General Motors Company is a multinational automobile corporation that distributes cars to more than thirty-five countries. William C. Durant founded the company in 1908 and established General Motors as the largest automobile manufacturer from 1931 to 2007. General Motors is the parent company of brands such as Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, and Cadillac, while previous brands include Oldsmobile, Daewoo, Saab, and Hummer. In 2016, the American car giant reached its milestone of producing ten million cars to the various markets for that year. Although the American manufacturer has achieved numerable milestones, it's seen a fair share of financial turbulence. The existing enterprise, General Motors Company, formed in 2009 following the bankruptcy of General Motors Corporation, became Motor Liquidation Company.
The new enterprise purchased most of the assets of the old company, including the General Motors brand. Several elements of the corporate structure led to the company's downfall, but one of the main reasons was the poor quality of cars that GM produced. After experiencing numerous headaches with breakdowns, owners of certain GM vehicles turned their backs on the brand. With declining sales, GM experienced more financial burdens. Regardless of the degree of financial problems, GM always recovered. To find out which vehicles caused car owners the most headaches and damaged the GM brand, we rummaged through the company's history and discovered twenty-five vehicles that should've buried the American car manufacturer.
25 Chevrolet Uplander
When you try to make a minivan look like an SUV but the idea doesn't succeed, you end up with a product like the Uplander.
General Motors should've learned the lesson of not making cars look cheap when it released the Corvair in the '60s.
The same lesson repeated itself in the '80s when the Japanese cars dominated the market, according to Jalopnik. The engine pumped out limited power, and the car didn't have fold-flat seats, which was the norm in minivans.
The company marketed itself as a 'different kind of car company,' and the Wall Street Journal was doubtful when Saturn unveiled the slogan. That may be true, as most car manufacturers are successful. GM discontinued the brand and ended its outstanding franchises in 2010 and halted new production in 2009. Saturn models from 1991 to 1995 were one of the reasons for the company's downfall. Motor Digested stated that the car was mediocre, as it had an engine that sounded like threshing machines that offer little power.
23 Cadillac Seville
Cadillac produced the Seville for twenty-nine years. That's a great accomplishment, considering that Cadillac marketed the vehicle as a luxury car despite its small size and exorbitant price tag. The model that brought disrepute to the GM brand was their 1988 one.
Cadillac fanatics regarded the Seville as too small for the segment it occupied and were upset about the car's price.
With sales massively below expectation, GM rushed the exterior refresh for 1987 as the 1988 model. The price was too high for its offering.
22 Chevrolet Corvette
Otherwise known as the C4, the Chevrolet Corvette was in production from 1984 to 1996. The car was powerful, as it fostered an engine that was capable of pumping out 375 horsepower found in the ZR-1. In 1990, the car set a new record for the highest 24-hour 5000-mile land speed by surpassing 175 mph. Chevrolet thought that the car was underpriced and jacked it up to discover that the car's sales decreased. Had Chevrolet not increased the price, the Corvette C4 would've lasted longer.
21 Pontiac Aztek
Production for the Aztek commenced in 2000 and ended in 2005. I'm surprised that the car lasted that long on the market, considering it had one of the most unusual car designs in the history of automobiles. Unfortunately for GM, I wasn't the only one who felt that way. The car had awkward dimensions, as Motor Digest stated.
Pontiac covered the Aztek with gray plastic cladding, making the vehicle's design worse.
Aztek had a spacious interior and good handling but couldn't compete against the Japanese crossovers.
20 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham V8-6-4
The 1981 model was the acne on GM's face that caused numerous embarrassments. Cadillac offered a feature on the V8 engine known as the V8-6-4. Drivers could deactivate four cylinders while cruising to save fuel. That sounds good in theory; however, the car suffered numerous drivability issues, as the computer technology couldn't reactivate/deactivate the cylinders in a timely fashion. The owners got fed up with the engine's poor performance, leaving the GM brand in the dust.
19 Chevrolet Camaro
No, we're not talking about the latest models. Those are powerful machines that can compete against a BMW M4 and come out on top. We're referring to the 1982 to 1985 models that Chevrolet offered with the 90-horsepower Iron Duke four-cylinder engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission as standard.
Camaros are known for their power, but Autoweek described these models as the slowest Camaro that Chevrolet added to its repertoire.
