Hooniverse Asks: What Car Seemed Like a Good Idea at The Time, But Turned Out To Be Less So?

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Have you ever had a hold my beer moment that later you lived to regret? Did it involve the purchase of a car or truck? Buyers remorse can be overwhelming when the object of your newly developed derision is something that’s really expensive and hard to return. And the worst thing is, it can still set in years after the fact.
It’s not just individuals who can suffer from a falling out with a car or truck model, the entire populace can at one time be totally in tune with one only to later regret that admiration. What car and trucks do you think have most suffered that fate; an initial approval which ultimately turned into ambivalence or outright derision?
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  1. smalleyxb122 Avatar
    smalleyxb122

    Waiting lists and dealer markups upon its debut, only to become a punchline within a few short years.
    https://media.ed.edmunds-media.com/chrysler/pt-cruiser/2009/oem/2009_chrysler_pt-cruiser_wagon_limited_fq_oem_1_300.jpg

    1. irishzombieman Avatar
      irishzombieman

      I work with a salesman who’s got this freakish ability to make money everywhere. He bought a speed boat once on a gut feeling for $4,000. Tore apart the 427 Ford engine it had on it and found some *really* high-end rods and pistons and cam inside, which he sold to a drag-racing acquaintance for $10,000. Then he dropped a Chevy small block into the boat, washed it, then sold it for $6,000. The 427 went into a chopped Mercury he built, with more conventional but still incredible internals.
      When the PT Cruiser was first announced, he had this great idea that he could hotrod and flip one if he did it quick before there were too many on the street. Pays his deposit and get’s his name on the pre-order list. Dealer calls him two weeks later and says they’ve lost his paperwork, so he went in and whined and complained, filled out the paper work again, got them to give him $500 back from his deposit.
      Delivery day arrives and whaddya know? There’re two PT Cruisers on the truck with his name on them. I was outside his office when he got the call. All I heard was maniacal laughter.
      Long story shorter, he haggled, threatened to take them both, and ended up getting the dealer to give him a $4000 credit on a new truck in exchange for refusing delivery on one of the PT Cruisers.
      The one he took, he supercharged, painted flames on it, added a bangin’ stereo and sold it to some schmuck in Los Angeles for a $10k profit.
      Everything this jackass touches turns to frickin’ gold. I wish I liked him.

      1. Alcology Avatar
        Alcology

        “I wish I liked him.”
        Best ending ever!

  2. Maymar Avatar
    Maymar

    http://bestcarmag.com/sites/default/files/63778chrysler-pt-cruiser-03.jpg
    I can’t think of a more obvious answer. When it was new, it was neat and different and interesting and they made a quick turbo version (a few years later) and people paid pretty significant markup on them.
    Now, people just remember that it’s a Chrysler (so it’s automatically bad, I guess?) and that hopelessly uncool Boomers loved them, and it aged like, well, an old Mopar and they got pumped into rental fleets in the last few years of its existence.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar
      smalleyxb122

      Obvious answer, indeed. The time you spent with your wordier reply allowed me to beat you to the post.

    2. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      It wasn’t a bad idea per se, and Chryco sold a bunch of ’em. It just fell out of fashion more dramatically than most conventionally styled small cars.

      1. JayP Avatar
        JayP

        Marchionne said he was going to end production of the PT but I think once he discovered there was still a market and probably cost $2000 to make the car, he let it live on.
        Not a bad car, just a car.

    3. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      People love this car, small carries a lot of stuff, must be reliable ’cause I see them all over the place.

      1. Maymar Avatar
        Maymar

        I’ve mentioned before, but I had a friend who loved one – to him, it was just a wagon with room for his guitars and a stick shift, and it served him fairly well.

        1. Vairship Avatar
          Vairship

          Yup, I see mine as a modern-day Renault 4: a squished front end means lots of room inside while still being fairly compact on the outside. Plenty of room for 2 people plus 4 big dogs, simple and reliable.

  3. Alff Avatar
    Alff

    Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion Car

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      Death does not a bad idea make. Or…well, yes. Still an extremely cool vehicle.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      I kind of like it.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Overpriced, but a cool cruiser.

