Lemon Series: The Most Unreliable Cars in History

What are the most unreliable cars in history? This list will surprise you and take you back a long time to cars that were around long ago.

We don’t face the same level of unreliability on the roads as previous generations. Just imagine your sports coupe stalling out, leaving you on the side of the highway with no pay phone or cell phone to make a call and get some help. That’s what they faced. With that digression covered, let’s take a look at the list of the most unreliable cars in history.

Horsey Horeseless (1899)

Horsey Horeseless (1899)

This was one of the earliest cars,and it was made to replace horses. Because of this, the inventor chose to attach a wooden horse head to the front of the vehicle to make people feel a little less nervous about it. We don’t know if this vehicle was ever truly put on the road and into production, but the idea behind fooling other horses and people is one that seems a bit odd, but some things we do today are odd as well.

Ford Model T (1909)

Ford Model T (1909)

While the invention and development of the Ford Model T certainly spurned the economy and transformed the landscape, this car wasn’t very reliable at all. In fact, it was one of the most unreliable cars ever made, but the fact that you could drive across town, to work, and on a road trip in a vehicle that you could afford was a huge deal for Americans.

Overland OcotoAuto (1911)

Overland OcotoAuto (1911)

If no one ordering a car is enough to make it unreliable, this one takes the cake. The OctoAuto was a car that had six or eight wheels with more axles with the idea that more wheels would provide a smoother drive. They didn’t. In fact, this car, whichwas displayed at the inaugural Indianapolis 500, was one that never was put into production because no one wanted to drive it.

Chrysler/Desoto Airflow (1934)

Chrysler/Desoto Airflow (1934)

What was wrong with this car? It was easily one of the most innovative designs that was simply ahead of its time. The Airflow had a nearly 50/50 weight distribution, an aerodynamic construction, and many engineering innovations. Of course, the fact that the engine might fall out while driving made it a troublesome vehicle and one of the most unreliable cars in history.

Crosley Hotshot (1949)

Crosley Hotshot (1949)

This was the first sports car produced in postwar America,and that was an exciting factor. Unfortunately, that’s where the excitement ended because the hotshot was a hunk of junk. This car wasn’t fast, which was probably good because it was dangerous to drive. This car was known to drive out of control and end up wrapped around trees on the side of the road.

Renault Dauphine (1956)

Renault Dauphine (1956)

Stand next to the Dauphine,and you could hear it rusting, not a good sign. This car was rickety, paper-thin, and terrible to drive. Your sprint time to sixty mph could be measured with a calendar rather than
a stopwatch,and it was more likely the Dauphine would leave you walking to your destination than not. Without a doubt, this was one of the most unreliable cars ever made.

Ford Edsel (1958)

Ford Edsel (1958)

Sometimes, a car can drive just fine and get you everywhere you need to go, but the fact that you expected more from the car than what you got makes it unreliable. That was the problem with the Edsel. The marketers on Madison Avenue got hold of this machine and made it sound like it was going to rocket a family to the moon and not simplycarry everyone to the drive-in movies.

Lotus Elite (1958)

Lotus Elite (1958)

The fiberglass build of the Lotus Elite was its greatest attribute and its undoing at the same time. This material made the car light and allowed it to be a successful race car that won its class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times. Unfortunately, the fiberglass build wasn’t strong enough to withstand the suspension mounts punching through when they eventually would, making this one of the most unreliable cars in history.

Chevrolet Corvair (1961)

Chevrolet Corvair (1961)

One of the coolest cars of the 1960s was also one of the most dangerous. This car was the subject of Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed, and it was certainly that. This car could impale a driver in a crash with the single-piece steering column,and it was known to leak oil. The heating system would often bring harmful gasses into the cabin and cause drivers to pass out. Some drivers loved this car, but it was easily one of the most unreliable cars in history.