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  1. #1
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    10 Cars That Damaged GM's Reputation

    Never owned any of below cars, but did own Ford Pinto. Really not a bad car, except when gear stick kept sticking.

    From Popular Mechanics.....

    GM has never had a stronger lineup of cars and trucks. But each of those cars is weighed down by the legacy of cars like the ten listed here.

    1. 1971-1977 Chevrolet Vega


    The art of building aluminum engine blocks was in its infancy back in 1971 and the unlined cylinder walls of Vega engines were scoring almost instantly. That led to lots of oil burned and early death for this engine. Throw in haphazard build quality and sheetmetal that you could practically hear rusting away, and the Vega truly rates as one of GM's great debacles.

    2. 1980-1985 X-Cars


    The problem wasn't so much the basic engineering of the X-Body cars as it was that no one apparently spent any time doing the detailed engineering that determines a car's success. So customers complained of disintegrating transmissions, suspension systems that seemed to wobble on their own mounts, and brakes that would make the whole car shudder every time they were applied.

    3. 1976-1987 Chevrolet Chevette


    The Chevrolet Chevette was already outdated when it appeared in 1976. Based on GM's "T" platform, it was a primitive, front-engine, rear-drive subcompact in a small-car world that was busy being revolutionized by front-drive cars such as the Honda Civic and Accord, Volkswagen Rabbit and Ford Fiesta. It was underpowered too, originally being offered with a 1.4-liter Four making 53 hp or a 1.6-liter version of the same engine rated at 70 hp.

    4. 1982-1988 Cadillac Cimarron


    There's nothing wrong with the idea of a smaller, more athletic Cadillac. But it was a terrible idea to rebadge the Chevrolet Cavalier and attempt to pawn it off as a true Cadillac.

    5. 1991-1995 Saturns


    Saturn's cars were thoroughly mediocre. Built around a steel space-frame with plastic body panels bolted on, there were gaps between the panels big enough to stick a hand through. Yes, the plastic panels were resistant to collision damage, but they discolored and faded quickly, and as they aged, they cracked. Beyond that, the first Saturns had four-cylinder engines that sounded like threshing machines but didn't make a lot of power. These cars were nothing special in either handling or looks, and they were neither particularly space- nor fuel-efficient.

    2001-2005 Pontiac Aztek


    While engineering the concept vehicle as a production machine, GM took an incredible wrong turn: the corporation decided to base the new Aztek on the existing platform of its front-drive minivans. And because the minivans had certain dimensions that would be expensive to change, the Aztek wound up with some of the most awkward dimensions imaginable.

    1978*-1985 Oldsmobile Diesel V-8s


    GM decided to base its new diesel V8 architecture on the existing gasoline Oldsmobile 5.7-liter V8's. Of course the modifications were extensive in order to handle the 22.5:1 compression ratio of diesel operationómuch stouter iron block, new cylinder heads, reinforced bottom endóbut it was still a series of modifications rather than a clean-sheet design. Soon after the 5.7-liter diesel V8 debuted in Oldsmobile full-size 88 and 98 models (during 1978), the engines started tearing themselves apart.

    8. 1981-1984 Cadillac V-8-6-4


    The technology was called "Modulated Displacement" back then, and the idea was that as engine load decreased, fewer cylinders in the engine would actually be fired to produce power. In other words, at full throttle, the "V-8-6-4" was a V8, as it reached speed it became a V6 and when cruising it was a V4. Unfortunately the solenoids and primitive electronics that were supposed to make this work rarely worked themselves. And even when the V-8-6-4 was running on all eight cylinders it was only making a laughable 140 hp.

    9. 2003-Present Hummer H2


    The problem with the H2 is that it's proudly politically incorrect in an era when the forces of political correctness are winning. The H2 gets crummy fuel mileage, its looks come straight out of the military at a time while the military is fighting an unpopular war, and it's freaking huge. When gas crested past $3 a gallon, the H2's sales cratered and they haven't recovered.

