Hooniverse Asks- What's the Worst Car Your Family Has Ever Owned?

No Rusty, you'll never get laid in this. . . and neither will I.

Parents, we can’t control them. And unless you were brought up by the Shelbys or the Earhardts, it’s pretty likely that at some point your family owned a car that you nicknamed something like the dump truck for how quickly a date would go south when you arrived in it.
What choice did you have? It was the family car and you couldn’t afford gas or insurance, much less buying something that didn’t brand you as a tool every time you drove it to clarinet practice. Of course, playing the clarinet didn’t help either.
So what was it? A Camry with the magnetic sign on the side advertising your dad’s company’s line of feminine hygiene products? Or maybe it was that old Mercury Mystique that still smelled like your grandma even though she had passed away two years ago and your family had received the car from the estate.
So, which was it?  Which family car made you want to wear a disguise whenever you rode it it?
Imahe sources: [nwp4Life.com, dziennik.com]

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  1. DeadinSideInc Avatar

    The parents had a couple:
    1) 1977 Civic that was allergic to the wet
    2) 1981 Datsun Bluebird (in 1997) that had a significant speed wobble and issues with exhaust in cabin, and a 1 speaker AM radio
    3) 1997 Saturn that had myraid of issues (coil packs?)
    4) I had a 1994 Protege that leaked gas if the tank was more than 1/2 full, leaked water in, and had an autobox that was dying

  2. DeadinSideInc Avatar

    And my Saab was awful. But it would not consider it "bad"

  3. Tanshanomi Avatar

    1982 Chevy Celebrity, with a bullet. (And we'd previously owned a '76 Granada Ghia, so that's really saying something!) My folks actually had a habit of momentarily turning off the A/C when accelerating into traffic.
    It was originally my dad's company car. When the lease was up, my parents actually bought the thing for my mom for some inexplicable reason. (Wait, I know the reason — they picked it up really cheap because of its horrifically bad depreciation.) Fortunately, there was a '71 Chevelle 2-door for me to drive, and I had already left home to join the Army before they bought the car outright in '84, so I didn't have to get behind the wheel of it much. But my mom drove that car for another eight years. She traded it in on an '92 Toyota Tercel and thought it was light-years better. That also says a lot.

  4. P161911 Avatar

    My mother had a 1980 or so Chevy Caprice that was all you would expect in quality and performance from a mid-Malaise GM product. I think it had the 115HP 267 V-8, I might be wrong. It didn't last too long.
    My mother's current car is a 2000 Mercury Mountaineer. It has to be one of the worst "modern" SUVs. She got it used and got a deal because nobody wanted an AWD version in Georgia. It rides worse than a 1-ton pickup, is cramped on the inside, and has thin seats that are uncomfortable after about 2 minutes. The 3rd row seating should be reserved for those you want to torture. I compare this Mountaineer to my wife's comparable, but MUCH better, TrailBlazer (2WD) and wonder how Ford ever sold any of these things.
    My dad has a Dodge Caliber as a company car, does that count?

  5. skitter Avatar

    The '94 Chrysler Town & Country, bought used, ate two transmissions as well as losing its sliding door while visiting my grandmother's cousins in Georgia.
    *CLUNK* Hi! We're the relatives from West Virginia!

    1. Alff Avatar

      Skitter's full!

    2. discontinuuity Avatar

      So if Georgians look down on West Virginians as hillbillies, who do West Virginians look down on? New Jersey?

      1. scroggzilla Avatar

        Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi…in alphabetical order.

    3. theeastbaykid Avatar

      It's hard to top the door imagery, but my family also had the pleasure of Chrysler minivan ownership. On a trip to Tahoe in our '86 version, the head gasket blew about 150 miles out. Then there was a series of short sprints to get close enough so that the tow truck would take us TOWARD the vacation instead of away from it. Wound up crossing the Sierras in the cab of an Iveco wrecker–great fun for a ten-year old.
      We also had a Volkswagen Quantum wagon, which was the Audi of Volkswagens (unreliable AND expensive to repair). But at least it had a five-speed.

