It was cheap. It was easy to buy (or the only thing you could afford, if you're a high schooler who just got his or her driver's license, a college kid, or are poor). Charitably, it can be called a car. Unfortunately, it tops out at about 40 miles per hour (45 if you're going downhill), it breaks down a lot, you get parking tickets for it while it's in drive, and you probably have to special-order replacement parts from overseas, since you're the only one in your time zone who was enough of a sucker to buy one (and cars like this are inevitably foreign, often from countries that no longer exist due to civil wars and political turmoil). The only reason it hasn't fallen apart yet is because the rust holds everything in place. Often it has some kind of cute or derogatory nickname. Sometimes, a car like this is referred to as a Rolls-Canardley: rolls down one hill, can 'ardly get up the next.
New drivers' first cars tend to be like this, due to not knowing any better, or — since most newbie drivers are in their teens or early twenties — they don't have enough money to buy a Cool Car. But even then, logic kicks them in the rear when they realize that the money spent on repairs could have been saved up for a nicer car in the first place.
The polar opposite of the Cool Car. Often found in Injun Country and Ruritanias, or in the parking lot of Honest John's Dealership. Expect My Car Hates Me to happen a lot.
The extent to which this is Truth in Television, like many car-related tropes, is largely the ghost of tropes past: it plays off pre-1980s notions of notoriously unreliable used cars which tend not to be true today. Also of note, cars that degrade to the state of disrepair often depicted on television would simply not be street-legal in any modern industrial country with an established vehicle safety code. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't people who still drive them.
Paradoxically, in both fiction and sometimes in real life, a person who operates any such alleged vehicle for any length of time can often become quite emotionally attached to it. Sometimes a person gets in touch with all the car's little quirks, such that only s/he can keep the heap running. Other times, it's just Stockholm Syndrome.
Ironically, this trope was codified by none other than the Ford Model T. Yes, the very car that put the world on wheels was considered obsolete and faintly ridiculous by the height of the silent film era and quickly became the Alleged Car in the hands of comedians like the Keystone Kops, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel And Hardy. They were cheap, disposable, intrinsically funny, and ironically enough the quirky brake, throttle, and transmission controls that made them seem so obsolete just happened to make them excellent stunt cars.
If it's a horse or a computer that gets this treatment, then you're respectively dealing with either The Alleged Steed or The Alleged Computer. If the car looks like this but is secretly a Cool Car, see What a Piece of Junk. A Chronically Crashed Car may become one of these if it gets repaired one too many times. Either this or a bicycle will be part of a Real Vehicle Reveal.
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Anime & Manga
The infamous "Yukarimobile" from Azumanga Daioh, which is actually owned by her parents and presumably owes the shape it's in to her driving. Hell, it's a miracle Yukari candrive the damn thing in the shape it's in. The way that thing gets camera treatment, it is the closest thing the series has to an outright villain. Not even Kimura-sensei is quite as traumatizing.
Coach Yamazakura's car in Slow Step. Bikes are faster and factories produce less exhaust.
In the manga of You're Under Arrest!, Natsumi ends up with one of these after getting her auto license - the car had been assembled out of discarded parts from numerous stolen vehicles. Then it gets customized by Miyuki...
Of all things, a historical armored vehicle in Girls Und Panzer. One of the viewpoint team's tanks is a Type 89 I-Go, an interwar Japanese tank intended to fight in China against infantry that was underarmed even by the standards of infantry at the time. It's regularly pitted against vehicles ten or more years younger and several orders of magnitude more capable. It's usually the first tank knocked out, and the go-to option when it encounters an enemy vehicle is trying (and often failing) to run.
Archie Andrews' jalopy in Archie Comics. Witness what happens when Archie tries to get it insured:
Insurer: What model is your car? Archie: Uh, let's see...It's a Ford, Chevy, Plymouth, Pierce Arrow, Packard, De Soto, Hudson- Insurer: Hold it! How many cars do you want to insure? Archie: Oh, it's only one car, but it's a collection of replacement parts from several junkyards. Insurer: Well, what year is it? Archie: Some of it dates back to 1926!
Originally, Archie's car was a 1916 Ford Model-T (which, when the Archie first appeared in 1941, would have made it believable 25 years old), but by 1983 the idea of a teenager having such a museum piece of a car was judged too hard to believe, so it was destroyed and replaced with a newer hot-rod. Today, Archie drives more of an aged Ford Mustang.
Donald Duck's famous 313. In one comic Donald manages to get the car to do 40 mph downhill, gets a ticket, and the cop remarks it's the first time he's ever given a speeding ticket to someone in a Belchfire Runabout (the make of car). In the story Recalled Wreck, Donald tells that he actually built the car himself from parts that by now are all out of production and can't be replaced. It's not hard to guess what happens to the parts next...
In Sin City, Gail has an unfortunate tendency to saddle Dwight with crappy cars when he's helping her. Once, during The Big Fat Kill she gave him a clapped out, abused and neglected 1957 Thunderbird on its last legs (Dwight mentions it was once a Cool Car, but had been abused so much it was now a junkyard wreck) which didn't even have enough gas to get him to the tar pits. She gives him a Beetle in similar condition (but with a full tank of gas).
Gaston Lagaffe's car (the picture for this page) is an old jalopy, a Fiat 509 from 1923 or '25 that goes so slow, pedestrians can outrace it. It leaks so much oil that one strip shows someone water-skiing in the car's oily wake.
The title character of Achille Talon drives a car that rolled off the assembly line in 1903 (the British-made Achilles, obviously chosen for its name). And it looks every year of its age.
The 1962 VW Microbus Jeremy and Hector are "restoring" in Zits. It has wildlife living in the engine compartment and creates its own smokescreen as it drives.
The Spider-Mobile. Unlike most examples on this page, it was actually pretty pimped out...just really uncool in being pointless (Spider-Man neither needs nor — as the arc in which the thing appeared showed — has the ability to drive a car) and corny looking. The butt of many jokes in hindsight.
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers went through a succession of old clunkers - Franklin needs a car and borrows Fat Freddy's '58 Ford, asking "Is your car working all right?" He replies "Hunh? Oh yeah, except the turn signals don't turn off by themselves. ...and there's no spare tire...and the speedometer's way off...and the windshield wipers don't work...(continues talking out the window)...and it pops out of gear, and you have to pump on the brakes two or three times before they start to work, and..."
I insist, though, that when in Transbelvia, the truly discriminating tourist is obligated to drive the national automobile, the one and only Belv. The Belv is the quintessential East European car, a tiny tin box with a two-stroke motor that sounds like a mimeograph machine on Self-Destruct and smells like a burning blackwall tire. This particular one had a four-speed manual gearbox that liked to crunch and jitter on shifts, brakes operated by cables, and no gauges that worked.
Non-car example: Midnight Green's dilapidated cart that he quite happily smashes into a tree.
In Futari Wa Pretty Cure Blue Moon, Mia's mother, Kirei, owns a dilapidated old van that barely works. Yoko, the resident car fanatic, can barely stand to look at it, and she's enlisted to fix it in its first appearance when it breaks down at an inconvenient time. Near the end of the story, though, this is turned around, as the team uses their finale powerup to turn it into a complete replica of the DaiVan, DaiFighter'sCool Car.
