American Automaker Flops and Failures Quiz


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Axion23 via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

The history of American motoring is filled with stories of success as well as stories of failure. In that way, the world of automotive engineering is no different to life, really.

Many of America's auto manufacturer boast cars that have sold like hotcakes, bringing in the revenue for these companies. Perhaps the best American example in this regard is the Model T from Ford. Sold over a period of 19 years, it sold around 15 million units. That's thanks to Henry Ford not only improving it but, as production costs lowered thanks to modernization and production lines, Ford lowered the cost of the vehicle. That made it accessible to so many more Americans.

And then we have the failures. Many cars, released with the best intentions of motor companies in America, have flopped spectacularly! And it's often for a multitude of reasons. Poorly made, underpowered or unsafe, whatever the reason, once the word gets out, the motoring public tends to steer well clear. Some flopped because they were outright dangerous! Who wants to sit in a car that might burst into flames?

So let's see just how much you know about the biggest flops in American motoring by undertaking this quiz. 

Good luck!

Certainly a massive flop, this vehicle appeared in the "Back to the Future" film trilogy. Do you know what it is?

The dream of John DeLorean, the DMC-12, had its five minutes of fame thanks to the "Back to the Future" movies. It remained a terrible car with sluggish performance and was only produced for a year before the company went bankrupt.


In the 1940's, the man who dreamed up this car was arrested for fraud and with that, his car production dreams died. Do you know the car?

The dream of Preston Tucker, the Torpedo only saw 51 units built. Why? Well, Tucker was indicted for fraud, although many say he was set up. The truth is out there.


This car was the ride of Walter White in the TV hit series, "Breaking Bad." It was a terrible failure saleswise, however.

Not even a complimentary tent and inflatable mattress could save the Aztek. The first SUV offered by Pontiac was not much of a success and only around 100,000 sold during the five years it was marketed. The Aztek became a little more famous serving as the ride of Walter White in the TV drama, "Breaking Bad."


In 1913, people weren't sure if this vehicle was a car or motorbike. That's probably why it failed. Which vehicle listed below are we talking about?

Is it a car? Is it a motorbike? In 1913, no one who saw James Scripps-Booth's invention was sure and certainly didn't want to own one!


Tennis star Andre Agassi bought one of these... as did only 16 other people. Name this American auto flop, please.

This American sports car only sold 17 units. It didn't help that one almost killed tennis star Andre Agassi when it caught fire soon after he purchased it. Talk about bad marketing!


You wouldn't think this car was a flop but thanks to the fact it was underpowered, it was. Time Magazine voted it one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time.

Believe it or not, but because of laws in California governing emission requirements, the Corvette 304 was only fitted with a small block V8 motor pushing out a paltry 180 brake horsepower. Certainly not enough for a Corvette! The 305 made the Time Magazine list of 50 Worst Cars of All Time.


A car with EIGHT wheels! It didn't sell. Identify it from the list below, please.

A car in 1910 with EIGHT wheels. People were barely used to cars with four wheels. Not even one was sold.


An upmarket pick-up. "Yeah, that'll work," thought the execs. It didn't, though. Do you know which of these we are talking about?

The Lincoln Blackwood was marketed as a luxury pickup. It was a Ford F-150 zooted up a little. It had a stainless steel cargo box, LED lights and other gimmicks. Ultimately, those who buy a pickup want it to do pickup type things. The Blackwood couldn't and no one bought it.


This American manufacturer, known for its big cars, introduced a smaller model. It proved a failure.

A small Cadillac? Well, that was doomed to failure, was it not? Introduced in 1982, this fuel-friendly model lasted only six years as it was not very well received.


An electric car, only 1,100 of these ever sold. Name the make and model, please.

The first electric car offered by General Motors, the EV1 was offered as a model between 1996 and 1999. Only 1,100 sold with General Motors eventually recalling them all and destroying them.


Identify the car that Garth rode in the slacker comedy, "Wayne's World." It was a horrible flop.

