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25 Cars That Are Dangerous To Drive

Vukasin HerbezNovember 21, 2017

Most manufacturers try to make their cars as safe as possible. In that quest, they construct them in the most precise way by using strong, high-tech materials. They also equip their vehicles with multiple electronic systems and passive safety features. Carmakers pay a lot of attention to engine specifications and make their cars easy to drive rather than making them overpowered and dangerous.

But there some manufacturers that make cars without much thought on safety. The results are cars that are dangerous, fast, unreliable and straight up crazy. Cars that seem like they want to kill you with their high speeds, problematic handling, bad construction and terrible quality. These are cars drivers find fun to drive, yet they are quite scary.

If you want to learn more about them, read this list of 12 cars that want to kill you. Not all the cars on this list are high powered sports models capable of prohibited speeds. Some cars are slow and tiny, but still quite dangerous. Others are so badly constructed, they are death traps on wheels. However, there is one thing all these machines have in common. Whenever you are near them, you are in certain danger.

25. Reliant Robin

Mostly unknown to the automotive public outside the UK, Reliant has been producing cars since the 1930s. And they have been making their famous three-wheel vehicles since the early 1950s. In those days, owning a car in the UK was a big deal. However, the prices of new vehicles and insurance were out of reach for many potential customers.

Reliant tried to offer a budget-friendly solution in the form of a three-wheeled car. It could provide basic transportation and was inexpensive for people to insure and maintain. It sounded reasonable, but it was never quite as popular as Reliant hoped it would be. The reason was simple. A three-wheeled car was too small, too slow, and handled terribly. So, when the economy recovered and people were finally able to buy a proper car, Reliant’s proposition was simply obsolete.

Since the car was so compact and affordable, it had its customers, especially when the company introduced a van version which was practical in city traffic. In 1973, Reliant introduced the Robin just in time for the oil crisis, which greatly helped sales. With its 850cc engine at around 50 HP, the Reliant Robin weighed just approximately 1,100 pounds, which made it surprisingly agile and fuel-efficient.

However, the three-wheel configuration was tricky in tight turns. Robins were known to flip over if the driver entered the curve too fast. They ceased production in 2001, but the Robin was featured in the famous British comedy TV show, Only Fools and Horses. To the global audience, the Reliant Robin was in the popular motoring show, Top Gear, where presenters made fun of its ill-handling and capabilities.

24. Ariel Atom

This car is perhaps the craziest car for sale today. The Ariel Atom 500 V8 weighs 1,200 pounds and produces 500 HP from a V8 engine sitting directly behind the driver. The car is basically a go-kart with a spoiler. It has a place for two people but has no trunk, body panels, or fenders. It is just a naked chassis with a screaming V8 behind the driver. Those 500 angry horses want to run free in full power thanks to its seven-speed sequential gearbox.

If this description doesn’t scare you, the performance will. The Ariel Atom 500 V8 can jump to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds, beating the Bugatti Veyron, which was the world’s fastest-accelerating passenger car at some point. Imagine how it feels to be catapulted to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds in a car that has no body or roof and an engine just inches away from your head. It must be fantastic, yet frightening – and potentially deadly.

23. Bond Bug

As a groovy Kei Car with three wheels from the early ’70s, the Bond Bug was a unique vehicle. It had a strange wheel configuration and the top of the body lifted up to allow access inside. Just above the front wheel, there was a small 700 cc four-cylinder engine. They made it from a light alloy so it produced 29 HP. You may think that 29 HP was not much, but because the Bond Bug weighed around 882 pounds, its performance was impressive.

They designed it to be fun, similar to a go-kart for adults. With its wedge design and swanky ’70s graphics, it soon became quite popular. But it wasn’t stable since it had a single wheel at the front. However, it could provide swift acceleration, which was attractive to most customers. Because of its small dimensions and lightness, it gave an exaggerated feeling of speed. It could make drivers feel like they were traveling much faster than they really were. Since the stability and crash protection was minimal, the Bond Bug was a dangerous car. It stayed in production for four years from 1970 to 1974. They made exactly 2,270 Bond Bugs in total.

