Hooniverse Asks: What automotive fiasco do you find perversely fascinating?

The 1975 Ford Flashback concept car by Ghia is so stunningly grotesque that I can’t stop staring at it. There’s something amazing about the fact that not only did someone get paid to pen this banana-mint-bubblegum-taco-burger of a design, but a bunch of people at Ghia said, “Yes! Let’s make THAT in metal!  And then a bunch of people at Ford said, “Yes! Let’s show it to the whole world!” The Flashback is that middle-aged mom at the community pool in the grossly inappropriate swimsuit, who—somehow, inexplicably—interprets people’s stares as an indication she’s lookin’ goood.

So, with this vehicular fever delusion setting the context, which car design do you objectively think is awful, yet find yourself devoting unhealthy attention to? What car repeatedly worms its way into your thoughts against your will, like a bruise that you can’t help pressing on even though it hurts, or a scab you can’t prevent yourself from picking at?

Tanshanomi is Japanese [単車のみ] for "motorcycle(s) only." Though primarily tasked with creating two-wheel oriented content for Hooniverse, Pete is a lover of all sorts of motorized vehicles.

44 Comments

  1. Tesla.

    It’s a slow motion exercise in the denial of business, engineering, and economic fundamentals because people want to believe it.

    The products are actually pretty good, so it’s not a fiasco from that standpoint at all, but from the amount of investor cash that has blown out the door, its just a marvel that I can’t stop admiring.

  2. With the current craze for EVs, I keep wondering why and how this tech took so long to reappear. A local “industrial champion” was the Th!nk – a company that, in total, went bankcrupt nine times. It’s a small vehicle with a plastic skin – not ulike the Trabant – and its batteries needed regular checks and refills. All for some dismal range. Its looks are firmly lodged between cute and terrible, it has no real heater to speak of, its name is a hovering insult and it ignores all the emotional rules of the car industry. That’s an approach I can admire, but ignoring the need for masculine excess has also lead to failure in business more often than not.

    https://elbil.no/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Thinkny_1200_600.jpg

    (2nd gen Th!nk City)

    1. That’s a good one. It’s like the irrationality of the car industry meets the moralizing dogmatism of the environmental movement.

      Come to think of it…

    2. I think these were actually on the right track vs. the current Tesla things. A small cheap secondary vehicle that fits into cities, it just needs someome to make something like this that actually works well. Do you really need range everyday? In terms of overall impact, it seems more sensible to have these and other small EVs like scooters and motorcycles supplementing ICE ownership than making a massive battery pack so you can go 300 miles once in a blue moon.

      Interesting to see how the Honda EV doesn’t have big range either but focuses on being good in cities.

    3. I think these were actually on the right track vs. the current Tesla things. A small cheap secondary vehicle that fits into cities, it just needs someome to make something like this that actually works well. Do you really need range everyday? In terms of overall impact, it seems more sensible to have these and other small EVs like scooters and motorcycles supplementing ICE ownership than making a massive battery pack so you can go 300 miles once in a blue moon.

      Interesting to see how the Honda EV doesn’t have big range either but focuses on being good in cities.

      1. I agree in principle, and the Honda is something I am very eager to try. Yet in cities, the best thing is to get cars out. Replace them with trams, electric pedal bikes and a few, cheap, taxilike creatures. For true citydwellers, that should be enough. Very easy these days to rent a vehicle for weekend trips. The Th!nk, to my mind, was just a tad too small, too impractical, to actually have a niche. Certainly here in cold, big-car-affine Norway.

        1. That’s partly true and indeed, I hop on the bus, but beware of unintended consequences. Removing cars from cities completely isn’t great for the disabled (especially in countries less socially egalitarian than Norway), plus it means living inside a city largerly prevents you from owning a car to go OUT of the city, even if you use it occasionally. Plus the definitition of city could creep to mean suburbs and towns. I’m all for alternate methods, but I think stuff like this works well for the suburbanite going into the city or even doing local trips to shopping with an ICE for longer trips.

  3. Tesla.

    It’s a slow motion exercise in the denial of business, engineering, and economic fundamentals because people want to believe it.

    The products are actually pretty good, so it’s not a fiasco from that standpoint at all, but from the amount of investor cash that has blown out the door, its just a marvel that I can’t stop admiring.

    1. Yes, that’s the amazing thing. They’re ALMOST there, if only they weren’t run by a guy with the attention span of a two year old. If they concentrated on ONE platform, the skateboard design would allow them to roll out a sedan, CUV, delivery van, wagon, sports car, and pickup truck all on the same mass-produced mechanicals and chassis. And the resulting economies of scale would make them profitable.

      Instead, they keep on trying to reinvent the wheel with unrelated platforms and even a semi-truck that will need not only not share ANY parts, but need its own entire charging infrastructure rolled-out before sales can begin. The start-up costs are enormous, and the returns on investment far enough away that people continue to question whether Elon might end up being distracted by a different toy and stop funding the whole shebang before it becomes sustainable (like what happened with the solar roof business).

