Ford’s Failed Attempts: A Look at the Brand’s Biggest Disappointments

Even the most iconic automakers, with legacies steeped in automotive brilliance, have faced a few bumps along the road. Synonymous with the American automotive industry, Ford Motor Company has delivered some of the most influential vehicles in history. However, not all of its models have managed to rev up the same level of enthusiasm or commercial success.

From infamous models that fell flat upon their debut to seemingly promising cars that couldn’t quite live up to expectations, we’ll explore Ford vehicles that didn’t quite hit the mark.

Ford Edsel (1958-1960)

Image Editorial Credit: Dee Dalasio /

The Edsel is one of the most notorious failures in auto history. Marketed as a new division that was supposed to fit just above Ford in prestige and price, the Edsel was plagued by production issues, quality problems, and a design that many consumers found unattractive. Ford lost millions on the Edsel and discontinued the brand after just three model years.

Ford Pinto (1971-1980)

Image Editorial Credit: Ken Morris /

Despite selling over 3 million units over its lifetime, the Pinto is considered a failure due to the damage it caused to Ford’s reputation in the 1970s. The Pinto was linked to dozens of deaths due to a design flaw that could cause the fuel tank to rupture and ignite in a rear-end collision.

Ford Mustang II (1974-1978)

Image Editorial Credit: Steve Lagreca /

Coming off the heels of the popular first-generation Mustang, the Mustang II was disappointed due to its lackluster performance and quality issues. It was based on the Pinto platform and was widely criticized for straying too far from the Mustang’s performance roots.

Ford Probe (1989-1997)

Image Editorial Credit: Dmytro Stoliarenko /

Initially designed as a potential replacement for the Mustang, the Probe was criticized for its Japanese design influence and lack of a V8 engine option. Sales were lackluster, and the Probe was discontinued after two generations.

Ford Five Hundred (2005-2007)

Image Editorial Credit: Art Konovalov /

The Five Hundred was meant to replace the popular Taurus, but consumers didn’t respond positively to the new name or the car’s bland styling and mediocre performance. Sales were poor, and Ford reintroduced the Taurus name on a redesigned model in 2008.

Ford Aspire (1994-1997)

Image Editorial Credit: nitinut380 /

The Aspire was a small, inexpensive car criticized for its lack of power and uninspired design. It failed to compete effectively in the subcompact car market and was discontinued after just a few years.

Ford Thunderbird (2002-2005)

Image Editorial Credit: Steve Lagreca /

Despite the initially strong interest, the revived Thunderbird didn’t live up to expectations. Criticized for its high price and lack of performance, sales rapidly declined after the first year, leading to its discontinuation.

Ford Flex (2009-2019)

Image Editorial Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Despite its unique design, the Flex struggled to find a broad audience. It had a polarizing boxy look, competing in a segment crowded with more conventional SUV designs.

Ford C-Max (2013-2018)

Image Editorial Credit: Darren Brode /

Ford’s hybrid and plug-in hybrid model didn’t manage to win over customers, mostly due to stiff competition from more efficient and established hybrid models like the Toyota Prius. It was also plagued by recalls and Ford’s overstated fuel efficiency claims.

This article originally appeared on MyCarMakesNoise.

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior 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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