Fifth-worst: 1971 Chevrolet Vega
The Vega preceded the Ion as a symbol of GM's failure in the small-car market.
It wasn't just the rust. The Vega had "an engine that couldn't hold oil in a car built with contempt for its buyers," says Edmunds.com. "It's the car that invited Americans to buy Toyotas and Hondas." Perhaps fifth-worst car of all time is too good for the Vega.
Oldham expresses some sympathy for the automaker. "GM was running the world back then, but there was an oil embargo at the same time as there was increased regulation. It was a tough time for the automobile, a tough time globally. U.S. automakers weren't ready for the fuel crisis, and new safety regulations came in simultaneously. They had to build small cars that their hearts weren't in."
"The Japanese were poised to pounce," Oldham says, and that is what they did.
By the way, Oldham mentioned that John Pearley Huffmann, who wrote Edmunds.com's story on the worst 100 cars, is also a former Vega owner. "He wanted the Vega to be No. 1," Oldham says. "He said he had one and he could watch it rusting around him."