Funny new book - "CrapCars"

If you need a laugh, find a copy of Richard Porter's "CrapCars"
(Bloomsbury 2005, ISBN 1-58234-638-0) which is a list of the 50 worst
cars of the last half century. Very opinionated and occasionally wrong
headed but often dead on and funny. He lists such milestones as #34 the
Maserati Biturbo ("If this car was sold without a steering wheel it
could barely have been less erratic") and #2 the Yugo ("When Yugoslavia
descended into war, at least someone had the presence of mind to bomb
the Yugo factory"). His winner? 1974 Mustang II - or Sports Pinto as
people called it at the time.
Jim
Reply to
Jim McGill
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I hate to admit this, but when I was poor, young and dumb in the mid-70's I owned two of the cars in this book - 1974 Mustang II and 1973 Chevy Vega.
The only thing good about the Vega is it had a heated rear window, so your hands didn't get cold when you had to push it!
Now own a 2005 Honda Accord coupe.
Ed Ferguson
Reply to
cascadiadesign
A neighbor of mine and I came home one day with a new car each. I had a Datsun 210, and he had a Chevette. He proclaimed what a piece of shit car I had bought. I said we'd see as the cars aged. His Chevette was forever tossing timing belts (not chains) and wouldn't start half the time. My Datsun ran for lots of years before I sold it, and I only put on tires, brakes, and a distributor.
STeve
Reply to
Steve B
I had a 1976 "Mach I" for a couple years, first new car I every bought. Wasn't a bad car, for the time.
I'd still buy a Cosworth Vega if I were to happen upon one. A good friend is restoring one. Surprisingly, even a stock base model Vega was a pretty good handler.
Reply to
Rex B
Hey! I resemble that remark!
I waited for years for the engine in my Vega to crap out so I could swap in something bigger -- finally something electrical died; I called it good enough. Now if I could just finish the job...
Why, you may ask, am I shoving a V6 into a Vega? Because even though it is a living, rusting example of what happens when consumers ask for "inexpensive" and get "cheap", the styling just can't be beat.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
Really? Mine handled like a boat -- perhaps because it's a station wagon. It'll be getting a _firm_ anti-sway bar when it gets back on the road (with a 3.4 liter V6 from Chevy High Performance, assuming they're still available when I get the dang thing done).
Reply to
Tim Wescott
Well, I had a '76 Vega with 4-speed and the fancy instrument panel (4 gauges plus tach speedo and clock). A/C too. It worked, and pretty well. I blew the 7" clutch at 18000 miles, and had the option to put in a 14" clutch plate. I did, it lasted through the 76,000 miles I put on the thing and was still going strong. But, the clutch was undrivable. I had to invent a special technique to drive it, which I wasn't able to teach anybody else. When you started to engage the clutch, normally you'd increase the gas a bit as the clutch was nearly fully engaged. This would cause giant clutch chatter that would nearly break your teeth! Instead, you took your foot OFF the gas until the clutch was fully engaged, the get back on the gas.
But, other than burning a little oil (well, maybe a LOT of oil) it really wasn't such a bad car. Got incredible gas milage, like 40 on the highway.
My vote for the worst car ever was a 1973 Dodge Dart Swinger, sometimes confused with the Bic Bananna, as ours was yellow with a black vinyl top. This was one of Chrysler's first unibody models, and they had no idea how to control vibrations and resonances. When you went over railroad tracks, the steering wheel would vibrate up and down with such violence it was like holding onto a pneumatic jackhammer. I actually got BRUISES on my hands from this! I eventually learned to hold the wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock with my fingertips only, when on rough road surfaces. If you needed to brake or turn on rough road surfaces, just forget it -- the wheels were not actually on the road surface more than 10% of the time.
But, the worst part was that the brake cylinders were not adjusted for the weight balance of the car. This thing had a 318 V-8, automatic and air conditioning, as well as power steering and brakes. but, they only provided one set of brake cylinders for all variants, from 6-cyl, man trans with no accessories to the massively front-heavy ones like ours. The result is that when you hit the brakes, even for a relatively gentle stop, the rear wheels locked up! In a panic stop, due to the extremely light rear end and locked rear brakes, the thing would spin on you with a vengeance! On ice, just taking your foot off the GAS would make it start to get squirrely on you! I was greatly relieved when that heap of CRAP went to the crusher. We did get to see that the door beams really worked, though, as we got hit by a Buick! So, I will give them credit for doing SOMETHING right.
Jon
Reply to
Jon Elson
V-6? Hell, the Vega was DESIGNED to accept a small-block V-8! Ever wonder why the engine compartment looked like the engine room on a BOAT? To keep the weight balance within reason, an aluminum V-8 might be a good option.
Styling? Vegas HAD styling? Hmmm, maybe in 1976 they looked OK, if I saw a Vega on the road today, I think I'd laugh.
Jon
Reply to
Jon Elson
Yeah. Well, I'm still driving a 1989 Toyota Corolla station wagon, last model with a carburetor, and a stick shift. I'm still running on the original clutch, and most everything else. I put on a new starter at 110,000 mi, I replaced the distributor cap and wiring harness (all one part) at 135,000, and it is now at 156,000 miles, still running fine. Other than tires, brakes and exhaust, that is the total maintenance I have done on it! (well, of course, oil changes, air filters, batteries.)
