Every car sold at the auctions has its own story to tell. Unfortunately, not all of them are good. In fact, when buying a used car, you should always get as much information as possible about the particular model and the series you are thinking about buying. That way, you can avoid numerous unpleasant surprises that many used cars buyers often face.
So let’s talk about some of the most common hidden issues you should be aware of if you are thinking about buying a car at the auction. Always look for signs of frame damage which can be a serious safety issue because once the frame has been repaired, it will never be as structurally sound as it used to be. Also, try to avoid buying lemon cars – the models that are known to have one or more problems that occur continuously. If the car has a long history of problems, you can bet that the recurring problems won’t just stop with the new owner. The third thing you should pay attention to is title brands. For example, if the car is Salvage Brand, you should know that trying to repair it will cost you almost as much as the car itself is worth.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the 20 worst cars people actually bought at auctions!
You can still buy a 1975 Trabant on auction sites around the world but we would seriously advise you not to. The whole body of the car was constructed of Duroplast reinforced with recycled wood, cotton, and similar fibers.
So yes, it was basically a plastic car that smoked like crazy and often lacked some of the most basic parts such as turn signals and brake lights.
Yet, people still buy them every now and then, mostly because of all the nostalgia associated with the car that took hundreds of East Germans over the border once the Wall fell.
19 Aston Martin Lagonda
The ‘70s were a strange time when it comes to design and aesthetic; from the clothes and hairstyles to the cars. After all, when you live in the disco days, you want a cool disco car. However, even though the ’70s are long gone, Aston Marin Lagondas can still be found both on auctions and on the road. Every now and then, somebody purchases this mechanical catastrophe of a car hoping that it would take them from point A to point B safely. We probably wouldn’t risk it.
18 Ford Pinto
Let’s just hope that whoever bought a 1971 Ford Pinto at an auction was a collector who never intended to actually drive it. Why?
Well, this particular model was known to erupt in flames in rear-end collisions.
To make things even worse, the infamous Ford Pinto memo read that the potential payout to the victims estimated to be $50 million is still much cheaper than paying $121 million for reinforcing the rear end. Not a good car to buy at an auction, not good at all.
17 AMC Gremlin
Back in 1970, American Motors wanted to beat GM and Ford with their brand new Gremlin – and they failed miserably. Their designer, Richard Teague, designed some of the best cars in the era but when it came to Gremlin, the results were downright disappointing. The proportions of the car seem totally off with the long front and the whacked-off rear, not to mention the super cheap and strange parts, such as vacuum-operated windshield wipers. The choppy handling and the six-cylinder motor also made the car really awful to drive.
There are so many problems with 1961 Corvair, it seems almost impossible that people keep driving, selling, and buying this car at auctions.
First of all, since all the heaviest components of this vehicle are located behind the rear axle, the car has a tendency to spin out.
As if that wasn’t a big enough problem, Corvair also leaked oil like an old ruptured can, while the heating system often pumped the fumes into the cabin. You can also find this vehicle in Ralph Nader’s book Unsafe at Any Speed.
15 Ferrari Mondial 8
When you hear the word Ferrari, you probably automatically think one of the best sports cars out there. And you would be right in most of the cases. Unfortunately, a 1980 Ferrari Mondial 8 was an exception that no one should buy at auctions! This vehicle has so many bugs that eventually, every single system would fail. You would smell burning wires and you would know your car was in trouble. And then again. And then again. We can all agree that this vehicle was a fail of epic proportions.
14 Cadillac Cimarron
The 1982 Cadillac Cimarron was an insult to the Cadillac’s good name and their fine customers who expected only the best.
Unfortunately, this vehicle was the exact opposite of everything good people knew about Cadillac back in the day.
Everything about this car was wrong; from its design to its ridiculously high price. There is no doubt that this car still remains the brand’s biggest shame and let’s just hope that the Cadillac’s enthusiasts and collectors who buy it at auctions know what they’re spending their money on.
13 Camaro Iron Duke
The 1982 Camaro Iron Duke had the most un-Camaro-like engine that a car could possibly have. This 2.5-liter, four-cylinder vehicle had 0-60 mph acceleration of roughly 20 seconds which probably seemed like a lot back in the 1930s, but in the ‘80s, people definitely expected every Camaro model to have a far better performance than that. Especially considering Camaro’s biggest competitor, the amazing Ford Mustang. If you decide to buy a sports car, you probably don’t expect school buses to rocket past you, do you?
12 Yugo GV
Everybody needs a Yugo sometime - or do they? The 1985 Yugo GV is often regarded as one of the worst cars of all time yet you can still spot them on the roads of Europe, Australia, and North America. People continue to buy it on auctions and restore it partially because it is cheap and partially because there really was a time in the past when Yugo sold like crazy. So yeah, Yu Go – but the car often does not.
11 Fiat Multipla
The 1998 Fiat Multipla is a good reminder that when designing a new car, making it work beautifully is simply not enough – it has to look nice as well.
