Thankfully I’ve never really owned a complete piece of shit car. I had a couple that started out OK, and I kept driving them until they became pieces of shit. And I had a Blazer that made me crazy. But I’ve been pretty lucky, overall.
I had a Chevy Luv truck that was, perhaps, my favorite vehicle. I don’t remember what model it was, probably 1981 or 1982. I bought it in West Virginia, shortly before I left for North Carolina. And I kept on driving it, until it started to literally disintegrate. The floor was rotting out, and mud would come flying into the cab whenever I drove during or after a rain. I’d routinely arrive at my destination wet and filthy.
I also went to war with General Motors over that truck, because the transmission went out in it, after something like 12,000 miles. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and they conducted a hearing on the matter. I was an absolute dipshit in his early 20s, going up against a team of GM lawyers. And I came out of that room practially holding a bloody rag to my ass. They probably spent $5000 to make sure they wouldn’t have to pay me $800. Or something.
But I loved that Luv. It was a great little truck, and I wish I still had it now. But once it started rotting away, and returning to the Earth, I traded it in on the first brand-new car I’d ever owned: a 1989 Hyundai Excel. It was dark blue, looked great, and was impossibly inexpensive.
My dad did not approve. A Korean car? Why not Mexican, or something engineered and manufactured in the Soviet Union? But it was reliable and comfortable, and was a make they didn’t even SELL in West Virginia in those days. I’d go home for a few days, and people would be fascinated by that thing. Until they found out it was Korean. Then there would be meaningful glances exchanged, and half-smirks galore.
Anyway, it was a good car until it reached 100,000 miles. It feels like the trouble started on the exact day it turned over from 99,999. Everything started coming apart on me, and I was paying crazy repair bills. It went from good car to absolute piece of shit almost literally overnight.
Eventually I was driving around with a case of oil in the trunk, and would have to add more to the engine multiple times per day. I parked it on the street when I was at home, because I didn’t want our driveway to be covered in motor oil. I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled. It would take a few hours, but the stuff would eventually transition from the car to the pavement below. I had people look at it, and the repair bill would’ve been more than the vehicle was worth. I needed to off-load that bastard, but still owed money on it.
I remember standing at a dealership, talking to a salesmen, and seeing a rivulet of oil coming down the hill from underneath my car, to where we were standing. I tried to be nonchalant about it, but it kept getting closer and closer. I could see it in my peripheral vision, inching toward our feet. I ended up trading it for an almost-new Mazda Protege, but had to roll the remainder of what I owed on the Hyundai into the new car. Somehow I’m probably still paying for that hunk o’ junk. And that’s not really even a joke.
But the worst vehicle I ever owned was purchased here, in Pennsylvania. It was an almost-new Chevy Blazer. I bought it from a real dealership, and it had a limited warranty. Which apparently means it’s limited to the problems you’re not currently encountering. That thing had electrical problems from the get-go. There was no issue with the engine or the transmission, or anything like that. But the electronics were all fucked-up in it. It made me insane. I wanted to roll it off a cliff, or set fire to it. I hated that thing with the intensity of a thousand suns. I know it’s not fair, but I’m not sure I’ll ever buy another GM product. It was a straight-up lemon.
What about you? Have you ever owned any rolling shitboxes? Please tell us about ’em. My brother had some terrible car that would start to overheat whenever he’d stop at a red light. There’d be smoke coming out from all four sides of the hood. Heh. Do you have any stories like that? If so, please share them in the comments section.
And I’m going back to work! Yes, there’s electricity in the air, my friends.
I’ll see you again on Thursday.
Have a great day!
Now playing in the bunker
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Skippy in WV says
There’s a guy around where I live that is one of those people who never throws anything away. He owns several houses and buildings around town. He has a Chevy Luv truck that looked like a rolling pile or rust. And the I few years ago – I noticed the truck now seems brand new. I think he paid to have the body fixed and repainted.
Vicki H. (@vfh159) says
My first car, just after graduating high school in 1973, was a delightful 1971 Datsun 510. A lovely pale green, four door automatic transmission model. The ignition system malfunctioned shortly after I started driving it and progressed to the point of my dad wiring in an old-school push button starter button. Eventually I started carrying an extra-long, heavy-duty flat-head screwdriver which I used to start it by arcing from the battery post to the solenoid or starter something like that–I can’t recall the exact sequence required now and I am NOT mechanical. I do remember burning myself quite a few times with a super-heated screwdriver. Pretty classy I was, popping the hood and whipping out my great big screwdriver wherever I went.