The Rusteze Bumper Ointment (Lightning McQueen's sponsor) tent from is full of rusty, beaten-up cars, much to McQueen's dismay. Ironically, his best friend is Mater, a similarly rusty, beaten-up tow truck.
The villains of the sequel are all notorious "lemons", such as Gremlins or Pacers. In fact, two baddies from this film are even known as Grem and Acer! The Dragon is based on a German microcar in which passengers always face the back.
Both vehicles in The Fox and the Hound probably qualify for this. The widow's is a really old truck, and Slade's is temperamental after the engine gets shot full of holes by the widow.
In Madagascar 2 the state of the plane the Penguin Commandos and the Zoo animals attempt to fly back to New York in is so bad that one of the signs it is not working is that its engine is no longer on fire. It also comes with several skeletons on board.
Kowalski: We've lost engine one... and engine two is no longer on fire...
Films — Live Action
The Millennium Falcon from Star Wars somehow manages to be both this and a Cool Ship; it's reputed to be the fastest ship in the galaxy, but there's always something wrong with it.
(hyperdrive groans, stutters, and fails to engage)
Leia: Watch what? Han: I think we're in trouble.
Lando: They told me they fixed it! It's not my fault!
Carries over to the Expanded Universe novels as well, introducing many Alleged Starfighters. Most notorious are the "Uglies;" starfighters cobbled together from the mismatched parts of production fighters, such as the TYE-wing (a TIE fighter's cockpit mated to a Y-wing's engine pods). To say the performance of these hacked up fighters is "subpar" would be a gross understatement. The TYE-wing is particularly bad because it combines the Y-Wing's terrible speed with the TIE's lack of shields and any weapons other than a pair of lasers. New Republic fighter pilots like to nickname it the "Die-wing".
Other fighters such as the Z-95 Headhunter qualified as Cool Starfighters in their prime, but by the time of most of the EU novels are now obsolete compared to the latest-model X-wings, A-wings and E-wings.
Adumari Blades ironically qualify as both Cool and Alleged Starfighters. They're state of the Adumari art, however said art lags behind the Empire and New Republic by several generations. A Blade taking on an X-wing is more or less the equivalent of a P-51 Mustang trying to fight an F-22 Raptor.
Back to the Falcon for a minute. As per the novel Millennium Falcon, which fills out a lot of its backstory, the Falcon is over a century old by the New Jedi Order series and has been completely rebuilt at least twice. She went haywire during her shakedown cruise and wrecked half the yard. She crashed on Nar Shaddaa and during this first rebuild had to have her main computer core supplemented with three reprogrammed droid brains that gave her the computer equivalent of schizophrenia. She crashed again in Jedi Search. She went through a second rebuild (stripped down to the frame and much of its structure replaced) immediately before the Black Fleet Crisis. Quite frankly, on a good day Han is happy the thing even starts, and remarks to Luke in Specter of the Past that for once the only thing broken on her is a switch Chewie got mad at.
Whatever Cool Car gets issued to Bond by Q invariably ends up as one of these by the time he's done with it.
Speaking of Citroën 2CV, the one driven by Soeur Clotilde in The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez is broken apart by the ride's end, losing its doors, wings, windscreen and the rear axle. Though it's mostly because the nun Drives Like Crazy.
Dragnet (1987). "After losing the two previous vehicles we had been issued, the only car the department would release to us at this point was an unmarked 1987 Yugo; a Yugoslavian import donated as a test vehicle by the government of that country and reflecting the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology."
The VW bus in Little Miss Sunshine has to be push started because it needed a new clutch, but the family would have missed Olive's contest if they had waited for it to be fixed. Also, the horn had a loose connection and beeped intermittently.
Subverted in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Sean's car is a rusty Monte Carlo that seems to be falling apart... until you realize it's a "sleeper car", that is, a car that looks bland at best, beaten-up at worst, but tricked out under the hood so much it can beat a brand-new Dodge Viper.
The second Enterprise is like this in Star Trek V, allegedly because it was a quick refit of another ship still under construction.
Andrew Steyn's car in The Gods Must Be Crazy! is nicknamed "The Antichrist" (for multiple reasons) or "Son Of A Mlakka" depending on who you ask.
As much a Cool Car as the DeLorean of Back to the Future is, it would always break down at the worst time. Apparently this is Truth in Television; real-life DeLoreans tended to be unreliable even before you attached massive amounts of barely-tested mad-science doodads to them. It's implied that Doc Brown installed some sort of override on the ignition; he fiddles under the dash and she starts right up, or the ignition wires are just that loose.
The title ship in Serenity. In both of the Book Ends, a piece of the ship simply falls off.
DJ Drake's AMC Gremlin in Looney Tunes: Back in Action gave revered Looney Tunes voicebox Mel Blanc an extra posthumous acting credit by looping the effects he did for Jack Benny's Maxwell (see below) as it pulled into frame. Apropos of nothing, the car was also a Shout Out, as its arrival was marked with a snippet of the "Gremlins Rag" (Joe Dante apparently couldn't resist a bit of self-reference).
Inverted in Wanted. The Lada driven by Fox in the train hunt scene is the quintessencial crappy car in (ex-)Soviet culture. Only she does some really crazy shit with this alleged vehicle: unbelievable stunts, ridiculous speed, aerobatics, you name it.
Denzel Washington's introductory movie, Carbon Copy, has one of these. Denzel's character purchased it for 14 dollars and a record player, leading his (white) father to reply, "you were overcharged." It has no horn, no brakes, a nonexistent paint job, coughs black smoke everywhere it goes, and becomes a permanently-converted convertible by the end of the film.
In Friday, Smokey's car barely runs, but he still installs an alarm.
Buford T. Justice's police cruiser in Smokey and the Bandit usually becomes one of these by the end of every movie, in one case being reduced to nothing but a chassis, engine, and wheels, but it still keeps going. The emergency lightbar also survives, but with no roof to put it on, he just has his son hold it over their heads from the passengers seat while he drives.
Ms. Norbury's car in a deleted scene from Mean Girls.
Axel Foley's "beat up old Chevy Nova" in Beverly Hills Cop. In one scene, he parks it on an incline and it starts to roll away. His ex-girlfriend Jeanette is apparently quite familiar with the car, as she asks him if he's still driving it.
The title character's car from Uncle Buck. It lets out a boom like a high powered rifle when the gas pedal is pressed and leaves a smokescreen the size of Kansas in its trail.
In the Hallmark movie Ice Dreams the main character has one of these.
Amy: What's wrong with my car? Amy's Mom: It's not a car, dear, it's a casualty.
"That son of a bitch would freeze up in the middle of summer on the equator!"
Turned completely on its head in Woody Allen's Sleeper. While on the run from (future dystopian) authorities, Woody's and Diane Keaton's characters discover what appears to be a dust covered, 200 year old, mid-Sixties vintage Volkswagon Beetle. When Woody turns the key in the ignition the car starts without a millisecond's hesitation and purrs happily. Woody observes, "Wow, they just don't make 'em like they used to."
Polish Communist film Mis (Teddy Bear), which generally sent up life in the Polish People's Republic, had a sequence in the opening credits where the hero sneezed and his Polish Fiat car fell apart in the middle of traffic.
