We’re pretty lucky that there are very few truly bad cars sold new in Australia these days. But that hasn’t always been the case.
Australians have always had a love affair with cars and it’s a rite of passage for Aussie drivers to drive a crapbox first car. Some of us don’t grow out of that crapbox phase and continue buying terrible cars, whether that’s revheads dealing with temperamental enthusiast vehicles or the chronically unlucky who find themselves going from lemon to lemon.
Me? The worst car I ever owned was my 1996 Ford Probe GT, a.k.a. ‘El Probo’ a.k.a. the cheapest American car in the country at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown. It was an absolute dog – but that wasn’t entirely El Probo’s fault.
Other cars, however, are just awful, plain and simple. So we asked DMARGE readers, what’s the worst car you’ve ever owned? Some of the answers surprised us, and others we could have guessed.
First of all, the usual suspects: cheap Asian economy cars.
A 1983 Honda Civic, a Holden Cruze and a Mazda 323 “that wouldn’t accelerate when I needed it to” were all given as answers, with the latter’s mate chiming in, “what about the time it ran over a tree branch and dragged it for miles?” The Mazda 323 might have been dumpy but at least it was tough.
Another cracker: “my mate owned a [Daewoo] Lanos.” Yeah sure. It was your mate. The Lanos is an awful car though so we’ll give you that.
There also wasn’t a lot of love for Aussie-built cars either, with the Holden Commodore, Holden Premier, Mitsubishi Magna and a Ford Cortina XLE 6-cylinder all other contributions. (My parents owned a 6-cylinder Cortina that they called ‘The Antichrist’, so I don’t have any problems believing that.)
Unsurprisingly, we got a few European cars making the list, too. A BMW 125i made the list, as did a Ford Prefect and a Triumph Spitfire: “it just loved being broken,” the owner joked.
Interestingly, one reader mentioned his “love-hate relationship with an Alfa Romeo GT,” while another called his GTV6 his “worst slash best”. We’re not surprised Alfa got a mention but it perhaps says something about the notoriously unreliable Italian brand that it inspires such feelings among its drivers…
Speaking of Italian cars, some punter said a Ferrari F355 Spider was the worst car he ever owned, citing “zero space”. Very funny.
On a more serious (but no less hilarious) note, one answer was a 1967 Ford Mustang fastback. “Lovely to look at,” said the owner, “but if you need to use the brakes…”
The question that might be on your mind right now is this: how do I avoid buying a crap car? Well, there are a few sure-fire ways to avoid automotive aggravation.
Of course, you should read plenty of reviews, regardless of whether it’s a new or used car. It’s also worth checking out the crashworthiness and safety of the car on the ANCAP’s website – you can forgive a car for being boring or ugly but you can’t forgive a car for being unsafe.
If it’s a used car, consider taking it to a trusted mechanic for an inspection, as well as paying for a background check. Sure, it’s extra money upfront, but it can save some serious heartbreak later on.