Ford has hit both spectrums of greatness when it comes to manufacturing vehicles. One of the first manufacturers, according to History Channel, Ford started producing vehicles all the way back in 1896 when Henry Ford build his “Quadracycle.” Ford’s most famously known for making their Mustang and their F-150. Recently Ford has had some home runs in the performance department with their impressive EcoBoost engine that you can find in their ultimate off-road vehicle, the Raptor.
Ford has even recently released that they will be discontinuing every car that they currently make except the Mustang. According to NBC, Ford wants to the focus on what they do best; build trucks. Ford will continue to make SUVs and crossover vehicles under the truck umbrella. But don't worry there is a silver lining to this story. Ford plans on bringing back both the Bronco and the Ranger. Hennessey Performance is already offering performance packages for both, so it would be safe to assume they’re making a comeback in the next few years.
This goes to show that Ford has made some bad decisions when it comes to designing vehicles. Even some of their best selling vehicles go through some seriously bad phases. Yes, even their beloved Mustang went through a rough patch. Here are 20 examples of some of their worst vehicles they made in both the 80s and the 90s.
20 Eighties: Ford Pinto
The Ford Pinto was not only ugly, but it was dangerous. An article was written for Mother Jones explaining how Ford’s faulty design caused hundreds of driver losses due to the Pinto bursting into flames in accidents when hit from behind.
According to Popular Mechanics, the Pinto’s gas tank was located almost directly under the rear bumper, and when hit would cause the tank to rupture and leak gas.
Mother Jones also says the Ford was aware of the issue and continued to manufacture the Pinto, which resulted in countless deaths.
19 Eighties: Ford Durango
The Ranchero was a car with a pickup bed meant to compete with the El Camino, but what a lot of people don’t know about is the Ford Durango. According to Motor1, the Ford Durango was only made for two years 1981-1982 when only a few hundred of these gems were made. The Durango was actually a collaboration down between Ford and National Coach Corporation. The base of the Durango is a Fairmont Futura that National Coach Corporation cut the back off of and was responsible for fitting it with its bed. Unfortunately, the Ranchero was only available with an underpowered six-cylinder, making it both ugly and slow.
18 Eighties: Ford Capri
The Ford Capri is seldom remembered by the automotive world. This is strange, considering its 18 year production life between 1968 and 1986. Any car that gets produced for nearly 2 full decades should be remembered and perhaps still regularly seen on the road today.
Instead the Capri faded like so many other memories from the eighties.
They were fun enough cars, but this model was never one that Ford would be able to say lived up to the badge. The name sounds nice though.
17 Eighties: Ford Thunderbird
When the Ford Thunderbird was designed it was meant to compete with the Chevy Corvette. But the Ford Thunderbird like many cars in the 80’s went through a really ugly phase. The Thunderbird was a large boxy boat in the early 80’s and when it was redesigned in 1982 things didn’t get much better. In addition to being ugly the Thunderbird was also slow. According to Automobile Catalog, even with the 5.0-liter V8 the Thunderbird only made 130 hp and 240 lb/ft of torque.
16 Eighties: Ford Pinto Wagon
The only thing that is uglier than the Pinto, was the Ford Pinto Rallye Cruising Wagon version. The Wagon was an odd design as it was a two-door with a creepy porthole as the only window in the back. With a name like Rallye you would think it would have a little pep in its step, but sadly that wasn’t the case. The 2.3-liter engine didn’t even make 100 hp, making just 88 hp and 119 lb/ft of torque. The cruising wagon needed almost twenty seconds for a quarter mile sprint. Luckily the Cruising Wagon was only produced for a few years.
15 Eighties: Ford Fairmont Futura
The Ford Fairmont Futura was the base of the previously listed Ford Durango. After seeing the way they simply converted the back of the Futura into a bed, it's hard to not see it. Weirdly enough the 2-door Futura coupe only came with the smaller engine option.
According to Automobile Catalog the coupe came with a very underpowered 2.3-liter which could only make a sad 90 hp and 122 lb/ft of torque.
The four door sedan received the larger 3.3-liter which actually made less horsepower; making just 87 hp and 154 lb/ft of torque. Either way, both options seem very unexciting.
14 Eighties: Ford Taurus SHO
While car enthusiasts love a good sleeper, the average person doesn’t understand the point. Back in the 80’s the Ford Taurus SHO was a bit of a head scratcher for most people, but really it was just way ahead of its time. In fact the only sedans that were faster at the time were BMWs and obviously in a completely different price range. The first generation SHO which stands for Super high output, received a V6 that was good for 220 hp and 200 lb/ft of torque. The SHO could get a quarter mile in just over 15 seconds, making it one of the fastest sedans in the 80’s. While some enthusiasts still love this car, the average person wouldn't be caught driving this thing.
13 Eighties: Ford Mustang
The third generation Ford Mustang saw it all, the good the bad and the ugly. Many muscle cars were working hard to gain back their muscle after the oil crisis in the 70’s virtually wiped them off the map. The Mustang just needed a little extra time to get its edge back, and the 1980 Mustang was one of the worst. The Mustang’s 2.3-liter engine was extremely unimpressive, not to mention the design of the car was really ugly. The only good thing about the Mustang was the fact that it got up to 33 MPG.
12 Eighties: Ford Bronco II
The Bronco is still a very sought-after vehicle, even after the whole OJ Simpson situation seemed to temporarily ruin its reputation. Still, enthusiasts often spend tens of thousands of dollars restoring these awesome rigs, and we often see them still on the road. The Bronco II on the other hand was a bit of a bust.
