Here we feature cars which had or were perceived to have fatal flaws which endangered the lives of people who drove them and also other road users.
No.10 Ferrari 458 Italia
The Ferrari 458 Italia is one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built but it had a serious problem initially. It had the tendency to catch fire.
The cause was traced to the adhesive used in the rear wheel arches and heat shield which could catch fire and in turn would deform the assemblies which then came in contact with the exhaust manifold and ignite. Ferrari recalled all 458s and fixed the problem by replacing the high-tec but combustible adhesive with rivets.
No.9 DeLorean DMC-12
The DelLorean is a very rare sight on the roads as there weren’t many sold in the first place itself. When you drive at high speed and, God forbid, you roll over the Delorean was the last car you would want to be in. It was impossible to escape from one as the small windows don’t allow this and the doors don’t open as hard as you may try.
Mercedes Benz took note of this and designed the door of its SLS model in such a way that the bolts holding them blow off so the doors can be pushed/pulled away making way for rescuing the passengers.
No.8 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer sometime back had a serious problem when many of them had a tendency of barrel rolling across highways without any warning. It was due to OEM tyres made by Firestone. Though the tyre company blamed Ford. The problem was traced to the tread separating from the tyres which made the vehicle flip over.
Ford recalled the vehicles and offered the owners to replace their tyres with new safer ones. Poor inflation of the tyres was thought to be behind the accidents. Bridgestone, Firestone’s parent company, issued advertisements reminding drivers to properly inflate their vehicle’s tyres.
No.7 BMW Isetta
The BMW Isetta was a micro car which had a door on the front. Driving it today on chock-a-block roads would have been disastrous if it met with an accident. There was no protection for the driver with the just a flimsy door in front of him. If he survived the impact there would have been no escape because the door would have been blocked by a car which banged into it.
The car was discontinued before it could meet any safety regulation test. But thankfully similar cars today have crumple zones which absorb the impact and keep the basic shell intact and thus save the occupants.
No.6 Jeep CJ
The original civilian jeeps, or CJs, had no protection whatsoever for its occupants. They lacked the safety of a roof, doors or roll bars which would have protected the passengers in the case of an accident.
But from 1970s onwards Jeep started fitting the Jeeps with safety equipment like 3-point seat belts and roll over bars. The most modern incarnation of the Jeep has a modern safety cage, better seats and seat belts for all occupants. Airbags, traction control and ABS are standard too.
No.5 Ford Pinto
Introduced in the 1970s after the oil crisis, the Pinto was Ford’s answer to booming popularity of small cars which were frugal. It was also seen as Ford’s response to the Japanese small cars which started invading the American shore in hordes. To cut costs the company cut corners and one of serious issue which cropped up was the lack of reinforcement around the fuel tank.
If in the case of a rear collision the tank would get punctured and the car could catch fire. Ford initially did not do anything about it but after much pressure recalled the cars in 1978 and fitted plastic reinforcement around the gas tank.
No.4 Suzuki Samurai
The Suzuki Samurai was introduced in the American market much before the boom for SUVs took off. This mini-SUV received negative publicity when it was declared by “Consumer Reports” that the vehicle rolled over when going into a turn. Overnight the sales of the Samurai hit rock-bottom.
To this day Suzuki hasn’t been able to crack the American SUV market. Suzuki never fixed the problem as it pulled out the Samurai from the US market. In reality, there was no problem from the start. “Consumer Reports” test drivers found the vehicle safe but they wanted a juicy story and tested it in such a way where it was bound to fail.
But the fact is that if you go into a corner at high speed in a top heavy vehicle it will roll over. That’s why modern SUVs have a stability-control system onboard to keep them on four wheels.
No.3 Chevrolet Corvair
In his book “Unsafe at Any Speed” Ralph Nader highlighted the dangers of driving a Chevrolet Corvair. He pointed out that the car’s rear engine layout and rear swing axle caused it to get out of line violently and crash which endangered the lives of the occupants.
The media, lawsuits and Congressional hearings put so much pressure on Chevrolet that the car was withdrawn in 1969. Most of the problems attributed to the Corvair were false just like in the case of the Samurai. Experts said that it handled well and was safe though rear-engined cars have handling issues but it was too late.
No.2 Yugo GV
The Yugo GV was a Fiat clone built by the now extinct Yugoslavs. It had outdated technology, the sheet metal was flimsy and construction woeful.
In crash tests it was found out that even at 49mph (80kmh) the engine, bumper and the wheels would be shoved inside the cabin. The manufacturer never made it safer and tightening US regulations resulted in the brand packing up and leaving for good.
No.1 Brilliance BS6
The Brilliance is a Chinese car maker and the BS6 model was released in the European market where it was put through a crash test which it failed miserably. The video of this crash test was uploaded on the net and it spread wide and far. The structural integrity of the car is astoundingly poor and it put paid to Chinese ambitions of dominating the world auto market.
BMW now has partnership with Brilliance to build cars for the rapidly growing Chinese market. This will ensure that the company will get the expertise to build safe cars which can compete with the best in the world.