      1. UknowBamaboysarebest Avatar

        I had a 1978 Diesel rabbit……thought I would have it for a long time as my commuter. But, it had problems around 95000 miles and started using a lot of oil. So I rebuilt it at a German car shop……after $1700. in 1983, it still ran the same and used oil the same. They never could solve it. I was highly disappointed but had already bought a 1983 VW Quantum Diesel with lots of options……very pricy. Turbo booster quit at about 35,000 miles and cost around 1800. to replace. Then the timing belt broke at 47,000 miles and tried to rework the valves. It limped on for a while……but ended up junking it at 51,000 miles. The worst car I think have ever EVEN heard of at a VERY high price. VW has not exactly endeared themselves to people that wants a long lived car !! I don't like their prices for parts or reputation. Good Luck !!

  6. Alff Avatar

    Probably a tossup between a Fiat 131 (I don't remember the year but it must have been early because it was before it was marketed in the U.S. as a Super Brava) and a 1977 Caprice.
    The Fiat stuck around for a year and spent as much time in the shop as the 911S that replaced it, while delivering far less fun.
    The Caprice was a lovable tuna boat with a massive (!) 5 liter engine and a tendency to stall when turning right. It was triple black with no AC, which was okay in Seattle but untenable in SoCal.

  7. scroggzilla Avatar

    1977 AMC Pacer Station Wagon. It radiated such dorkyness that I insisted on walking to high school in all but the harshest weather. Even then, I demanded to dropped off 2 blocks from school.

  8. BGW Avatar

    Depends on the definition of is worst. Mechanically worst, as in most likely to explode in a cloud of steam, smoke, metal shavings and viscous fluids, would have been damned near everything my brother owned prior to his 30s: Various clapped out early '60s-mid '70s Beetles, an RX-3 with floor pan holes that would have scared Fred Flintstone, 1980 Cutlass that idled like a Kenworth Diesel and, if you accelerated from a stop too slow OR too fast, would just…stop.
    As for aesthetically worst…My mother's school-bus yellow (w/ brown vinyl top) 1976 Ford LTD wins the prize for me. In retrospect, it's not the worst I've ever seen, but the combination of the poor color choice, the sheer mass of the beast ('specially to the elementary-school version of myself) and the fact that it replaced a '67 Camaro that could have possibly been mine at some point make that damned LTD my kryptonite.

    1. FTGDHoonEdition Avatar

      School bus yellow??? Jeez!

  9. Maymar Avatar

    My parents have never exactly owned bad cars – nothing overwhelmingly embarassing, or unreliable. It's just been all very pedestrian. My dad did own an early 70's Corona and Duster as his first two cars, but that was before I was born, and really only interesting having been filtered through 30 years.

  10. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    two candidates for this title…
    The 86ish plymoth caravel four door. Peeling paint, crushed red velvet interior, leaking master cylender… but hey it had a pretty awesome turbo.
    The other is a early nineties Oldsmobile two door that was such a turd it died in less than four months.

  11. ptschett Avatar

    1983 Buick Century T-type sedan. The first engine (a weird 3.0L V6 derived from the 3.8) lasted about 80,000 miles and the second was on its way out with 120,000 on the car.

  12. joshuman Avatar

    The majority of my parent's vehicles were Subaru wagons with a few Toyota pickups tossed in so nothing terrible or super exciting. By far the worst driver of the bunch is my Mom's current Honda Accord. It is just so boring and prone to wheel spin in the wet. I really liked her Justy so much more even if it did try to kill me.

  13. Tomsk Avatar

    If we limit it to during my lifetime, it would be the '85 Cadillac Fleetwood (FWD) that my grandma bought from her brother after he bought a '96 T-bird new. Sure it was comfortable and roomy, and had been meticulously maintained, but it had one major flaw: the HT4100 V8.

  14. muthalovin Avatar

    Worst Mechanically – 1990 Dodge Daytona Shelby. That thing was terminal from day one. Paint flaking, turbo chugging, door handle not handling, pop-up headlight not popping up… God, that car was awesome!
    Worst On My Ego – 1985 C4 Corvette. This was our "car pool" vehicle when I was in middle school. My mom would drop my fellow car poolers off at school. I would emerge from the passenger seat, then my buddy would drop down from the console, and finally, my other buddy would crawl out from under the hatch. Everyone called us clowns. I am emotionally scared.

