The 1990s were dominated by the SUV boom, but automakers also needed compact cars to comply with EPA regulations. The Aspire was based on a Kia platform and was sold during the early part of the decade. Although you’ll notice the car was very similar to the Geo Metro, it never caught on with consumers. The small size and the perceived lack of quality were enough to seal the car’s fate.
The price tag was one of the most affordable on the market, but the lack of features and its tiny design just seemed to turn consumers off. The Aspire was one of the many Fords during this period that just never seemed to catch on. Compact cars haven’t bounced back since the Aspire and Metro.
The Ford lineup during the 1990s was in the midst of a transition as cars were evolving in design. While Taurus was a hot seller for the brand, the company wanted something that was in between the Taurus and the Escort. The Contour was a handsome sedan based on a model being sold overseas. While the exterior design was attractive, the size of the car was much smaller than the segment called for. This created a problem with consumers who were vying for a larger sedan.
The Contour didn’t end up selling well even though there was a special edition SVT model of the car. If the Contour had a more viable interior size and style, the car might have sold a lot better. But the proximity to the Escort gave buyers a confused viewpoint of a car that was supposed to compete with the Accord and the Camry.
Perhaps one of the most forgettable Fords was the Festiva. If you’ve ever seen it the Festiva, it was a Kia-based compact car sold by Ford at the end of the 1980s. The Festiva had a good premise as an affordable compact car for a great price. On the other hand, quality was lackluster at best and consumers didn’t react positively to the vehicle. The compact size of the car made it a pain to live with, especially considering the cramped interior.
Build quality was notoriously cheap and gave the Festiva a bad rep from the start. Although initial sales were promising and there was even a limited-edition performance model, the compact Festiva just didn’t sell very well. That made it one of the most regrettable Ford models to come out.
The Pinto is a car that needs no introduction. It was one of the worst cars that has ever been made period. A catastrophe of mass proportions, the Pinto suffered from quality issues right out of the gate. Not only was quality flawed, but safety was also a downfall. The Pinto was part of a million-dollar class-action lawsuit due to the position of the fuel tank. These vehicles were proven to explode during an accident and this lead to a lack of consumer confidence in Ford.
The concept, creating an affordable car that was good on gas, for the Pinto was a good one. Sadly, the design was rushed to the market and ended up costing Ford a lot more in lawsuits. Surprisingly, the Pinto has forged a second life in the collector’s community, with V8 swaps being a common mod.
We’re not exactly sure if this car was supposed to be a sports car or a cheap compact because Ford marketed it as both. Sadly the build quality was substandard at best, and the reliability was even worse for a car at the time. The ZX2 was sold long after its welcome had been worn out and the platform was aged. Consumers were taken aback by the lack of build quality and reliability, the car just didn’t perform well. Cost-wise, the car was competing against modern models that were much more well put-together.
The ZX2 didn’t do any favors for Ford in terms of design or sales, and the car is a blip in the history of the company. What was initially a good concept ended up being a bit of a letdown for Ford enthusiasts who wanted something affordable and sporty? The ZX2 stands out like a sore thumb in the list of Ford mistakes.
Just the nameplate alone was enough to scare potential buyers away, but that wasn’t the only thing that was wrong with the Probe. The car had a design that was cheap and didn’t add up to what the company was portraying. There were some in Ford who was positioning the Probe as the modern Mustang replacement. That never happened and Ford ended up having two similar sports cars in the lineup. Although the Mustang always had a V8 powerplant, the Probe received a turbocharged V6.
There is no denying that the Probe had some serious potential, but it wasn’t enough to warrant phasing out the Mustang. Had the Probe have had a better design and reception the car would have probably sold a lot better. Nevertheless, the Probe is a failed experiment in creating an appealing sports car.
The Pinto-based Ford Mustang was about as weird of a combination as you could get. The car was nothing like the previous generation Mustangs. The lightweight design was cheaply made and didn’t feel like what you’d expect from a pony car. The Mustang II had a smaller V8 engine than the previous generation cars, and the performance was minuscule at best.
Design-wise the Mustang II also had a bit of an odd look to it, and you could see the Pinto bloodlines. The interior was not the high quality of the previous generation cars. In fact, it differed completely. With the Pinto getting a slew of negative press about safety shortcomings this didn’t bold well for the Mustang II.
Believe it or not, there was an earlier generation of the Fiesta that was even worse than the later models. The underpowered car was designed after the failure of the Pinto and was poised to compete with compacts like the Dodge Omni. The interior was about as bare as you could get and rear-seat space was minimal at best. The performance of the 54 horsepower engine was nonexistent.
