When you think of German cars you think of great stalwarts like the W123-E Class, the first-gen Golf GTI, and the 911 Carrera RS. You’d think this country would be incapable of making a bad car, but these ten prove otherwise.
This story was originally published on July 15, 2014
You’re probably thinking “has this guy gone mad? What’s a Cadillac doing on a list of the worst German cars?” However, this Caddy was made in Germany and was simply a rebadged Opel Omega. The Catera weighed 3,900 lbs and had to make do with a 200 hp V6.
The W201 generation Mercedes 190E was known for it’s excellent reliability and over-engineered brilliance. It’s successor the W202 C-Class was not known for either of those things, rather, it was known for dodgy electronics, and it’s propensity to rust. The cheapening of Mercedes began here.
We really could have given this spot to any of the DaimlerChrysler-era Mercedes failures but today it will go to the W203 C-Class coupe. It was Mercedes-Benz’s failed attempt at selling a cheap hatchback coupe for America, one of the least hatchback friendly nations on Earth. Not to mention that these cars weren’t exactly the most reliable things to come from Stuttgart.
This Mercedes became notorious for failing the “moose test,” a quick accident avoidance test that caused the A-Class to roll. Mercedes recalled all the cars sold and added a stability control system to the car to mitigate the problem, but the damage was already done.
I’ll let our man Patrick George drop some knowledge on why the Mk. IV Golf is on this list.
“This thing. Not because it was a bad car, because it and its fellow cars from that era were so unreliable they continue to haunt Volkswagen to this day.
Volkswagen wants to be a major brand in the U.S., to compete seriously in sales with Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet or Ford. They’ve even made their cars bigger and more boring to try and attract U.S. buyers. But a lot of potential customers still remember what maintenance nightmares their cars from the late 1990s and 2000s were.
They’ve gotten better since then, no question. But they still haven’t lived that reputation down.”
The Trabant isn’t just one of the worst German cars of all time, it’s one of the worst cars from any country. The Trabi had a pitiful two stroke engine which smoked like nothing else, needed oil every time you filled the gas tank, and didn’t even have a fuel pump. The fuel tank sat over the top of the engine and let gravity do its job. Communism at its finest.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!