How Well Do You Know British Automaker Flops and Failures?

Bambi Turner

Image: Wiki Common by Vauxford

About This Quiz

Do you know what made the Reliant Robin such a laughingstock among car buyers, or what problems plagued the Austin Metro or Morris Marina? Take our quiz to see how much you know about the biggest flops and failures in British automaking history!

The UK barely merits a mention in discussions of the world's biggest car-making nations, yet it was once a world power and innovator in the automotive world. In fact, the car industry in the UK began in the late 19th century, growing steadily just like the auto industry of the U.S. By the 1950s, the United Kingdom was actually the second largest manufacturer of cars, right behind the U.S., and was exporting more vehicles than any other nation. Just over half a century later, and Britain had become the 12th largest car maker, eclipsed by nations in every part of the globe.

So what happened? The nation faced stiff competition, not only from Japan and other Asian nations, but from automakers right in Europe, or even those in the U,S. British buyers were also influenced by problems with quality control and manufacturing among auto manufacturers in their homeland, many of which resulted in some truly poor-quality cars.

Think you can identify the biggest flops and failures by British automakers? Take our quiz to find out!

Which of these cars would probably have been lost to history if not for appearing in "Back to the Future?"

The DeLorean Motor Company would have been just another failed British automaker if it hadn't been for a little film called "Back to the Future." DeLorean lives on in popular culture to this day thanks to the gull-winged car's role as a time machine in the Michael J. Fox flick.

What year did Brits first get the chance to buy the Triumph TR7 -- a car plagued with production issues due to strikes at the Liverpool factory?

British Leyland produced the two-two Triumph TR7 roadster from 1974 to 1981. The car suffered from countless production problems, mostly due to strikes among workers at the Liverpool manufacturing plant. By the time these labor issues were resolved, the car had already developed a bad reputation and buyers weren't interested.

What kind of ride was the MG Midget?

MG produced the two-seat Midget sports car between 1961 and 1979. The company struggled to keep the car updated with U.S. safety standards so it could be sold in the U.S. as well as the UK, but never quite managed to succeed. The attempt to meet these increased standards resulted in ugly plastic bumpers being added to the car, along with prolonged engine and handling problems.

Which company struggled to get buyers interested in its Twin Cam performance car in the late '50s?

The MGA Twin Cam was a sporty two-seater produced in Abingdon, England starting in 1958. The car was designed to take on other small sports cars, but a reputation for oil burning caused this vehicle to be discontinued within just two short years.

Which material was used to make the tough-to-maintain engine block on the Hillman Imp?

The Hillman Imp was the first British car with a cast-aluminum engine block when it came out in 1963 as a competitor for Mini. Sadly, many were unfamiliar with requirements for maintaining this aluminum engine, leading to complaints about reliability.

Which company made the Cortina, one of the UK's bestselling cars of the '70s?

Ford of Britain sold the Cortina, a large family car, from 1962 through 1982. Despite being a top seller, it had a short engine life and few are still on the road today.

Which UK automaker produced the Sterling 825 for sale in the U.S.?

J.D. Power noted the poor quality of the Sterling 825, an Austin Rover product, when it was released in the U.S. during the '80s. The car suffered from issues with corrosion, as well as problems with paint, trim and electronics.

Which country produced the Ssangyong Rodius, which was introduced to reluctant UK buyers in 2004?

South Korean automaker Sangyong introduced the Rodius to British buyers in 2004. The car got off on the wrong foot right away thanks to its name -- which was a very poor attempt at combining the words "road" and "Zeus" to create a name meaning "King of the Road." This multi-purpose vehicle was so unappealing in its style that "Top Gear" magazine gave the car its "WTF" award in 2009.

Which of these is a small family car designed to compete with the Ford Escort?

The Vauxhall Astra wasn't exactly a flop. Introduced in 1979, this small family car was popular with buyers despite issues with fuel economy in the early days, as well as some rather dull styling, which improved with updates over the years.

The heavily hyped Austin Maxi came out in 1969. Which feature did the Maxi offer that no British car had offered to that point?