    10. 1997-1999 EV1


    With its aluminum structure, an incredibly aerodynamic body and a whole bunch of lead-acid batteries, the first-generation EV1 was able to go maybe 75 miles if driven with extreme care. The problem with the EV1 was that it was almost impossible to drive in traffic with anything approaching the ideal technique the car needed to stretch its range. So its real world range was often down around 40 miles and driving it was often a white-knuckle thrill ride as the driver tried to stretch out every last electron to make it to a charging station.

    10 Cars That Damaged GM's Reputation (With Video) - Popular Mechanics
    Last edited by Smokey; 12-16-2011 at 09:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    If GM had not ditched the EV-1, it might be the leader in electric or hybrid vehicles today. The EV-1 was not a bad car for a first generation effort.
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    3LB
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    Agree with all those, except that Ford or Chrysler has just as many. The one rig on that I find the most laughable is the H2. The original Hummer is a beast of a rig with beastly off-road capabilities. Civilians versions of the Hummer were so popular and waiting lists were so long, there was a ground swell of support in the '90s for a production model. So GM decided to design a squattier, boxier body with Hummer-esque trim, and stuck it on a conventional truck frame and suspension system. The only reason to own a rig as ugly as a Hummer is because of its badazz capabilities. Otherwise its a 4-wheel drive Aztec that gets sh!tty mileage. Thing is, it sold like mad its first two years, regardless of what it wasn't. Even extended-cab, full-size pickup guy thought they were a joke. Because nothing says "compensatory phallus" like commuting in a huge rig and you're not a farmer or a contractor.
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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Lets not forget about the Buick Skylark from the late 1990's which was killed off by the new GM executive Bob Lutz. He took one look at the car and said you have got to be kidding me and immediately put it out of its misery.

    And throw in the POS Chevy Astro Van and Pontiac Transport

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    Don't forget the Pontiac Fiero.
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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael View Post
    Don't forget the Pontiac Fiero.
    GM certainly dropped the ball on the Fiero. Hot looking car but a POS with a POS engine. Too bad they could not take a page out of the Toyota play book and have made it like the MR2.

    The american car companies always did things 1/2 a$$ and felt if they built it, people would buy it. What a bunch of schmucks the exec's were.
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    3LB
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    Look at the current crop of Fords. They may be reliable as far as I know, but they look horrible. Every Ford car not called Mustang looks like it was designed by AMC or by some Russian firm.
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    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3LB View Post
    Look at the current crop of Fords. They may be reliable as far as I know, but they look horrible. Every Ford car not called Mustang looks like it was designed by AMC or by some Russian firm.
    I figured that you were exaggerating and went to Ford's web page to prove you wrong.
    You are NOT wrong.
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    3LB
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackraven View Post
    GM certainly dropped the ball on the Fiero. Hot looking car but a POS with a POS engine.
    Good Call.

    The Fiero was a decent idea, but what happens with a lot of concepts like that, is that while a company signs off on an out-of-the-box project like the Fiero, some executive decides to freeze funding for a it midway through development, and the design team is left with watching the project tank, or 'going with what they got'. So it gets a stock pedestrian engine, drive train, suspension systems shared with other GM cars like the Citation, cooling system was an afterthought as well (a major source of trouble in an already cramped compartment). Being that the final product had to share parts with non-sport cars meant a rear suspension not capable of supporting the weight of an engine mounted to it and a front suspension not rated for anything other than commuting, resulting in terrible handling. The brakes were also shared with GM's compact car line. I think I remember Consumer Reports (?) writing that they'd tested utility vehicles with better braking times. I also believe reading that by the time they'd redesigned the car for '88 (resulting in a viable sports car) it was too little too late, the model was jinxed. The '87 and '88 models do have a pretty healthy fanbase. The few people I know of that bought the last models say that they're a real sleeper properly tweaked and modded.
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  10. #10
    RGA
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    I am fortunate to be living in Hong Kong where you don't need a car - in fact the only reason to own a car is if you want to get to where you're going 20 minutes later..

