The 8 Most Memorable Car Failures of the 1980s

The 1980s was a decade of innovation and evolution for the automotive world. Yet, among the sleek sports cars, reliable family vehicles, and utilitarian trucks that graced the highways, some models missed the mark — and then some. From design disasters to reliability nightmares, these are the cars that, for all the wrong reasons, we’ll never forget.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12

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Famous for its gull-wing doors and its role in “Back to the Future,” the DMC-12 was less loved for its performance. It was underpowered for its price, had reliability issues, and the company’s bankruptcy only two years after launch didn’t help its reputation.

Cadillac Cimarron (1982-1988)

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Cadillac’s attempt at entering the compact luxury market was not well-received. The Cimarron was essentially a rebadged Chevrolet Cavalier sold at a much higher price. Consumers criticized it for its lack of power, poor handling, and the general incongruity of a compact economy car in Cadillac’s lineup.

1984 Pontiac Fiero

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The Fiero was initially praised for its mid-engine layout and fuel efficiency. However, it soon faced criticism for its lack of power, awkward handling due to suspension issues, and alarming reports of engine fires. Its poor reputation led to its discontinuation in 1988.

1982 Renault Fuego

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Despite its unique looks and some innovative features, the Fuego suffered from poor reliability, rust problems, and build quality issues. Its performance was also uninspiring, and the car quickly gained a negative reputation among consumers.

1980 AMC Pacer

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Originally introduced in the 1970s and carrying over into the 1980s, the Pacer was criticized for its unusual design and poor fuel economy. Despite its roomy interior, the car’s handling, performance, and overall reliability were also lacking.

1980 Ford Pinto

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While the Pinto’s infamous safety issues were mostly associated with the 1970s models, the car was produced until 1980. Despite an update in the late ’70s to fix the fuel tank design, Pinto’s reputation was tarnished and criticized for its overall poor build quality.

1983 Chrysler Imperial

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Although meant to be a luxury car, the Imperial was plagued with issues. Its fuel injection system was notoriously unreliable, leading to performance issues and frequent breakdowns. The car’s reputation for poor reliability and quality control issues led to disappointing sales.

1980 Maserati Biturbo

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An ambitious project by Maserati, the Biturbo was a luxury sports car offering high performance. However, it was plagued with reliability issues, especially concerning its twin-turbocharged engine and electrical system. Its poor reputation led to dwindling sales and damage to Maserati’s reputation

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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