    2. kogashiwa Avatar
      kogashiwa

      I have a friend (not really a car guy) for whom that is still his dream car.
      Retro really has not aged well though. I’m amazed the no-longer-new Beetle still sells at all. And there’s the aforementioned PT Cruiser. Mini has done okay basically by saying “this is our contemporary design language now. No, really, it is.” while no one cares much about the Fiat 500 anymore. Mustang and Camaro are not exactly retro by now at all, it’s more like their design language underwent a reset, skipping a few generations, which was mostly for the better.
      But then designs that are unapologetically futuristic have trouble too. CTS Coupe for example. I love them, but then I also love old Citroens and the Lexus CT200h so I should probably be used as sort of a negative focus group – if this guy likes it, tone down the design or you’ll never sell it.

      1. theskitter Avatar

        Anything I like is usually doomed.

      2. Alcology Avatar
        Alcology

        Chevy HHR clearly falls on your list. I mean no one even remembers it!
        PT Cruisers seem impossible to kill. They just get worse and worse and never die.

        1. Citric Avatar
          Citric

          They seem to have turned into the new Grand Am, something that’ll run forever but never well.

  4. 0A5599 Avatar
    0A5599

    Diesel Volkswagens. I have a friend who bought one right before the scandal broke. He still loves the car, but hates the Blue Book hit.

  5. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    The turbo FoxStang. Hey, lets use that turbo thing all the kids are talking about. Brilliant!
    Yeah, yeah. They eventually got it (kind of) right in the SVO and Turbo Coupe but by then the momentum was lost.
    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Lima-2.3-Turbo.jpg

    1. ptschett Avatar
      ptschett

      Like GM’s mid-’80’s drastically-downsized Cadillacs, it would have been a great idea if the energy crises of the ’70’s had persisted into the 80’s.

      1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

        IIRC my 1985 5.0 got about the same mileage as my friends 1979 2.3 non-turbo if I drove conservatively.

    2. JayP Avatar
      JayP

      If you look at what the SVO was to compete with – European coupes, it makes you think what could be if they’d tried harder.

      1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

        I always found it hysterical that the XR4Ti had a turbo but the sportier version of the Sierra was more likely to have a V-6.

        1. outback_ute Avatar
          outback_ute

          Only in South Africa, and not too many.
          The real sporty Sierra, the RS Cosworth or RS500 had a 2.0 Turbo

    3. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      My first new car was a 85.5 SVO. Loved it.

  6. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I recall a magazine pundit in 1978 waxing effusive about how the downsized, more fuel-efficient new ’78 Monte Carlo was a more faithful descendant of the original version’s design and market segment than the overgrown, baroque, full-size second gen car had become.
    The thing is, I still believe that he was probably right. The result wasn’t nearly as attractive as the first gen however, and didn’t exactly become a classic.

    1. Maymar Avatar
      Maymar

      At least the G-body (yes, ’78 was technically an A-body) is still pretty fondly remembered, if just for the aftermarket support of the things and because it was replaced with a FWD car (for good reason).
      But your argument holds up really well for the Mustang II here.

    2. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      As we went into the 80s, the smart money was on the cleaner styling that didn’t try to look like a downsized luxo barge.

  7. Batshitbox Avatar
    Batshitbox

    Personally: My 1974 Plymouth Gold Duster, bought in 1989.
    Nationally: (Please don’t think I hate Ford, I know I’ve said some things. They’re so good at what they do, and then so bad at being cool. They’re like Hillary Clinton.)
    Ford EXP
    Ford Probe, made to replace the EXP
    Mercuri Capri 1991 – 1994
    Ford 500 (call a Taurus a Taurus)

    1. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      I don’t recall the Duster having fat ankles and a painfully shrill voice.

  8. Batshitbox Avatar
    Batshitbox

    Did these things turn out to be worth all the hype? BRZ – FRS – 86 thingie from a few years ago. Seemed like everyone gave it a ‘meh’ after it finally hit the streets.
    http://buyersguide.caranddriver.com/media/assets/submodel/7239.jpg

    1. kogashiwa Avatar
      kogashiwa

      I think people bought them with visions of touge dancing in their heads, then realized they were in a world where the average pickup truck hits 60 in under 6 seconds.