22. Renault 5 Turbo

The ’80s started with a bang in the hot hatch world when Renault introduced the crazy R5 Turbo. It looked like a regular Renault 5 compact city car, yet it was a serious performance machine. This was the first time a car company presented an outrageous hot hatch. It not only had the performance of a supercar, but also the technology of one.

The essence of the R5 Turbo was a mid-mounted 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivered 160 HP. They redesigned and re-engineered the entire car to move the engine from the front hood to space behind the driver. The rear track was much wider and they added side scoops for better engine cooling. Of course, such an extreme car lost one of the main hot hatch characteristics, which is practicality. Basically, it was a pure racing car Renault built for homologation purposes. Even so, it deserves an important place in hot hatch history as one of the coolest, craziest hot hatches as well as one of deadliest compacts of the ’80s.

21. Chevrolet Corvette Z06

A legendary American sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette is currently in its seventh generation. It has one of the best chassis in the business, powerful V8 engines, and top technology. In fact, the Corvette C7 is more than capable of beating its European competitors such as the Porsche 911, Mercedes AMG GT, or Jaguar F-Type. While most users find the base 430 HP Corvette powerful, those who want more can choose the mighty Corvette Z06 version.

Complete with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 635 HP, wide body kit, active aerodynamics package, and a host of other performance modifications, the Z06 is a proper sports car beast. The specifications of the Z06 are equally impressive, too. The top speed is close to 200 mph and a 0 to 60 mph sprint takes about 3.3 seconds. However, behind those stellar numbers and perfect sports car design lies the heart of the beast. Overall the Z06 is a hard car to control.

The enormous power and torque, lightweight chassis, and brutal power delivery all make the Corvette Z06 a nervous machine. To fully extract every bit of performance from this model, you need to be an experienced race driver or a magician – or both.

20. Dodge Challenger Hellcat

Everybody went crazy when Dodge announced the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. The reaction was expected since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP is a proper monster of a muscle car that shouldn’t be on the streets. But Dodge allowed the public to buy one of the fastest and most powerful muscle cars they ever built.

Despite being overpowered in every aspect; the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat are surprisingly fun to drive and docile at low speeds. When you press the throttle to unleash the fury of those 707 supercharged horses, you feel the brutality of the Hellcat package and the power being sent to the rear wheels. You won’t want to turn off the stability control systems and try to drive this car aggressively. Not only you will find yourself in a huge cloud of tire smoke in a matter of seconds, but the Hellcat will also skid uncontrollably. The fastest recipe for disaster is turning everything off and hitting the gas. You will not be able to control the Hellcat. It may try to kill you by pushing the car into the nearest wall or ditch.

19. Dodge Viper

Most car fans are deeply saddened by the news Dodge discontinued the Dodge Viper. Viper enthusiasts will not see a new generation. Dodge presented this legendary sports muscle car in 1992 and it immediately became an American icon. It has a monster V10 engine in the front, a sleek and aggressive body style, and rear-wheel drive. However, there is not much to protect you from being killed by the sheer power and wild nature of this car.

Even so, the Viper became a favorite with driving fans for its uncompromised character and attitude. Over three generations, Chrysler made over 100,000 of them, but the basic layout was the same. It has a V10 in the front with power going to the rear wheels and manual transmission in between. Until the end, this was the only transmission choice and something purists highly appreciate.

Although the Viper doesn’t have a fancy, advanced automatic transmission with a dual-clutch system and lightning-fast shifts, it is still brutally fast. It can even beat those more expensive European exotics. The 8.2-liter, 645 HP V10 engine was responsible for 3.8 seconds 0 to 60 mph times, which is amazingly fast.