So far no rolling lemons. I’ve still got my first car–which I got (used, 1973 model year GM) about the time when you bought that hide-n-die (our nickname around here for those things). Had a neighbour who got two of them (Pony) when they first arrived, what hunks of crap. They spent more time in the shop than driving on the road. Aside from that, my daily drivers have always been 10+ years old. 1981 GMC is my current daily with an odometer that has rolled over more than once.
Root 66 says
Oh yeah, we had a 1989 Ford Aerostar. (I know I’ve mentioned it here before.) It was absolutely the most miserable hunk-o-junk that ever rolled off an assembly line. I’m quite certain it was demon-possessed, too! Me and several family members all contributed sacrificially to keep it on life support until we could eventually afford something else. Almost every single component went bad or was getting ready to. It was the first and LAST Ford that I’ll ever buy. It was the “Flying Dutchman” of minivans! My blood pressure just spiked by merely thinking about it!
Not Oprah says
Amen to that.I had bought one to tote around my 130 lb dog- what a piece of trash. Never a Ford again.I now stick to foreign made vehicles only – usually Nissans.
Oh boy, I had a Chevy Vega, back in, oh 1979 or so..I had to crawl under it to tighten the oil filter every 5 miles or so, it was dreadful. I got rid of it after I rolled it on an icy curve one night. What did I replace it with? A fucking AMC Gremlin..chartreuse in color. To this day, I cannot decide which car was worse.
77 Chevy Vega.
Standard transmission that couldn’t peel out from a stoplight going uphill in the rain…it would *chug*chug*chug its way into motion.
I had a Citroen whose engine would die in heavy rain, i.e. exactly when you don’t want to be standing on the shoulder with rolls of paper towels and cans of WD40 trying to get the electrics dry enough for the engine to run again. Mon dieu!
1975 Plymouth Duster was the worst, blew a head gasket at 17k miles, leaked oil from day one. Second worst, a 1971 VW van, fun to drive but couldn’t go 100 miles without a break down…the constant oil cooler leak was legendary. Best car…1960 Ford Falcon 3 speed on the column…about as complicated as a bird house, ugly as hell but reliable to a fault.
Had a ’74 Ford Pinto which would also die every time we had a good rain. But at least the gas tank didn’t explode, so I had that going for me. Stretched that thing out to 94K and was not about to get 1 mile more out of it. Then had a Nissan 200SX which had every bell & whistle imaginable but was in the shop more than out. When I finally traded it in the starter was shot and when the guy at the lot was haggling with me he wanted to take the car in and have his mechanics look at it. I told him if he shut it off he was buying it. Incredibly enough we still worked out a deal. Got a Chrysler Concorde that was just as bad as that one!
I had a Nissan 200SX Turbo that was one of the most fun to drive cars I’ve ever owned! It did burn a LOT of oil.
My first GM was also my last. 1994 GMC Sonoma 4×4. I had to trade it before the warranty ran out, because there was no way I would be able to afford to keep it running.
Probably my worst car was the 1974 Chevy Vega. It was a hatchback with the badass four-on-the-floor, and appropriately dark brown. One time while I was driving, smoke came billowing out from the hood; a wire had overheated and the plastic insulation was smoldering. On another occasion, it cut its own distributor in half. The transmission problem was my fault; I had hooked up the linkages incorrectly after working on the car, so now it wouldn’t shift at all. And I can’t remember if it was the Vega or the 1979 Ford Fiesta, but one of them taught me that carburetor icing is real.
The Fiesta was my first “good” car. I had a job by then, and was able to afford the staggering $2000 it cost. Even as a “good” car, it still broke its water pump shaft one night on the Taconic Parkway. That belt also drove the alternator, so the lights were running on battery until the battery died. At least it was a freezing-cold January night, so overheating was a non-issue.
My first car was a worn out Chevy Vega, and during that time Vegas were everywhere you looked. And then suddenly, as if from some sort of rapture event, they were all gone.
I was also Chevy Vega owner… a 1975 GT Hatchback it was dependable but went from zero to sixty in about a week. It also smelled like a lawnmower when driving any long distances. The worst car was a Pontiac 3000 1984 station wagon that cost us a fortune to replace components in a futile attempt to keep it running.
