Car companies are out there to make a profit – and cars are bought by people not just for travel convenience, but to show off their economic stature to the world. So the richer you are, the more you spend on a car. This is why all car companies make all kinds of cars – good ones, great ones, fantastic ones, and sadly, the epic fail ones.
Ford is no different. While Henry Ford may have wanted a Ford parked in every garage, these 10 Ford cars are not what he had in mind. These are simply the worst cars Ford ever made and some of them may even be the worst cars America ever made.
10 1990 Ford Explorer: Went Belly Up
The Explorer nameplate is still alive and well, but post the 90s, everyone was asking if it was worth it. Even twenty years down the line, the Explorer is best remembered as a vehicle that tended to flip over when a tire exploded, and because it ran on Firestone tires, they exploded pretty often.
Not only did this lead to many accidents, and sadly many deaths, it also led to the rather infamous falling out between Ford and Firestone and all sorts of fingers being pointed. Technically, the Firestone tires were defective, but the Explorer’s truck chassis and higher center of gravity made it easy for it to flip over even when the tire sneezed.
9 1988-1994 Ford Tempo: Went Too Fast, Nowhere
There’s something to be said about a fast car – but what do you say about a car that just accelerates for no rhyme and reason, especially when you did not press the pedal? You call it the Ford Tempo and a thorn in Ford’s side. They kept at it for six long years before enough of these cars had exploded and caused many a lawsuit to be filed against Ford.
The Tempo began well enough and was one of the first passenger cars to gave a driver’s side airbag – but it's one thing to have it installed, and another thing to keep having it blow up in your face.
8 1958-1960 Ford Edsel: A Failed Tribute
First, they launched the Edsel as a marque, then they launched the Ford Edsel – either which way, having a car named after your bloodline does not make it a guaranteed success. Neither does the fact that Ford so wanted a special name for it, they approached a poetess for the same, who suggest Utopian Turtletop – and we think it might have suited this dud of a car better.
With too many design elements fast going nowhere and not enough thought put behind the power mill, the Edsel was doomed to fail from the start. Production hassles and sky-high expectations ruined this car at a whopping cost of $250 million!
7 1971-1980 Ford Pinto: The Kaboom Car
The moment it launched, and began to sell – there were concerns raised about the Ford Pinto’s safety. Thing is, when making the Ford Pinto, the engine must have been designed by a temperamental dude on steroids because one little nudge and it tended to explode. Helpfully enough, it was a rear-engined car, so a tail-ender could ram your car and cause it to blow up.
While the subcompact car was a good idea on paper, they forgot to make it pass safety tests. Even then, the hard-pressed oil-embargo-stricken good citizens bought this in droves. Maybe they should have called it the Exploder.
6 1996 Ford Taurus: Killed By A Redesign
There’s an adage that goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – sadly, the head honchos at Ford forgot about this one. They took the very successful Ford Taurus and decided to redesign it, making it look softer. With all those hard edges gone, the Taurus looked weak and gave way to the onslaught created by the Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords.
The 1992-1995 Taurus was the king of the roads and sold like crazy – and 1996 redesign passed it over to fleet sales. All that plastic body did not age well, and Ford nigh well retired from trying to make top sedans and concentrated on its trucks and SUVs instead.
5 1974-1978 Ford Mustang II: The Reviled Savior
The good thing about the Mustang is that it is unafraid to wear different masks (read fascia) and reinvent itself. The bad thing about the Mustang is that we are afraid it will reinvent itself out of the muscle car category, again. Like it did between 1974 and 1978. Technically, not only did it manage to save its nameplate, but it also tided Ford over some really bad oil embargo years.
Technically, it also sold well as a compact luxury car with a weak sputtering engine that was gas savvy. Again technically, it was nothing like the muscle car we expected the Mustang to be and nearly ruined Mustang for us all. Nearly.
4 1974 Ford Gran Torino Elite: Just A Grand Name
With a name like Gran Torino Elite, one would think good things to come out of this car. Sadly, this was another of Ford’s hare-brained attempts to rule the luxury market roost. Equally sadly, since this was a hare-brained attempt, Ford failed, spectacularly. They took the Mercury Cougar XR-7, gave it a bad nose and a bad rap, and a very bad name.
Rebranding is okay, but Ford failed to put any effort into the Gran Torino elite, except thinking of a grand old nameplate. The very next year, they dropped the Gran Torino and simply called this one the Ford Elite – even so, they could not mislead the buyers who looked at the Elite, said no thank you, and moved on.
3 1988-97 Ford Probe: Nightmarish Name
"So what do you drive? Umm, the Probe" – and we can imagine a dozen different ways in which this conversation goes downhill from there. Seriously, why would anyone ever name a car the Probe? Alien nightmares aside, a probe is something most of us never want to hear from anyone at the doctor’s office either – it just makes for butt-clenching and awkward connotations.
While this was the time Ford joined hands with Mazda and the Probe was built on the Mazda Capella’s platform – the design was also a bit to probe-like for anyone to feel comfortable in it. It sold an approximate 300,000 examples before finally being laid to rest.
2 1980-1982 Ford Thunderbird: Clipped Wings
To put it fairly, this was the time every car company was floundering from the effects of the fuel crisis, and the double whammy of the CAFE standards. Ford was in a similar tizz and did something rather unforgivable to the Thunderbird.
The all-new 1980 25th Anniversary Thunderbird looked like a plucked chicken now that it had been rolled out on the Fox platform and lost many of its glorious inches, curves, and pounds. The all-new T-bird made grown men cry – not with its beauty but at the joke it had been turned into, replete with the special paint called Anniversary Glow Silver. Sales plummeted befittingly.
1 1978-1983 Ford Fairmont: Dull, Duller, Dullest
If there was ever a car version made of Carrey’s slapstick Dumb & Dumber; the Fairmont should land a starring role. The car was so dull, it made the geeks barf – the perfect grocery-getter car with interiors and exteriors often slapped with the same color – no one ever wanted to be seen in it. It reeked oil-crisis desperation, both by Ford and poor buyer who had it in his garage.
Everything was bad, plasticky and uncomfortable about this car, and it simply had no redeeming feature save that it was cheap, and ran cheap. Sadly, with the 80s still rife with the oil embargo and gas savvy car standards – people had to make do with the Fairmont.