The Car Talk web site, done by Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka "Click and Clack The Tappet Brothers"), has come out with their "Ten Worst Cars of the Millennium" list. The list is pretty funny. The quotes are from folks who voted. See if you ever owned any of these. (I had a Chevette once; it actually should have been listed much higher if everyone's was like mine.)

  • Number 10: VW Bus. 2.7%.
    "The flower stickers were the only things that held the car together."
    "The bus had no heat, blew over in the wind and used the driver's legs as its first line of defense in an accident."

  • Number 9: Renault Dauphine. 3.6%.
    "From a historical perspective, it's a shame that the French spent their Marshall Plan dollars on automaking."
    "A side impact by a bicycle totaled my Dauphine after only one year."

  • Number 8: Cadillac Cimmaron. 4.0%.
    "GM thought they could take a Chevy Cavalier, slap some Cadillac stuff on it, add an extra $5,000.00 and sell a bundle. Tragically enough, they pulled it off...for a while."
    "When we traded it in, my wife was upset because we didn't keep it long enough for her to buy a gun and shoot it."

  • Number 7: Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare. 4.1%.
    "This car began to rust while it was still in the showroom."

  • Number 6: Renault LeCar. 4.3%.
    "Like any French restaurant in America, it was overpriced, noisy, moody, and would put you in mortal danger if you had an accident with anything larger than a croissant."

  • Number 5: Chevy Chevette. 7.0%.
    "An engine surrounded by 4 pieces of drywall!"
    "The big winter of 82-83 froze all the Chevettes in my town like dumb ducks on an icy lake."

  • Number 4: AMC Gremlin. 8.5%.
    "Calling it a pregnant roller skate would be kind."
    "It was entirely possible to read a Russian novel during the pause between stepping on the gas and feeling any semblance of forward motion."

  • Number 3: Ford Pinto. 12.6%.
    "Dad had a baby-poop-orange Pinto the year that car thieves hit our street. Although a dozen cars were stolen in one night, ours was there the next morning, on a strangely empty block."
    "Remember that great Pinto bumper sticker, 'Hit Me and We Blow Up Together?'"
    "The car would do 75 mph in 2nd gear, shaking apart and sounding like a bat out of hell. In fourth gear, the top speed was 70 mph. What's wrong with this picture? You do the math."

  • Number 2: Chevy Vega. 15.8%.
    "As near as I could tell, the car was built from compressed rust."
    "My Chevy Vega actually broke in half going over railroad tracks. The whole rear end came around slightly to the front, sort of like a dog wagging its tail."
    "Burned so much oil, it was single handedly responsible for the formation of OPEC."

  • And the Number 1 Worst Car of the Millennium: Yugo. 33.7%.
    "At least it had heated rear windows, so your hands would stay warm while you pushed."

In Feb 1999 I found myself being driven round the streets of Moscow in a Lada of some sort. My Russian colleague who was behind the wheel continually heaped praise on the vehicle which he had only just acquired it transpired. During the short journey a number of incidents occurred, details of which as follows:

The first thing to go was the manual window winder which slipped its ratchet causing the vehicle to become instantly filled with freezing snow flurries. Soon the snow began to lie on the dashboard and seats.

Later whilst negotiating a roundabout the passenger door flew open for no apparent reason. Fortunately I had fastened the seat-belt after an earlier near miss.

Next the engine started revving at full tilt - again for no apparent reason. The driver hopped out and tinkered with something to fix it.

Finally the radio conked out which was a pity as it had successfully managed to drown out most of the noise caused by the incessant rattling of the various internal components.

The most surprising revelation came later however when the joyful owner (and I kid you not, he was positively beaming with car pride) corrected my assumption that the car was new-to-him and revealed that it was in fact brand new! He indignantly pointed to the 1000km reading on the dash as proof of this.

Fortunately I have never been back to check on his car's progress since. I wonder if time has been kind....

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