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Our Worst Cars Ever

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What’s the worst car you’ve ever owned?

We asked Tom and Ray. And considering all of the rust buckets they’ve driven over the years, we’re pretty impressed that they were each able to narrow it down to just one. Here’s what they say:

Tom:

My worst car ever was the ‘52 MGTD, which, of course, was also one of my best cars ever. But that’s always the case, isn’t it? After all, happiness equals reality minus expectations. And the MG was beautiful, but an absolute piece of junk. One week it blew a head gasket. The next week, another blown head gasket! It was one calamity after another.

Just remember: happiness equals reality minus expectations (Flickr photo by Pop Culture Geek)The car always ran, but it never ran well enough to actually go anywhere. The motor sounded great, it had a nice muffler on it, made a good throaty sound, a sound that lulled you into the false belief that you’d actually be able to leave the driveway.

There was no worst moment, per se. No special disaster that elevated this heap to the title of Worst Car I Ever Owned. It was just a long steady progression of pain, sort of like I imagine a case of flesh-eating bacteria would feel like. 

Yet, as it has many times in the last 60 years, the MGTD once again escaped the crusher when I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s so pretty that it seduces suckers into thinking they’re the one who can finally make it run well. So who’s its current sucker? Bugsy! He’s promised to someday restore it to its original splendor. Good luck, pal.


Ray:

This is a tough one. Was it the one that caught fire in the garage in Montreal?

I’d have to say My Worst Car Ever was the one I didn’t buy. This one was given to me by a friend, after he had already driven the life out of it.

It was a 1962 Chevy Bel Air, grey and also some other color, pretty non-descript in appearance. It didn’t need a flashy color to get your attention -- the thick plume of blue smoke pouring out the tailpipe took care of that.

Here's how this car might have looked several decades before it was given to me (Flickr Photo by DeMIlle Productions).This thing burned oil to beat the band. It was just awful. When he gave it to me my friend said, “I know it burns oil, but it’s very reliable.” He was right about both of those things. It reliably burned a quart of oil every 50 miles. 

People hated me when I drove this car. Old ladies on their way home from church would give me rude gestures at traffic lights. They didn’t realize that, as a public service, I was responsible for controlling the entire mosquito population in Eastern Massachusetts with all the smoke that came out the back.

Giving Ray's Bel Air a run for it's money (Flickr Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk)The inevitable end for this car came returning from a trip I took with another friend. We had driven far out of the city and were about 20 miles from home when the oil light came on. Of course I never went anyplace without carrying a case or two of oil.

My friend was driving, and said he’d pull over. But I said, “Don’t bother.”

So we drove on home. Interestingly, because the oil level was so low, the blue smoke stopped. We managed to make it home without seizing the engine. Turns out there was enough built up sludge in there that it acted as a sufficient cushion and lubricant for all those parts.

When I got home it took 4 quarts of oil. So I drove it around for a few more days, but now it was burning a quart every five miles -- or maybe it was every 0.5 miles. I knew it was time to move on and so it was a short, sweet ride to Nissenbaum’s “Auto Recycling” in Cambridge where I said farewell to my Worst Car Ever. I’m sure the oil companies were sad to see it go.


Got a vehicle, past or present, that you think should win the blue ribbon for Worst Car Ever? Tell us here!
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