I had the car of my dreams, a Jaguar S-type that I adored. As long as she worked well it was like being enrobed in silk lingerie and buttery leather. It began to turn to shit toward the end of the warranty. The battery would completely die and be unable to be recharged and it would take the alternator out with it. It had to have a jaguar battery and each time it was $1500. The first two times it was on warranty. The four additional times it wasn’t.
In retrospect I’m not sure but maybe it could’ve been fixed better. I had even suggested that I thought the GPS was drawing power and I still suspect that may have been the case. So after the mechanic I’ve been going to for 30 years replaced all those transmissions I wound up selling the thing for practically nothing to his mechanic who had worked on it. I don’t want to know but I’m pretty sure somehow it was subsequently fixed. I don’t know, maybe I’m paranoid.
Bought a brand new Ford Explorer truck 2010(?) and when the odometer read 10000 the motor froze. Ford told the dealer not to look into the motor, just take it out and put it in the new motors crate and ship it back. Traded it for a Ford Flex. Within a thousand miles things started going wrong. Anti Theft, air bag sensor, drive train issues, driver side window, touch entry pad, heater, to name a few. Convoluted Lemon Law in Arkansas made it impossible to file against Ford.
My room mate in college called her Vega “Vagrant”
Vagrant! Ha.. good one!
I just leased a Hyundai Elantra and somehow I’m getting the feeling this may take top place is shit cars we’ve had. My old car had an exhaust leak and the replacement part was a lot more than the car was worth. So, 2 weeks ago, one minute I’m watching a movie on TV, the next I’m negotiating a lease. It happened that fast.
I hope the next 3 years aren’t met with frustration and heart ache.
The good news – this vehicle is completley devoid of any bells and whistles. The seats aren’t even automatic. Hopefully, that will cut down on shit going wrong with the car.
I too had a Vega, a ’74 white wagon with a roof rack and faux wood paneling. In high school. Envy of all of my friends. Ran on 3 cylinders until it died.
The worst was a 1995 Ford Windstar. Whatta piece of shit.
92 geo metro.
everything was falling apart and I was leaving pieces behind. The engine was burning oil and thick smoke was coming out of the exhaust. One day my muffler was so clogged that it just popped right out. A cop pulled me over because of the noise and started to explain that my car didn’t seem road worthy (safety regulations in ontario). I took a humorous tone and agreed, listing a few extra issues. I also explained that the car was going to the dump in the next week and she let me go.
although this was a shit car, it started all the time and never left me stranded. it just completely disintegrated within a short time lapse.
Never owned a lemon personally. Fords until Ford went to shit, then a 1968 Dodge Dart which is probably still running somewhere, and all Hondas since then. I was however, married to a woman who, without so much as a simple “fuck you”, came home with a used Audi. My dear, late, Old Man and I spent an entire weekend attempting to replace the windshield wiper motor, which was somehow integrated with the alternator, and, I swear, the carburetor. Many, many more repairs. At the end of Dad’s life, 35 years later, he swore the Audi was a contributing factor in his upcoming demise. As repair piled on repair, I did the math and got divorced. Although the ex and her attorney committed unspeakable acts on my butt while I was wearing trousers, I still came out ahead. Fuck Audi and the horse you end up riding if you own one.
Ford: my first-ever car was a beat-up 1967 Falcon. The first year’s insurance cost more than the purchase price, on account of me being 16. But the car was reasonably solid until it ate its own differential. Still, a relatively easy fix if you have access to another car to go to the junkyard.
Audi: I had been accustomed to doing my own car repairs, even for fairly big and complex jobs. I decided to be a big man and change the timing belt myself on this four-cam V6. Even with renting the many special tools, it was like they were paying me $1300 to do the job. I did the work in my driveway in 100 degree heat, and towards the end it started to rain. It took all afternoon. But it went well, the car ran great afterwards, but the belt broke after 30k miles or so because I must have done something wrong. Being a retard, I tried to restart the engine. This is an ‘interference engine’. $6000 later I had a driveable car. I blame myself more than the car, but still.
The Qweezy Mark says
’82 or ’83 Renault LeCar (Renault 5). Bought brand new and was overheating to the point of failure after the first couple of years. It was actually a fun little car for a short time and had a pretty cool fabric sunroof that would open up almost the entire top of the roof.
Threw a rod on The 10 outside of Houston in the summertime. Met it’s final demise in Binghamton, NY. Joe T. was there, I believe.