18. Ford Pinto

In the ’70s, domestic car manufacturers answered the changing market climate and the rising popularity of compact cars with several homegrown models, all of which drivers considered bad. One of those cars was the Ford Pinto. Ford introduced it in the early ’70s and the Pinto was popular due to its low price. It had a fairly nice design and a long list of options too. They equipped it with economical four and six-cylinder engines and the overall quality of the car was decent.

So, what was the problem? While engineering the car, Ford left out any protection for its rear-mounted fuel tank. The fuel tank was located below the trunk and just behind the rear bumper. In most cars, there is a strong cross-member to protect the fuel tank in case of a crash. However, the Pinto lacked this feature, which became apparent when people started getting killed in fiery crashes caused by leaking fuel tanks. Families of people killed or hurt in such incidents sued Ford. Eventually, the company spent millions of settling court cases. Despite improving the design of the Pinto afterward, they soon discontinued the model. The Pinto went into automotive history books as the “car of death.”

17. Jaguar XJ220

The story of the XJ220 is a strange one. Jaguar conceived it in the late ’80s as their first road-ready supercar. To them, it looked promising. The concept car and the first prototypes had Jaguar’s V12 engine, which they tuned to produce a higher output. However, halfway through development, Jaguar decided a new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 unit with 542 HP would be even better.

The design of the car was fantastic, with flowing lines and a wide stance to emphasize its performance and speed. However, it came at an enormous price. Despite the hype and the wealthy customers waiting to buy it, several delays in production created problems. Also, the lack of a V12 affected the market, so eventually, they built less than 300 of them. Jaguar named it the XJ220 since it could top 220 mph, but they never officially sold it in America.

Yet this Jaguar supercar was tricky to drive and dangerous in inexperienced hands. First, the turbo engine had a big turbo lag. So, a sudden surge of power could produce skidding and loss of control. Second, the car had the dimensions of an ocean liner and limited visibility, so owners were often in fender benders.

16. Shelby Cobra 427

With a 0-60 mph time of just 4.3 seconds, the Shelby Cobra 427 was the fastest production car in America in the ’60s. They put the biggest Ford V8 engine in the lightest roadster body, so it is as equally extreme then as it is today. But there’s one thing you must know. The Shelby Cobra 427 has a 7.0-liter V8 with around 400 HP. This is too much for a tiny roadster body that only weighs around 2,000 pounds.

With all that power going to the rear wheels in a body so light, the Cobra 427 spelled trouble form the moment they released this speed demon. There are numerous reports of fatal accidents and owners crashing their cars as soon as they got them. Remember, this car doesn’t have any stability control or electronic aids. Putting 400 horses behind those four tires makes it one of the deadliest cars Detroit ever produced.

15. Ferrari 599 GTO

When they introduced the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, the car community praised its power, handling, and precision driving. It was one of the best front-engine V12 cars Ferrari ever produced. However, Ferrari knew the 599 GTB had more potential, so they introduced two crazy versions – the 599 FXX and the 599 GTO. The GTO was a road-going version of the track-oriented FXX. It featured a highly-tuned V12 engine with 670 HP.

The car could go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, topping 208 mph. The secret of its brutal performance was a lightweight body. They also removed all but essentials from the interior and revised the suspension to achieve even better handling. However, all of that made the car even harder to drive. The 599 GTO was tail-happy and if drivers weren’t paying attention or knew what they were doing, they could lose control instantly. Also, because of the high-performance nature of the 599 GTO, driving on wet or icy roads was an adventure, even at low speeds.

14. Ford Explorer

As one of the first popular SUV models, Explorer from early the ’90s was the typical example of the concept. Big, powerful, luxurious, and capable, it could carry its passengers with ease over any terrain. Or, at least it looked like it could. Despite its popularity, the alarming reports of instability and tendencies to roll over plagued the market and the car public.