      1. crank_case Avatar
        crank_case

        The two NB Eunos roadster (miata) 1.8s were even slower, never bothered me. I’d love one of these if I could afford it. Don’t care if everyone is flying past me on the boring roads, just go with the flow, of you go Mr. Audi TDI driver, don’t tailgate, just overtake like a good man. Then when I get to the mountain roads or a track day, it’d be all worth it, plus you can pack enough luggage for a weekend away somwhere nice and it’s still reasonably civilized. I think it’s sorta proof that most so called car enthusiasts are full of ..it. Fast car slow! Power isn’t important, we want purity and manual boxes, simple fun!. Then when you give it to them, the internet just yaks on about how much used maserati/boxster/mustang you could buy for that…

    2. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      If the pulse of the internet is somehow connected to reality, you might include this one as well:
      http://cdn2.autoexpress.co.uk/sites/autoexpressuk/files/styles/article_main_image/public/7/84/nsx_16_0_0_0_0_0_0_0.jpg
      I’m afraid I’ll never get to drive one though, and I really like what I see anyway.

    3. mad_science Avatar

      I’m thinking that like a fine wine or beef or something, they’ll be better appreciated once aged.
      As-new, you’re paying mid 20s-k for a car that lacks the joy of a Miata or the power/speed of…like everything else.
      However, once depreciated to the 8-15k range, once the aftermarket has a few good turbos or whatever available and if they earn a reputation for decent reliability or ownership experience, then I could see them being more relevant.

    4. JayP Avatar
      JayP

      They have their place… which is the track. HPDEs are full of them.

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        At first glance I thought you wrote HDPE (High density polyethylene). I was very confused for a moment.

    5. irishzombieman Avatar
      irishzombieman

      Drove one down the road and back last summer. For something designed to be a driver’s car, I was amazed at how very little clutch feel there is. Clutch is off, then suddenly it’s on. Nothing in between.
      I could probably get used to it. But I’d hate to be driving this car and wishing for my Metro.

    6. Maymar Avatar
      Maymar

      The Toyobaru is a very flawed car, that nonetheless deserves a second generation to fix its flaws, because it’s not far from being pretty great. It’s a bit weedy thanks to a wonky powerband, but it’s fun if you’re somewhere where you can’t hit ludicrous speed (and don’t care that the Camry beside you could blow you into the weeds if they’d just wake up).
      For my sake as well, there’s more than a $6k price jump from one of these to a Miata. I love the Miata, but I don’t think it’s six grand better.

      1. Vairship Avatar
        Vairship

        “For my sake as well”
        Please note that in this sentence, “sake” can be pronounced as “sayk” or “sah-kay”. 😉

  9. Ayreonaut Avatar
    Ayreonaut

    When my 93 cherokee 4.0 HO 2 door blew its transmission, I bought a cheap 1987 Dakota for 500$ to get me by until I put a new tranny in the jeep. Figured its a good cheap truck with low miles and carved so easy to work on. Worst idea ever… I should have known when it stalled on the first drive home. I threw every part imaginable at the truck (not easy or cheap to find as 1987 was the ONLY year for the carburated 3.9) and it would stall.. All…. The…. Time…. Every stop light.. Stalled. Start it up in the am, stalled. Accelerate too fast, stalled. It had that stupid Chrysler electronic controlled carb. There was a 9 volt battery like a smoke alarm in the dash to power the computer! I could never get it to run even decent. Ended up scrapping it and buying another old jeep with over 250000 miles that served me very well up until I traded it for another jeep.. I’ve never turned back since then.

    1. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      I inherited my father-in-law’s ’87 Dakota in the mid-90s. Same experience. I keep my vehicles for a long time. This is the only one I’ve got rid of in a year.

      1. kogashiwa Avatar
        kogashiwa

        Oh man yeah another Dakota horror story here. Paid $2500, spent a small fortune on engine work, sold it for $2500 a year later. “It’s a simple, sturdy truck, just what I need right now!” … sure.

