Hyped Car Debuts That Were Spectacular Flops



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10. Opel Kadett

Opel Kadett was one of the best-selling European compact economy cars.



At first, Kadetts sold well but demand was soon gone.

American buyers soon turned to Japanese compacts.

It was cheap, decently equipped, durable, and easy to maintain.

For years, it enjoyed enormous popularity and was exported worldwide. (via AutoWeek).

9. DAF 600

DAF is a Dutch truck manufacturer that also produced cars at some point.



Photo: Flickr.

The 600 was a small, economy model with Vatiomatic transmission, which started a revolution.

In Europe, small and economical DAF 600 models equipped with automatic proved to be perfect city cars because they were easy to drive and park and cheap to maintain.

In the early ’60s, DAF entered the US market and established a network of 69 dealers.

However, it only sold a handful of cars before the decade ended (via Dyler).

8. Audi 5000

Today, Audi is one of the leading luxury brands of the American market. But in the late ’80s, the company was almost gone from US shores.



Photo: Car & Driver.

But in the late ’80s, the company was almost gone from US shores.

This was due to unintended acceleration and numerous crashes that resulted from that (via AutoSafety).

In 1986, “60 Minutes” ran a feature about Audi’s unintended acceleration on the popular 5000 model. The viewers didn’t see that the car was rigged and that the acceleration featured in the show wasn’t genuine.

7. Studebaker Avanti R2

In the early ’60s, Studebaker management invested in a luxury coupe to fight poor sales.



Photo: Mecum.

They thought that a fancy upscale model would attract customers to Studebaker.

So in 1962, the sleek, modern-looking Avanti was introduced.

The innovative design, construction, and technology were fascinating.

The car received praise from the motoring press.

The base version wasn’t very powerful, but soon Studebaker introduced a supercharged R2 option that delivered 289 HP (via Hymanltd).

6. Cadillac Catera

The ’90s were tough times for Cadillac. The foreign competition dominated the market and Cadillac products looked outdated and slow.



Photo: Auto WP.

Something had to be done. Cadillac decided to downsize and attack the BMW 5 series with a smaller and modern-looking car.

Such a car didn’t exist in the USA, so Cadillac turned to GM’s European division Opel for assistance (via Money Inc.).

In those days, Opel had an executive mid-size sedan called the Omega.

5. Subaru SVX

Introduced in 1991, SVX was an ambitious project and the first proper Subaru sports car.



Photo: Subaru.

It had futuristic styling and competent mechanics.

However, it had two fatal flaws.

It was equipped with a powerful 3.3-liter boxer engine with 231 HP and came with Subaru’s signature all-wheel-drive standard, but those weren’t enough (via SubaruSVX).

4. Acura ZDX

On sale for just three years, the ZDX attempted to present something between a sedan and a crossover SUV.



Photo: Flickr.

Honda’s luxury division Acura is known for elegant cars and quality products.

But it’s also known for a strange and pretty ugly model called ZDX.

Despite a good technical layout and decent power, buyers simply didn’t like the ZDX.

Acura managed to sell just 7,200 examples (via MotorBiscuit).

3. Isuzu VehiCROSS

Isuzu designed the VehiCross to be a totally modern and even futuristic off-roader



Photo: Auto WP.

Behind this strange name was an even stranger vehicle that was only sold in a three-door configuration with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and automatic transmission.

Isuzu designed the VehiCross to be a totally modern and even futuristic off-roader and gave it its best all-terrain technology and components.

2. Lincoln Blackwood

It failed as a truck since the bed was very small and unusable



Photo: Lincoln.

Back in the early 2000s, Lincoln found success with the Navigator, the golden standard of luxury SUVs at the time.

Wanting to capitalize on that success, somebody at Lincoln suggested building a pickup version and expanding the range.

The idea seemed pretty plausible and soon their prototypes were sent to testing.

The Lincoln used a Ford F-150 platform with the front end and cabin of the Navigator, but a custom truck bed that opened like doors and even had a power cover (via Motor Trend).

1. Ford Edsel

The Edsel story is one of the biggest commercial failures in the car business, even by today’s standards.



Photo: Mecum.

In the late ’50s, Ford launched the Edsel.

It was an upscale brand based on Ford and Mercury models to compete with Oldsmobile and Buick.

Ford invested over $400 million in design, development, and marketing.

But most of that money went to promote the Edsel and create unequaled hype among the car-buying public (via Money Inc.).

When Ford officially presented the car, people were puzzled.

The design was strange. The front end reminded folks of a public urinal.

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