The Austin Maxi was the first British hatchback to offer automatic transmission. Despite this forward feature, the car suffered from very dated styling, poor quality finishes and production and a tremendous amount of pre-sale hype that left reviewers disappointed.

Which of these Aston Martin models, which came out in 1974, had a design that some compared to "folded paper?"

Aston Martin named the Lagonda after an old car marque the company had acquired. It divided buyers in 1974 thanks to its severe "folded paper" design. The unusual style and a serious of common electric problems meant that the company only made around 600 units before discontinuing the Lagonda in 1990.

Which UK automaker produced the Princess, a '70s ride with a bad rep?

The Austin Princess was a large family car produced between 1975 and 1981. Its size was a problem because of OPEC oil embargoes that made it tough for buyers to fill the tank during the decade. The Princess also suffered from quality control issues, as well as an appearance that was nothing to write home about.

How many SV-8 cars, which had a price tag of 40,000 pounds, did Jensen actually complete production of?

Jensen had high hopes for the SV-8 luxury car when it was launched in 1998. Despite a price tag of 40,000 pounds, the company initially had plans to make at least 100 cars. By 2002 when Jensen went flop, they had completed just 20 SV-8 units.

Which component gave Austin Maestro owners plenty of problems in the '80s and '90s, but didn't stop the car from selling fairly well?

Produced between 1982 and 1994, the Austin Maestro was a five-door hatchback manufactured by British Leyland and Rover. It managed to sell pretty well despite a notoriously tricky R-series engine, as well as crankshaft and starting issues.

Which UK ride was rebadged as the upscale Vanden Plas 1500 in the mid-'70s?

The Austin Allegro was so difficult to drive that it earned the nickname "All Aggro." Despite that, a rebadged version was sold under the name Vanden Plas 1500 from 1975 to 1980. The five-seat saloon car had unorthodox exterior styling, but sales were fairly steady throughout the end of the decade.

Which company's 57/62 sports cars, which came out in 2002, suffered from poor sales that took a bite out of the auto maker's balance sheet?

Maybach made around 3,000 of its 57/62 sports cars between 2002 and 2012. Sales were so poor that the company lost around 300,000 Euros for each 57/62 produced.

What name was given to the facelifted Marina that ended up being the last production model by British automaker Morris?

The Morris Ital was on the market between 1980 and 1984. The car was a Morris Marina with a new design, but had many of the same steering and suspension issues found on the Marina. It was the last production model to carry the Morris name.

Which Japanese company was part of a partnership with Vauxhall to produce the Frontera crossover?

Isuzu helped to design the Vauxhall Frontera, an SUV crossover sold in the UK in the '90s. Rushed production meant the vehicle came with a host of problems, from poor handling to dismal fuel economy, as well as a cramped and uncomfortable interior.

Which Vauxhall model did "Top Gear" star Jeremy Clarkson compare to a microwave oven during a not-so-shining review?

The Vauxhall Vectra was produced in Luton between 1995 and 2002. While it wasn't known for performance problems, it wasn't exactly known for having any great style. Jeremy Clarkson of "Top Gear" compared driving in the Vectra to "road testing a microwave oven."

Which Morris model, introduced in 1971, had steering problems that were so bad drivers often ended up on the wrong side of the road?

The Morris Marina, produced between 1971 and 1980, was a top seller during the time despite a plethora of problems. Not only was the Marina prone to nasty rust, but the car had terrible steering and suspension problems that made driving a true chore for buyers.

Which company's Dolomite frame did Panther use when building the ultra luxurious Rio in the mid-'70s?

Built between 1975 and 1977, the Panther Rio was a four-door luxury saloon designed to draw sales from Rolls Royce. Sadly, the Panther was simply a restyled Triumph Dolomite, and poor performance combined with an absurd price tag doomed the Rio by the end of the decade.

Which company's engine, which was used on the Arona Sterling in the '80s, earned the car a terrible rep?