Time magazine included this model in its 'The 50 Worst Cars of All Time' list.
18 Pontiac Fiero
Pontiac was thrilled with the reception that the market gave the Fiero. In 1984, the manufacturer introduced the Fiero to the market, and consumers praised the car's styling and mid-engined layout. Once the dust settled, consumers had the opportunity to scrutinize the car and were disappointed with the poor performance and the recalls due to engine fires. Several car experts panned GM for its approach to cutting corners during the production of what could've been a great car.
17 Cadillac Allante
Allante's debut was in 1987, and it was poised to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL. Although Cadillac was ambitious in its goal, the Allante was a commercial failure. Cadillac managed to sell on average 5,000 units annually during the car's six-year tenure. The vehicle's poor performance hampered its success, as the engine was capable of spurting out only 170 horsepower and needed more than 10 seconds to reach 0 to 60 mph. Mercedes-Benz was unperturbed about the competition for the SL.
16 Pontiac Trans Sport
In 1990, GM introduced a minivan under the U Platform and called it the 'Pontiac Trans Sport' as an attempt to provide a stylish alternative to the Dodge Caravan. Although GM had good intentions, buyers were unimpressed with the vehicle's awkward driving position and the strange style. Numerous car pundits criticized the car's styling, and CNBC featured the vehicle in its '10 Ugliest Cars of All Time.'
The popular sitcom The Simpsons parodied the vehicle in a 1997 episode.
In 1996, the Pontiac Trans Sport saw the end of the road.
15 Cadillac Catera
After the Cimarron failed in the '80s, Cadillac attempted once again to market a sporty model to the young generation. The Catera was produced to compete against cars such as the BMW 3-series. Critics received the car better than the Cimarron, but it failed because it couldn't match the reliability and the performance of its German counterparts. Cadillac enthusiasts panned the company's marketing campaign for using model Cindy Crawford and a cartoon duck named 'Ziggy.' The car's reliability issues caused further damage to the brand.
14 Chevrolet SSR
Chevrolet launched the SSR in 2004 as a hot rod pickup truck based on the Chevrolet Trailblazer. We're not surprised that the car was a commercial failure.
The eccentric design and the poor performance landed the SSR on Time magazine's list of 'The 50 Worst Cars of All Time.'
Many car experts stated that the car was heavy, underpowered and trudged along the road. The car featured in numerous worst cars articles and caused damage to the GM brand.
13 Buick Skylark
Knowing that the car was produced in six production runs over forty-six years will prompt you to believe that the Skylark was a good vehicle. Each production run lasted about two years until the company took some time off to re-strategize. When you look into the history of the Skylark, you'll discover that the 1980 model caused GM the most headaches. Regardless of how many redesigns the engineers attempted, the car was doomed to fail. Production for the Skylark ended in 1997.
12 Chevrolet Chevette
In case you were wondering which model was the worst, we'd have to say that you'll make the wrong choice if you buy any model from 1976 to 1987. According to GM, the car was primitive with a front engine and rear-wheel drive.
Besides the dull design, the Chevette was underpowered.
It had a 1.4-liter engine, which pumped out a measly 53 horsepower. Drivers who wanted to be more audacious on the road could've selected the 1.6-liter engine, capable of producing 70 horsepower.
11 Pontiac Phoenix
Not much can be said about the Phoenix besides that the car lasted on the market for seven years across two generations. Of all the subpar Phoenix models that GM produced, the 1979 model was its biggest regret. Transmission options were a 3-speed manual, a 4-speed manual, or a 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic. However, the transmission options weren't enough to satisfy consumers who complained about the car's poor performance and its tendency to lock the rear wheel upon braking.
10 Chevrolet Corvette C3
At first sight, you'll think that the Corvette C3 is a sports car that delivers great performance. Then, once you find out that the car fosters a 5.7-liter V8 engine, your thoughts will be confirmed. After you discover that the large engine is capable of spurting out only 190 horsepower, you'll be in disbelief while others are laughing. The 1978 to 1980 models were the worst and damaged GM's brand. The car was all show and no go. Some say that the tires weren't from Goodyear, according to Jalopnik.