Judge Dredd. At the beginning, when Dredd is demonstrating the Lawmaster bike to a class of cadets, the performance of that particular bike is a bit less than reliable.
Subverted with the "Bluesmobile" in The Blues Brothers - a decommissioned police car Elwood bought while Jake was in prison. Even though it looks rundown and the cigarette lighter doesn't work, it stands up to multiple high-speed chases and even keeps going after it throws a rod. The car finally falls to pieces once the brothers reach their destination in Chicago.
Sin City, Nancy Callahan says she is the only person who can keep her car running. The villain tries to kidnap her in it, it doesn't work out well for him. As in the books, it is a 1957 Chevy Nomad, which started life a Cool Car right from the factory.
Drowning Mona begins with a title card stating that the town where the movie takes place was a testbed for Yugo's American rollout ages ago. Once the film begins, every car in the film is a Yugo. The film climaxes in a low-speed Yugo car chase - with one Yugo requiring a push-start.
The minivan at the end of Project X, which is missing two doors and has had most of its paint scorched off. Thomas' parents force him to drive it to school as punishment, though his friends think it looks badass.
This scene from a little known New Zealand film called "Never Say die".
A common Texan joke involves a Texan bragging about the size of his ranch by explaining that it takes him all day to drive from his house to the end of his property, getting the reply "Yeah, I've had a car like that too..."
"Once you start driving a Toyota, you won't be able to stop." It certainly doesn't help that their motto is "moving forward".
"At least my Toyota has a manual transmission so if it runs away I can hit the brake and clutch, leaving both hands free for the wheel. Or the Rosary."
"How do you get a Yugo up to 60 mph? Push it off a cliff."
"Why do Yugos come with rear window defrosters? So the people pushing it can keep their hands warm."
Newton Pulsifer has a Wasabi. He praises its incredible gas mileage, but tends to gloss over the amount of time it spends being repaired; he also calls it Dick Turpin (after the British highwayman), because "wherever I go, I hold up traffic." At one point it's described as having been designed on that fateful day when Japan stopped copying Western designs and began coming up with their own, during the brief period of paradigm shift, and ended up with not only all the flaws of Western cars, but also some entirely new ones. Aside from the repair time, it also has a voice that recites, in a particularly bad Japanese accent, "Prease to frasten sleat-bert" regardless of whether the seat-belt is fastened, and an airbag system that deploys on dangerous occasions like when you're traveling slowly on a dry straight road but are about to crash because an airbag just deployed into your face. Newton's attempts to convince others to buy one are motivated by the idea that misery loves company.
Crowley drives a 1926 Bentley, which qualifies as a Cool Car. But near the end of the book, he drives it like mad to get from London to Tadfield during a huge traffic jam (including leaping through a wall of fire caused by a cursed motorway Crowley designed), and what's left of it afterwards definitely qualifies as an Alleged Car, assuming it qualifies as a car at all.
A third main character, Anathema Device, has an Alleged Bicycle possibly made of drainpipes. All three vehicles get better over the course of the book. Anathema's bicycle and Newton's Wasabi get better than new, with the Wasabi gaining ridiculous gas mileage and its warning system changing to pleasant-voiced haikus.
Shadow buys a "Pee-Oh-Ess" '83 Chevy Nova for $450 which "had almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock, and smelled faintly of bourbon, tobacco, and more strongly of something that reminded Shadow of bananas." It goes, and that's about all you can say for it.
There's also "a lumbering and ancient Winnebago, which smelled non-specifically but pervasively and unmistakably of male cat".
An a 1970 VW bus that "smelled of patchouli, of old incense and of rolling tobacco."
The Winnebago later gets traded for another car that is in absolutely horrible condition, but will continue to run as long as they keep filling it with oil.
Shadow also ends up buying another vehicle that is painted (poorly) a very ugly shade of purple. It's described as a color that a person would only choose while under the influence of many drugs.
Played with in The Big Over-Easy, where the protagonist drives a 1970s Austin Allegro that should fit this trope. He replaces it with another one, in showroom condition, in The Fourth Bear — it turns out it's only still running because he bought it from Dorian Gray and there's a picture of the car that suffers all the damage and breakdowns the car would otherwise be subject to. Over the course of the book, the damage sustained reaches such an extent that the picture collapses into an inter-dimensional portal, dragging the car and anyone in it to hell.
Thursday Next - Thursday's car is old, makes funny noises, came very cheap from a questionable second-hand car lot, and caught her attention because of a time loop in which she saw herself driving it. But she falls in love with it anyway because it's loudly colored and goes fast.
The Dresden Files has Harry Dresden's Beetle, complete with a cute nickname: The Blue Beetle. He can't drive anything else because magic screws up modern technology. Although this is never explicitly stated, it's possible that one of the reasons he's driving a Volkswagen instead of any other random older car is that the engine is farther away from him. Plus, Harry has stated that his mechanic can keep the Beetle running eight or nine days out of ten, which, as far as Harry's Walking Techbane status goes, makes the mechanic a miracle worker. Unfortunately, miracles have limits, and being compacted into a small ball is the Beetle's limit...
In the column "Lemon Harangue", he talks about his father's unerringly awful car buying instincts:
For example, my father was one of the very few Americans who bought the Hillman Minx, a wart-shaped British car with the same rakish, sporty appeal as a municipal parking garage but not as much pickup. Our Minx also had a Surprise Option Feature whereby the steering mechanism would disconnect itself at random moments, so you'd suddenly discover that you could spin the wheel all the way around in a playful circle without having any effect whatsoever on the front wheels... You don't see many Minxes around anymore, probably because the factory was bombed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
In ''Dave Barry Does Japan", he mentions that his own first new car was a Chevrolet Vega, which was "made of compressed rust".
He once owned a Fiat, which "rusted on the assembly line." It was easy to find in a crowded parking lot, as all he had to do was follow the sound of parts falling off.
In Markus Zusak's The Messenger, one of the narrator's friends owns a "shitbox blue Ford" of which he is intensely proud and protective - he goes berserk if anyone brings up its shortcomings within his earshot, even at a police officer who told him it wasn't roadworthy. He claims it's an antique, it appears to made from rust, it has a 0.5 percent chance of starting the first time you turn the key, it's often propped by bricks because the handbrake is broken, any replacement part would be worth more than the rest of the car itself put together, and it foils a bank robbery in the opening chapter because the robber chose it as his getaway vehicle and couldn't get it to start before the police arrived.
Stephen King's Cujo has a woman and her son trapped in one of these by a rabid Saint Bernard dog.
The evil, sentient title car in Christine, also by King, is a sort of twisted horror version of this trope. It completely takes over a geeky young car-lover's life with its constant demand for repairs and replacement parts, all while making him love it beyond reason. Futurama does a Shout Out: "And then... Honk honk! The car honked its own horn!"
In 11/22/63, every car Jake touches becomes this on the day of JFK's assassination, thanks to the past trying its damnedest to fight being changed.
In Ilya Ilf and Eugene Petrov's The Little Golden Calf, the Antelope Gnu was essentially what was considered The Alleged Car in the early 1930s Soviet Union. Unknown origins (allegedly Loren-Dietrich), but obviously heavily modified and jury-rigged, working unstably and finally exploding into small pieces of debris (and being rebuilt).
