If you don’t know what the Sterling 825 is, nobody can blame you. Although they presented it as the next big thing in the luxury segment on the American market, Sterling is now a forgotten brand that didn’t leave a mark, moving to the outer margins of automotive history. However, the Sterling car company has an interesting story. Sterling was a British company they established in the late ’80s with Honda’s capital and Rover’s design.
Although that sounds like a strange combination, the finished product looked attractive. It had a stylish interior and decent power thanks to Honda’s V6 engine. However, after they debuted it in 1987 with promising sales numbers in the first few months, some problems showed up. Sterlings were of poor construction, their electronics were troublesome, and some cars even had rust issues. Honda tried to improve the production process, but there wasn’t much they could do. Unfortunately, by the early ’90s, Sterling was gone, yet nobody was sad about it, not even Honda.
In the late ’50s, Chevrolet presented the Corvair, a revolutionary compact car with a rear-mounted, air-cooled, flat-six engine. For a couple of years, it looked like everything was okay with the Corvair, and sales were good. That was, until a book called, Unsafe at Any Speed hit the bookstores across the country, causing big problems for GM. The book’s author, Ralph Nader, was a consumer advocate. He discovered some classified documents showing the Corvair was responsible for many car accidents, some even with fatal outcomes.
Apparently, the engine in the back of the car caused the Corvair to become difficult to handle. Chevrolet was aware of that, but they didn’t want to invest any money in additional stabilizer bars and suspension modifications. Soon, the book gained publicity and the public demanded answers while drivers continued to report crashes in the Corvair. Soon, Chevrolet was involved in government hearings where the company admitted its executives knew about the matter. In the end, they paid the settlement and promised to invest money in safety research. Corvair sales dropped dramatically, causing Chevrolet to discontinue the model in 1969.
Available as a five-door hatchback or a compact four-door sedan, the Mirage was affordable with a starting price just above $13,000. However, for that kind of money, drivers couldn’t expect much. In fact, the Mirage comes with limited equipment and a sluggish three-cylinder engine.
The transmission choice is either a manual or a slow-shifting automatic that sends the power to the front wheels. To most drivers, the budget-priced Mirage feels like it’s below the industry average. Mirage buyers have criticized its interior design and materials, as well as painfully slow performance and quality.
Today, Audi is one of the leading luxury brands in the American market. Still, in the late ’80s, the company was almost gone from U.S. shores. That was due to the news of unintended acceleration problems resulting in numerous crashes. In 1986, the popular CBS TV show 60 Minutes ran a feature about Audi’s unintended acceleration on the popular 5000 model.
However, television viewers didn’t see that they had rigged the car. In fact, the acceleration they featured in the show wasn’t genuine. After the show aired, the car community was buzzing. As a result, Audi’s reputation was badly damaged. Audi responded by publishing numerous tests and videos to show the only possible way something like that could happen was if the driver’s foot slipped off the brake to the accelerator pedal. Unfortunately, it didn’t help and soon their sales hit rock bottom.
Volkswagen has been selling its diesel-powered cars in America for some time, offering several models. Buyers love the economy and smooth running of 2.0-liter turbo diesel engines, but then “Dieselgate” happened. Apparently, Volkswagen was caught cheating on its emissions tests. Although they said their diesel cars were a cleaner alternative, they were actually polluting the environment more than regular gasoline-powered cars.
This dishonesty massively backfired on the company. Soon, their customers started disposing of their diesel-powered Passats. That forced the company to stop selling them in the USA. To this day, the company’s reputation is still damaged. Still, some loyal customers are hoping the Golf will bring the company back to its former glory.
At first, it looked like Fiat scored big with its cute and compact 500, causing a triumphant return to the American market. Soon, they presented the 500L, a car Fiat they built on an extended platform. It came with the same basic design in the front end, but with a longer wheelbase and more interior space. In theory, the Fiat 500L should have worked.
But in real life, it turned out to be a disaster. The 500L is slow, has poor equipment and is impractical and unattractive. Also, it had quality and reliability issues, as well as bad interior materials. Most of all, the 500L is expensive, with a base price of over $20,000.
Cadillac’s brave attempt to break into the luxury EV market didn’t pay off since car customers ignored the ELR. While the car was cool-looking and luxurious, it came with a limited range, high price and strange marketing.
Cadillac made the marketing mistake of offering the ELR at the same time Tesla debuted the more practical and cooler Model S. Sadly, the ELR failed to succeed after just a couple of years on the market.
When it debuted in 2010, the Honda CRZ was an innovative compact hybrid-powered coupe that looked like a spiritual successor to the legendary CRX. Unfortunately, it wasn’t even close with a 1.5-liter engine barely producing 130 HP. Along with the heavy hybrid add-ons, the CRZ was slow and didn’t handle well.
Needless to say, the managers at Honda were disappointed. Honda just didn’t have any luck with electric or hybrid cars, and the CRZ didn’t help. After all the money Honda invested in engineering and marketing, they probably wish the CRZ never happened.
If you think the Mirage is bad, just wait until you hear about Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV electric model. The move to introduce an all-electric car could have been profitable for Mitsubishi since this segment is so promising. Still, if you want to sell cars, you have to offer something substantial to buyers, yet Mitsubishi failed to do so. The main problem is that the i-MiEV is painfully slow to recharge.
In fact, it takes between seven and 21 hours to fully recharge them, which is forever compared to other electric cars. Also, the drive is terrible, while the interior is outdated, cramped, and uncomfortable. In general, the car is undeveloped, clumsy and painfully slow. In comparison to other electric cars in its class like the Nissan Leaf, the i-MiEV looks like an unfinished prototype.
How about a two-seater, two-door SUV with compact dimensions and a removable T-Top? That may sound insane, but that is exactly what the Suzuki X-90 was when they unveiled it in 1995. Powered by a 95 HP, 1.6-liter four-cylinder, the X-90 came with a rear-wheel drive as standard.
Buyers could also opt for the all-wheel-drive model with limited interior and trunk space. They officially offered the car in America, so Suzuki managed to sell 7,000 copies. Still, neither the buyers nor the motoring press understood what Suzuki wanted to say with this model. It wasn’t an off-roader, yet it wasn’t a roadster. However, it was ugly and unappealing, which hurt the sales numbers badly.
These are 25 cars that should have never been built for a number of reasons, some even fatal. All of these cars are memorable, but not in a good way. If you ever have the chance to buy one of these cars, be sure to run in the opposite direction as fast as you can.