This vehicle is one of the ugliest cars in the world according to many.
On the other hand, no one denies that the car runs really smoothly and works great, it’s just that the people don’t exactly want to be seen in it. From the strange high-beam lenses to the shape of its body, one must agree that this is one awkwardly looking car.
10 Lamborghini LM002
When you say Lamborghini, one does not expect to see this! The 1986 Lamborghini LM002 known also as the “Rambo Lambo” is an awkward version of a civilian vehicle inspired by the big military vehicles and it was wildly popular among Saudi sheiks. Even Uday Hussein, son of Saddam Hussein, owned one that ended up in shreds after it was used to simulate the effects of a car bomb. You can still find this model sold at auctions from time to time.
9 Renault Dauphine
What is the French word for this car? La catastrophe? Le désastre? One way or another, the 1956 Renault Dauphine must be one of the most ineffective pieces of French engineering.
Before it got its name, it was actually supposed to be named the Corvette. The French word for that - trèsironie. It was thin as a paper and slower than slow with 32 seconds which it took to reach 60 mph.
However, over 2 million of these vehicles were sold across the globe because they were very cheap. You can still spot them on auctions from time to time but you should probably just ignore them.
8 Triumph Stag
Ah, the old Triumph Stag and those poor people who actually bought it at auctions… This 1970 vehicle was a monumental failure because of its bad engine, the timing chains that often broke, the constantly warping aluminum heads, and don’t even get me started on the design. While the car itself had a pretty cool style, courtesy of Giovanni Michelotti, it was completely and utterly ruined by really bad engineering. Not to mention the fact that the cabin looks more like an aquarium than anything else.
7 Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III
The good old 1961 Jaguar E-Type used to be one of the hottest and cutest cars of its era; boys wanted to drive them and girls wanted boys who drove them.
So imagine the disappointment of all Jaguar fans when Jaguar XK-E V12 Series III hit the market in 1974.
It was terribly noisy, the engine was almost impossible to keep in tune, and the beautiful lines of the old E-Type appeared to be stretched and pulled into… Well, into this.
6 Triumph TR7
Do you remember the slogan that read: “The shape of things to come?” No? It must be because the shape came and went and everybody tried to forget about it as soon as possible. Well, not everybody. The 1975 Triumph TR7 still has its buyers at auctions across the globe even though it is pretty hard to understand why. The problem with this car was simply the fact that it was horribly made; from the snapping timing chains and carburetors that couldn’t stay in balance to water and oil pumps that couldn’t actually pump.
5 Chevy Chevette
Much like the Yugo, the 1976 Chevy Chevette has its own fan club of car enthusiasts who simply love this unlovely car.
It is tiny and loud, the design and style are below average, and frankly, it looks like something that belongs in the museum rather than on the road.
However, you can still find them out there, slowly rolling down the roads, and they still have their buyers on the auctions around the globe. Why? Who knows? Maybe it’s the nostalgia, maybe it’s the low price, or maybe the combination of the two.
4 AMC Pacer
Say hello to the worst car design of all time according to the poll by Hagerty Insurance – the 1978 AMC Pacer. Designed by Richard Teague, the same guy who designed 1970 AMC Gremlin which also found its way to this list, this sad little vehicle was poorly made and there was a possibility of the car simply falling apart. For example, if you drove it through a ditch, there was a good chance the doors would end up handing off their hangers like elephant ears. Yet, even this vehicle has a notable number of fans across the world.
3 Pontiac Aztek
When the 2001 Pontiac Aztek was unveiled for the first time at the Detroit auto show, it was immediately obvious that the audience hated it.
And it wasn’t just about the people in the show; the car was for some reason instantly hated by everybody except a handful of fans who found its unique design appealing.
According to Time, “The Aztek violates one of the principal rules of car design: We like cars that look like us. With its multiple eyes and supernumerary nostrils, the Aztek looks deformed and scary, something that dogs bark at…”
2 Jaguar X-Type
Back in 2001, Jaguar wanted to create an entry-luxury model that would be able to compete with Mercedes-Benz C-class and the BMW 3-series. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. Time wrote: “The result was the English version of the Cadillac Cimarron, a tarted-up insult to a once-proud marque and a financial disaster for the company.”
At that point, it didn’t really matter that the car itself wasn’t all that bad, but the attempt to create an all-wheel drive sports sedan out of a front-drive compact car was not the best idea.
1 Plymouth Prowler
The 1997 Plymouth Prowler was a project that promised a lot but delivered little. With its futuristic design, it appeared like something from the 22th century, but the situation under the hood was not as advanced as one would expect.
Since they wanted to lower the costs, Chrysler equipped it with a standard-issue3.5-liter V6 resulting in less than a spectacular speed that everybody was expecting to experience.
All in all, Plymouth Prowler ended up being a disappointment for most people except a small group of its fans that swear by it even today.
Sources: nytimes.com, cars.usnews.com, time.com, carphile.com