  15. Manic_King Avatar

    My mother had ZAZ 965 during second half of seventies, which had specially made all pleather interior and instruments out of ZAZ 968, so quite nice for 25 hp soviet crapbox, then.
    I vividly remember constant fear and need to check where the hell was the fire extinguisher as those cars had air cooled motors and fuel burning heaters which usually overheated and easily ignited back end of this car model. Later mom upgraded to newer and less fire prone heater from newer ZAZ.

    1. Impalamino Avatar

      "fuel burning heaters which usually (USUALLY?? -ed.) overheated and easily ignited back end of this car model."
      The rest of you and your mushy-handling 80s GM products? Maybe not so bad after all, huh?

  16. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

    While I was growing up, my mother had a red/white Bronco II with manual hubs, a metallic-Tobago-Green Contour with a stick shift, and a Vortex Blue over all-black New Beetle turbo (also a manual). Nothing embarrassing so far.
    My grandparents, however, were hit-or-miss. Sure, my grandmother still had an '00 Cross Country when she died, even if it was a champagney colour, and an '89 Volvo 244 that still donates parts to my daily driver. The Eclipse and Sebring convertibles that came between them weren't bad, either, at least not that bad.
    However, my grandmother had two consecutive first-gen N-body Grand Ams before the 240, and my grandfather went from a Celebrity wagon to a white/blue Corsica to a white/red Achieva SL before the latter was traded in on the first pre-owned Sable in '02 or '03.
    I was only developed enough at the time to be embarrassed by one of those cars – the Achieva. And it wasn't that bad for its time, even with its mildly ponderous styling and ridiculous name. So really, it's not that much of a loser.
    My mother's first car, though, over a decade before I was born, was a Pinto hatchback, though… that's gotta count for something.

  17. CptSevere Avatar

    My stepdad had a thing for big American boats, which was fine by me. At one point we had a '71 or '72 Buick Electra 225. Should have been a great car, I mean it was a tank. I remember riding with Bob in the other car, a '69 Toronado, racing my mom in the Buick on I-15 between Salt Lake and Provo going 100 MPH going up Point of the Mountain. The Toronado won.
    That Buick had problems, the most serious was overheating. Bob took it to I don't know how many mechanics, new radiator, new heads, etc. Nothing worked. Stupid car finally blew up, which was a shame. He bought a '63 Belvedere after that, which he blew up, as well. My mom eventually dumped him. When she did, I ripped the plug wires out of the Toronado, and he had to hire a guy to put them back on. Then drove off, and blew up the Toronado, eventually. Bob was rough on cars.

  18. Han_Solex Avatar

    "in the care of my sister"

  19. ppphhhh Avatar

    1979 Oldsmobile, 5.7 L diesel. Yes, that diesel engine:
    Every 6 months or so, something on that car broke. My family haven't bought an American car since then. I understand this engineering fiasco was responsible for destroying the entire American diesel-powered car market.

  20. Billi Vittitoe Avatar

    Great info, thanks for the post!

  21. Retired Mfer Avatar
    Retired Mfer

    I've had two worst cars both not worth a shit. 1970 SAAB 99 & 1972 VW rabbit. Almost got in fistfight w/VW dealer when I asked his service manager if he was as incompetent as his mechanics apparently were. At that time VW didn't do a good job of service training b/c emission equipment was just ramping up. Rabbit finally caught on fire when I had my little boy riding with me. Paint looked so beautiful with orange flames burning it off. Thanks USAA for paying off insurance claim so quickly.

  22. Krautwursten Avatar

    I didn't have it too bad when I was old enough to drive but not affluent enough to buy my own car because my dad had a Volvo V70 at the time. But before that he had a boretacular Renault Scenic (it's a family minivan!), and his car history even goes back to the objectively terrible Trabant, which however he loves to praise and defend (socialist Stockholm snydrome?).