Hooniverse Asks- What Car Scares the Crap Out of You?

Whether it’s because of driving dynamics or the the fragility and difficulty of repair envisioned by Satan himself, there are certain cars that just cause one’s butt to pucker so that even standing is a challenge. The specific make and model may not be the same fro everyone, but most of us have that white whale out out there. Which one is yours?
Citroëns, due to their inherent complexity are off-putting to many. Early Maserati Biturbos, with their pressurized plenum housing a leaky carburetor,  are the gargoyles  sitting at the foot of the bed of others, waking them from a restless sleep. Porsches, their engines hanging outside of the wheelbase and making them the automotive equivalent of a barbell, can raise the scrotum, and cause a howl of discontent from many an otherwise taciturn individual.
Each of these is cause for fear and trepidation in ownership, whether it be through the rapid emptying of the bank account, or the actual threat to both life and limb. Whatever the reason, there are cars that just plain frighten us. Of course, we feign composure, laughing off the 1,000 foot drop that we nearly slid over when a certain car’s snap oversteer reputation became reality. Or perhaps it’s the nonchalance  with which we write the check for the full top-end rebuild on the Ferrari that we told everyone would be such a deal because it was under $15,000. In reality, the hand shakes, the pen quivers and each scabby noise from the check authorization modem is like a shard of glass driven through a fleshy and yielding ear.
So, there’s lots of reason’s for which to feel trepidation in the ownership or piloting of a number of cars, but which one scares you the most? Which is your Blair Witch, your Exorcist, your hunting party with Dick Cheney?
IMage sources: [zcache.com, bitchspot.com]

53 Comments

  1. Right now? pretty much any Lambo due to the fact that they spontaneously combust. Just waiting for that recall to drop…

  2. Every other car on the road. I know what I'm doing next, but I don't think even God knows what a soccer mom driving a full size SUV at 70+ mph while digging her cell phone out of her purse is going to do next. Or that guy in the Porsche flying up behind me at 80+ mph while talking over his bluetooth headset to his divorce lawyer who's just told him what his soon-to-be ex-wife is demanding for alimony. That's what scares me the most.

  3. no offense to everyones favorite volkswagen dealer, but.. anything from the volkswagen auto group scares me.
    it all started with my mexican made 98 jetta wolfsburgh. the first 30k of ownership, starting at an actual 28k was easy peasy.
    after that enjoyable time everything went down hill. i was averaging $500 in repairs every month. not a great situation when your attending higher education and only working 20 hours a week. the deathblow came with the going of some transmission synchros.
    no transmission shop would touch the car, they responded "we dont work on vws." even the vw transmission shop said we dont work on manual…!
    the wife and i cannot imagine ever owning another vw, and the more vw owners i talk to the more i realize its not just a one case scenario.
    what really scares me about this is that i actually like, nay, adore mostly every single one of there products. they look great and the interiors are top notch. but i know there is a sickness hiding within….

    1. VAG products tend to be great to somewhere around 50-70k (depending on (ab)use), after which they are to be sloughed off as quickly as possible.
      There may be some exception to this for the 80s era boxy ones, given that at least they're simple enough to work on, but beyond that, no thanks.

      1. see thats what got me, at the time i was in love with the 16v gti. but could not find any. one day that 98 jetta showed up at the dealership i was working and i made it my own.
        what a horrid idea that was.

    2. May I suggest double clutching? I had an Austin Metro with 2nd gear synchro that would only work sometimes. I got used to double clutching when going down from 3rd to 2nd. The car was probably worth less than the time it would have taken to fix the problem…

      1. nope, got to frustrated with that car to give a shit about working around the problem. sent it off to the purple heart instead…

    3. Same experience with VWs. I had a 95 GLX Jetta. $500 here, $1000 here. I was scared to death of driving that car for fear it would cost me my rent money, my tuition and my sanity. Good riddens to that thing. German reliability be damned!

    4. My aunt had a highly problematic 90s automatic Jetta. My family's early-2000 manual Jetta has (so far) only had one issue – a brake lock of some sort in the back rear disc, since then fixed (though for an ugly price).