Introduced in 1987, the Arona Sterling had a reliable Honda platform with classic British interior styling -- sounds good, right? Except for the fact that the car included an unreliable Rover engine, which doomed sales.

What kind of car was the CityRover, which helped bring MG Rover to financial ruin in 2005?

The CityRover was a Tata Indica supermini rebadged for the British market. Built by MG Rover between 2003 and 2005, the car was discontinued when its maker fell into bankruptcy.

Which maker produced the 800, an '80s and '90s ride that was also released in the U.S. as the Sterling?

Rover built the 800 in a partnership with Honda starting in the mid-'80s. Built in Oxford, it was available as a saloon, fastback and coupe, and sold to U.S. buyers under the name Sterling. The 800 suffered from a multitude of problems, from bad bearings to blown head gaskets that left drivers stranded.

Which of these "Quartic" features did buyers mock on the Austin Allegro?

Produced in Birmingham, England between 1973 and 1982, the Austin Allegro came with a Quartic steering wheel, which was rectangular instead of round. This odd design, coupled with steering and gear issues, earned the Allegro the nickname "All Aggro."

Which 1975 Reliant failed to achieve sales success despite being only the company's second four-wheeled car?

Reliant switched from a three- wheel design to a standard four-wheel one with the introduction of the Kitten in 1975. Despite great fuel economy, the car never really took off because of a price tag that was higher than many of its competitors. Reliant discontinued the Kitten by 1982.

Which company introduced UK buyers to a roadster called Wind in 2010?

The Renault Wind was a two-seat roadster produced between 2010 and 2013. It suffered from poor sales thanks to a less-than-powerful engine and related performance issues.

Which of these British car models came out in 1980 and was designed to compete with the Mini?

The Austin Metro subcompact came out in 1980 and was designed to take on the successful Mini. While the car sold well, it never became the Mini-killer it was intended to be, and was actually discontinued in 1998 as Mini production continued.

How was the name chosen for the Vauxhall Sintra?

When naming the Sintra, Vauxhall simply pulled from a computer-generated list of names that were deemed easy for UK buyers to pronounce. The U-body minivan was on the market for only three years before terrible crash test results and poor finish quality complaints caused it to disappear.

Which of these SUV models did Renault kill in the UK in 2010 due to terrible sales -- only to bring it back a decade later?

Renault introduced the Koleos SUV to UK buyers in 2007. After selling only a few thousand units, the model was pulled from the market by 2010. Renault took a chance by bringing the vehicle back to the UK in 2018, where it was poised as the company's premium SUV model.

Which of these dubious titles did the Vauxhall Belmont hold in 2003?

Produced between 1986 and 1991, the Vauxhall Belmont had the misfortune of being a very large saloon car at a time when hatchbacks were hot among buyers. It did earn one superlative -- it was named Car Most Likely to be Stolen in 2003 in a UK Car Theft Index.

Which of these features made the Reliant Robin stand out in a crowd?

The Reliant Robin was built in England starting in the early '70s. While the car had two rear wheels, it only had one central wheel in the front, causing it to tip over at times. The Robin was nicknamed "The Plastic Pig" thanks to its unusual appearance.

Which 1975 Rolls Royce was the most expensive production car in the world when it was introduced?

The Camargue was the most expensive production car on the market when Rolls Royce introduced it to buyers in 1975. Despite having high hopes for the luxury ride, the company only sold around 500 units by 1986. In addition to the price, buyers complained about its boxy design, uninspired style and overly long front end.

What was the biggest problem part on the Triumph Stag, a '70s two-door coupe?

Triumph made around 25,000 Stag units between 1970 and 1978. While this model was admired for its Italian design, it relied on a 3.0 L V8 engine that was prone to problems.

Which of these companies stopped production on the problem-plagued Rover 45 after filing for bankruptcy in 2005?

The Rover 400 was famous for a high price tag, steering and suspension problems. These issues plagued its successor, the Rover 45 family car, which was produced by MG Rover between 1999 and 2005. Production ended in 2005 when MG ended up going broke.

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