        1. Alff Avatar
          Alff

          That’s what I thought I was getting. Had that been the case, I might still be driving it. I love having one but only need one for 2-3K miles a year. If it had been reliable it would have been the perfect solution.

          1. Ayreonaut Avatar
            Ayreonaut

            I’ve found that a trailer behind one of my jeeps works just as good, if not better than having a pickup

  10. Douche_McGee Avatar
    Douche_McGee

    In 2009, I bought a 2006 Solstice – without test driving a ’06 Miata. On the test drive it ran out of gas, but I didn’t push the car at all (literally or figuratively), and didn’t see it was not the car for me. I hated it. The suspension was too soft, the trunk couldn’t even hold a motorcycle helmet, and getting out of the car to drop the top got old.
    Hated it so much, I traded it in 8 months later for a ’08 Focus Sedan – the first automatic car I owned in 12 years lol.

    1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar
      Andrew_theS2kBore

      I have to disagree here; I understand that the Solstice didn’t suit your needs and/or desires, but it was far from a bad car. I owned a Sky (2.4l manual) and it was the best daily driver I’ve ever had. Comfortable, responsive, just the right amount of power for street driving, good gearbox, absolutely reliable, and great styling. I wish I still had it, but I found an S2000 in a very rare color combination and, perhaps foolishly, traded in the Sky.

    2. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      My mom owns one. I remember when she and my dad were shopping. I told them, “At least take a Miata for a test drive before you get one of these.” They didn’t. My mom loves the car, so I guess it’s fine, but I can’t stand it. Storage space is awful, like you said. Reaching the seat adjustment levers is almost impossible without opening the doors. The cup holders are way back at your elbows. The engine is harsh, useless, and buzzes the chassis above 6000 RPM (it redlines at 6800). The soft top doesn’t fit very well on any of them, it always looks kind of loose. You can’t fit a loaf of bread in the trunk with the top down.
      Contrast that to a Miata soft-top that you can drop in <10 seconds and still fit luggage in the trunk.

      1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar
        Andrew_theS2kBore

        On purely subjective terms, I vastly preferred my Sky to the Miata that preceded it. To each their own.

  11. Borkwagen Avatar
    Borkwagen

    Then: “New modern styling direction for a tired brand!”
    Now: “Kia-shaped blob”
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/2009-2010_Jaguar_XF_(X250_MY10)_Luxury_sedan_(2011-01-13).jpg

    1. Sjalabais Avatar
      Sjalabais

      They are so rare here that it doesn’t make sense to follow the market for them. But how is their resale value? I do also remember enthusiastic “Jaguar is saved”-reviews everywhere. It’s quiet now.

      1. Maymar Avatar
        Maymar

        A quick check of my local market shows they’re worth about the same as a contemporary 5-Series or A6 (which cost about the same new), and seem to be about as good an idea used (which is to say, prepare for the occasional pricey repair).
        Otherwise, it was a good step forward in saving Jag, it at least modernized them. Odds are though, if anything’s really going to pay off, it’s the F-Pace

    2. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      Jaguar has yet to produce a sedan as alluring as the traditional 3-box XJ. What do I know, though, I think BMW sedan design peaked with the E34.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar
        Kiefmo

        The E39 was close, but yes — if I ever seriously look for an older I6/5M Fiver, it’s going to be a late E34.

    3. crank_case Avatar
      crank_case

      I still like em, quite a few round here, though I kinda wish they’d gone with Bertones take on the XJ instead of a bigger XF.
      http://www.autoblogger.fr/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Bertone-B99-concept.jpg

  12. Clawbrant Avatar
    Clawbrant

    Most retro cars including such overpriced gems as the Chevrolet SSR and the Plymouth Prowler (Hey guys check out my new V6 hot rod!)
    The very first cat that comes to my mind though it’s the Hummer H2. Nothing says “It’s 2005 and I own a business building expensive, low quality houses” than a heavily financed Hummer.

  13. JayP Avatar
    JayP

    Any Audi if you own it past the factory warranty.
    I have a feeling the ecoboost cars are going to come back to bite some people.
    What is the lifespan of those turbos? Ford’s come a long way but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in a few years out of warranty.