Lots of Vegas in here.
Viva los Vegas!
“vegas” is feminine form. . . s/b Viva las vegas. Roughly, “long live the meadows” or “celebrate the meadows” in at least one 19th century branch of Spanish.
And of course many Vegas are rusting in meadows around the world, and have been since the late ’70s.
Harley Squirrelnuts says
Hyundai: Korean for “piece of shit”.
I had a 2007 Nissan Frontier 4×4 that was an unbelievable shitbox. It had the little doors to get into the back seat and snow would blow through the gaps and freeze them shut. Which was kind of nice because once frozen they stopped rattling. Rain water pissed out from under the headliner onto my leg. It shed parts (expensive parts) at random- both of the taillights fell out, the bumper cover disappeared, a $500 box of charcoal (evap canister) fell off and exploded into a million bits (which lit up the check engine light which from that point on would never again shut off). It began to rust heavily after just a couple years, the transmission and rear diff had to be replaced. The radiator and many other miscellaneous things, too. I should add that this thing was maintained to the letter of the book and wasn’t abused… When I got rid of it (with just over 100,000 miles on it) it was in need of a head gasket (at best), or a cylinder head (most likely)…
Every morning when I woke up I’d look outside and pray that that piece of shit had been stolen over night. I had no idea they still built such garbage.
Harley you reminded me that hubster drove a BMW when we married. In the 80’s their logo was BMW-the ultimate driving machine. We changed that to BMW- the ultimate piece of shit.
I must be the only one to have had a Hyundai I loved. 2002 Santa Fe. I drove it until the day it just died, a hundred miles from home. Now I have a 2009 Pontiac Vibe. Except for the burning oil it seems to be doing, it is one of the best cars I have ever owned. The worst would be a 3 way tie between a 86 dodge caravan, 88 isuzu trooper, and 1984 Ford escort.
Thanks, Laina! You’ve given me hope about my car.
Automotive history for me began at 16 with my Dad’s Mustang… I’ve never had a lemon for my primary car… but I did have a Maserati that was nothing but a pretty mechanic invoice generator… I auctioned that POS off 3 times before a buyer stuck to it. The first couple of BMW’s I owned had window motors that would constantly go out and have to be replaced at $800 a pop… Current setup is a M6 and an F-150… I drive the F-150 more than the M6 but I only drive a few thousand miles a year since my office is 1 mile from my house and I am traveling 1/3 of the time.
CAR / Truck / Toys
1989 Mustang GT
2003 BMW 325i
2006 BMW 330i / 2007 Ford F-150
2012 BMW 335i convertible / 2008 Aston Martin N400
2014 BMW M6 Grand Coupe / 2016 Ford F-150 / 2009 Maserati Quattroporte
My 335i is an E90, before the ugly-ass hood bulge and the value-engineered trunk hinges. I’ve had a series of high-pressure fuel pump issues (well-documented online). Also fuel injectors, but that might not be systemic. I also had the electric water pump fail (who knew it was electric?). Now I’m hearing sounds that might be rear axle CV joints failing. The car only has 110k miles on it; it’s practically new!
Say what you like about the Quattroporte, but that engine sounds downright erotic even at idle. If they were available with a manual transmission, I’d be tempted to buy one. But you know what they say: In hell the police are German, the chefs are British and the engineers are Italian.
There’s a guy around here who drives a Phaeton that I assume he got for a song. It must be one busted seat motor away from the scrap heap. Interesting car though.
I guess it would be too “belt and suspenders” to ask a German engineer to design a manual backup system for seat adjustment; hell, the Wehrmacht didn’t have a backup plan when they invaded Poland — and I’m betting the song was Deutschland über Alles, which, oddly enough, is still less embarrassing than driving a Beamer.
love, as always,
By the way, this American notion of “bad British food” comes from GIs stationed in England in 1943 and onwards. The war actually started in 1939 (really, it did, look it up) so when the GIs arrived the little island in northern Europe had had no access to spices or citrus fruits or similar for quite some time. If you can grow it in Massachusetts you can grow it in England, anything else you’re out of luck. Some British food is boring, much isn’t.
What are the great indigenous American foods? Buffalo jerky and Indian corn? 😉
Candy floss to you John. Given Whitney’s invention of the cotton candy machine I think you can claim that one.
You can have anything made with blueberries too.