I had it rustproofed, although the dealer said I was totally throwing my money away. Well, maybe, but there isn't a SPOT of rust on it, ANYWHERE, even underneath, after 16 years, and they DO use road salt here!
Jon
Reply to
Jon Elson
I know. The easiest route would have been to find a V8 kit and change to an automatic.
I had a discussion about this with my dad, who's forgotten more about high performance cars than I'll ever learn. He felt that unless I wanted to rip out the rear suspension and do extensive modifications I shouldn't exceed 200 horsepower. _I_ felt that 200 honest horsepower would be plenty for a street driver, and reachable with a 3.4L V-6.
Since I want to go around corners weight is a concern, and since I want to pay for this in my lifetime an aluminum block is probably not in the cards. But I'm putting a 5-speed behind the V-6, which should be equivalent to an automatic and at least 25 more horsepower (automatic transmissions are for weenies).
To each their own. It's a '71, which I find quite Camero-like.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
I can just imagine the Vega team at Chevrolet asking themselves "what did we do wrong the last time?".
"Well, it kinda looks good and with a bit of work it can be made to go fast."
Then they made the Chevette.
Reply to
Tim Wescott
Vega GT was a very pleasant little car all around, until you put your foot through the rusted-out floorboard or your head through the rusted-out roof or your hand through the rusted-out door . . .
Reply to
J. Clarke
By that I meant it had good geometry. With proper bushings, good shocks and springs, it would handle with the best of them.
Reply to
Rex B
snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote in news:1140803209.954797.180580 @j33g2000cwa.googlegroups.com:
Had a Mustang II also..2.3L 4 speed..engine rebuilt at 190K, finally parted it out at 330K, but used the block and head to rebuild the 75 Courier at 300k (2.3L also). I finally parked it at 550K...truck still runs.
Chevette's were called shitvettes around here. For good reason. I would hate to think I had to drive one of those in a large city..you'd get run over trying to merge onto an interstate. Took one of them forever + a day to get to 60 mph.
Vega's weren't nearly as bad as a chevette.
I'd have to add the rust-while-you-watch mid-70's GM trucks.
Reply to
Anthony
Just a minor nit but the Vega was foisted on Chevy from On High.
Reply to
J. Clarke
--snip--
I have a theory that GM did market research and found that folks wanted an inexpensive car, so some executive said "Oh, they want a car that's cheap -- we can do that!"
Who was On High that foisted it on Chevy -- are there any histories that I can read?
To me, the Vega was frustratingly near miss -- they could have spent 5-10% more on the thing and had something that really was a good, inexpensive car. Instead they made a cheap piece of stuff that has some good ideas (suspension geometry, the overhead cam, has a front-hinged hood so it must be sporty), but just didn't add up to a good car in the end.
Ditto for the Pinto, except I think Ford came closer to the mark than Chevy, particularly in the engine compartment (but the styling sucks, IMHO).
Reply to
Tim Wescott
My mean step dad bought me that mustang which was about 6 yrs. old at the time. BTW the only car that I didn't pay for, he just wanted to get rid of me fast. I had to fix it on the side of the hyway with like close to zero tools to get it through the road trip.
Was cruzing the first day back and see this '62 2dr Galaxie setting behind a strange gas station that I fell in love with the first time I saw it. I circle around the back way to check out to see if it's the exact car and sure enough it is.
Before I get out of the car in front of the business this 12+(not yrs.old) girl comes out "Hooo what a cute car!" . She can't keep her hands off the car and getting too close to me. I told her that I was wondering if the car in the back was for sale and she said sure. They wanted to put my car up on the rack to check it out and then gave me the keys to the old car to cruse around for 20 mins. I came back and she goes how much and I said hmmm let me think... ( was thinking how much more I could stand to pay on top). Within 60 seconds she goes I'll give you the car and $1,100 plus pay for the plate switch today, lets go.
The gallaxie had AC that would pump frost too the back seat and always had problems of cops pulling me over thinking I stole it or people approaching me to sell it.
Reply to
Sunworshipper
=============================== I think you have just identified *THE* cause for the current problems at both Ford and GMC. The value analysis people did not know when to stop, or the manufacturing people were over-ridden by styling.
My current complaint is the use of plastic headlight lenses and/or projector style lights in place of the standard size glass lens units. After a few years the plastic lenses start to be come cloudy and cut down the available light. New units are not availalbe for most older cars and new ones that are available cost 100$US and sometimes a lot more. I now have to use fine compound and a buffer 2 times a year to keep the lenses clear. Older sealed beams and even halogon units were 10$ each tops.
Projector units have hot spots in the light pattern and tend to blind the on coming drivers, and also have plastic lenses. If you get a chance, drive an older car at night with sealed beans and see the difference.
Uncle George
Reply to
F. George McDuffee
============================= Vega is the only car I ever heard of that warranted fenders for rust through. Friend of mine had one in Connecticut and the front fenders rusted through just behind the headlights in *ONE* winter.
Engine was built upside down, had an aluminum block and cast iron head! Any truth to the rumor this engine was developed by the Dixie corporation that developed the Dixie cup. Their motto "use it once and throw it away" seems to fit.
Uncle George
Reply to
F. George McDuffee
Rumor has it that the styling was inspired by a pitching wedge. Anyone know if you could get backspin on a pedestrian?
Uncle George
Reply to
F. George McDuffee

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