Apparently, the Explorer was unstable stable at sharp turns and high speeds, causing numerous crashes, deaths and injuries. The story slowly unfolded and Ford admitted they had concerns regarding stability and road holding. However, Firestone, Ford’s tire manufacturer, ensured that they could solve the problem by deflating the tires below the recommended limit. Ford did that, but the situation got even worse, evolving into a major scandal with Ford and Firestone as the main culprits

The aftermath of this scandal was a massive recall of Ford Explorers and a sharp decline in the stock prices of both companies. They also faced big penalties, lawsuits and a loss of reputation. Sadly, drivers didn’t need to drive fast for the Explorer to be dangerous. Even at low speeds, it was unstable when drivers attempted to turn.

13. Volkswagen Beetle

You must think that we are joking, but we aren’t. The VW Beetle could easily kill you despite the fact it only has a 34 horsepower flat-four engine. The trick with the Beetle is not in speed or power since the car has none of it. It is the suspension and construction. Drivers need to know they are dealing with 1930’s technology in the case of the VW Beetle.

The first problem is the swing-axle suspension. It is durable and tough, but it also has a lot of tire travel. Also, it is sensitive to high-speed cornering, change of direction and even crosswinds. When you drive the Beetle, you can feel the body roll. Even worse, if you are forced to change direction suddenly, chances are you will lose control and crash.

The second problem is the weight distribution as the majority of the Beetle’s weight is located in the back where the engine and the gearbox are. The front of the car is light, especially when the fuel tank is empty. This means the Beetle has less grip on the front wheels, which can cause understeer issues on slippery surfaces.

12. Toyota MR2

The third generation of Toyota’s legendary mid-engine convertible entered the car market in 1999. It immediately became one of the best small and affordable sports cars on the market. The technical layout was the same. The MR2 had compact dimensions, a mid-positioned engine, rear-wheel drive and sharp handling. However, despite the efforts of the engineers, the third generation MR2 was a handful to drive at high speeds. It soon earned the nickname “widowmaker.”

The MR2 was lightweight and came with a 1.8-liter, 140 HP engine. This may not sound like a big deal today, but 20 years ago, it was a decent power figure. The MR2 even managed to get from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds which is fast for a small car.

Unfortunately, when driving at the speed limit, the rear end had a tendency to step out into sharp oversteer. This caught many drivers by surprise. Also, since the MR2 was an open-top car without a roll bar and modern electronic aids, the rollover could be fatal for passengers.

11. Yugo GV

Back in the late ’80s, the ex-Yugoslav car manufacturer, Crvena Zastava attempted to enter the American market with their compact model, the Yugo. The Yugo was an attractive three-door hatchback they built on a Fiat 127 base. But it also came with some improvements in design and technology. Under the hood was a 1.1-liter four-cylinder engine with electronic fuel injection. But for the U.S. market, the buyers got better equipment, a radio, and even AC as an option.

From today’s standpoint, the Yugo was a basic and even a primitive car. However, for the middle of the ’80s, it was a decent proposition and a solution to the economy car dilemma. The Fiat mechanics were relatively common in the U.S. since Fiat has just left the American marketplace in the early ’80s. So, why did the Yugo receive such bad reviews from Consumer Reports back in the day?

The reason was simple: driving dynamics and quality. Both were horrible, even by the standards of the day. The engine sent 65 HP to the front wheels over a badly assembled five-speed manual gearbox. The performance was painfully slow, but that is not the worst thing. Also, the fit and finish were bad.

And to make things worse, Yugo importer, Malcolm Bricklin didn’t import enough spare parts. So, if your Yugo broke down, and eventually they all did, the spare parts traveled for months from Yugoslavia to America. Despite that, the Yugo was somewhat of a sales success because they sold over 40,000 of them. The $4,000 price tag was one of the reasons. The Yugo was the most affordable automobile for sale in America when they introduced it.

10. Cadillac 8-6-4 Engine

Back in the early ’80s when fuel efficiency and cost savings were imperatives in the car game, manufacturers experimented with various engines and drivetrains. So, Oldsmobile went the diesel route by introducing the notoriously bad 4.3-liter V8 and then the slightly better 5.7-liter V8. However, Cadillac decided to install fancy electronic cylinder deactivation systems on their gasoline V8s.

