran torino combi wagon

Celebrating 50 years of the Pinto - Old Cars Weekly

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2 hours ago, Incredulity said:

1985 Chevrolet Astro 4.3 i V6 (165 Hp) | Technical specs, data, fuel  consumption, Dimensions

 

Complete turd.

Had a friend whose mom rolled around in one of these.  They had the spacious expanse that only the chevy astro could provide, but we knew the style our dodge caravan exuded made up for the lack of comfort. 

You were at least 2 whole castes beneath us.

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15 hours ago, CoTex said:

This has been an interesting warmup by you all, but it’s time to get serious.  I give you, the Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport.

This car checks all the boxes.

1.  American made.  Has a v6 in it so you’ve got all that American muscle.

2.  Front wheel drive so that commie neighbor of yours won’t have a step on you with his Honda.

3.  It’s got euro in the name so the young single guy down the street with the BMW will know you’re serious.

4.  It’s computerized so those bureaucrats at the EPA are satisfied.

5.  It’s got so much shit in the intake and exhaust system that somehow, magically, it can simultaneously get shitty gas mileage and create no power.  If the fuel is t creating power… and it’s not creating exhaust … what is it doing?

6.  It’s got an AC Delco stereo with knobs, levers, an equalizer and a clock.

No matter the time, era or nostalgia, this car will never be in style or back in style. All of your shit cars pale in comparison to this shit.

image.jpeg

Was that the sibling to the Cimarron?

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20 minutes ago, Rimbo said:

Was that the sibling to the Cimarron?

In General Motors ranks, this was the midsize version with the sport package.  The Cimmaron was the compact version with the deeluxe package.

Cimmaron might have been better at setting the hook in the prey, but the Celebrity had the bigger back seat and the aforementioned equalizer on the stereo. 

 

I guess it boils down to do you spend more money on the bait, or do you spend your money on the fishbox.  Heh, heh.

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