  4. The '78 Audi Fox that I owned (my first new car). I enjoyed driving it, but it was a piece of junk. Between the fuel pump, the fuel pump relay, the warm-up regulator, and the fuel distributor, the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection was a total money pit (add to that the tow truck that towed it with the front wheels down, destroying the automatic transaxle, requiring a replacement to be air-freighted from West Germany). Also, the original muffler rusted out before 30k miles, the dash cracked after two years, and by the time I got rid of it, at 49k, the valve stem seals were already making it smoke on startup.

    1. Hahaha, wow! A '76 Audi Fox's side impact beams actually saved my life. I got t-boned in a snow storm. The entire car bent around those beams, which I was cozily protected behind.

  5. The scariest car I've driven recently was one of two – both had more power than I'm used to, worse visibility, and brakes that didn't inspire much confidence.
    But while the Saab 9-3's brakes went from 'barely applied' to 'all the way on' like a stiff toggle switch, the Duratec-powered Mercury Sable's just didn't do much at all.
    And the 9-3 felt like it could at least handle its way through most cock-ups with the steering wheel and the throttle. The Sable's steering wheel is connected to the wheels by Lilliputians transmitting smoke signals; the receiving party down at the wheels don't bother to return any feedback, and the throttle was outrageously touchy.
    The Sable, then. Partly because I'm not at all used to it, and partly because it's a jet-powered bouncy castle.

  6. I had the opportunity to drive a B5 RS4 recently and the thing is insane. The Jekyll/Hyde behavior is awesomely scary. Now I want one badly, but my father's wallet bleeds every time I mention 2.7TT. I've tried to reason logically – "You own a f***ing Range Rover!" – but that's not making any effect so far. Der sigh.

  7. Someone once rented a 2nd gen Viper for me in Vegas… the car was terrifying. I was going straight, went to change one lane over and shifted from 2nd to 3rd… and the tail broke loose. I caught it, but holy crap…
    2nd scariest is the 2009 Mustang GT500… drove that on a track. EVERY turn it felt like the car wanted to throw me into a wall. I could have driven it for 3 laps, I came in after one.

    1. I watched a Viper destroy itself on the freeway when the driver (a young punk) tried to cut me off and lost control. When it was all said and done, there was only the deck lid and roof left on the car. The rest of the color-changing panels had been shed across the freeway.
      They tried telling the cop I bumped them. Everyone behind me told the copy something different — that the kid was driving like an a$$.

  8. Jeep XJ with the Death Wobble ™. I nearly pissed myself the first time it happened, srsly.

  9. Gotta be a three-way toss-up between the Viper I drove at Skip Barber, my old roomate's DSM and the Uberbird.
    Aside from feeling like it was build around someone 50-75lb larger than me, the Viper was the first car I'd ever driven that would speed up as fast as you moved the gas pedal. Like, if you sneezed and blipped the throttle, you'd go from 60-90 instantly.
    The DSM in question (I believe it was an Eclipse) was FWD and built out to around 400hp. Re-read that sentence, then remember that DSMs have unequal-length half-shafts. Essentially we had the same insta-acceleration as the Viper, but now combined with massive torque-steer! Press the gas, go left!
    When you're piloting a car in which all of the safety-critical systems (brakes, steering, suspension, seats, belts, cage) have been completely re-done by yourself with budget parts while sleep-deprived…driving this car as fast and as hard as you can on a track surrounded by other such cars…well…it can be a bit fatiguing.

  10. At times, my little underpowered Alfa Spider… like when the urethane bushings locating the rear axle spontaneously disintegrated, allowing it to rotate a good 10 degrees around the diff … or the time that a u-joint let go at 90 mph, allowing the compound driveshaft to bang freely against the inside of the transmission tunnel … then there was the fire in the wiring harness … the unanticipated locking of a front caliper … numerous breakdowns miles from home … the fact that you sit about a foot lower than anyone else on the road … the sense of impending doom that accompanies any previously undetected mechanical noise … the constant smell of gas and ever-present moisture at the fitting to the cold-start injector.

  11. The wife's old 97 Geo Tracker in the winter with bald tires.
    My old 96 Mustang with cheap summer tires in the rain. Felt like all four would let loose anytime I came to a bend in the highway.