The idea was like today’s modern systems in many models with big engines. When cruising around town, the car used only four cylinders and the rest deactivated electronically. This stopped the fuel delivery and shut down the spark plugs. When the driver needed more power, two more cylinders activated, making the engine a V6. And when the throttle was pushed to the end, all eight would fire up to deliver full power.

Everything worked great on paper, at least, so their customers were interested. However, as soon as they delivered the first cars, the problems started. Simply, the electronic system was terribly unreliable, so the engine tended to get stuck in one mode, often as a four-cylinder. After a few years on the market, Cadillac discontinued this option. It took them a long time to recover from their lost reputation.

9. Oldsmobile Cutlass Diesel

In the late ’70s, American manufacturers were all about fuel efficiency and downsizing. The era of big cruisers and powerful gasoline engines of the ’60s was gone. Everybody was trying to find a way to introduce new, innovative technologies. Oldsmobile was at the forefront of this new trend with the introduction of the diesel engine in passenger cars. In those days, American buyers were unaware they could use diesel fuel for their cars.

European customers already had a couple of diesel cars on the market, but for the U.S., this was new. Oldsmobile introduced the 4.3-liter V8 diesel engine as an option for the Cutlass line. Soon this model was subject to enormous amounts of recalls and engine swaps. Simply, the 4.3-liter had the tendency to explode and shatter during normal driving.

The passengers weren’t hurt, but the car was unusable and good only for scrap. Oldsmobile later introduced the 5.7-liter diesel, which was somewhat better and more durable. However, most people consider the 4.3-liter to be the worst diesel engine in history.

8. Chevrolet Corvair

In the late ’50s, Chevrolet presented the Corvair, a revolutionary compact car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat-six engine. This was a big step for Chevrolet since the Corvair sat totally opposite of other cars from the company. It featured a different concept, technology and design. However, for a couple of years, it looked like everything was okay with the Corvair. The sales were good until the book, Unsafe at Any Speed, hit bookstores across the country, causing big problems for GM.

The book’s author, Ralph Nader, was a consumer advocate who found classified documents showing the Corvair was the reason for many car accidents, some even with fatal outcomes. Apparently, the engine in the back of the car caused the Corvair to have problematic handling. Chevrolet was aware of the issues but didn’t want to invest money in additional stabilizer bars and suspension modifications. Soon, the book gained attention, so the public demanded answers while drivers continued to report crashes with the Corvair.

Later, Chevrolet was involved in government hearings where they admitted their executives knew something about the matter. They ended up paying a settlement and promising to invest money in safety research. In the end, Corvair sales were non-existent, so they discontinued the model in 1969.

7. Audi 5000

Today, Audi is one of the leading luxury brands in the American market. But in the late ’80s, the company was almost gone from U.S. shores. This was due to the news of unintended acceleration and numerous crashes with the Audi 5000. But, in 1986, the popular CBS TV show, 60 Minutes, ran a feature about the unintended acceleration with the 5000 models.

What the viewers didn’t see was that they rigged the car. The acceleration they featured in the show wasn’t genuine. After the show aired, the car community was buzzing, badly damaging Audi’s reputation. Audi responded by publishing numerous tests and videos showing the only way unintended acceleration occurred was if the driver’s foot slipped from the brake to the accelerator pedal.

However, that didn’t help, so their sales hit rock bottom. Despite the fact 60 Minutes published a false story and they proved Audi didn’t have acceleration problems, the damage was done. It took the company two decades to recover. It is still unclear why CBS did that feature. Many people wonder if another rival car company was behind it.

6. Car Equipped with Takata Airbags

The Takata case is still open and it could be the biggest recall case in the history of the car industry. From 2000 to 2008, the Japanese company, Takata produced at least 17 million airbags for millions of cars. In fact, Takata supplied 10 of the biggest car companies in the world, which made things even worse.