The Bronco II was based on a Ranger chassis, and despite the fact that the Jeep Cherokee had recently been released it was weird that the Bronco II never caught on.
The Bronco II came with a terribly underpowered V6 that could only make 140 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque. Sadly people weren't that upset when the Bronco Jr was discontinued.
11 Eighties: Ford EXP
Another forgotten Ford vehicle to make the list is the Ford EXP. The EXP was pretty unmemorable and it’s understandable why. The EXP came stocked with a 1.6-liter that could make 80 hp on its best day, which resulted in the EXP needing over 12 seconds just to chug to sixty. The EXP did eventually get a turbo version of the engine which according to Auto Trader, was good for around 120 hp and at least got the 0-60 to below ten seconds. The EXP only lasted a few years due to lack of sales and eventually got dropped. The Ford Probe who also makes this list was the replacement.
10 Nineties: Ford Aspire
Now that we have covered the 80s, let's take a look at the 90s. The Ford Aspire was a weird looking little vehicle. It resembled a bit of roller skate and could probably achieve similar speeds. According to Automobile Catalog, the little Aspire had just a 1.3-liter engine that was only capable of making 63 hp at 5000 rpm. With that little of power you would think the Aspire should get more than the 34 mpg that its rated for.
9 Nineties: Ford Escort
Next on the list is the Ford Escort. According to Car and Driver, the Escort has a 1.9-liter engine that could make 88 hp, which meant it needed almost ten seconds just to get to sixty, and 17.5 to get a ¼ mile done.
The little engine was reportedly a bit on the noisy side, especially when the rpms start to get up there.
The Escort was a very stripped-down vehicle as one its best-selling points being the fact at it was so affordable. The Escort was eventually discontinued, and the Focus was put in its place as a direct replacement. Sadly, I don’t think anyone was happy to see the Escort go.
8 Nineties: Ford Tempo
The Tempo had its great moments, unfortunately the 90’s was not one of them. According to Autoweek, there was an 80’s model that featured an AWD version that seemed to be way ahead of its time and rumours that a Tempo was even made with a Mazda diesel engine. Unfortunately , the 90s received a much more bland version. According to Automobile Catalog, the Tempo had a 2.3-liter engine that could only manage to crank out 98 hp and 124 lb/ft of torque.
7 Nineties: Ford Festiva
Also resembling a bit of a roller skate and next on the list is the Ford Festiva. The Festiva had an 1.3-liter inline four that could only make a measly 63 hp. The Fiesta was painfully slow, according to Car and Driver, the Festiva needed a whole eighteen seconds to get a ¼ mile done, taking 10.5 just to get to sixty. The Festiva was slow and stripped down, it didn’t have any mentionable options, it didn’t even have power steering.
6 Nineties: Ford Probe
The Ford Probe was the sporty looking 2-door coupe that was designed to replace the previously mentioned EXP.
The Probe may have looked on the sportier side, but the fact of the matter was it wasn’t fast.
The biggest engine the Probe got was a V6. According to Automobile Catalog, the 3.0-liter was good for 130 hp and 150 lb/ft of torque. One distinctive trait of the Probe is their pop-up lights, that seemed to always have issues as you often see old Probes with either one or both if their lights stuck up.
5 Nineties: Ford Ranger EV
The Ford Ranger EV was a bit ahead of its time, as it was an all electric. According to Autotrader, the Ranger was made for Fleet customers as an effort to cut down on gas expenses. The EV only made a maximum of 65 miles per charge. Only 1,400 of these were made, and were crushed when their lease was up. There is reportedly a few hundred of them still roaming the roads, and even have a few clubs dedicated to them. The fact of the matter is what is the point of having an electric truck that you could only manage to travel less than 100 miles on a charge with?
4 Nineties: Ford Taurus
The Taurus SHO wasn't terrible it was just a bit misunderstood by the average person. The 90's version of the Taurus was just plain ugly. The third generation Taurus looked more like a spaceship, resembling something you might find hovering around on the Jetsons; and not in a good way. The bubble lights were ugly and not designed well as you would often see them filled with condensation and looking hazy. The Taurus was ugly and slow. According to Automobile Catalog, the V6 was only good for 145 hp and 170 lb/ft of torque, which meant the Taurus needed over ten seconds just to get to sixty.
3 Nineties: Ford Contour
The Ford Contour was the replacement to the previously mentioned Tempo. The SVT team even got their hands on the Contour for a bit. According to Hagerty, less than 12k of the Contour SVTs were made. The Contour SVT had a V6 that was capable of making 200 hp and 169 lb/ft of torque in its last year of production. Considering the SVT is responsible for vehicles like the Cobra and the Lightning, the Contour was less than impressive and a bit of the black sheep of the family.
2 Nineties: Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer got the short end of the stick as they were involved in the Firestone scandal that happened in the late 90’s. They got a bad reputation due to the seconds biggest tire recall in US history when Firestone had to recall over 6.5 million tires. According to Car and Driver, the Explorers were reported to have the Firestone tires in question installed and sold straight from the factory. When the tires failed they would cause blow outs, causing accidents that resulted in deaths.
1 Nineties: Ford SkyRanger
The Ranger was a super popular mini truck produced by Ford for many years. The SkyRanger on the other hand was just a bit of an oddball. The SkyRanger was a Ranger that was a convertible, that was made in response to Dodge making their version of the Dakota convertible. According to Car and Driver, less than 20 of these gems were made when Ford decided to discontinue them. Back in 2015 there was one being listed on Ebay for a whopping 34k!!! They may be rare, but that doesn't make them any less terrible.
Sources: History.com, CarandDriver.com, Motor1.com, Automobile-catalog.com