    My dad had one of those Oldsmobile Cutless V8 - what they didn't mention was that it was incredibly gutless and the rear window (4 door sedan) would not roll down past the halfway point - as if they cheaped out on the 4 door by converting the 2door and didn't account for the wheel well. Just a hopeless hopeless company.

    And the Pontiac Grand Am I had 1994 was the biggest pile of pooh I have purchased - worst thing I have ever bought. That car was an epic fail on so many many levels. I should have known it was going to be lousy when I asked them how much for a 1 year 20,000KM extended warranty - $2000. The Honda Civic I purchased after the Grand Am (1996) they charged $400 for 2 year 40,000 bumper to bumper - the Grand Am was only for Drive train. LOL. The Civic they went out to 8 years 160,000km which for 1996 was a loong warranty.

    Grand Am (I bought it with 20,000Km ex rental but MORE than fully maintained): In roughly 18 months sold at 54,000Km

    - roof pain peeling
    - front rotors and breaks needed to be replaced (TWICE) Put on backwards at the plant and so 100% braking on the front wheels
    - power door locks failed
    - power windows failed
    - Alternator needed to be replaced
    - constant rattles and squeaks from dashboard and rear folding seat that didn't quite lock right
    - passenger seat didn't lock in the roller - under heavy braking the seat would fly forward - although this would be advantageous if you wanted to kill the wife and have the car to blame.
    - ABS would occasionally lock (which umm defeats the purpose of the thing)
    - stereo failed - but that was no big deal since I was going to replace it anyway - but still.
    - under hard acceleration the car's front end would lift and veer left into on coming traffic - but I got use to that so just turned the wheel to the right to compensate.

    - I had one accident that was my fault. Driver in front of me was in a right turn lane yielding on an intersection. No one is coming. She starts to go. I looked left to see that no one was coming but I too my foot off the accelerator(auto tranny so it rolls forward. Woman stopped for no apparent reason and I rolled into the back of her track. Literally - ROLLING speed. I did not accelerate. A small scratch on her bumper - my car - the front end was smashed to the tune of $1800 and the hood needed to be replaced. 4km per hour if that. I am amazed the air bag didn't go off - if it it had it would have probably come loose and knocked my head off - so that is the bright side I suppose.

    The Civic - 3 years 90,000KM and I didn't even have to replace a brake pad and I did way more city driving in that car to boot. And it didn't weigh a whole lot less either. And it went up hills better despite being a 4 banger - I could only guess that it knew it was on a hill and stayed in second gear because it also didn't accelerate out of control going down hills either - it would stay at 70 if that's what you were going and you had to push the accelerator for it to speed up. I liked that grade logic or whatever it was called. Interestingly the Automatic was rated 1mpg better than their standard transmission. And the hatchback you can actually fit stuff into - the Grand Am had THEEE dumbest trunk layout ever. Completely useless. Too bad the new Civic is supposed to be a big pile of dung.

    The only other car I had that I liked was my mommy mobile Kia Rondo - that thing was comfortable, quiet, had nice power (V6) good fuel mileage (better than my Corolla in fact which is astonishing given the size and heft of the Kia) and the Rondo is extremely safe and storage capacity is insane - I got a full single bed in the back of that thing - box spring and mattress. I'd have no problem buying one of those again if I ever need to buy a car. Being owned by Hyundai probably helped with some of the QC because they were a disaster for a long time.

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    3LB
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    I agree with the Vega being #1, but number 2 (literally and figuratively) would be the Chevy Monza, all versions, but especially the V8 version. Seems Chevy was trying to capture the niche market of hobbyists that were putting V8s in Vegas. But two sparkplugs on either side were obscured by the engine mounts, requiring extreme measures for a sparkplug change. Add the fact that like so many cars from the mid-70s, it was quick to rust, even in the southern US.

    How did this POS miss the list?
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    RGA
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    They do these worst 10 GM lists and people are all fighting for another bunch that could have should have made it.

    Excluding trucks and sports cars I'd like to see a list of 10 GM cars that would be class leaders - or even 3. And you'd have to really try and make the case for anything.