While the retail price of the car was more than affordable enough, the consumers just didn’t gravitate to it. Had the Fiesta has had a more competitive design it might have fared better against the Japanese rivals. But without more features and a better interior, the Fiesta just couldn’t compete.
Then you had the Edsel, a car that was designed to appeal to just about every type of person. Sadly it just didn’t add up to the competition, and the car was notoriously unreliable. Sales were minuscule at best, and it contributed to a sales decline at Ford. The extreme design of the Edsel was just one of the aspects that dragged it down.
The transmission was known for having shifting issues, in addition to the electrics in the car. Ford didn’t spare any expense to the design, but that didn’t help to boost the market share. The Edsel was not for long, and sadly the car just couldn’t last on.
The oval Ford Taurus of the ’90s was mocked for its extreme styling, but there was a special edition of the car that caught the attention of enthusiasts. The Ford Taurus SHO V8 was a special edition of the Taurus that had a lot of potential. Sadly the Yamaha derived-V8 engine was notoriously unreliable. There were recalls related to the intake manifold gaskets and the head gaskets which lead to consumer frustration.
The radical design of the car also made a lot of potential consumers look the other way. Had the Taurus possessed a more mainstream design the addition of the V8 would have been a welcomed addition. The later generations of the SHO never seemed to capture the magic of the original car.
The second-generation Ford Explorer was a regretful product for Ford. In the design of the SUV, the roof had been weakened which caused the SUV to do horribly during a rollover incident. The design of the SUV resonated with consumers and it became the best-selling Ford of all-time. But the company also spent millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements and court hearings.
This took a toll on Ford as the company went into the next generation. Aside from the rollover incidents the SUV also had a series of exploding tire lawsuits, which also marred the reputation of the Explorer even worse. This generation of the Explorer went on to become one of the most popular cars on the road.
Few cars have sold as well as the Escort did during its heydey. You’ve probably seen these on rental car lots and used car lots by the dozen. While the Escort seemed like a great value at the time there was a lot that stopped the car from appealing to consumers. The design of the car was cheap and underpowered when you compared it to other sedans on the market. Honda and Toyota both had the market covered in vehicles like this one.
The Escort also had a lot of quality and reliability issues that dragged it down. Sadly, the car just didn’t make it into the next generation. Of course, the nameplate has lived overseas but in the domestic market, the Escort is a thing of the past.
When you think of the Tempo, you think of one of the best-selling cars in the world. The Tempo sold over three million cars the first year. The design of the Tempo made it lack a lot of the features that you’d suspect in a sedan in this price range. Consumers were aware that Tempo had a reputation for quality issues, but the affordable price made it worth pursuing. The Tempo’s performance improved over time but was not enough to bolster sales.
As the decade went on Ford was directing energy to different vehicles, and the Tempo was at the forefront of this. Had the company had innovated more and improved it quality, the Tempo might have lived on longer.
Another cheap car that made the rounds in the Ford lineup was the Cortina. It was a car that needs no introduction because you’ve probably forgotten it anyway. Why did the Cortina fail? Well, the design was lackluster at best. Reliability was not a strong suit for the car, and the performance was nonexistent. There were very few features that you could get on this car and it was barebones transportation.
The Cortina had a lot of what compact car consumers were looking for, but the lack of the car delayed a lot of the potential consumers. Few cars have failed as badly as the Cortina managed to in the short period that it was released.
The special edition of the Mustang that had a turbocharged four-cylinder engine was a shock for the pony car market. The car had a good amount of performance, but Mustang purists were confused by this odd edition of the Mustang. As Ford was feeling the pinch from the EPA the company had to downsize the car’s engine.
The SVO didn’t seem to catch on like the GT and the 5.0, which most purists are more acquainted with. The SVO had a lot to offer in terms of quality and the design of the car, but the turbocharged engine was not the most reliable. The car had a lot of shortcomings which lead Ford to cut the SVO pretty quickly.
The first generation of the SVT Raptor had a lot going for it in terms of design, but the truck also had some drawbacks. The V8 engine was fun to drive, but the reliability issues were catching up with the car early on. The Raptor had a menacing demeanor, but the high price tag made consumers turn to other pickup trucks. Another problem with the SVT Raptor was a timing chain issue that wasn’t covered under warranty.
A lot of consumers experienced these same issues with the Raptor, and the truck has gotten a reputation for that. Ford eventually evolved the Raptor to a great degree but the truck still has a high price tag and a lot of reliability issues.