9 Hummer H2
The prospect of owning a Hummer seemed appealing in the 2000s when rappers featured the H2 in music videos and cruised around town in the vehicle while blasting music. The American manufacturer originally designed a military model known as the 'H1' but produced a civilian version.
The car was impractical, as it couldn't fit into a single lane, and finding suitable parking was almost impossible.
To damage the brand further, the car had poor fuel efficiency and was unreliable. However, the car had good capability off-road.
8 Pontiac Le Mans
Although the car carried the Pontiac name and emblem, nobody could argue against the fact that the car was an old Opel built in South Korea that GM had rebadged to sell in North America, according to Jalopnik. It was the 1987 model that gave GM a bad reputation. The American manufacturer revived the Pontiac Le Mans in 1998 as a rebadged Daewoo Le Mans, a subcompact car sold in North America and New Zealand until 1993. The North American market had the option of a three-door hatchback or a four-door sedan body style. The rebadging should serve as a red flag.
7 Chevrolet Vega
The commendable effort that Chevrolet pulled was the marketing. The American manufacturer made almost everyone believe that the car was superb. Don't expect to have a luxury interior if you buy the Vega, though.
The plastic inside the cabin is prone to breaking, and the sun visors might drop in your lap not long after you buy the vehicle.
You might tolerate the bad interior, but the unreliable engine and the bad suspension are intolerable. Plus, don't be surprised if the brakes abruptly fail, according to Motor Digest.
6 Cadillac Cimarron
Cadillac marketed the Cimarron as an entry-level luxury car. You can market a vehicle using any words you like, but the performance will determine the reputation. The car lasted on the market for six years before Cadillac owners stopped scratching their heads and turned their backs on the vehicle. Apart from the bad color on most of the vehicles, the car produced a laughable performance and was as reliable as grandpa's loose tooth. Furthermore, many perceived the vehicle to have ill-conceived badge engineering.
5 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
The Monte Carlo was in production for many years. The six generations of the Monte Carlo span over almost four decades, but consumers should watch out for the 2000 model, as the car was troublesome. If you're looking for a vehicle that had numerous flaws, then look no further than the Monte Carlo.
The car had a bad design, a bloated FWD platform, and plastic throughout, which negated its NASCAR-inspired build.
The vehicle also had a 3.4-liter engine that pumped out 180 horsepower—not exactly up to racing standards. So, why the affiliation to the NASCAR design? Maybe it was a marketing strategy.
4 GM EV1
General Motors produced the GM EV1 from 1996 to 1999. The EV1 was the first vehicle designed as an electric car from the onset and was the first and only passenger car marketed under the corporate General Motors name instead of branded under a division. GM decided to produce an electric car after it received a favorable reception for its 1990 Impact electric concept. Although customers welcomed the vehicle, GM believed that electric cars occupy an unprofitable niche of the automobile market. Thus, GM crushed most of the vehicles.
3 Chevrolet Corvair
Chevrolet did a good job at marketing the vehicle, as the market praised the vehicle before scrutinizing the rear-engine layout with a swing-axle rear suspension. Corvair drivers were afraid of getting behind the wheel, as they were puzzled by the unusual handling, resulting in several highway collisions.
In fact, Corvair owners filed more than 100 lawsuits against GM for the obscure handling.
Furthermore, the lack of suspension upgrades by GM augmented the negative publicity and caused damage to Chevrolet and GM.
2 Chevrolet Malibu
The bad models were from 1997 to 2003. Although many people regard the Cavalier to be GM's worst car in the '90s, the Chevrolet Malibu was far worse. GM unveiled the car to the market during the most competitive era of midsize sedans, but the Malibu trailed the competition with every feature. Many who drove the vehicle said that the Malibu was like the Cavalier but marketed as a solid family sedan. Making matters worse, the car was prone to rust under the gas cap and the engine cradle.
1 Chevrolet Citation
Of all the brands under GM, Chevrolet leads the pack with the production of poor-quality cars that ruined the GM brand. When GM released the vehicle in the '80s, it marketed the car as having an X-Body that was supposed to defeat the Japanese imports. However, the Japanese imports prospered, while the Citation was a pain in the backside of GM executives. Buyers who are seeking a vehicle that has some of the worst interior quality and unreliable parts should have a look at the Citation.
Sources: themotordigest.com; jalopnik.com