Talk about engines, and many tinkerers under the hood may say that there's no such thing as a bad engine, but everything about bad tuning. Could be, but there have been good cars that literally hung a noose around their proverbial necks by getting fitted with weak, lackluster, or otherwise badly-wired engines.
Take the V6 for example. It has both made and broken cars. The 2019 Acura NSX, the 2018 Audi S4, and even the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe are prime examples of finely tuned V6 engines. But with the good comes the bad, so here are ten cars that failed badly, with their faulty V6 being the root cause of it all.
10 Bad Name, Worse Engine: 1992 Ford Probe
The Probe basically faced problems from the launch itself. First, the shape of the car made people either love it or hate it on sight and it was dubbed, not very lovingly, as the “shoe-shaped car”. Then, of course, many hated the name – who wants to drive a car that reminds one of medical instruments going into unspeakable places? Finally, the last nail in its coffin was the wishy-washy 3-liter Vulcan V6 engine that did nothing for the car or its front-wheel drive. Despite powering up with a 2.5-liter 164 horsepower V6 engine later, the Probe was doomed to fail and fail it did, epic.
9 The Back In Time Car: 1981 DeLorean DMC-12
Design-wise, this 1981 car, the first and only offering from the DeLorean stable was a beauty to look at. Made famous by the Back In Time movie as the time machine itself, it was otherwise the mother of all failures. The V6 engine here technically should have been the best considering it was designed jointly by Peugeot, Renault, and Volvo – consequently dubbed the PRV V6. The 2.85-liter V6 was fuel injected and managed a 130 horsepower with a 153 ft-lb torque. The problem was this kind of power wasn’t enough to bring alive a car with a steel chassis and stainless steel body parts and so the DMC-12 gently chugged into the night.
8 Needed To Be Cited: 1980 Chevrolet Citation
Perhaps it was the name, Citation, something that can be used both positively and negatively. For the first year, the citation on the Citation was all positive. It looked good and since it was a Chevrolet, people lined up for this beauty. It probably gave GM one of the best debut years since millions of Citations rolled out of dealerships.
The next four years were the anti-opposite of this, and the Citation soon proved to be a total dud. The reason was the lackluster 2.8-liter MPFI V6 engine that coughed up 135 horsepower and 165 ft-lb torque. The main seal had a tendency to leak but the damaged had been done. By 1985 the Citation was over.
7 The Strange Big Car: 1981 Cadillac Fleetwood V-8-6-4
Someone had the bright idea of an on-demand engine and so the 1981 Fleetwood was rolled out with an engine that could switch on and switch off engine cylinders on demand. This particular engine has gone down in history as being the worst idea after square wheels, was dubbed the V-8-6-4. Meaning it could operate as a V8, a V6 or a V4 depending on how much power the car needed. Sounds great in theory but the reality was a shuddering, bucking, and out-of-control nightmare on wheels. Some car owners were nifty enough to get this tricky engine tuned into behaving like a solid V8 and regained some controls of their car back. For those who didn’t, this car was the ultimate fiasco.
6 When The Mighty Fall: 1976 Maserati BiTurbo
You wouldn’t expect to see a Maserati on this list, would you? I mean, this is a brand known for superior cars and finely tuned engines. But the bigger they are, the harder they fall and with the BiTurbo, Maserati really had a fall. Now technically, the BiTurbo had a double turbocharged engine that came in three configurations of 2-liters, 2.5-liters, and 2.8-liters.
After the first six months, everything that could leak, snap, break. or just fall off in the car did so with alacrity. Plus, emissions norms in the domestic market turned it into a weak 196-horsepower jetting engine, and it nearly killed Maserati’s image at home.
5 Nearly Brought Down Caddy: 1985 Cadillac Cimarron
With the Cimarron, the GM wanted to make sure it was the most beauteous thing on wheels around. And looks-wise, the Cimarron was stunning. Now had GM only paid attention to the engine as much as they did to the body shape, colors and interiors – the Cimarron would have touched the skies. Instead, it nearly tanked Cadillac. The 2.8-liter V6 engine outputted a measly 130 horsepower that did nothing for the car. The steering was sluggish and while the car looked good, it felt pretty similar to its sibling, the Chevy Cavalier. Sales were dismal and the Cimarron did nothing but tarnish Cadillac’s image.
4 Slunk Away To Nothingness: 1997 Plymouth Prowler
Yet another complete disaster and one of the major reasons Plymouth was offed as a marque. Now with the Prowler, the idea was to make a retro-looking sports car. Much like the mistake Caddy did with Cimarron, here too Plymouth went all out to make the Prowler as different and good looking as possible.
As usual, they forgot about the engine. While the 3.5-liter Chrysler V6 engine did jet out some 215 horsepower, it wasn’t enough for a sports car at all making the Plymouth one very boring drive. The ridiculously small boot was another negative, and the $5000-worth Prowler trailer to add space did nothing for the car’s looks or handling.
3 One Very Capricious Engine: 1983 Ford Capri 2.8L V6
The Ford Capri’s 2.8-liter engine was capricious at best and the reason wasn’t the British-built Essex V4 engine, but the German-built Cologne V6 engines that brought the Capri down. For a car that came with a dear price tag of $2000+ at that time, the performance was more like a stick-shift Beetle than a superior Mercury-like car the Capri was supposed to be like. The 109 horsepower made sure the car was sluggish to respond and understeered on fast turns, making it a rickety, shaky, and overall awful driving experience. A quarter-mile could be done only in 20.3 seconds at 66mph, making it nearly Beetle-like in its performance and signaling its end before it even began.
2 No Style Or Substance: 1999 Lexus IS 250 V6
The Lexus Is 250 was supposed to be Lexus’ answer to the Honda Civic Si – and that too with two extra cylinders. The problem was that the Lexus’ V6 proved to be a gutless runt that came nowhere to matching the Civic’s V4.
The 204 horsepower 185 ft-lb torque output on the Lexus’ V6 did not top Honda Civic Si’s V4 output figures and did not justify Lexus’ higher price tag. Buyer booed the car’s sluggish engine and its feel was not that of a luxury or sports car. Reason enough for it to never take off in the car bazaar.
1 Totally Lackluster: 2003 Kia Amanti
The Amanti was Kia’s flagship car and it tried hard to look luxurious and a bit unattainable, much like the Jags and the Mercedes of the early 2000s. However, the early 2000 styling of the Jaguar and the Mercedes models were no great shakes and the Amanti was even worse. Of course, looks alone didn’t bring the Amanti down, its 3.5-liter Sigma V6 played a big role in it biting the dust. The build quality was booed at, and the handling was no better. The engine was silent till you accelerated, and it croaked, stalled a bit and then suddenly powered up – making the ride a jerky and ridiculous for a so-called luxury car.