June 18, 2024

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Cars that Proved Turkeys: Leasing.com investigates Some of the Car Industry’s Biggest Flops

There have been dozens of automotive flops over the years. From the Edsel to the Allegro, there can be a plethora of reasons a car fails. But some fail rather more spectacularly than others.

To get us in the mood for Christmas dinner, Leasing.com takes a look at which cars were real turkeys. No Christmas crackers in this list!

The Amphicar (1961)

Ironically – quite the (belly) flop. Launched in 1961 the Amphicar was designed for use on land and in water, aimed at providing the public with an automotive amphibian fit for the masses, and to this day remains the only civilian passenger automobile of its kind. Rear-engined, convertible and a beneficiary of water and land based 4-speed transmission, on paper, this could have been one of the industry’s coolest inventions. Instead, it turned out to be a damp squib. The problem wasn’t getting in the water – it was getting out.

The Amphicar was unable to float – financially that is. Just 3,770 units were produced over an eight year period. Stifled by US Government regulations and multiple practical issues with care and maintenance, the Amphicar production line ground to a halt. All in all, this vehicle is drowning not waving.

Image of Amphicar, © Tyler White, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Plymouth Prowler (1997 to 2002)

Woodland Hills, CA, USA – June 7, 2015: Chrysler Plymouth Prowler car on display at the Supercar Sunday car event.

Quite possibly the most inappropriately named car ever to grace the industry, the Prowler left an indelible mark on the industry in the 90’s and early 00’s remaining in production for five years before biting the dust. Partly created to reinvigorate the Plymouth brand, the Prowler was Plymouth’s swan song to hot rods that first gained popularity in the 1950s.

With most of the budget being used in the aluminium chassis and external body features, not much remained for the interior, engine or transmission. Hot rod in looks, but a milder concoction of a Chrysler minivan and the Dodge caravan internally, the Prowler was not a resounding hit. The Plymouth Prowler remained in production from 1997 to 2001, and was the last of the Plymouth brand, before running under the Chrysler name for a further year. Fewer than 12,000 were sold.

REVA G-Wiz (2001)

Image ©https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenjonbro/6150936484/, shared under CC 2.0

The Indian-built G-Wiz electric car qualifies as a quadricycle in the UK, so for those lucky enough to hold a CBT motorcycle or moped license, you can get behind the wheel of one – and as young as 16! The original DC motor boasted 13kW of power – relative now to the power of the average starter motor – and an official range of 50 miles.

Incredibly, the G-Wiz was the best-selling electric car in the world up to 2009, despite this total coming to just 4,600 sold globally – perhaps an indication of limited comparative vehicles until more recently. But with a lack of safety and a semblance of any form of crash structure in its early guise, the G-Wiz ranks consistently as one of the worst cars of all time.

Renault Avantime (2002)

Renault Avantime by Andrew Bone on Flickr, shared under cc2.0 

If ever there was a fabulous failure, it was the Renault Avantime. On the face of it, it sounds strangely appealing: a spacious, two-door coupe with a full panoramic sunroof and pillarless doors giving the cabin a truly airy feel. In reality, few wanted a people carrier-sized two-door that looked like a concept car. Really few.

Renault had hoped to sell around 80,000 a year. In its first year, sales stood at just 8,500, with a tiny fraction of that coming to the UK. But its rareness now gives it a cool sort of cache. This was far from a design flop in reality, but it was too bold a step for many.

Fiat Multipla (1998)

Frankfurt, Germany – Sep 19, 2017: Compact italian MPV Fiat Multipla driving on the highway in Germany

Six seats, Italian and cost-effective, benefitting from 430 litres of boot space in a vehicle with a smaller footprint than a Punto – the Fiat Multipla makes sense. But with only 400,000 units being produced across its lifetime, the minivan-SUV hybrid can be considered a flop in relation to Fiat’s more traditional models.

Distinguished by larger-than-life windows and a reclined bonnet, the Multipla made waves across the globe for its aesthetic appearance. Unfortunately for Fiat, this was not a positive reaction. It ranked 2nd in the Telegraph’s 2008 list for the ugliest car of all time. Whilst the Multipla was granted a facelift in 2004, it never truly recovered from its unique looks.

Dave Timmis, CEO, Leasing.com, said: “Christmas is a time for nostalgia, and looking back on some of the most memorable cars that we have lost along the way is no exception! Although there have been some tremendous turkeys, the beauty of the industry is that it continues to evolve and innovate.

“It’s fair to say the G Wiz won’t be on many Christmas lists this year! But it does show how far EVs have come in the last 15 years.

There is now a myriad of affordable electric vehicles that offer impressive range, performance, and safety. Who knows, perhaps we’ll see a revamped electric Multipla on Leasing.com in the decades to come?”