Although it received some fame for appearing in the cult slacker comedy, "Wayne's World," at the time of its release, the AMC Pacer was not well received. Since then, it has become an entry on Forbes' Worst Cars of All Time list, amongst others.


Supposedly, this was competition for the Ford Model T. It had a habit of bursting into flames, however. Fail!

Built as competition for the Ford Model T, this vehicle was very prone to not only engine failure but fires as well. How did Chevy deal with the problem? Well, they recalled 757 cars and destroyed them!


Although it sold well, it was a dangerous car indeed with a habit of exploding into flames when collided with from the rear. Can you name the vehicle?

Although the budget-friendly Ford Pinto sold well, it had a terrible secret. Due to the placement of its fuel tank behind the rear axle, the Pinto was a real fire hazard in a rear-impact collision. Ford only fixed the problem from 1976 onward and paid some out-of-court settlements instead of recalling the vehicles. When this was found out, they were forced to recall the Pintos anyway to fix the problem.


From the options below, name a car from the 1960s with serious handling issues that even Congress got involved in the controversy surrounding it.

A disaster for Chevrolet, the Corvair had serious handling issues. Problems with this model even reached the Senate with Ralph Nader calling it "the leading candidate for the unsafest-car title." Naturally, that doomed the Corvair into extinction but other Chevy models dropped sales as well.


You certainly would not think that this popular pick-up model could ever be considered a flop but it was due to a terrible gearbox problem. Name it, please.

One of America's most famous automakers saw a problem with their Ford F-150's automatic gearboxes between 1966 and 1980 where they had a tendency to slip from park into reverse. This didn't only affect the F-150 but all vehicles using Ford automatic transmissions.. This problem led to 77 deaths.


One of the first vehicles to take aerodynamics into account during design, this car was not much of a hit. The public just didn't buy it.

Ahead of its time, the Chrysler Airflow incorporated aerodynamics in its design in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the public didn't care and it sold poorly, lasting just three years in production.


More than 100,000 units of this vehicle were recalled in 2007 because of a faulty ignition switch. Which of these below is it?

Recalling 100,000 cars is a serious matter and something that Chevrolet had to do in 2007 for its Cobalt model. The reason? They did not meet federal safety standards. This was all down to a faulty ignition switch which would just turn the car off, along with many of its safety systems. This problem led to numerous injuries and unfortunately, 13 deaths.


Named after the founder's son, this car was such a flop, it cost the company more than $2 million. Name it, please.

Named after Henry Ford's son, the Edsel was a massive flop and only sold between 1958 and 1960. It's not that the car was bad, it was just really overpriced. And that always turns people away!


A competitor for the Ford Pinto, this car was dubbed a "sloppily crafted, unreliable and unsafe automobile" by the Center for Auto Safety. Do you know what it is?

Built by Chevy as competition for the Ford Pinto, the Vega seemed to be a hit, winning the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1971. Soon, however, owners found out it had some problems with reliability, safety, poor engine quality and was liable to rust... a lot! It was even dubbed a "sloppily crafted, unreliable and unsafe automobile" by the Center for Auto Safety.


A muscle car on the Time Magazine list of 50 Worst Cars of All Time? Yes, that's right. Name it, please.

Another Chevy, another entry on Time Magazine list of 50 Worst Cars of All Time. And again, performance related. The Camaro came from a muscle car background so for the 1982 redesign to be powered by a 4-cylinder 90 brake horsepower engine was a travesty.


A success overseas, this car, when introduced in the United States, bombed terribly!

Although a success in Europe, the Dauphine from Renault tanked when released in the United States in the 1950s. Primarily, this was because of its performance. Let's say it was a little sluggish. It has made numerous worst cars of all time lists, including that of Time Magazine.


Name the mini-car from the 1950s that the U.S. government ended production on due to safety concerns.

This company had been trying to make the perfect mini car for years. Their third attempt in the '50s still wasn't much better than their earlier attempts and eventually, safety regulations enforced by the U.S. government put an end to the King Midget III models.


After a promising start, sales dropped off significantly for this vehicle in the 1980s. Can you name it?

