6 of the Most Popular but Worst-Made Cars in Automotive History

Some of the most popular car names had their share of troubles. Maybe a generation wasn’t up to snuff, or the automaker refused to invest in continuing a specific name. Some of the worst-made cars in automotive history are popular because they were terrible. We’ve got a bit of both on this list to bring six of the most popular worst-made cars ever to hit the roads.

1978 Dodge Challenger
1978 Dodge Challenger | Wiki Commons

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The Dodge Challenger of the 1960s was incredible. This car could go hard and fast, besting nearly all other muscle cars. Unfortunately, new emissions regulations and lower power outputs created one of the most popular but worst-made cars in the 1978 version of the Challenger. That car offers a 2.6-liter 4-cylinder engine that only offered 105 horsepower. This wasn’t the muscle car that put fear in the hearts of others.

The 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel was easily one of the biggest flops

Yellow 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme | Wiki Commons

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To be fair, the diesel-powered Cutlass Supreme was one of the most popular and worst-made cars ever put on the road. That said, this was one of the first times the brand attempted to use a diesel engine. The 1973 oil crisis and restrictions of the 1970s drove some automakers to try different things that didn’t always work. This diesel engine only offered 90 horsepower, and it was prone to exploding. Those cars that didn’t explode were often found broken down on the side of the road.

The 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 is one of the most popular cars in history, but not for its performance

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 with the doors open
1981 DeLorean DMC-12 | Wiki Commons

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Even though the Back to the Future franchise made the DMC-12 famous, this car wasn’t one of the best around. The 2.85-liter V6 engine could only produce 130 horsepower and a top speed better timed using a sundial. The movie franchise is all that saved this car from being a complete failure. While it has cemented a place in history, this car caused many frustrated drivers to shake their heads.

The potential was there for the 1997 Plymouth Prowler, but it was never quite realized

Purple 1997 Plymouth Prowler
1997 Plymouth Prowler | Wiki Commons

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The retro style of the 1997 Plymouth Prowler could have easily been one of the coolest and fastest cars of the decade. Unfortunately, the 3.5-liter V6 was underwhelming at best as this car could only generate 250 horsepower and hit 60 mph in a plodding seven seconds. This hot rod was so cold that it was easily one of the most popular but worst-made cars of its time.

The 2001 Pontiac Aztek is often at the top of the most popular  worst-made cars list

Tan 2001 Pontiac Aztek on snow
2001 Pontiac Aztek | Wiki Commons

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The Aztek was so bad it was scrapped quickly and never came back for a second round. In recent years, this terrible SUV gained popularity in the Breaking Bad series, but it was never a vehicle that divers could depend on. The bean counters at GM got their hands on this SUV and turned it into a vehicle that is always on the list of the biggest lemons ever to hit the road including this one from Car and Driver.

The 2003 Hummer H2 was the worst second act of any vehicle

Silver 2003 Hummer H2 Parked on Grass
2003 Hummer H2 | Wiki Commons

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The original H1 Hummer was a gas guzzler, but it was one of the top-performing SUVs at that time. The H2 did not live up to its predecessor. Yes, it guzzled fuel like the original, but it was underpowered, slow, and didn’t bring the real performance features we loved in the first model. With only 316 horsepower and a slow sprint speed, this SUV would run out of gas before you got very far.

Next, check out five trucks you want to avoid, or watch this video with some of the worst cars of all time:

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