One set of Beachcomber columns describes the saga of the Alleged Ship Saucy Mrs Flobster, flagship of the Lots Road Power Station, and an attempt by the Government to sell her to Afghanistan. The ship is too waterlogged to burn, is missing vital components such as masts, sails, rudders and most of the hull, and the previous purchasers (Lichtenstein) offered sevenpence but pulled out when they saw what they'd be buying. It's only at the very end that anyone wonders why the Lots Road Power Station ever needed a navy in the first place.
Stephanie Plum frequently has one of these, due to her financial constraints and how frequently her cars get destroyed. Though this is also somewhat subverted by her Uncle Sandor's powder blue '53 Buick Roadmaster (aka Big Blue). This is the car she drives when her usual one is inevitably destroyed. The Buick is indestructible, though Stephanie absolutely hates it (mostly cause it's ugly and large). Women, especially Lula, share her disdain, while men unanimously love Big Blue.
In the short story "Tobermory" by Saki, one of the secrets that the eponymous talking cat elects to share is that one of the guests was only invited to the party because the hosts think that she is stupid enough to buy their alleged car, dubbed "The Envy of Sisyphus" because it goes quite nicely uphill, if you push it...
In Shoefly Pie, the Alleged car is a Dodge Dart, with the most valued component being the half pizza in the back. t didn't have problems driving (until they took it into a field and the driveshaft fell out), the floor was flintstones style, and the original color might possibly have been blue.
In William Gaddis's A Frolic of His Own, the protagonist's troublesome Japanese car, which runs over him, engendering a lawsuit, is called the Sosumi.
A subplot in the The Darkest Hours, a Spider Man novel written by Jim Butcher, involves Mary Jane Watson-Parker having to take her driving test so she can play Lady Macbeth for a theater company in Atlantic City. She surprises Peter by announcing that she had purchased a rusty, lime-green Gremlin. The Gremlin also turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun; when Spider-Man is almost killed by Mortia the Ancient, MJ ends up ramming into her with the Gremlin while quoting Lady Macbeth!
The protagonist of Laurie Halse Anderson's Catalyst has a Yugo named Bert, which she describes as "a tissue box on wheels with a bulimic hunger for motor oil."
The Doctor from Doctor Who apparently has a particular affection for this trope. In the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, he has a Trabant, as featured in the Real Life section of this trope page. Even better: he drives it during his stint as a single father and wealthy business consultant, working with the kind of people who drive "Porsches and BMWs", next to which the Trabant looks like "an old drunk uncle at a wedding". He keeps a ton of books in it and it often stalls (in one scene, his would-be-love interest is foiled by his generally oblivious personality and the fact he's preoccupied by trying to get the car to start), but at the end it comes through when the Doctor needs to go rescue his daughter from being whisked off the planet:
The Doctor smiled, and slammed his foot on the Trabant’s accelerator, astonishing the owners of the Audi he cruised past.
Genevive Robles from Bystander by Luke Green has her Termite, which is a discontinued model from 2011 in a story set in 2035. No parts are made for it so it consumes a lot of cash and paperwork to keep operational, especially given that over the course of the book it's in an earthquake and a blizzard, and narrowly misses being crushed by a flying hydraulic arm from a garbage truck. It is also stated to have an air conditioner that smells like ozone; at least once, Lucretia took a ride in it after being drunk and stuck in garbage truck, which couldn't have helped the smell.
In the early Spenser detective novels, Spenser drives several of these. The first was a 1968 Chevy convertible in such awful condition that everyone he meets remarks on it. He justifies keeping it by saying that if it gets damaged in the line of duty, he doesn't care all that much. He later wrecks a Subaru somewhere near the Charles River locks. By the 1990s, he's switched to something better, but he still loses cars with some frequency after that, and implies he's never too attached to them.
Carried over to the TV series; in one instance, Spenser complains that his car was nearly totaled, and Hawke quips, "that would be redundant."
In Wise Blood, Hazel Motes buys an old car for $200note accounting for inflation, about $1500 in 2011 money. He's quite proud of it, but no one else is impressed, and it's missing several seats.
In Daniel Pinkwater's Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario, one character purchases one during the course of the book. He gets it dirt cheap(less than a hundred dollars), on the condition that he has to wear a chicken suit whenever he drives it.
Jen from Extraordinary* has a car that stalls all the time, usually at the worst moments.
The Jetlag parody travel guide for Molvania makes mention of the national car, the Skumpta. The car is described as having a single headlight, a three cylinder engine, and a candlelit interior. The car is also said to have performed best out of four leading European car models in a crash test involving being driven into a wall at 60 kph, but that's because the car broke down repeatedly and never reached the wall.
The Joads' truck in The Grapes of Wrath, a boxy one-ton flatbed from the 1920s. Typical for the 1930's Dust Bowl migrations; vehicles of that era required a total engine rebuild every 20,000 miles or so and a new paint job every other year; and by the mid '30s it would've been operating on five or more years of deferred maintenance.
Bert and Cec's original cab in the first Phryne Fisher novel Cocaine Blues. In the second novel, Phryne buys them a new cab as thanks for their services, and because the first cab was a death trap.
Live Action TV
In The Middleman, Wendy has a Hruck Bugbear, which is made in the Balkans and described as "a poor man's Yugo". Her soon-to-be boyfriend Tyler likes it, but he seems to be the only one who does.
Giles' first car, a potentially very cool but dreadfully run-down Citroën DS, is one of these until it gets crashed by Spike in the Season 4 episode "A New Man." He replaces it with a Midlife Crisis Car, a BMW 3-series convertible (still used, but much more contemporary). The Citroën is also mocked in the Buffy tie-in novels. Oddly, it's actually totaled in one of them.
The entire series seems to revel in this trope. Xander and Oz have both confessed their own personal off-screen road-trip-gone-wrong stories that begin with their vehicles breaking down.
Zap Rowsdower's truck in the MST3K episode The Final Sacrifice does this. Mike and the bots waste no time in bashing the Rowsdower-mobile.
The Reliant Regal three-wheeled van owned by the main characters of Only Fools And Horses is a famous example, the So Bad, It's Good of the car world. It's popular enough that more than one Real Life Reliant Regal owner has painted his vehicle to look like it, and it came second only to the General Lee in a poll of the best-ever TV cars.
Mr. Bean's 1977 Mini, complete with latch and padlock door system and non-working handbrake, is constantly "The Alleged Car" in its repeated collisions with a certain Reliant Supervan.
Columbo drives a beat-up Peugot 403 convertible. He seems pleased to own a foreign car. In one episode, he drives it to a junkyard where a body has been found. A policeman tells him he'll have to dump his car there another day. Columbo is shocked at the idea that anyone could think his car was junk.
Oh... just one other thing... Peter Falk allegedly picked it out himself one day after having been picked as Columbo. He saw the car in a mechanic's shop where they were apparently using it as a test-bed/oversized paperweight, and thought that given Columbo's otherwise disheveled appearance, the car would be perfect. He bought it from the mechanics and drove it to the lot that day.
The title character of Harry O drives a rust-bucket roadster that's always either prominently featured in at least one scene, or conspicuous by its absence, with Harry riding the bus because it was in the shop.