Another Chevrolet, another problem it seems. 1980's Motor Trend Car of the Year was discontinued just five years later. Why? The Citation was poorly built and suffered with terrible rear brakes. Soon, buyers just steered well clear of the model.


When introduced in the '60s this muscle car was a huge success. And then came the second generation. Can you name it for us, please?

Introduced during the fuel crisis of the '70s, the Mustang II was frowned upon for one thing - its powerplant options. No longer a gas guzzling V8 muscle car, the Mustang II now had either four or six-cylinder engines. Mustang aficionados were not impressed.


A pickup truck convertible. Doomed for failure you would think. You would be right! Do you know which of these it is?

A pickup truck convertible. How did that work out for you, Chevy? Well, the SSR was only a model option between 2003 and 2006. It did not sell well and is considered a flop in their range.


Produced for six years, from 2003 to 2009, this car sold only 52,000 units. Those certainly are terrible numbers.

Built on the same platform as the Mercedes SLK roadster, the Crossfire was marketed from 2003 to 2009. In that time, only 52,000 were sold. FLOP!


This was essentially a chopped off Hornet, a car from the same manufacturer. It was marketed as a muscle car. Can you name it?​

Voted by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Worst Cars of All Time, the Germlin was ugly. Essentially a shortened AMC Hornet, the Gremlin used vacuum-operated wipers, didn't have disk brakes or use radial tires. It wasn't very well received.


An interesting idea that fell flat, this vehicle's retro looks were not appreciated by everybody. It sold poorly. Which of these below are we talking about?

With its retro looks, the Prowler from Plymouth was marketed as something different on the vehicle scene. Its performance didn't match its looks, however, with the Prowler only having a V6 engine with an automatic transmission. Let's just say the Prowler's story is not one of lasting success.


By the time this car was introduced by its manufacturer, they were already in financial trouble. Poor sales of the second generation didn't help and the company eventually folded in 2004.

Oldsmobile was already in financial difficulty by the time the Aurora hit the market. Although it initially did very well, a later redesign was not well received and the Aurora tanked.


Called the "Dustbuster" thanks to its shape, this car regularly makes ugly car lists. It didn't sell very well either.

The Lumina was meant to be a stylish APV. Unfortunately, it was ugly and quickly received the nickname of the Dustbuster thanks to its similar shape to the cleaning device. Many also complained about the terrible driving position with the Lumina often making appearances on the Ugliest Cars of All Time lists.


This American sports car was a good idea in theory but you needed money to carry out your plans. Which of these below are we talking about?

The Bricklin SV-1 was the brainchild of Malcolm Bricklin. Simply put, there was never enough money to see the project off the ground properly, and although a few cars were made, they did not generate enough revenue for the project to continue.


An American car with Italian influences. It was doomed to failure, right? Right.

Essentially a Chrysler K-Car with a Maserati badge and a few additions, this partnership was never going to work. Only 7,000 were shifted in three years between 1989 and 1991.


This vehicle from the 1920s had no luxury at all. The driver wasn't even protected by a cabin. It didn't sell at all despite its awesome name.

The Briggs and Stratton Flyer was essentially a wooden bench that moved. It had no protection for the driver from the elements and no shock absorbers. By 1920, however, cars had already evolved to a point of relative comfort and the Flyer just wasn't what the public was looking for.


Based on a British Rover model, this car was sold in America between 1987 and 1991. It performed so poorly Rover never tried to sell another model in America again.

Released in the United States between 1987 and 1991 by the Austin Rover Group, the Stirling 800 was based on the Rover 800 but proved to be so unreliable and poorly made that it was a massive flop. Rover never returned to America again after 1991.


Despite its awesome name, this vehicle was a flop in terms of sales. That was due to its annoying sports water injection system.

Introduced in 1962, the Jetfire from Oldsmobile used a sports water injection system. For this to work, owners had to top up their Turbo Rocket Fuel, essentially a mixture of water and alcohol. If they forgot, it affected the performance of the turbocharger and made the engine die. The Jetfire didn't last long.


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