They can't all be zingers.
Chevrolet has chalked up a long list of icons over the years. The Bel Air, Corvette, Camaro, Impala, Nova, SS, Silverado, and Suburban leap to mind. Chevrolet has also demonstrated it can do bread and butter cars well with models like the Volt and Malibu. However, Chevrolet also has built plenty of cars it would probably like us to forget. The malaise era provides some of Chevrolet's worst vehicles, but there are more modern curiosities to ponder as well, like the baffling badge-engineered Geo Metro Convertible.
Even some of Chevrolet's iconic nameplates have had their downs, and one that could easily have made this list is the Chevrolet Camaro dubbed the "Iron Duke." Someone at Chevrolet actually authorized a 4-cylinder Camaro with 90 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of around20 seconds.
Chevrolet has managed to screw up everything from Corvettes to trucks to minivans over the years. Here's a sample of our favorite disasters.
Not only was it one of Chevrolet's worst cars, but the Vega is also one of the worst cars ever built. Motor Trend named it Car Of The Year in 1971, and Chevy sold over two million of them between 1971 and 1977, proving just how wrong people can be. It was prone to rust, rattles developed on the way home from the dealers just before it started burning oil, and seeing them on the side of the road with steam pouring out the front was not uncommon.
The bottom line is that the Vega was a great idea that was incredibly poorly executed. Costs were cut, development was rushed, and the end result was a lot of bad tastes left in customer's mouths.
Looks certainly weren't a problem for the Chevrolet Monza when it went on sale in 1975. Its curse was a complete lack of power whether customers chose the Vega four-cylinder engine, the Buick V6, or the emissions regulation hampered Chevy small block V8. On top of that, poor chassis design and build quality put the nails in the Monza's coffin.
Due to its looks and aerodynamics, the Monza was popular with racers who could do something about the power but, for everyone else, it was a terrible car to own.
It was 1975 when the catalytic converter appeared on the Corvette, and Chevrolet didn't know how to use one and still make decent power. As a result, all the power and glory were sucked out until the 1980s. The 1979 model is the best selling model of all time, but from the dealer, it only laid down 185 horsepower. In 1974, the base 5.7-liter small-block V8 made 250 hp. It was a significant fall for such a beautiful car with a considerable reputation.
Much of the fault with malaise era cars can be palmed off on economic issues, increasing legislation, and gas shortages. Chevy wasn't the only company to suffer, but later on, the American automaker delivered some purely self-inflicted wounds. The Monte Carlo was one of them.
It's a car with no redeeming features and little to do with the nameplate's history. The turn of the century Monte Carlo was front-wheel-drive, made of plastic, and with styling that left a lot to be desired. As if to draw attention to the Monte Carlo's deficits, Chevrolet then proceeded to release several models "inspired" by contemporary Nascar drivers. The most absurd being the SS Earhardt Edition, which came with an extravagant paint and body kit and the number 3 emblazoned on the side.
The Chevrolet HHR was a bad idea that's time had come, and the polar opposite of a halo car. Chevy had seen the flawed success of the Chrysler PT Cruiser and decided it wanted its own retro-styled vehicle. So, it hired the man responsible for designing the PT Cruiser, Bryan Nesbitt, and put him to work to create something with a universal lack of appeal.
We could also talk about its lethargic drivetrain and woeful fuel economy, but you only need to look at it to understand how bad the HHR is.
The Chevrolet Tracker is one of the most forgettable cars the brand has marketed. From the ride quality to power and handling, everything about it is sub-par. The Tracker was a joint venture between General Motors of Canada and Suzuki, and the first generation available in America was actually a decent little off-roader. However, the first generation was, essentially, a Suzuki Sidekick, and the second was a Suzuki Vitara. However, the second generation had a rack and pinion steering system that was easily damaged when going off the road and negated the one highlight of the vehicle.
Once upon a time, Chevrolet's SS badge stood for Super Sport, and meant that the car it was displayed upon was something special. However, nothing could make the Malibu special. At best, the Malibu was an OK daily driver for people that don't really care about cars. The Malibu SS was simply a slightly faster daily driver for people that don't really care about cars. While it gained power in the form of a 3.9-liter V6 making 240 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque, it was laid down through the front wheels using a four-speed automatic transmission. There was slightly improved sports suspension, but, ultimately, the Malibu SS did its best to water down the idea of a performance Chevrolet trim.
The Aveo was designed and built by GM Daewoo in South Korea and rebadged with many different names throughout the world. As basic transportation, it wasn't terrible. However, it lacked any interesting points or benefits offered by other subcompacts available at the time, and performance was woefully underwhelming. We could describe it as the vanilla pudding of compact cars, when in fact it was an off-brand vanilla pudding designed by someone that had never actually tasted vanilla pudding and was working from an incomplete recipe.
The Urban Dictionary entry for the term "All show and no go" should simply be a picture of the Chevrolet SSR. When it was shown as a concept at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show, the reception was positive. However, nobody believed Chevrolet would actually put a roadster pickup truck with wide fenders and massive wheels into production. Chevrolet did, though, and excitement built right up until it showed up with a 5.3-liter V8 making just 300 hp to move a truck weighing more than two tons. To add insult to injury, the only transmission available was a slushy four-speed automatic.
Like the turn of the century Plymouth Prowler, Ford Thunderbird, and even the Chrysler PT Cruiser, Chevy missed the important ingredient that would make retro-styled vehicles like this cool. They needed some genuine power.
The Chevrolet Uplander was an awkward vehicle to look at and a clumsy vehicle to drive. It also featured an interior that was well out of date, and nowhere near the comfort level expected of a minivan, even if it's supposed to be a "Crossover Sport Van." Whether it was called the Saturn Relay, the Buick Terraza, or the Pontiac Montana, the Uplander was a terrible vehicle that was finally put out of its misery in 2008 for the American market after three years of low sales. It struggled on for another year in Canada and Mexico, but people weren't going to be fooled into an awful ride, bad interior, and comical turning circle for any longer.