    2. Yes, that’s the amazing thing. They’re ALMOST there, if only they weren’t run by a guy with the attention span of a two year old. If they concentrated on ONE platform, the skateboard design would allow them to roll out a sedan, CUV, delivery van, wagon, sports car, and pickup truck all on the same mass-produced mechanicals and chassis. And the resulting economies of scale would make them profitable.

      Instead, they keep on trying to reinvent the wheel with unrelated platforms and even a semi-truck that will need not only not share ANY parts, but need its own entire charging infrastructure rolled-out before sales can begin. The start-up costs are enormous, and the returns on investment far enough away that people continue to question whether Elon might end up being distracted by a different toy and stop funding the whole shebang before it becomes sustainable (like what happened with the solar roof business).

    3. Tesla products are “pretty good”? LOL. Surviving and thriving in a market that he created and popularized and producing cars that are land-bound guided missiles is … pretty good? Holy hell man, what are your benchmarks? I’m writing this and I’m NOT a Musk-apologist.

      1. They aren’t superlative in my mind because I see them as comparable on cost to some pretty amazing cars and compromised in ways that their competitors aren’t, but “pretty good” is a relative compliment in that space not faint praise. It’s an interesting new market in and of itself, but until they are a profitable company, I can’t see that as “thriving”. They are pumping out a lot of vehicles because third parties want to keep giving Tesla and their customers money to build and buy them without any real way of knowing when or if that might turn into something that sustains itself.

        But that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

  4. You know how a mutt is often referred to as a Heinz 57 breed?

    Meet the Wolseley Hornet Heinz 57. That’s its official name.

    The Wolseley Hornet was almost tragic in its ridiculousness. An Austin Mini that was tarted up with upper crust aspirations like a waterfall grille and mustaches, tail fins, and a plush leather and burled walnut interior. It was better seen as a piss-take of fancy cars, but I think Wolseley did it in all earnestness.
    Then the Heinz corporation, maker of England’s Officially Correct Tin Of Beans, commissioned 57 of them as a promotion. They were handed of to yet another aftermarket chop shop to be made into convertibles, in the correct British fashion (cut the top off and throw a tarpaulin in the boot.).

    I give you the Austin-Wolseley-Crayford-Heinz-57-Hornet. I love them. When The Kinks sing the line “You can go outside and polish your car” in their anthem to the great post-war disappointment, Shangri-La, I picture the man polishing a Wolseley Hornet.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/631c8b2bb92e7931fdd679f8ad5f8db4edb81dba167cddd31355cadc1aac1b22.jpg

    1. I can’t unsee that the front edge of the hood remained curved as used with the mini grille. They had already modified the hood for the woosley grille… why stop there? that curve goes nowhere…

  5. I thought about Zimmer or Excalibur as an answer. All three of them are cars that, when they show up at a car show everyone talks a lot about them while notably averting their eyes.

    1. The Bufori name is a hilarious acronym for “B – Beautiful, U – Unique, F – Funtastic, O – Original, R – Romantic, I – Irresistible,”

      I’m sold. Take my money. What’s that? Made in Malaysia by three Lebanese brothers from Australia? Here, have my Nobel Peace Price.

    1. It’s just cartoonishly bad. Like the stylists WANTED to show upper management that continually asking for an even higher hood than the previous generation would be hideous, and upper management approved it for production. It’s Family Truckster level bad.

    1. I was wondering when Mitsuoka would turn up. I almost like the Viewt, and an Orochi would be a Cars & Coffe show stopper

  6. Obvious answer, but Delorean. There’s all the usual stuff about John Delorean himself and the fiasco that was the car, but perhaps what’s often overlooked is that they managed to get a factory up and running with Catholics and Protestants working together during the height of the most troubled part of Northern Irelands conflicts, that for some of us, is still too recent in our memory. Socially, it’s fascinating and real blow that it failed. It’s put more into focus by the worry that if Brexit results in a hard border we’ll see echoes of the past.

    It seems if Northern Ireland is doing well economically, things calm down a bit, but once trade and industry slows, it’s more likely to kick off again.

    https://cdn.bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/1521840406e7dff9f98764daIMG_53721-940×705.jpg

  7. Obvious answer, but Delorean. There’s all the usual stuff about John Delorean himself and the fiasco that was the car, but perhaps what’s often overlooked is that they managed to get a factory up and running with Catholics and Protestants working together during the height of the most troubled part of Northern Irelands conflicts, that for some of us, is still too recent in our memory. Socially, it’s fascinating and real blow that it failed. It’s put more into focus by the worry that if Brexit results in a hard border we’ll see echoes of the past.

    It seems if Northern Ireland is doing well economically, things calm down a bit, but once trade and industry slows, it’s more likely to kick off again.

    https://cdn.bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/1521840406e7dff9f98764daIMG_53721-940×705.jpg

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