HomeLifestyleHuman InterestMotorHeadline: The absolute worst car to come out of Detroit

MotorHeadline: The absolute worst car to come out of Detroit



The list of lemons produced by American auto manufacturers is as long as, or maybe longer than, the cars we now think of as classics; however the Edsel, Ford Pinto, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Diesel and the long forgotten Crosley do not hold a candle to the 1971 to 1977 Chevrolet Vega.


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  1. My husband had a 72 Pinto…manual. I learned to drive stick in that car and we drove that car for many years without any problems. We never got rear ended, thankfully, but it was a great way to get around when we were young.

  2. I had one of those early Vegas. A friend of mine had one also that had air conditioning, mine didn’t. He sold me his A/C and we installed it on my car. That car had so little power that when the compressor kicked on, it felt like it slowed down ten MPH. I am a fan of some of those early cars, like the Studibaker’s, AMC’s and the Vegas for their styling. When any of these cars are modernized with a newer drive train and late model suspension they can make a great driver, and look a lot better than many cars today.

  3. In the 70’s our family owned a Pinto, Vega, and a Fiat 850 Spider. The Pinto was never rear-ended, the Vega cylinder walls lasted longer than most, but within two PA winters, the Fiat’s exhaust system rusted away and the body structure was structurally degraded by corrosion. The Fiat was the worst car our family owned while I was living at home.

  4. They got it right in final production year when the cast iron “Iron Duke” engine was used. But too late. Knew a friend who drove one for over 250,000 miles. Daily commute from Mccormick SC to Plant Vogtle.

  5. The Chevrolet Vega. A buddy of mine had one, and it was admittingly a “Basic Transportation” kind of car. The silica-impregnated cylinders were a “rushed” technology, but did work correctly with constant oil changes. There was one Vega that we all lusted after, and that was the short production Cosworth Vega, with the killer engine — only available in black, with gold accents. You can still find one every now and then in eBay Motors.

  6. I was $200 away from owning a Vega. The VW Beatle was $2,600, the Vega was $2,300 and the Pinto I bought was $2,100. Red with black vinyl interior and the bottom of the Pinto line. Also a 914 Porsche was $4,400 and appeared to have used some parts similar to those found on a VW Bug.

  7. I must report that I had a used Vega I got in 1982 and dove for 3 years before making the quantum leap to BMW, my preferred brand since then. But BEFORE the Vega I had a Corvair that I LOVED and had driven for 7 years. I’m glad the Corvair was not maligned in this article!

  8. My mother purchased a 1973 Vega — it was bright yellow. It was one of the BEST CARS that she ever owned, and then I owned it and it was one of the BEST CARS I ever owned. She bought it in Colorado, we drove it to Lake Tahoe, then back to Washington, DC. We made road trips from Florida to Maine in that car. In the late 1970s, we hauled it behind the UHaul when we moved back to Colorado. She drove it until 1986, then gave it to me. It never failed to start, it never overheated (despite multiple summer trips through Arizona), when it was below zero with a foot of snow on the ground people at my high school would be calling me to pick them up because their Ford/Datsun/Chrysler/etc wouldn’t start. In the winter my uncle put a cement block in the back to add weight since 4-wheel drive was limited to Jeeps and such. The odomoter quit working in 1983 when it had over 200,000 miles on it. I retired the car in 1988, at which time it probably had well over 300,000 miles on it.

    I’m sorry you had a lemon, Scott, but don’t paint all Vegas with the same brush. Many of them are still running — visit out West sometime, you might be surprised at what a collector’s item it is.

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