Federal Marshall Mary Shannon drives a beat-up purple Ford Probe on In Plain Sight that is an ongoing topic of conversation.
Not a car per se, but Oliver's Hoyt-Clagwell tractor should count.
Oliver's car breaking down was the subject of at least one episode, in which Mrs. Douglas used her pancake batter to fix a blown head gasket, something of a great feat, considering her knowledge of cars was limited to referring to the gear shifter as a "pernundel" (because of the order of gears: P R N D L).
One episode features Jeremy Clarkson driving an FSO Polonez, a Polish-built Fiat 125 derivative that he was so unimpressed with that he decreed it be used to play conkers with the aid of an electromagnetic crane. It remains one of his least favourite cars, but later models (produced after The Great Politics Mess-Up) are significantly improved.
Another episode has a segment revolving around the question "Did the Communists ever produce a good car?", with said vehicles being tested, for maximum Cold War irony, around the former site of US nuclear missiles, the now closed RAF Greenham Common. The first two cars tested, a Lada Riva and a Moscvitch 408, lose a quarter-mile drag race to a dog. Other highlights included a car in which the door couldn't be closed (forcing Clarkson to drive with the front door open) and a tri-wheeled car covered in canvas. When all was said and done, they found the answer to the original question to be resounding no.
Later expanded upon with May and Clarkson trying out Chinese cars. The early attempts played the trope straight, the latest models were much better and thus averted the trope.
The presenters built their own alleged car in one episode: Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, an electric vehicle that, despite being a death trap, is fully street legal. It had a top speed of ten miles an hour, the aluminum body could blind the drivers, the seats were plastic lawn chairs, it couldn't go in reverse, it was insanely noisy, and it took 7 hours to recharge the ONE battery used to power the thing. It even got a proper review in Autocar; which noted that there were two ways it could take a corner: sliding out of control, or sliding out of control backwards, and that it could get in horrible accidents when going in a straight line.
Many of the show's legendary challenges center around the three hosts being given a very small amount of money to buy a car. They then have to to drive somewhere, completing challenges on the way:
The Toyota Land Cruiser aka "Donkey" from the Bolivia special. The engine hardly ever started, its prop shaft fell out, its differential exploded, and the list goes on.
One episode features the creations of the British Leyland company. James May's actually does fairly well, but Clarkson's loses a door. Twice.
All three vehicles in the Budget Supercar special. Clarkson's Maserati Merak lost when its engine disintegrated into a fine cloud of metal bits. Richard Hammond's Ferrarinote
Jeremy: It's not a Ferrari!
from the same episode had all the engine electronics fail; May's Lamborghini kept running out of electricity, though it was the only car that actually ran out of fuel rather than fail. However, following the episode, the Lamborghini was bought by a supercar enthusiast who restored it to working condition, and Hammond restored the Ferrari himself; meanwhile, Clarkson's Maserati was so far gone that it had to be broken up for scrap, so it definitely wins the Alleged Car crown for the episode.
Played with in the Albania episode, where the trio were asked to see which of three premium luxury cars (a Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes, and a Bentley) was best for a Leading Light in the Albanian Mafia. Bentley pulled-out due to not wanting to be associated with organized crime and a suffering a sudden sense-of-humor deficiency. Undeterred by this, Clarkson purchased a none-too-gently-used Yugo and for the rest of the episode they pretended this car was the example of the Bentley Mulsanne they were originally scheduled to test as a Take That for chickening-out.
And in a complete subversion of this (and the jokes against Toyota above in the Jokes folder) we have the Toyota Hilux. The first one certainly looked like this trope when Jeremy got it. However it was proven that it can't die no matter what you put it through. The little Determinator was driven down stairs, against rock walls, into a tree, lost to the tide, dropped from a crane, had a caravan dropped on it from a crane, hit by a wrecking ball, driven through a shed, set on fire, and dropped from a controlled demolition site. It still drives. Sure it has seawater in a headlight, the dash was destroyed, and there are dents and scrapes everywhere... but it runs. Later they used (new, fresh, and modified) Hilux to drive to the North Pole, and to an active volcano (...after that one also drove to the north pole).
Also subverted by the car Hammond bought in the Botswana episode, a 1963 Opel Kadett A. Dubbed "Oliver", he became attached to it and eventually took it with him back home to England. While dirt cheap, it survived unmodified and only had one major brake down because Hammond accidentally sank it in a river.
In the Alaska Special, Tanner's Chevy allegedly had a diesel engine. The fuel gauge even said it "diesel fuel only". It turned out to be a Chevy Small Block. He still won, and it was the only truck to finish.
The show has had some variation on "get a car for cheap/really cheap/obscenely cheap" as the central premise of an episode several times.
Rutledge got a Fiero/Ferrari mash-up kitcar for a "$5000 luxury car" challenge that had a leaking problem and struggled to reach 55 mph in the speed test.
The "obscenely cheap" version saw the hosts buying cars for just $500. Adam's puke-and-blood stained taxi cab (Tanner and Rutledge's cars had their fair shares of bodily fluids as well) had what he described as "a several minute delay between steering input and actual turning."
Episodes have been devoted to both "Worst Cars"*
featuring the underpowered Mustang II, the homely Aztek, and the notorious Yugo
and "Dangerous Drives"*
featuring the rollover-prone Samurai, the flammable Pinto, and the unstable Corvair
. In the former, the presenters bought the cars for each other and culminated in them trying to sell them at auction. In the latter, the flaws of each were played for maximum effect (and laughs) in a test drive, then each presenter was challenged to modify the car to eliminate the deficiency. Naturally, Hilarity Ensues.
The Sid & Marty Korfft Saturday morning show, Wonderbug, had Schlep-Car, a dune buggy that regularly left a trail of parts behind as it went.
The short-lived Channel 4 sitcom Hippies featured the "Ginkle", an exaggerated parody of the Trabant, which was incapable of driving more than thirty miles before breaking in half.
Jon Stewart says this about the Gremlin he had as a kid: "The car that existed only so that Pinto owners could have something to shit on." In his tribute to Bruce Springsteenduring the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, he expanded a little on this: "The Gremlin was a car that was invented for two reasons; one, birth control for young males; and two, it was invented so that the Pinto wouldn't feel so bad about itself."
The chevy that SClub got in Miami 7 and later sold in LA 7 was one of these. It had travelled nearly a million miles in its time, and when it reached that number, it unexpectedly transported itself and its occupants 40 years back in time.
In one episode of Chuck, Morgan buys a DeLorean with a stuck passenger door that cannot go over 22 miles per hour. Sort of a subversion in that Morgan considers it to be a Cool Car, and gets a Vanity License Plate for it.
Cowboy:(from the Village People) Hey, sorry about the Dodge out front. Kelly: Why, did you hit it? Cowboy: No. I'm just sorry about.
In truth, the car was actually a Plymouth Duster, an pretty desirable car.
Most cars on The Red Green Show. Many of these were repurposed on the "Handyman's Corner" segment. For instance, in this clip two alleged cars were combined to make a luxury mid-engine car. Red's own Possum Van was a prime example. Numerous references were made to the crappy cars driven by many of the other Lodge members, to the point where one of the books written by the show's creators noted that having an "old car that barely runs" confirms its driver as a member of Possum Lodge.