    The Lemon Aid guide one year had exactly TWO cars get recommended. The Chevy Sprint which was made by Suzuki, and the Camaro (but only certain newer ones). The argument is that sports cars break down so you expect it but the car lives up to billing and is extremely safe. I don't know how their trucks do.

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    Picking on GM... that is not nice

    Easy, but not nice.

    The Vega had many fine attributes..... what other car could you inspect the front tires on by simply standing beside the car and looking straight down? And an engine that always ran like a new engine... because it was.

    The '81 Citation & Skylark were great cars because they helped you meet many people.... the people who repaired them for you....

    I switched to Toyota in 1991 and I got really lonely. And bored. It was Put gas in. Drive. Put gas in. Drive. Once in a while, change the oil, oil filter, airfilter, and... oh, yea, where are the sparkplugs? Then drive.... Put gas in. Drive. No involvement at all.... kinda like your refrigerator.....

    I wasn't gonna stand for that... so I got another Toy... but one that really goes.... kinda un-Toyota-like....

    Hey, our boat is GM big block!

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    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    Ford and Dodge were just as bad. There were many POS cars like the Dodge Colt, Ford EXP, Maverick, Chrysler K cars, I could go on and on.
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    RGA
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    Blackraven

    We had a few Fords and Dodge. Both were garbage. The Escort - man the driver seat broke. I am a bit chubby ok but I'm not that big. 220lbs about max in the holidays. The engine died at 100,000km and the transmission went at 30,000km. Always maintained so no excuses. The handle for the windo also broke in half. The list goes on. It's just so bad compared to a Civic. People complain that the Japanese cars cost more maybe a grand more to buy - okay but after 7 years owning it you'll get $3k more for it when you sell it so you still come out $2k ahead.

    The Dodge was the Ram V10 single cab. It did as advertised at least and the problems were relatively minor so can't complain too much - heater died and that was about it.

    Wait - we also had reasonable luck with the Aerostar. This was always rated badly but ours lasted 5 years without any notable issues. Same for the Kia Sedona which is very badly rated. Other than a sticky rear release the thing was trouble free. But it sucked Gas like you would not believe and the ride was quite loose.

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    3LB
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    I had an Escort GT. Nice looking car, but a real dog @ 110hp, it was also heavier than most cars in its class. It was aimed at the same market as the VW GTI and Honda CRX but both those cars had 20 more horsies and were 100lbs lighter. Then both those cars went to multi-valve engines, four-wheel disc brakes, etc. Hell, Mazda 323 would run circles around the Escort GT. My Escort was pretty reliable and got great mileage. But around the 80k mile mark, the seat bracket broke. It was covered under recall. Then in '90 or '91 Mazda started building them (on the 323 platform).

    The EXP was a crazy car. Yet another car that was underdeveloped under-engineered. Both Ford and GM underestimated Japan, then started throwing **** at the US market as if all we wanted was an American label.
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    3LB
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    After having slagged my '86 Escort Gt, I was rather pleased with it. It really could fit four adults. If I wanted more power, there was an aftermarket turbo kit (German models came with turbo and 4-wheel disc brakes) . The electrical system was decent enough. My engine had no problems until my wife started driving it. But that car made two trips cross-country, got 40 mpg, and was very good in the mountains with its 5-speed manual. I first drove from TN to WA in my '81 Mustang with it straight-six, single barrel carb, automatic transmission I was able to go 35 miles per hour uphill as soon as I hit Wyoming. When the wide and i started having kids, we bought an Aerostar, which also was an ok rig.
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    This was all disruptive innovation....

    Detroit did NOT want to sell you a small, modestly priced car. They wanted to sell you a Caddy Fleetwood, Continental, or similar. They had little interest in the lower priced products, so they neglected those lower market & lower profit segments to the benefit of the Japanese. Gradually the Japanese moved upmarket and now Toyota offers the Lexus 470 V8 etc which competes with Caddy, etc. Ditto Honda.

    Disruptive innovation is also how the minimills gradually displaced the large integrated steel mills.

    Read the book "Disruptive Innovation".

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