The no-good, the bad and the ugly
So. A new year has dawned. And, traditionally, it's the time to prognosticate to look ahead at what the automotive world has in store for us. But we've done quite a lot of that already in recent months. Besides, at Desperateseller.co.uk, we like, occasionally, to be a little unconventional to break with tradition. So, instead of speculation, we're thought we’d indulge in a bit of reflection - look backwards, rather than forwards. It seemed to us that, given the awful year we've just waved goodbye to, it might be interesting to look at some other awful things we've left behind.
Such as, for example, cars. We thought it might be fun to share with you the results of a recent (ish 2018, actually) survey of over 5,000 car enthusiasts, who were asked to vote on the worst cars ever made. There’s no real surprises in the list, but – just in case you’d like to be reminded, here’s where the votes went. We’ve restricted ourselves to the bottom five - listed as the least worst first.
Yugo 45: Cheap, yes, but not cheerful
What do you call a year-old Yugo 45? A miracle. It’s a joke that wasn’t far from the truth. First introduced to the UK in 1984, the Yugoslavian-built Yugo was flimsy and prone to rust, and soon earned a reputation for poor reliability. It also required a new timing belt every 40,000 miles. If that weren’t bad enough, the vehicle’s list of standard features included an “exterior door mirror” – note the use of the singular, telling you all you need to know about what was fitted – or not. In 1984, you’d pay £2,749 (less than £8K today) for a new Yugo 45, so it was certainly cheap. But it was also a incontrovertible proof of the old saying – you get what you pay for!
Lada Riva: redefining awful
The Yugo 45 wasn’t the only car to inspire scathing jokes. For example, what do you call a convertible Lada? A skip. Or, again, how do you double the value of a Lada? By filling the fuel tank. Both quips were disturbingly close to the bone. Based on the Fiat 124 but without any of the Italian forerunner’s style or driveability, the Lada Riva took the term ‘boxy’ to a whole new level, and had an appallingly basic interior. It was said to have more rattles and squeaks than a baby toy factory, and the things that fell off were only the ones you don't need anyway. Still, despite its impressive list of failings, the low cost of the Lada made it a common sight on UK roads in the 1980s.
Rover CitiRover: over-priced, under-everythinged
At the turn of the millennium, a replacement for the Rover 100 was long overdue. But, with neither the cash nor the facilities to develop one from the ground up, Rover struck a deal with the Indian multinational, Tata. And the CitiRover was born. Actually, the CitiRover was a subtly tweaked version of the Tata Indicar, but the the deal didn’t stretch to improving the really shi… sorry, substandard - bits such as the interior quality and ergonomics. Which might have been OK if the price had been low. But it wasn’t. It started at £6,500, rising to almost £9,000 for top-spec models. For that kind of cash, you could get a considerably more stylish Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa. And that’s exactly what buyers did. In 2005, MG Rover went under, taking the CitiRover with it. And few, if any, mourned its passing.
FSO Polonez: a contradiction in terms
Whoever chose the name FSO Polonez must have had a well-developed sense of irony. Why? Because ‘Polonez’ not only reflects the car's country of origin (Poland), but is also a homonym for the word Polonaise, a very elegant and graceful dance. Yet the car itself completely contradicted this usage of the word, as it was quite definitely one of the ugliest and clumsiest cars on the road. But the FSO Polonez wasn’t just routinely ridiculed in the automotive press for its appearance, it was ludicrously underpowered and had notoriously poor handling – earning it a reputation, in 1980s UK, as an accident waiting to happen. The result? A car which, in the words of Jeremy Clarkson, was ‘…more tedious than a parish council meeting. Basically, a box under which the car buyer would discover a 1940s tractor.”
Austin Allegro, aka the All-Aggro
It will probably come as no surprise that the Austin Allegro, designed as a replacement for the Austin 1100 in 1974, was voted the world's worst ever car, with over 25% of the survey votes. The Allegro was so bad that they were banned from the Blackwall tunnel. This was because they were dangerous to tow, their shells would bend and their rear windscreens pop out. Plus, the rectangular Quartic steering wheel was labelled unsafe by the police, and there were several reports of the car’s rear wheels flying off and overtaking the remains of the travelling vehicle. And all this is before you consider it’s abysmal aesthetics. Overall, it’s little wonder that it was described by one popular auto magazine as ‘a wart on the bottom of the automotive industry’.
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