Every manufacturing company wants to make great products. Great products get great reviews and make lots of sales, however sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes a company makes a real dog of a product and consumers are the ones who get to live with it. In this article we worked with Kindle Dodge of Cape May Courthouse, NJ, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealer, and compiled a collection of several examples of cars that were really dumb ideas and never should have been built.
Some people claim the Ford Edsel is the number one automotive blunder of all time. Personally we think that’s a little harsh but it nonetheless was a classic misstep. Meant to slot just below their flagship Lincoln line, Ford sunk $400 million into developing the Edsel. The problem was that despite all the experts and researchers they hired, no one actually polled the public about the design or features they wanted. When the Edsel started shipping, the car was rejected quickly because of its funny front end with an odd upright grill (known as the “horse collar”) and its overall garish styling.
In the mid-1970s, tiny Wisconsin-based American Motors (no longer in business) designed an innovative little car called the Pacer. It was advanced for the time and had many features that others didn’t, things like rack-and-pinion steering, an elongated passenger door and a rollbar – plus a very odd looking fishbowl-like body design. It’s hard to believe that AMC made the pacer for 5 years because it did not sell very well.
Back in the 1960s, virtually every car was enormous and powered by a beefy V8. Gas was cheap and this was simply the way things were. Then gas prices started to climb and all the sudden “gas mileage” became an important detail to consider. Most of the American manufacturers started to build smaller, more thrifty cars; Fords the Pinto. It was a small car with great fuel economy – and it almost destroyed the company. Here’s what happened: to save $11 in manufacturing costs of every Pinto, Ford decided to place the Pinto’s gas tank in a spot under the car where it could be punctured during accidents. The result: untold numbers of Pintos went up in flames when rear collisions occurred.
Around the mid-nineties, the folks at Plymouth needed to inject a little pizazz back into the staid Plymouth brand. Here’s what they did: they remade the classic 1930s hotrod. The styling was great. It had open wheel design, wedge-shaped fuselage, sloping arches and could be purchased in a multitude of bold colors. It didn’t sell very well. First, it was powered by Chrysler’s 3.5-liter V6 and all of its 250 horsepower. This turned off a majority of potential buyers who simply expected the car to have a potent V8. The $38,300 ($56k today) base price didn’t help matters either. The Plymouth Prowler was just built for three years.