Detroit’s Automobile Innovations of the Past 50 Years


Do you harken back to when cars had huge V-8 engines, no catalytic converter, and were easy to fix?  Here are a few examples of such cars.  Still think you want these back?

1. Chevrolet Corvair.  Ralph Nader made his name by filing suit against GM claiming that this car was “unsafe at any speed.”  Even though his claims were later disproven, the car died an early death.  This car was revolutionary in Detriot because it was a rear engine design and the engine was air cooled, just as the Volkswagon bug had been for years.

Chevrolet Corvair

2.   Ford Edsel.  People just did not like this car for some reason.  Ford introduced it as its own line of automobile which may have been its biggest fault.  After 2 1/2 years of production, Ford stopped making it.

Ford Edsel

3.  Chevrolet Vega.  The Vega had an aluminum block engine that was revolutionary in its day.  There was really nothing wrong with the car mechanically, but the engine just did not sound right, possibly it was the louder than normal engine noise that was its downfall.

Chevrolet Vega

4. American Motors Gremlin.  American Motors was already on life support when it brought out this car.  It sporty look was supposed to appeal to the youthful buyer.  It did not appeal to much of anyone.

American Motors Gremlin

5.  Dodge Polara.  Dodge was desperately trying to compete with Ford and Chevy with this product.  Dodge and Plymouth both went quickly through several models in the early 1960s before it finally hit it right in 1964.  The Polara is but one of many failed attempts.

6.  Studebaker Avanti.  The Avanti was a car way ahead of its time.  It was well-built, fast, and good-looking.  The rest of Studebaker was on its last legs and people were simply not visiting the Studebaker showrooms to see this car.  The Avanti is a collector’s dream car as there were so few produced.

Studebaker Avanti

7. International Scout.  For a short while the International Harvester Corporation tried to convince Americans that it had a great family car.  The only problem was, this model was the only model it produced and aside from the Federal Government, virtually no one bought it.

International Scout

8.  Ford EXP.  Ford decided the American public was ripe for a two-seater car and introduced this one.  Its front wheel drive was unusual in its day.  The car was not particularly comfortable and could not carry much.  I know.  I bought one new.

Ford EXP

9.  Cadillac Cimarron.  Cadillac has a reputation, well-deserved, as a very well-made car meant for people of means.  GM, in its infinite wisdom, wanted to share luxury with the average person.  What we got was an Oldsmobile with a Cadillac logo.

Cadillac Cimarron

10.  Dodge Matador.  This was another of Chrysler Corp’s early 60s attempts, nuff said.

Dodge Matador

These next cars were not produced by Detroit but they just might rate as a some of the worst cars ever sold in the United States.

1.  VW Thing.  When Volkswagon stopped making the Beetle in the mid-70s it thought it would fill the gap with this little goodie.  It is actually a replica of a staff car commonly used by the Nazi military in the late 1930s until the end of World War 2.

Volkswagon Thing

2. Jugo.  Jugoslavia, always pro-western, wanted to enter the  American Auto market with this thing.  It was very inexpensive and was typical of automobiles made in Communist countries.  They were simply not at all reliable.  Think you have seen something similar from American automakers?  The car next to the Jugo is the Plymouth Horizon which was actually much better built.

JugoPlymouth Horizon

3.  Renault Le Car.  The French wanted to get the Renault into the United States after it acquired American Motors Corporation.  It was about as successful as any AMC car.

Renault Le Car

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