Polk data announced this week that Ford Focus is the best-selling car in the world for the second year in a row, with sales topping 1,020,410 globally. And that got us thinking: What were the worst-selling cars of all time? Behold:
1. Cadillac Catera: 2001
Cars sold: 9,764
It's hard to say if the Cadillac Catera, created to open the stodgy old brand to a younger demographic, suffered more from its numerous recalls or its puzzling marketing campaign. Utilizing the line "the Caddy that zigs," the Catera's commercial featured Cindy Crawford (already an old-school model) talking to a cartoon wizard duck. Really.
2. Pontiac Aztek: 2005
Cars sold: 5,020
(CC BY: DVS1mn)
Created for younger drivers with an "outdoorsy" lifestyle, the Pontiac Aztek was quickly lampooned as one of the ugliest cars ever made. A writer from TIME, who was in the audience at the Detroit auto show when GM unveiled the Aztek, says he'll never forget the gasp he heard from the crowd. "This car could not have been more instantly hated if it had a Swastika tattoo on its forehead," he said. And Bloomberg reported that one GM official went on record as saying: "We'd fire the guy who greenlighted the Aztek if we could find anyone willing to admit it."
3. Yugo GV 1991
Cars sold: < 4,000
(CC BY: dave_7)
If you haven't heard of the Yugo GV, we're sorry to be the ones forcing you to make its acquaintance. The vehicle made its U.S. debut at the 1984 Los Angeles Auto Show, and has since made more "worst car" round-ups than any other vehicle on this list. NPR's Car Talk called it "the worst car of the millennium" and Popular Mechanics included it (along with the Cadillac Catera and the Pontiac Aztek) on its list of "Cars That Deserved to Fail."
The car's main problem can be summed up in one highly publicized story: In 1989, on a windy day in Michigan, a driver pulled her Yugo over on the Mackinac Bridge just in time for a 55 mile-an-hour gust of wind to blow the car over the edge. The driver was killed, and two years later, so was the Yugo.
4. Edsel: 1960
Cars sold: 2,848
(CC BY: Hugo90)
In its attempt to compete with GM's line of mid-sized autos, Ford created one of the biggest flops in automobile history: a car that was over-stylized, over-priced, and over-hyped. The advertising campaign, which coyly presented the car through a blurred lens or wrapped under a tarp, was such a flop that an "edsel" is now colloquially used to describe a product that seems perfect in theory, but fails in "real life."
5. Studebaker Wagonaire 1963-1966
Cars sold: 940
The Studebaker Wagonaire was a station wagon convertible (already a lot to swallow) — with the wrong part of the car converted. The roof slid forward, not back, creating a breezy feeling of freedom and luxury that could only be enjoyed by your luggage.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- The simple trick to making better decisions in every aspect of life
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Let us now praise Billy Joel
- How foreign aid screwed up Liberia's ability to fight Ebola
Subscribe to the Week