    1. Alff Avatar
      Alff

      I have a feeling that these will be popular donor mills for rodders who have the patience to rehabilitate them.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar
        Kiefmo

        I can’t wait for a chrome-dressed 3.5L TT to show up in a t-bucket.

  14. Van_Sarockin Avatar
    Van_Sarockin

    What exactly makes the 9-2 the poster child for this post? It was a WRX with a fly interior, for stupid money. If you wanted one, you could buy it. If you wanted to save money, you could buy the Subaru. Same car. And far from an awful car. Now what it did to the brand and helping to usher in the Trollblazer, now there’s some nits to be picked.

  15. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    That Chevy hot rod pickup and it’s Chrysler cousin the Prowler. What’s the fun of buying a hot rod at a dealer?

  16. salguod Avatar

    I immediately thought of the Pacer. First wide small car. I seem to recall, much like the PT Cruiser, it was met with great enthusiasm at launch and then fell absolutely flat. Not only that, but it began to be ridiculed for its odd styling and became the butt of many jokes.

  17. longrooffan Avatar
    longrooffan

    How had the Edsel not made it to this list yet? Is this olelongrooffan that old?

    1. Ayreonaut Avatar
      Ayreonaut

      In my mind it’s so famous of an example I completely overlooked it

    2. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Because it seemed like a really bad idea at the time.

      1. Vairship Avatar
        Vairship

        And now it’s really popular! So kind of the inverse of this post.

    3. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      To me it was a bad idea in the first place. Sort of like the new Beetle.

  18. Lokki Avatar
    Lokki

    My nominee for the list is the 1971 Chevy Vega. What’s not to like? Sexy mini-Camaro/Ferrari styling. Double wish-bone front suspension and front disc brakes standard. All aluminum engine. RWD, available with a 4-speed and a sports GT package including an upgraded engine. Selected as Car-Of-The-Year in its first year on the market.
    It was thought to be the logical small sporty car from the company that had brought the 1960’s the Corvette,the Chevelle SS, the Z-28 Camaro.
    Instead…… Well, Hell, what didn’t go wrong? The interiors were so cheap there was no glove box. The carbs wouldn’t stay in tune because the engines shook so badly. They overheated and blew headgaskets because the radiator was too small. The Pistons ovaled the sleeveless cylinders, and they burned oil. And then there was the rust. The cars were dipped but air pockets made them rust out at the accidently uncoated base of the windshield because there were no fender liners. For most early Vegas it was a race to see if the engine blew up before rust made the car too dangerous to drive. Oh, and if by chance neither happened, the doors literally fell off because of the too-cheap-for-a-Chinaman hinge pins.

  19. outback_ute Avatar
    outback_ute

    Holden Adventra, a Subaru Outback type of crossover wagon. Trouble was it came out a year before the 3800 was due to be replaced, so they didn’t bother to make a V6 version. Now LS1-only might sound good, but not when it was getting down to 12 mpg in the city if you drove it enthusiastically.
    Couple that with Ford coming out with the proper-CUV Territory and it really tanked in the market.
    (the Crewman ute failed too – a pretty worthless back seat and too large to park anywhere)

  20. Liked the PT Avatar
    Liked the PT

    I had a PT Cruiser and loved it. At 12 years old and 110,000 miles, the interior had no rattles. The design of the hatchback cargo area, with its multi-functional package tray that turned into a serving table and could be positioned at different levels to its fold and/or tumble and/or remove rear-seats to its fold-flat-forward front passenger seat offered an amazing amount of utility for a small vehicle. Also, for an economy car, it had great steering wheel and very nicely balanced (non-ABS) brakes. Alas, it had some problems like both front wheel-bearings needed replacement and the camshaft position sensor needed replacement, twice. The stereo stopped ejecting the CD, so I smacked it and it started working again, but the display got permanently garbled and then one of the speakers blew. It never left me stranded until I almost didn’t make it home on account of the transmission failing. At that point I sold it off for $800.00 (USD). I missed it as it was carted away and still think fondly of it, today. Maybe I should have fixed it… Then again, maybe I got rid of it in the nick of time… who knows…

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