Automobile history: ten cars that failed to excite and sell

Paul Lines By Paul Lines, 1st Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Transport>Other

With so many automobile models brought to market since the car was first invented it is not surprising that some failed to sell. Here are just ten of those that fit in this category and therefore share the dubious honour of failures.

De Lorean

Made famous in the "back to the future" films, the Delorean sports car, produced in Belfast, failed miserably, costing the UK taxpayer over 80 million. The car was deemed to be far too expensive for what it was and its performance failed to live up to expectation.

Citroen SM

One of the best looking and best performing cars that Citroen ever made was the SM. It was a sports car that also contained all the French expertise in design. However, due to poor sales, which resulted for the fuel crisis of the time, this gem was destined to die almost before it began its life

Morris Isis

A six and four cylinder large saloon, the production of the Morris Isis stopped in 1958 after only selling 12,000 models, which for a UK production car at the time was considered to be a totally unacceptable return on investment.


Built for combine use as a car /part boat, the Amphicar failed for one simple reason. This was that the floor was liable to rotting and, as a result the car could sink. This was naturally considered to be an adverse selling point, as the manufacturers had not intended it to become a submarine. Need to say, it failed to sell in any significant numbers.

Bricklin SV-1

One of the first and original sports cars with gull-wing doors, which when opened gave it the look of a bird about to take flight, this Canadian car, upon which it was likely that the DeLorean was based, only achieved 2,857 in three years. This could be partially due to the fact that the doors leaked and, in a time when smoking was still not taboo, the Bricklin SV was provided without a cigarette or ashtray. As a result the company crashed, landing the government with an unpaid debt of $23 million.

Vauxhall Firenza HPF

Only 204 of the Firenza HBF's were made instead of the estimated 30,000 plus. It is said that the fuel crisis caused its demise. However, the fact that, unlike the Ford brand, Vauxhall were not renowned for the sports car proficiency probably contributed to the Firenza HPF downfall.

Suzuki X-90

A mini version SUV, this model was never popular. This could be partly because it was only a two-seater and had little room for luggage. It was really just a fun car with a small following, not a good idea for a major Japanese mass-market automobile production company. With just over 7,200 sold in 3 years, it became one of the slowest selling production cars in history. Perhap the X-90 was born too early because today many manufacturer is looking at small fun cars of this nature.

NSU R0 80

Due to reliability problems, mainly to do with its revolutionary Wankel engine, the NSU RO 80 caused its company financial problems from the moment it hit the streets, where many of the cars that were sold failed to do much more that clutter up the sidewalks. This failure led to the company eventually being bought out by Volkswagen and the NSU brand disappearing.

Plymouth Scamp

Based upon the Valiant, one of the problems with the Scamp was that it was born too late, being at the tail end of the US muscle car era. Therefore, it did not firt within the era of the modern automobile. This car sold around 2,000 units and therefore it is one of the rarest Plymouth's around.

Tucker rear-engined car

Dogged by controversy and technical problems from the moment it was conceived, although it had some revolutionary safety features the, Tucker sold only 51 before the company collapsed. However, most of the models sold are still in existance today.

Renault Avantime

A French European MPV (Multi-purpose-vehicle) with an exotic and revolutionary shape and design that never really caught the imagination of the motoring public anywhere, the Avantime sold just over 8,000 before being withdrawn from production after just two years

A last thought

Although considered failures at the time one benefit is that this honour means these ten are likely to be remembered by history


Classic cars - knowing the basics

Why not join me on Wikinut and earn while you write?


Automobiles, Cars, Classic Cars, Failures, Popular, Vintage Cars

Meet the author

author avatar Paul Lines
Having spent a large part of my working life as a business consultant, I am now a full time freelance writer offering content for on-line and print publishers, as well as focusing on creative writing

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Jerry Walch
5th Nov 2010 (#)

Another fantastic article for the auto enthusiast. I drove a De Lorean back in the 70's and I was sadly disappointed with its performance considering the price tag it carried. I loved the way it looked, but looks was always a secondary consideration for me. It was what was under the hood, or, in this case, what wasn't under the hood, that mattered most to me.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Paul Lines
5th Nov 2010 (#)

One of my favorite of these was the Citroen SM. A lovely car with comfort and speed

Reply to this comment

author avatar T.Allen
2nd Jun 2013 (#)

just a question. wasnt the first line of Deloreans DMC-12 out in 1981. Did he have another Delorean before hand. I do indeed enjoys articles this this myself. thank you

Reply to this comment

author avatar Mike
25th May 2015 (#)

The picture of the Firenza is not the HPF.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?