True, the Ford GT is one of the most well-known sports cars in the world, but there were also a lot of downfalls. The GT is among the most expensive sports car that you can get, but there are also competing models. The Ford GT limits what you have to work with. There is no V8 engine and the styling is stuck in the past. The turbocharged V6 did a great job of propelling the car with authority but the same reliability issues would creep up.
The lack of any cargo space or a back seat also causes issues with the Ford GT. Exotic sports cars are evolving more and more as time goes on. The Ford GT has a lot of competition on the market and the car just hasn’t managed to keep up with the times.
The first generation of the Thunderbird was a unique car in a lot of aspects, but there was also a lack of features. The performance of the Thunderbird was not very strong, especially at a time when expensive V8 engines ruled the roost. The convertible aspect of the car did make it stand out from the ordinary convertibles on the road.
The road manners of the Thunderbird was a great part of the car, as handling was extraordinary. In addition to the road manners of the Thunderbird, there was also a comfortable interior, which was ahead of the time. The Thunderbird improved as time went on but it wasn’t enough to lead the car into the next generation.
The original Ford Bronco was a hit for the carmaker, but the smaller version of the SUV was just confusing. Instead of opting for a four-door version like the competing Blazer, the Bronco II went for a compact design. The SUV had a lot going for it had the design have been tweaked just a bit. The interior was very cramped and the quality was mediocre at best, which didn’t do the SUV any justice.
Reliability was iffy at best, and the base engine was lacking in the same type of power that the Blazer had. Still, the Bronco II has managed to catch on with a secondary market that has an appetite for vehicles like this one.
Every automaker was trying to get on the bandwagon of hot hatches during the early 2000s. The Neon SRT-4 was the most popular of the compact performance cars but Ford wasn’t going to be outdone. The Focus SVT was a good concept on paper, but when it came down to the actual product, the car was lacking.
The Focus SVT had a lot of design flaws that affected the reliability of the car. Also, the SVT Focus was only available in the hatchback variation, and this just wasn’t a feasible option for a lot of buyers. The Neon had four full doors which lead more buyers to go in that direction.
By the 2000s, the retro car revival was in full swing, and Ford was going to jump on the bandwagon as well. The retro-inspired Thunderbird was a pretty unique offering, to say the least, with a unique design. The two-seater design was a departure from previous generations of the Thunderbird and the underpinnings were based on the Lincoln LS sedan.
Consumers were not persuaded to buy the Thunderbird because of the high price tag. The lack of options and the fact that it was only a two-seater. These have managed to hold their value after all these years but for the most part, this generation of the Thunderbird was avoidable.
One of the cars famously owned by Tim Allen, the RS200 is a purist rally car in every sense of the word. A unique design has made the RS200 a reputable car in the rally scene and on the auction block. The small form factor of the car and the short wheelbase also have a lot of drawbacks. The engine was also not the most reliable which lead a lot of enthusiasts to go the way of the Lancer EVO or the STI.
Nevertheless, this was a piece of Ford history. The company has long held a presence in the international rally racing circuit, and naturally, the RS200 stands out from the crowd. But this is such a limiting car that there are better options to choose from.
A car that was designed to compete with the Chevy Suburban, the Excursion didn’t have a lot that was particularly special about it. The thing was lacking the same kind of refinement that the GM offerings had, and this made it less popular. The interior was massive and the SUV was based on the heavy-duty offerings from Ford. But the lack of a more refined motor and the lack of fuel economy sent buyers the other way.
Ford has had a tough time competing with GM in the full-size SUV segment, especially when it comes to a vehicle as large as the Excursion. The thing had a lot of potentials and there has since been a resurgence in used models. But for the most part, the Excursion just failed to catch on with consumers.
After Chrysler innovated the minivan segment, every automaker was trying to hop on the train. But the Windstar wasn’t what you’d expect from a minivan and it just didn’t compete with the Caravan on a real level. The Windstar had a lot of shortcomings in addition to reliability issues, and its cookie-cutter styling wasn’t doing much for it either. Ford was trying to appeal to a market Chrysler was already dominating.
The van had a lot of innovative firsts, but at this point in the industry, it was too late. The Caravan was the dominant minivan for the majority of the time. The Windstar just couldn’t add up to the hype Ford had put around it.
With the Freestar Ford was trying to innovate again, but at this point, the Freestar fell on deaf ears. Although the van was more refined than the outgoing Windstar, it also looked a lot like the outgoing model. The Freestar had a lot of shortcomings when it came to reliability as well, and the van just failed to catch on with consumers.
After this, Ford moved onto crossover vehicles like most of the automakers did. Chrysler dominated and created the minivan segment, and only the Japanese rivals have managed to make a dent in companies’ market share.