With so much focus on the problems plaguing Toyota lately, it was very interesting to run across a list from msn.com of cars with significant problems from past years.
Among them, the Yugo. The boxy Yugoslavian vehicle sold for less than $4,000 when it hit the U.S. market in 1985. Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for?" That saying, in a nutshell, describes the Yugo. In the story, they quote a guy as saying, "I once test drove a Yugo, during which the radio fell out, the gear-shift knob came off in my hand and I saw daylight through the strip around the windshield." It quickly became the butt of jokes. One popular one: what comes with every Yugo owner's manual? The bus schedule.
The Chevrolet Vega: Leading up to its 1970 release to U.S. consumers, the first Vega prototype literally fell to pieces just eight miles into a shakedown drive on a General Motors test track. The 4-cylinder engine produced only 90 horsepower. And the story quotes a former Vega owner as saying, "My Vega actually broke in half going over railroad tracks. The whole rear end came around slightly to the front, sort of like a dog wagging its tail."
The Ford Pinto: The Pinto's tendency to explode during rear-end collisions earned it a reputation as "the barbecue that seats four." A mere fender bender could lead to an inferno, since the vehicle lacked a real rear bumper or reinforcements surrounding the gas tank. Multiple lawsuits were filed over the Pinto's safety issues, and Ford came under fire when a memo revealed that the automaker had decided it would be cheaper to pay off lawsuits for any Pinto deaths than to pay for a redesign of the vehicle.
Then there's the Trabant. This was communist East Germany's most popular vehicle for nearly 30 years, and it could also be seen in the other communist bloc countries. A 2-stroke engine gave it all of 18 horsepower. Its fiberglass-like construction and reinforcements of recycled cotton and wood gave it an exceptionally flimsy aesthetic. Its lack of basic features, such as turn signals and brake lights didn't help. To fill the gas tank, you had to lift the hood, add gasoline and oil, and shake. This was the prize for enduring a 15 year waiting list before taking delivery of the compact 4-seater.