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It's a toss-up between:
- The leaky Alfasud that had been patched and resprayed but had about 2 gallons of water in the sills and floor pan that rushed forward when you braked.
- The powder blue and rust Polski Fiat that ate timing chains faster than it ate oil.
Runners-up are a 1964 Morris 1100 with Heinz baked-bean cans pop-riveted to the sub-frame and a BMW Isetta 300 whose gear-lever came away in your hand if you were a little too brisk with it.
That must have been a second hand Citroen 2CV, I remember one time when I tried to put something in the trunk and ended up standing with a broken off trunk lid in my hands !
The problem was that instead of hinges a simple seamed edge was used where the water could collect and cause the entire edge to rust off
Of course all this had to do with bad maintenance and not greasing the lid properly ...
'86 Pontiac 6000 - not because the car was bad per se, but because I didn't maintain it.
Near the end:
- The brake cylinder lost pressure so you had to pump the brakes once before they'd catch (except 1 in 100 times when they caught the first time and sent you to a screeching halt)
- The engine would not idle, but would sputter and die when coming to a stop
- Power steering would occasionally step out for a break
When coming to a stop-light, I would have to pump the brake with the left foot, put the tranny in neutral while gently pumping the gas to avoid a stall.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend; inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. -- Groucho Marx
Depends how you define 'worst'. Performance-wise, it was my first car, a 73 VW Beetle.
However, it was reliable, chugged along, pretty indestructible and relatively easy to repair.
The next car was one of those late-80s Mustang hatchbacks (88 I think). A better car in terms of performance and comfort, but it was just another generic car--Mustang in name only. So, in a way, it was worse--a new car (especially one with the Mustang name) should've been much better than that.
I guess I've been pretty lucky overall, all my vehicles have kept running o.k. for long periods until an accident (so far).
A Ford Taurus wagon- used with low mileage (30k?). Shortly after I got it, when I was stopped at a light the car would jump like it had been hit from behind. I found out the transmissions were junk and Ford never bothered to fix the problem. When you type "ford taurus t" in a search engine, the suggested search is "ford taurus transmission problems" with a long list of sites.
1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon. That thing was a death trap.
It was heavy in all the wrong places: up high and up front. Slab sides that caught crosswinds like sails. It had the worst handling characteristics of anything I have ever driven, and it's one of the reasons why I won't drive SUVs or other top-heavy vehicles to this day.
I once had to do an emergency lane change in that thing at highway speeds. The front suspension overloaded to the left and then bounced back to the right, and I had to countersteer and rock the front suspension back and forth a bit until it stabilized, while the front end was doing a reverse fishtail. It just about spun and rolled, and all it took was having to hit the brakes and change lanes suddenly. As soon as the weight transferred to the front and I turned the wheel all hell broke loose immediately, it was scary. I drive small Mazdas now.
The worst car I ever owned was a gently used 1968 Toyota Corona I bought in the mid 70s. Styling-wise think Soviet era Lada, but because it was a Japanese car it always ran.
That is until I made the mistake of letting one of my brother-in-laws borrow it. At some point in the evening he was driving back home on the freeway when the engine light came on, and the temperature gauge max'd out. Of course, he was bound and determined to get home. It finally gave out about 15 or so miles later. He left it on the side of the road, angry that I let him borrow such a clunker!
My other (good) brother-in-law helped me rebuild it. It lasted another 3 months. Turns out knuckle-head managed to warp the crank shaft (and we hadn't thought to check that before our rebuild).
Now a-days I carefully vet anyone who wants to drive any vehicle I own, and usually decline.
1980 something Chrysler LeBaron Turbo. Bought it from my grandmother in law (took it and gave money, cuz she couldn't see at night and still drove by following the white lines on the side of the road) with 32k miles in 1997. Drove in such a way as to never engage the turbo cuz the car shook like crazy when under acceleration. Parked in the garage one night shortly after having bought it. 15 minutes later our garage was on fire. The fuel line had broken and dripped onto something hot and ignited. Burned the garage and part of the kitchen. The grandmother in law, when she found out we got more in insurance for the car than what we paid her, wanted the extra money. She was a piece of work too.
Dodge Intrepid, which was constantly stalling, had to have both the transmission and rack & pinyon steering replaced after the 36,000 mile warranty ran out and before it hit 40,000 miles.
Second worst: Mitsubishi Lancer GT Manual. The clutch went at 30K miles. I replaced it with another standard transmission car where the clutch was still going strong after 100,000 miles when it was totaled by hail.
Every Ford and Jeep I've ever owned, and I've had two of each. Never, ever again will I buy anything other than a Toyota. I drove my '99 Taco for 15 years and almost 400,000 miles, nothing ever broke on it, ever, until the AC compressor finally gave out at mile 393,000 and something. My 2015 now has nearly 80,000 on it and again, no problems whatsoever (knocking on wood as I type).
If you think 'goto' is evil, try writing an Assembly program without JMP.
My Ferrari FXXK. Every time I come out of the store, there are four or five super-models around it, and the cab is quite compact so I can never get more than two in the passenger seat at a time. How can so many people think that we wealthy folks' lives are always perfect.