When Henry Ford dreamed that every home should have a car and that most of them should be a Ford – he wasn’t far off. While Ford may have made a few lemons along the way, sour as they may have been, many Ford cars are or have been the darlings of the car bazaar. Since 1977, the Ford F-Series has been America’s favorite pickup, and nothing has ever eaten into the Mustang’s popularity either. Ford managed to stay afloat during the Great Depression, the Second World War and even the oil embargo of the 70s. Even so, they have made a few unreliable cars over the years not built to last. To show you the contrast, here go five Ford cars with a short lifespan and five you simply cannot kill.
10 Went Kaput: 1971 Ford Pinto
When Volkswagen Beetle’s popularity soared, Ford went into a tizzy to release some competition. The Pinto may have been conceived at leisure but was forced to come into this world via assembly line C-section a bit too early. The result was a faulty fuel line installation that was too close and unprotected to the rear end of the car – and the result was that even a gentle tail end collision could make the Pinto explode. And it did. Time and again. And yet Ford sold three million of them before litigation took a toll and the Pinto was finally killed off in 1979. Considering it exploded, it wasn’t built to last, was it?
9 Irrepressible: 1964 Ford Mustang
The first-ever Mustang started the pony and muscle car wars in America, and companies like Pontiac, Chevy, Chrysler, and AMC all followed suit. The 1964 Mustang was not the most powerful of the lot, but for a classic muscle car – it was all heart and reliability.
Built to last, there’s not much you can do to a 60s Ford Mustang that will elicit a complaint from it. And while this is certainly not the fastest Mustang, it may be the most reliable one to date simply because, in the 60s, they built them like tanks.
8 Went Kaput: 1984-1990 Ford Bronco II
Remember the Ford F-100? Remember the cool nose uplift? It made the F-100 a rip-roaring success with people who wanted a much smaller pickup, more for entertainment than heavy loading. When they phased out the F-100, they brought in the Bronco – which is a bucking horse. Sadly, the 1984 Bronco did not buck, it tipped. Anything other than a turn taken at snail speed made its center of gravity go haywire, some three times more than what happened with the Suzuki Samurai. So it may have been built to last, but not upright, rather more on its side like a dying horse than a bronco.
7 Irrepressible: 1965-68 Ford Galaxie 500 LTD
For 1965, the Ford Galaxie underwent a new design and luxury trimmings. The leaf spring suspension was dumped in favor of coil springs, and this not only made this car a quieter ride but a smoother one. This is what the NASCAR stock cars would use for years to come. A rock-solid car that sold fairly well, the Galaxie was as strong and powerful as it looked and given to bursts of speeds that could thrill the driver to bits.
Only the Impala and the Mustang sold better than the Galaxie, though 1968 was its last year in the US.
6 Went Kaput: 1990 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer remains a saleable nameplate to date – and it is undeniable value for money. However, in 1990, the Explorer became a lemon and the fault did not lie with the car alone. While it is true that in 1995 the Explorer was raised a bit, raising its center of gravity – the NHTSA ruled that it was no more prone to rollovers than any other car. Still, some 3,000 catastrophic injuries later an inquiry found out that the fault lay with the Firestone tires which were prone to tread separation at high speeds. This could cause a tire blowout, and coupled with driver reactions and road conditions, cause a near-fatal rollover.
5 Irrepressible: Ford F-Series Trucks
There has got to be something about the F-Series, which is why they have ruled the American pickup market since 1977 – staying at the top position ever since. From the light-duty F-150 to the heavy and super duty trucks, Ford F-series has been America’s darling for a long time now and the reason is that they are unkillable.
There is nothing you can do to a Ford F-Series that will make it give up on you, even though there are people who prefer a Chevrolet or a RAM truck over and above the Ford. With the SVT specials that have been introduced over the years as limited editions, these are the best there are.
4 Went Kaput: 1974 Ford Mustang
While at the time the 1974 Mustang single-handedly saved Ford from going under because of the oil embargo, it was a blot on the otherwise good name of the Mustang. To make it a gas-savvy car Ford took out the muscle engine and put in a weak, sputtering one. To counter this, they sleeked out the Mustang and gave it a luxury tag. The interiors may have looked good, to begin with, but nothing in this Mustang was built to last. It was a cheap car that people bought in droves in hopes it would tide them over the oil embargo – nothing more, nothing less.
3 Irrepressible: 1964 Ford GT40
The GT40 wasn’t a streetcar – built for endurance racing, it was a limited edition run of only 105 cars being made from 1964 to 1969. Built to race against the six-time Le Mans winner, the Ferrari, the GT40 gave a tough battle to all its competitors. The engines used were 4.2-liter to 7.0-liter ones, and they gave this lightweight car enough horses to win, especially when the program was handed over to Carroll Shelby.
Built like a tank, not only did these cars make a killing on the tracks they raced on, people still vie for these classics, simply because they last.
2 Went Kaput: Ford Edsel
The Edsel was a marque so designed by Ford to fall between Ford and Mercury, but the designing of all the cars was as OTT as it got. There was no new car by Edsel, rather Edsel rebadged the existing Ford cars like the Ranger and the Citation and gave it its signature horseshoe styling that some likened to genitalia and starting finding offensive. Nothing under the Edsel brand lasted. A poet even suggested the Edsel be called the Utopian Turtletop. No wonder why, considering the cars were heavier, far more ornate than the Ford models and had nothing new to offer per se. Production problems further killed the Edsels, at a cost of some $250 million to Ford.
1 Irrepressible: 1955 Ford Thunderbird
There’s something about the original Ford Thunderbird that truly makes you stop, stare and want. Production for the T-bird lasted ten generations, from 1955 to 1997, though the latter years were no great shakes. Bigger and a tad slower than the Corvette, the original T-bird sacrificed a bit of speed for luxury – and her owners did not mind it one bit. It looked gorgeous, purred plenty and had enough power for a thrilling ride. In 1957, the two-seater T-bird gave way to a four-seat one – not that anyone complained. An iconic Ford, the T-bird harks back to the time of the bouffant, caviar and sparkling wine, and silver-tipped cigarette holders. Very Hepburn, to speak. ᐧ