Another episode, on the Handyman's Corner, showed Red cutting two cars in half and interconnecting the steering to make a car with front and rear steering. It actually moved several feet.
Satan gives Ezekiel Stone one of these in one episode of Brimstone. At the end of the episode Ezekiel realises that it's the second damned soul Satan told him to reclaim that week, and shoots its "eyes" (headlights) out to send it back to Hell.
Gives us this lovely exchange:
Detective: Nice wheels, Stone.
Zeke Stone: The wheels are great. The car on top of 'em's crap.
The "Shitmobile".(1975 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door hardtop) It's missing the passenger side front door entirely, and requires a specific method of key turning to start it. It breaks down periodically, but is also shown to be nigh indestructible. The boys have knocked down parking meters and walls with it, and still been able to drive away.
Most of the cars in the show start out in good condition, but usually end up this way by the end of the season. Mr. Lahey's car ended up providing parts for the Shitmobile, and later his cop car ended up without a roof of any sort, which didn't stop any of the characters from driving it.
The Mythbusters seek out Alleged Cars for their explosions experiments. Those that are perfectly fine (such as Earl The Caddy, the Corvette from "Stinky Car", and the Fiat X1/9 from "Compact Compact") are soon rendered Alleged Cars.
Also fitting in this categories have been alleged snow plows, cranes, cement trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, war machines and every other kind of moving contraption.
The famous scene in the Fawlty Towers episode "Gourmet Night" where Basil Fawlty's car breaks down in the middle of the road. He then starts shouting at the car, kicks it and runs offscreen... Only to return a few seconds later with a tree branch to start hitting the car out of frustration.
In Doctor Who, Time Lords other than the Doctor see the TARDIS as one of these.
The Master: Overweight, underpowered museum piece... Might as well try to fly a second hand gas stove.
The Ghostmobile MK-I as seen in The Ghost Busters. It's a 1929 Willys Whippet that always has something wrong with it (usually the brakes).
Cedric's Hyundai on The Steve Harvey Show. It and Steve's El Dorado are never seen in the show. With Cedric's car, it has multiple bumper stickers on it to hold the body up and cover up its many dents, it frequently breaks down because Cedric tries to listen to the radio while he drives, and once it would not start simply because Cedric rolled the windows down. When he and Lovita are expecting their baby, she implors him to sell it but in the end, he keeps it and Lovita buys a used minivan.
The whorehouse-on-wheels in Tin Man that Cain "borrows" from DeMilo to get DG, Glitch, Raw and himself to the North from "Central City." It breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm, then probably suffered a permanent breakdown after getting Glitch and Cain back to the Witch's Tower, since it is never seen again.
One of the "contestants" on the fifth season of Canada's Worst Driver was nominated for owning several Alleged Cars. He proudly declared having never paid more than $400 for a car.
And even worse, the show itself frequently turns vehicles into Alleged Cars. Case in point, the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger respectively from seasons 6 and 7, which became progressively worse looking every episode.
In I Love Lucy, Fred is put in charge with buying a blue Cadillac convertible. The first tip-off is that he bought it for $300.
The Bluth Company's stair-car from Arrested Development. While it runs perfectly well, it's slow, very large (wrecking banners and signs suspended high up), guzzles gas like the 1970s full-size truck it is, hitchhikers hop onto the back of the car whenever it stops, and the driver has to start braking several minutes before they need to get to a full stop.
Starbug, the transport craft, may qualify as an alleged ship; it frequently breaks down or malfunctions and the interiors are as cramped and dingy as you'd expect from something built by the lowest bidder. Granted, much of the former two may be down to the number of crashes it's survived, but there can't be too many ships where going from Blue Alert to Red Alert involves changing the light bulb.
The original, pre-Chicken Walker Blue Midget also counts. It resembled a shabby cross between a chinook, a tank and the space shuttle, was cramped, slow and had a dodgy gearbox. Somehow. When it sprouted legs for Season VIII (and the remastered versions of I-III) it shed most of these qualities.
Although it's entirely possible that the man who designed the bits that make it fly and the guy who designed the legs never met, and only one of them was good at his job.
In Adam-12's "The Beast," Malloy and Reed are assigned the eponymous patrol car that's just a few hundred miles away from mandatory retirement. It's such a piece of junk that Malloy doesn't even want to be behind the wheel, one of the very few instances in the series where Reed drives the car.
Mr. Roper's car on Three's Company, which he briefly sells to the trio, gets worse every time it's described. One episode says the car must always have a passenger or it will tip over on the driver's side. A mechanic recommends against changing the oil because it's the only thing holding the car together.
On Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers quipped: "A highway safety spokesman said that if you have a Toyota, you should just stop driving it. Toyota owners said 'We're trying!'"
The Now Show talked about how they're saving money with the high-speed rail connection from London to Scotland by running it from London to Birmingham and having Toyota supply the brakes.
Barney Fife buys an alleged car (with a transmission full of sawdust) from an alleged sweet little old lady on The Andy Griffith Show. The seller claimed she only drove it on Sundays and was hoping someone could take care of it after her husband died. Everything seemed alright, until the thing literally started to fall apart as he drove...
A very similar plot happened on Matlock when Matlock's(played by Andy Griffith) neighbor Les Calhoun(played by Don Knotts) with the twist that Les is accused of murdered the guy who sold it to him.
Saturday Night Live also gave us the parody ad featuring The Adobe. "The sassy new Mexican import that's made out of clay!"
One episode of My Name Is Earl reveals that Earl and Joy once sold an alleged car to someone. When Earl goes to right this wrong, he discovers that the experience left the man bitter and pessimistic about mankind.
Simon's Fiat Cinquecento Hawaii in The Inbetweeners. Small, slow, yellow, missing one of its original doors (later replaced with a red one) and has a tape deck. It winds up in a lake in the finale. Still, it fares better than Neil's Vauxhall Nova which doesn't even have an engine.
There's a running gag in the 1980s cop show Hunter about the title character's horrible clunkers. Da Chief loathes him and so sticks him with awful cars, and sometimes it's even had more influence on the plot than just a gag - hard to have a Car Chase when your ride won't start (or the door won't even open, or piles of parts fall out of the bottom.) However, there were also so many instances of himcompletely demolishing cars in chase scenes that it's possibly Justified: you give this guy a car, it lasts two episodes tops, so you don't give him the best you've got.
On The Amazing Race, some of the cars the teams are given turn out to be this, and it's obviously quite deliberate. That is, when they're not doing Product Placement cars instead
In the earlier seasons of Boy Meets World it's mentioned a few times that Eric has one of these, but it is never actually seen onscreen.
On The Roy Rogers Show, there was Nellybelle, who was run down to the point she often refused to start. Hence Pat Brady's Catchphrase "Aw, NELLYBELLE!"
In the Dirk Gently TV series, Dirk drives an Austin Princess which he's had for at least sixteen years (and, given when the Princess was made, was presumably not new then). It rarely starts, when it does it's always in reverse, and Richard compares changing gears to Russian Roulette.
The gag continued on the spin-off George And Mildred with the Ropers's motorcycle and sidecar which was nicknamed 'Charles Bronson'. It alternately either wouldn't start or wouldn't stop.