The problem with the airbags was that under specific circumstances like moisture or heat, they could suddenly deploy, causing a small explosion inside the car. Since the airbag is in a metal container, pieces could injure or even kill passengers when something like this happens. All 10 of the world’s biggest carmakers are working together to resolve the issue. However, experts say that over 30 million cars could be affected.

5. Porsche 930 Turbo

The 930 Turbo gets 260 HP from its 3.0-liter flat-six, along with its signature air cooling, big rear wing and wider rear track. However, it is notorious for its ill-handling capabilities. But, it delivered an exhilarating performance in a time when performance cars were almost banned.

Also, the 930 Turbo launched a legendary breed of lighting fast Porsches. Yes, it’s an iconic car for sure, but do you want it in the hands of a novice driver? That would be scary.

4. Chevrolet Aveo

So far you are probably thinking that young drivers should drive slow, boring and affordable cars and you are somewhat right. However, the Chevrolet Aveo as a small, inexpensive and slow car is not the answer. The reasons are simple.

The Chevrolet Aveo is too slow, so it is dangerous. It is also poorly equipped, terribly put together and doesn’t handle that well. So, if you going to put your young driver into an economy car, make it a good one at least.

3. Mitsubishi Mirage

It is no secret the Mitsubishi car company has been in financial trouble for years. Their lineup of models is outdated, so some of their models have fallen out of fashion. They haven’t introduced anything new or interesting in decades. Long gone are the days when Mitsubishi was one of the most popular, active Japanese brands on the global market.

The Renault-Nissan corporation bought a significant percentage of the company. But they may only use the plants for their own products and will probably not invest in reviving the Mitsubishi name. However, one of the recent introductions is a sub-compact model they call the Mirage. Available as a five-door hatchback or a compact four-door sedan, the Mirage is affordable, starting just above $13,000.

But, for that kind of money, you can’t expect much, so the Mirage comes with limited equipment and a slow three-cylinder engine. The transmission choice is between a manual and a slow-shifting automatic, and the power goes to the front wheels. Although the Mirage is basic transportation, so nobody should expect much, Consumer Reports disliked its interior design and materials, as well as its painfully slow performance and quality.

2. Suzuki Samurai

Suzuki’s compact and capable off-roader, the Samurai, was an inexpensive alternative to bigger, more expensive terrain vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler. Suzuki introduced this vehicle in 1985. The Samurai was a strong seller until Consumer Reports discovered one fatal design flaw. It even caused a big recall and hurt the reputation of the brand.

Apparently, due to its short wheelbase and high center of gravity, the Samurai was prone to rolling over at high speeds. This caused many crashes, injuries and even fatal outcomes. Consumer Reports claimed the Samurai’s stability was alarmingly below average. So, Suzuki responded by recalling over 150,000 vehicles.

Several lawsuits were filed against the carmaker, some of which lasted until 2004. Eventually, they settled the matter, but Suzuki lost its position on the U.S. market. Sadly, they stopped selling cars in America back in 2012.

1. AMC Ambassador

In the late 60s, the American Motors Company was doing well. This was despite being the only independent domestic manufacturer under attack from Detroit’s Big Three: GM, Ford and Chrysler. Their economy car lineup was doing well on the market. And, AMC even entered the lucrative muscle car segment with the Javelin and the AMX.

However, the new Ambassador model was highly anticipated since AMC promised a modern design and powerful engines. They also offered a high level of standard equipment. In fact, the 1968 Ambassador was the first car to offer air conditioning as standard equipment. This was a big deal for the late ’60s. The future looked great for AMC until Consumer Reports tested the car and found several alarming things.

First, the quality was terrible. The body panels were loose-fitting and the interior looked like it would fall apart. Second, the poorly-installed fuel filler neck spilled gasoline all over the car and the road under heavy braking. Consumer Reports finally concluded the testing, finding the quality so poor the car was unsafe to drive. AMC responded by fixing the quality, but the problems lasted until the end of the company in the mid-80s.

 

All the cars on this list represent a good idea gone bad. They were dangerous – and even deadly. If you see one of these on your local used car lot, run for the hills.

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