5 Cars That Became Jokes

Updated August 12, 2014

Passing Driver’s Ed in high school and dragging Mom and Dad down to the DMV for an official driver’s license is one of the biggest milestones in any teen’s life. Receiving that set of keys to that very first car is just as important. It’s not uncommon for teens to be presented with cringe-worthy beaters that have definitely seen better days, but that’s okay. The fact that they have their very own cars is all that matters!

Most adults and gear heads remember their first cars with a mixture of nostalgia and embarrassment. And if you were lucky (?) enough to have one of the five cars listed below, your memories are probably even more laughable than most—even though there’s a good chance you’re too humiliated to fess up to your purchase!

The Edsel

Manufactured by Ford Motor Company with models released in 1958, 1959, and 1960, the Edsel failed to become popular with American consumers and sold poorly as a result. Despite being named in honor of Henry Ford’s son Edsel and being introduced on the much-hyped “E Day”—for Edsel Day, of course—the auto manufacturer lost a whopping $350 million on the car’s development, manufacturing, and marketing.

The Camaro Iron Duke


Some car enthusiasts joke that if you never want to get a speeding ticket, you should purchase a 1982 Camaro Iron Duke, which was equipped with a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine—hands down the most “un-Camaro”-like engine ever found in a model of this sports car. There are few things less embarrassing than getting passed by a station wagon or a school bus while driving your Camaro. The Iron Duke engine offered drivers the ability to go from zero to sixty in … oh, about twenty seconds.

The Trabant

Inspired by the Soviet Sputnik, the Trabant was East Germany’s answer to the VW Beetle and the most common vehicle in the country—most likely due to the fact that it did not have any competition. Manufactured by the former East German automaker VEB Sachsenring for nearly 30 years without any significant changes, the Trabant’s main selling point was the fact that it could easily hold four adults as well as their luggage. Despite three decades of production, the Trabant often lacked brake lights and turn signals, and its two-stroke engine maxed out at 18 horsepower.

The Cadillac Cimarron

Before the addition of the Escalade in 2000, which helped to bring Cadillac a younger crop of fans, these luxurious autos were popular primarily among well-to-do seniors. The embarrassingly awful Cadillac Cimarron—a child of the 80s—was essentially an overpriced Chevy Cavalier. With kitschy upholstery and gaudy accessories, these overpriced sedans were even graced with four-speed manual transmissions.

The Reliant Robin

First manufactured by Reliant in 1973 and given several makeovers prior to its 1999 “facelift,” the Robin is a small, three-wheeled car that can be driven, registered, and taxed at motorcycle rates in the United Kingdom, resulting in substantial savings for consumers. Thanks to its odd body style and strange appearance, the Reliant Robin has been the butt of jokes in British culture for decades. Despite that, it’s also been featured in a number of popular television series, including Top Gear.

These five lemons may have become laughingstocks of the auto world, but hopefully they taught manufacturers—as well as consumers—a thing or two in regards to future automobile design.

Chris Turberville-Tully work with HR Owen, a luxury car dealership of used and new cars in England. HR Owen sells new and used Aston Martin, BMW, Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley cars.



Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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