In the Drake & Josh episode: "The Wedding", the titular duo borrows a friend's old 1970s Chevy El Camino that is in very poor condition. The car stalls in the middle of an isolated highway and they spend most of the episode's plot trying to find help or repair the car. The car catches fire while they try to repair it and the episode ends with them walking away from it in defeat.
In the Bones episode "The Woman in the Tunnel", Booth rents a car for his trip to London with Bones and is given an Austin Healy "the size of [his] thumb". Booth is very disappointed, as he has been expecting to drive an Astin Martin.
John Cleese's series How To Irritate People included a forerunner of the Monty Python Parrot Sketch — a salesman (Michael Palin) insists that the car he sold is perfectly fine, while the buyer (Graham Chapman) demonstrates first that the gear lever is loose, the brakes don't work, and finally that the doors fall off at the slightest touch.
A running gag on Whose Lineisit Anyway, particularly during the Sound Effect game tended to go one of two ways. If the car starting sound effect wasn't given, the guys would go and push it, while if it was given to early, it would drive off without anyone in it.
The Morris Minor in Madness' "Driving In My Car". One line sums it up: I'm satisfied I got this far. We are also frequently informed that it is "not quite a Jag-u-ar".
Sir Mix-a-Lot (he who cannot lie about liking big butts) has a track called "My Hooptie."
The Coup recorded a fantastic inversion of the Cruising In My Caddy type of song with Cars And Shoes, which lists off a series of increasingly terrible cars that they have owned, making the point that they're crap, but still better than walking.
"Two Ton Paperweight" by Psychostick.
My. Car. Is a PIECE OF SHIT!! Wan to drive you off a cliff, Watch you crash into a ravine, For the things you did to me, You, STUPID CAR!!
"My Chevette" by Audio Adrenaline.
Bottle Rockets' 1000 Dollar Car suggests you buy a good guitar instead, it'll take you farther.
''Oh, rust and smoke, the heater's broke, The door just flew away. I light a match, to see the dash, And then I start to pray. Frame is bent, the muffler went, The radio it's okay, Oh what fun it is to drive This rusty Chevrolet.
They also have "Yooper Snow Rocket", which is about The Alleged Snowmobile.
"500 (Shake baby shake)" by Lush, on the venerable Fiat Topolino:
When things are looking good there's always complications, I can't be with you so I'm at the railway station
And then there's Jonathan Richman's Dodge Veg-O-Matic:
I'm gonna tell you 'bout a car you'd best not buy. The brakes'll fall off and you will sigh. I'm gonna tell you 'bout a car that you won't like. You had best stay home, sir, better take your bike.
Arrogant Worms's song "Car Full of Pain" — complete with a verse describing how it is possessed by the Legions of Hell.
"There Ain't Nothin' Wrong with the Radio" by Aaron Tippin. The car's a wreck, but the radio works perfectly.
She needs a carburetor, a set of plug wires She's ridin' me around on four bald tires The wipers don't work and the horn don't blow But there ain't nothin' wrong with the radio
"Teardrops on My Old Car", a parody of Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on My Guitar. 
One Piece At A Time by Johnny Cash is a variation: He's put together a Cadillac by collecting parts over more than a decade. The car looks very strange by the time he's done; how it runs is not stated.
The 1957 Chevy pickup truck from the C.W. McCall song (which is really more of recitation set to music) "Classified":
Well, I kicked the tires and I got in the seat and set on a petrified apple core and found a bunch of field mice livin' in the glove compartment. He says, "Her shaft is bent and her rear end leaks, you can fix her quick with an oily rag. Use a nail as a starter; I lost the key. Don't pay no mind to that whirrin' sound. She use a little oil, but outside a' that, she's cherry."
The second verse of Billy Falcon's "Power Windows" is dedicated to one of these. The song goes on to say the car's owner doesn't need a Cool Car because he's found the Power of Love.
Jim White's "Corvair" is something of a deconstruction.
I got a Corvair in my yard
It hasn't run in 15 years
It's a home for the birds now
It's no longer a car.
Roberto Carlos' "Calhambeque" is about a man that gets an Alleged Car as a replacement after he sends his car to the repairshop, but ends up keeping the Alleged Car in lieu of the "normal" car.
The popular Tex-Mex singer, Selena had a song named 'Carcacha' (mexican word to refer to a run-down car, is somewhat offensive), the lyrics are entirely about a girl's boyfriend's car, which is the quintessence of the trope.
The chorus thranslates roughly to:
Carcacha, go step by step, don't stop "limping" forward.
Two of Red Fang's videos feature a 1979 Impala Station Wagon. They buy it for only a few hundred dollars in "Wires" and modify it with a plow to run over all sorts of stuff on an empty runway. In "Hank Is Dead" they outfit it with a loudspeaker and play while sending out flyers for an Air Guitar competition. It's one of the rare occasions where they take a beat up, tired old clunker and actively turn it into a CoolCar by force of will.
The Goon Show featured Henery Crun and Minnie Bannister at one point driving a vehicle that makes The Alleged Car look positively Bondworthy. Suffice to say, it's seen going at three miles an hour, and the wick in the engine goes out. Though given that, at various times, characters in the Goons drove pianos, brick walls, barrel organs and steam-driven rockets, an actual car, no matter what its condition, would have been fairly mundane.
Click and Clack deal with these a lot, including infamously Tom's Dodge Dart, which he appeared as in the Pixar movie Cars.
On his radio show, Jim Rome often tells the story of his Merkur XR4TI, which he calls "the worst car ever". (As an inside joke, Jim calls his production crew "the XR4TI Crew").
Amos And Andy's taxicab, forming the fleet for the Fresh Air Taxicab Company of America, Inc.
Jeremy Hotz's routine about his diesel-powered Chevette with a trailer hitch.
Comedian Lewis Black had his rental Plymouth Horizon stolen. When he filed a police report, they suggested the thief took it for a joyride.
"I said, 'You know, I don't think you're listening, asshole. The car is a Plymouth Horizon. It is not a joy to RIDE!' This is a car that goes 45 miles per hour with the wind; if you turn the air conditioning off you can supercharge the little fucker to 48."
He also mentioned "never [having] driven a car that's aqua."
Bill Cosby's bit from his 'Why is There Air' album about his first car, a 1942 Dodge he bought for $75, which wouldn't go over 50 mph.
Scott Faulconbridge had a routine where he talked about his car. It was worth about twenty bucks. After he filled it with gas.
In Adeptus Evangelion, this can be the Player's Evangelion if the player rolls poorly. It can be made by the lowest bidder or held together by duct tape (they're on the same table so it can't be both), have pressurized blood that squirts everywhere, lose bolts in battle that destroy nearby buildings, have a fractured mind, and be colored Neon Green.
BattleTech players may be familiar with the Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun, an alleged tank. Among its "virtues" are a fairly slow wheeled chassis that prevents it from traversing many types of terrain compounded by lack of a turret for its only weapon, a battery weak enough that its engine needs to keep running nonstop to keep it charged, and a tendency to reach the customer not quite fully assembled at times. (If you're lucky, somebody thought to include the bolts to fix the last components in place.) It arguably is one of the cheapest ways available to field an AC/20, but between its flaws and the fact that its big gun makes it an obvious fire magnet it's no surprise that many of its crews consider it a rolling coffin in-universe. All that said, it is not unreasonable when you consider that it is a real-life World War II era design.
