Bad Cars

Bad Cars

We all have our favourite cars but what about the worst we have owned?

I ask this question as an ex-Reliant Robin owner.

Having lots of cars over the years I’m limiting it to the bottom 5 of the ones I’ve owned.

Starting with least bad first,

Rover 416.

I bought this car from a local auction about 10 years ago, it was cheap but still not cheap enough. Having previously driven one whilst working for a local print firm I expected to be fairly nice. It wasn’t.  That car had been well maintained and was in reasonable condition. It turns out that they did not age well say, unlike say Fords or Vauxhalls. They become deeply unpleasant to drive and own as they aged. I had it for 3 weeks and for 2 of those brother borrowed it. I use the past tense as most now have died along with the company that made them.

The Rover is properly one the reasons we don’t speak anymore.

Hyundai Lantra Estate


This car came from a friend at work and was in reasonable condition. It was cheap and oddly nice looking. The interior was nothing special but was well spec’d with all the toys like central locking, electric windows, and mirrors. If I remember it look like Hyundai had raided the MK 6 Ford Escort parts bin.

This car is on the list because I drove it a few days after buying it to South Wales, a journey of about 230 miles. Near my designation, I pulled into a supermarket to get a few things. When I walked out not only could I not remember where I had parked but  also what I had been driving for the last 3 hours.

A car has to be really dull to be so forgettable.

Volvo 360 GLT

I was given this car twice, once from a friend at work and once again from my sister-in-law.

At the time the price of scrap was really low so cheap cars were worthless. This was a nicely made little car and being near the top of the range came with heated seats and all the normal toys. It was comfortable to sit in and that is where the positives stop.

First, the dashboard seemed strangely low and the windscreen deep. This helped create an unnerving sensation when driving. Secondly, they are narrow cars with a short wheelbase. It would pitch and wallow given the slightest chance. As for handling, it simply didn’t, going from understeer to oversteer and back again in fractions of a second.

This is the worst car for the driving experience on this list.

Suzuki Gs500 


A motorcycle on the list  of worst cars?  Well, this bike deserves a place on anyone list of bad vehicles. Not that it is bad in any particular area apart from possibly build quality. No ,it earns a place on the list simply because it is so dull. How anyone can design and build a motorcycle so lacking in character is beyond me. I’ve owned this bike twice and on both occasions, it has almost put me off motorcycling for good.

If the government wants to stop people riding motorcycles, make the Gs500 compulsory. Biking would be dead in weeks.

Citroen Xantia 1.8 Estate


Once again this car was originally a gift, but sometimes gifts are not what they seem.

I was given this car and drove it back from Scotland to Cornwall. It was large, roomy, comfortable, good looking and fun to drive. So is it in the wrong list then?

Err no. Being a Citroen it means it is French, and that means cheap parts that impossible to get replacements for and really poor build quality. The self-leveling suspension adjusters would seize meaning the headlights even on dip would dazzle oncoming drivers. The front and rear ones used to take turns. The electric windows would break due to poor design and cheap components.

A truly nice car destroyed by cost-cutting and build quality.

Citroen Picasso



My bottom two cars are Citroen’s, so do I hate French cars?

No is the simple answer, but I’m not impressed with later ones.

I bought this car last year from friends so I could stop using the camper van for my gardening business.  It did have a lot of space in it and was comfortable. The design is total rubbish the stupid shape means that judging where the car is on the road is impossible.  The dashboard reflects onto the windscreen in the sunshine so that the already difficult job of judging the position of the car on the road becomes even worse. Luckily living in Cornwall sunshine is less of an issue than in other parts of the UK. The build quality is down to the expected low standards of more modern French cars. I will admit to killing this car in less than 6 weeks, and I consider it a mercy killing. These cars are so bad on so many levels. Poor design and crappy quality combine to produce the worst car I’ve ever owned.
If you drive a Picasso it might be time to question what has gone wrong with your life.

Bonus car


Peugeot 107

Another French car, Oh.

I only have driven this car and not owned it so my impressions are purely based on that. One day in April I drove over 500 miles in it on a large variety of roads and conditions.

The model I did this in was a 1.2 with a modern automatic gearbox.

It was fairly comfortable for a small car, even for my 6 ft frame and size 12 feet. It also seemed to be good on fuel. The cabin is simple but pleasant but with a lot of exposed plastic.

So why is it on this list?

First, I believe small cars should be fun to drive, from the original Mini to a 1.2 Fiat Punto I had they all have been fun. I borrowed a Toyota Yaris to pick a friend up from Bristol Airport and it was a real surprise. Not the most interesting car on the motorway but on a road with corners a fun experience.

The problems with the 107 came down to 2 things.

First is the electric power steering. It robs all feel from the tyres which mean it also takes all the pleasure away for anyone who enjoys driving. Oddly both the Yaris and the Punto had electric power steering that still provided feedback. So that is a problem with the car.

Second is the gearbox…

Traditional torque converter automatic gearboxes are fun to use. An experienced driver understands how they work can use them to help control the car. With an electronic gearbox, those choices are gone, along with any feel. The car changed up and down at odd times, sometimes getting confused when trying to pull out into heavy traffic.

I suspect as they age the normal crappy levels of French build quality will mean that they will do so badly…

What could be a great car became mediocre at best and hence has earnt a place on my list of bad cars.

Footnote… I have since driven a slightly older Citroen C1 and it was fun. Everything that a small car should be. So perhaps the Puregrot 107 was simply a bad one.

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