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Biggest Automotive Flops in the Last 50 Years

Darrek Olson

The time and money spent to bring an all-new vehicle to market is a huge gamble. Is the bold design going to catch on with consumers? Is the general consumer going to trust this new, unproven vehicle? In the case of the vehicles below, the answer to both of those questions was not the one they were hoping for. Here is Carsforsale.com’s Biggest Automotive Flops of the Last 50 Years

YugoYugo ad

Typically cars are given a name based on their make and model such as a Ford Taurus or Toyota Corolla. Then there are the greats that keep their name short. Cher, Bono, Sting, Sinbad, Moby and Fabio have all ditched their last and are known simply by one word name. This was the case for the Zastava Koral which was also known as Yugo. Although the Yugo was still in production in foreign markets until 2008, sales in the United States only spanned from 1985 – 1992, with 141,651 total units sold.

Rover 3500Rover SD1 (or Rover 3500)

The Rover SD1, or Specialist Division 1, was produced for a 10 year period between 1976 and 1986. Although it won the 1977 title of European Car of the Year, the SD1 failed to have similar success when it became available for sale in the United States in 1980. Under the name of Rover 3500, less than 1300 units were sold and sales in America ceased in 1981.

1983 DeLorean CoupeDeLorean DMC-12

John DeLorean was an automotive design savant with his name credited to such vehicles as the Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac GTO and Chevrolet Vega. However, when he decided to start his own company in the DeLorean Motor Company, the first and only model failed to sell more than 10,000 units between 1981 and 1983. Many may remember the DMC-12 as the vehicle Marty McFly and Doc Brown drove in the Back to the Future trilogy. However, the first film was released in 1985 and sadly for John DeLorean, it was too late.

2001 Pontiac AztekPontiac Aztek

Is that an SUV? Or is it a minivan? Regardless what you classify it as, the Aztek’s bold design failed to catch on as production began in 2000. GM originally targeted a younger consumer but the original MSRP at launch was too high and in the first year only 11,000 units were sold. After a price slash and more simplified trim options, sales increased slightly but still failed to have the success GM was originally looking for. Rather than continuing the humiliation that the Aztek received, GM retired it in 2005. To end the minivan or SUV debate, it shared the same platform as the Pontiac Montana which unequivocally was a minivan.

2001 Cadillac CateraCadillac Catera

As a marketing department, we typically keep a keen eye on every auto commercial or any viral video campaigns being done. The Cadillac Catera was an automotive marketing flop of the century. It started off great with supermodel Cindy Crawford as the spokesperson but quickly turned bad after that. With the tagline “the Caddy that Zigs”, Crawford spoke to a duck called Ziggy. Both Ziggy and “the car that zigs”, were supposed to bring fun to the luxury of Cadillac. In the first year of sales, Cadillac failed to sell  even 2,000 of the Catera.

Darrek Olson
Darrek Olson

Darrek is an enthusiast driver who values the journey more than the destination. A self-proclaimed Miata fanboy, his obscure knowledge of cars sometimes prevents him from remembering what he had for breakfast.

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