  12. my little bro drives his year round in NW Ohio (32" snowfall average). They drive just fine when you put winter tires on them. He out accelerates 4WD SUVs away from stoplights. Mind you this is all as long as the snowfall doesn't breach the 6" clearance height of the floorpan.

    1. Brave man your little brother is. He must have very delicate feet. I drove an Rx-7 in the New Hampshire snow for one winter season. That had 1/3 the horsepower and 1/4 the torque but was still death-on-wheels just waiting to happen.

      1. I am very mad at you for driving the RX-7 in the snow.
        1. They are very, very delicate; driving one through the winter is like going 5 years without an oil change in another car.
        2. They're rare cars, so breaking one isn't a fantastically whimsical idea.

        1. Context my friend, context…In 1993 they were as common as the front heaves I was flinging mine over…Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.

  13. A ’65 Chevy pickup that I bought for $100 that had was worn out everywhere; pitman arm was shot, ball joints held together by gravity, shocks that were hollow tubes, and the bushings on the 3-on-the-tree were completely gone, making changing gears a matter of intuition. I had to drive the thing 50 miles to get it home, easily the scariest ride of my life.

  14. Any hyper-depreciated luxury car that I have a crush on (W140 S-Class, Phaeton, 1st gen S8, X306-X308 Jag XJ…). Sure they're plush and stylish, and they're crazy-cheap to buy, but the actual ownership experience would be like living with an incredibly gorgeous, smart, funny and great-in-the-sack woman who's on parole for strangling her ex; the good times would be very good, but you'd always be sleeping with one eye open and a taser under your pillow.

  15. Triumph Stag. Engine so badly designed you're afraid to drive it. Timing Chain being known to snap(Intereference engine FTL) Overheating issues, Heads being seized to the studs. British Leyland construction issues. Car is an amazingly pretty paper weight though. and the engine, if youre heart overcomes the fears of your wallet, is one of the most gorgeous sounding engines ive ever heard .[youtube phlr6S6Xyv4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phlr6S6Xyv4 youtube]

  16. If you're talking handling, there can only be one — the Dodge Viper.
    The only car I've ever felt was actively trying to kill me.

    1. I remember reading a Car and Driver comparison test that included a Viper when I was younger. The Viper segment said "Dodge says the suspension is independent via double A-arms all around, but we found it to be more 'defiant' than 'independent.'" That line has stuck with me for a decade and a half now.

  17. Since it's Two-Wheel Tuesday, I feel obligated to mention one of the few vehicles that I was actually scared to pilot was a Buell XB12. It was a few months after I'd gotten my M2, and the last bike I had ridden was a Honda CBR125R. I went in hoping to ride an XB9, not something with ten times the displacement of the aforementioned Honda. But if Buell was comfortable with me riding it, so was I. Until the pre-riding pep talk. The guy comes up to me, and tells me the bike's fairly powerful – I should be careful with the throttle so I don't do a wheelie and get kicked off the bike. Then he tells me that a lot of the Harley guys aren't used to brakes that powerful, and that two fingers is enough so I don't do a stoppie and get kicked off. So of course, I'm now convinced that I'm going to kill myself, and be on the hook for a new bike as well. I ended up getting strangely lucky, in that the bike was only running on one cylinder.

  18. The first thing I thought of was Uncle Otto's Truck (a Stephen King short story) – I'm sure the truck in the story was about 30 years older, but it sort of fits.

  19. About 1976 I acquired as part of a trade, a 1959 VW bug that had a 1960 Corvair flat six installed in it, now THAT was a Death Trap! Scary as Hell! Tire smoking wheelies, waaaay too heavy in the rear, plus Poor Brakes, I soon sold it.
    As far a bikes go, it was circa 1973 and I borrowed my buddies Kawasaki 750 H2 triple for a pre-purchase ride and as I was riding home to get my helmet I discovered the INCREDIBLE Torque of that Insane Bike by accidentally wheeling through an intersection in 3rd gear after I grabbed some throttle when the light went green just before I arrived at it, and that almost scared the crap out of me. Then I took the 118 towards the top of Santa Suzanna Pass and before I was even on the freeway I was doing an indicated 130 mph, and on the way back down the old road it was flexi-flyer time, it was so quick and quirky that I knew I’d kill myself on it, so I opted to not buy it.

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