A Mostly British Obsession

Worst Car You Ever Owned?

Of course, I only have three readers, but what the heck: Share a brief anecdote of the worst car you ever owned.

1st place: hands down, the execrable Mercedes 220S, circa 1962. Regularly failed to start. Caught fire. I paid a stupid price. Had to give it away. No syncromesh left. No fun to drive. Just bad, all the way around.

2nd place: the 1984 XJS. A wonderful car when working well, but my well used example simply ate money, to the tune of $1000 a month. I would only buy another if it was immaculate and had a history file from new.


  1. chuck goolsbee

    I have been lucky to always have relatively reliable, excellent cars. But I’ve also stuck to Volkswagens (6) and Volvos (2).

    When I met my wife she had a Ford Tempo that somehow managed to redline the suck-o-meter at every turn. An ergonomic nightmare. A turning circle somewhere between “Aircraft Carrier” and “SR-71 @ Mach 3+”. Tacky plastic and polyester cloth interior. Blind spots that you could park the Exxon Valdez in.

    I have had some truly awful rentals though. A Fiat SeiCento with an “automatic stickshift” that combined the worst aspects of both transmission types, with a shifter shaped like a beer tap handle. A Ford Escort that caught fire in the middle of a nighttime blizzard(!) in the Colorado rockies. A miniature neon green car of Asian origin, in Alaska of all places… where everyone drives a MONSTER TRUCK.


  2. Allie

    I have owned a total of 3 cars. The worst was the Chevy Chevette, but I was very fond of it because it was mine. It ran for many years longer than my parents expected it to when they bought it for me.

    The miracle of knowing nothing about cars is that when the water pump blows up, you drive on happily for another hour before it occurring to you that the weird sound you hear is a *new* weird sound and perhaps warrants investigation.

    Among other things, twice it ceased working in 65 mph traffic, starter went bad, timing chain broke, etc. It was an old car, and I know nothing about cars, so really it was a miracle it ran as long as it did.

    My current car is still thrilling to me, because it starts up EVERY TIME I turn the key. Such a miracle of engineering should not go unappreciated.

  3. Kevin Cobley

    My worst car was 1968 Chevelle painted a leperous light metallic green that GM insisted on throwing on every other automobile they made in the late sixties. It also had a black vinyl top that was peeling away to reveal cancerous rust eating it’s way into the cabin. It was equiped with 307 V-8 and a two-speed (Powerglide) trans. Not exactly NASCAR material. It had the endearing habit of being impossible to start after a hard rain. Never could figure out where the damp was getting in the electricals. This feature made the car rather exciting to drive about in Seattle weather. I eventually sold it to a friend for $200. The car was so emotionaly devasted being parted from me it ate it’s transmission a few days after I passed it on. I saw the car again a couple of years later. It had grown even more hideous. I though it wasn’t possible. It should have been yours, Roger.

  4. Wiggles

    Without a word of a lie, the *worst* POS I ever owned was a BMW 300 Isetta. I pushed that lil’ bastid farther than I drove it! Slow, I mean quasar slow!
    Hard to work on, cramped (thought that part was kinda cool) and the MOST unreliale vehicle I ever had. A Vega looks good, next to an Isetta!!!


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