Chez Geek from Steve Jackson Games includes, as one of the things you can spend your money on, a card representing "Harold the Hoopty Car". It's worth a lot of Slack (points), but it's very expensive, reduces your effective Income for each turn by 1, and every turn it has a one-in-six chance of breaking down beyond repair.
In the unlikely event that a vehicle from Paranoia (especially one from R&D) isn't one of these to begin with, then carrying around a handful of mildly unhinged T-shooters with secret society missions to waste each other will probably seriously damage the systems before long. The second edition sample adventure, for example, featured a six-legged Spider Tank submarine built by taking a van and bolting on legs; the bot brain is going senile, and there's a bewildering array of unlabeled and/or mixed-up controls and gauges (pushing down the gas pedal fires a torpedo, for example, and some of the levers snap off as soon as you try to pull them, and as usual the operating manual is above your security clearance).
The Smoogo Minima, from The Sims 2, is the cheapest car in the game, and a parody of this trope. Sims even have trouble closing the (apparently poorly fitted) door! Notably, it merely looks the part; other than the door and the way it impacts Sims' stats, it runs just the same as any other Sim-car.
The Sims 3 continues the tradition of having various cars of various expense available for purchase. Notably, the less expensive cars are indeed more likely to breakdown, meaning you might be late for work or school or whatever you're trying to get to, and you will get a negative moodlet.
Some of the cars in Grand Theft Auto qualify. They look ugly, and are painfully slow.
In Grand Theft Auto IV a few of the cars come in a 'beater' variant which is in horrible condition, with rusty bodywork, oxidized paint, missing panels and inferior performance (also, they backfire constantly). This one is a perfect example◊, and yes, that is duct-tape holding one of the windows in. And some of them even have alarms.
There's also beater Glendales and Sadlers found in San Andreas in the woods that can't be fixed due to them actually being separate, pre-damaged models internally named GLENSHIT and SADLSHIT respectively.
In The Simpsons Hit & Run, most vehicles which get destroyed are reduced to their frames, Buford T. Justice-style. They are still drivable, but have horrible acceleration, very low top speed, and terrible handling.
Gran Turismo 4 has many useless (from the game's viewpoint, that is) historic cars, including the Daimler Motor Carriage (1 HP!), Ford Model T, Daihatsu Midget I, Fiat 500F/R, Subaru 360, 1948 VW Beetle, 1954 Corvette, etc.
Forza Motorsport 4 has a couple famous Alleged Cars, like the Ford Pinto, the Chevrolet Corvair - famous for wrapping itself around trees due to massive oversteer tendencies, the Datsun 510, the Saab 99 Turbo, and the Mustang King Cobra. They all function fine, though they are painfully slow when stock - though some are absurdly fast once upgraded with more modern parts.
The third game also had a number of alleged cars, including the Fiat 131 Abarth, the aforementioned Datsun 510, the 1969 Toyota 2000GT, the Porsche 914/6, the Lotus Elan Sprint, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint.
In The Secret World, all three Transylvania zones feature two brands of cars: FSO Polonez and Trabant. Both remnants of bygone years that the region spent behind the Iron Curtain. They frequently appear rusted and cannibalised from parts of other cars of their brand. A sighting of a car different than these two is so rare, it only happens once or twice per zone.
Call of Duty has a rail shooter sequence where you ride in an alleged car through the French countryside while Germans in similarly shoddy cars chase after you.
The entire point of Bad Piggies is to build vehicular contraptions that will transport your pig across the screen. Even if you survive the trip, your vehicle often will not.
In Star Wars The Old Republic, the Bounty Hunter's personal starship is a D-5 Mantis, which they were required to steal during the Great Hunt. Despite supposedly being a rare and top-of-the-line vessel, their one has definitely seen a lot of better days and it's status as something of a rustbucket is lampshaded on several occasions.
The Murakami family's van in Kira Kira. The main characters have a lot of trouble with it, and predictably, it breaks down completely when they're already in the middle of their Darkest Hour.
Parodied with Strong Bad's car, the Gremlin, in Homestar Runner, which doesn't even seem to have an engine but is treated as a working car by its owner anyway.
Strong Bad: And that was our road trip. Or, more accurately our car trip, since we didn't go on any roads. Or, even more accurately, our car, since we didn't go on any trips either.
In Drive, the Machito is one of these, until the Emperor has it upgraded.
"Why aren't we shooting at them?" "Budget interlock. The computer recognizes Sam and won't let us shoot a missile that's worth more than the predicted value of his ship." "So what are we supposed to do? Take him down with rubber bands and paper clips?" "Still too expensive. The computer will only authorize up to spitwads."
Sam and Helix did manage to get it off the ground by themselves, an act they're very proud of. Unfortunately, the parade committee forced them to return the balloons shortly thereafter.
Comic Book Guy's car, a "Kremlin", isn't much better. As he brags in the game The Simpsons Hit & Run: "I cannot drive 55 because my car only goes to 38!" If you have the speedometer turned on while driving as him that's clearly not the case... but still.
Elderly Butt Monkey Hans Moleman has an AMC Gremlin that blew up when he stopped the car mere inches from being smashed into a tree.
Bart stole the engine from Skinner's car by tying it up to helium balloons. To which Skinner replies "That's a rebuilt Yugoslavian engine; there isn't even a Yugoslavia anymore! Bring it back at once!"
Fry: "I've never seen a supernova blow up, but if it's anything like my old Chevy Nova, it'll light up the night sky!"
Also in "Bendin' In The Wind" Fry finds an old VW dug up van with corpses in it.
Fry: Hey, Mister? Mind if I take this old van? Surly Man: Sure. You wanna dump the corpses out of theres, it's yourses. Fry: Yeah yeah, I've gotten used cars before.
Another episode features a "1991 La Toura", some vagueFrench car, as a running gag (oddly enough, modelled on a 1975 AMC Pacer) which barely works (justifiable in being a thousand years old).
Kim Possible - The Roth SL Coupe (a.k.a. 'the Sloth') Kim's father gives her in the episode "Car Alarm"... before the tweebs soup it up. Ron's scooter definitely qualifies as The Alleged Motorcycle.
In Daria, almost every car that doesn't belong to Daria's family is one of these.
Tom's Pinto. Tom also drives two different cars in the series that Daria both describes as something you'd want to get a tetanus shot before handling.
Also from from Daria: Mystik Spiral's affectionately named "Tank". It "was a van at one point", and breaks down so frequently that Jane has memorized the exact number of seconds you need to hit its dashboard to make it go again. Trent never worries about leaving it unlocked in streets for days at a time because no one ever wants to steal it.
The five-part DuckTales that introduces Gizmoduck sees Scrooge and Launchpad acquire an alleged spaceship.
In Dan Vs., nine times out of ten, the reason for Dan seeking revenge is due to something happening to his car, which is probably how it got to be in the condition it's in. People tend to assume it's been abandoned, and when it was accidentally donated to the Salvation Armed Forces, the volunteer responsible told him, "In my defense, no one would want to keep a vehicle like that."
Salvation Armed Forces Employee: We only received one car donation today, and it was not in drivable condition.
Dan: Yes! That's the one!
Stanley Ipkiss's indiscriminate-model clunker, complete with a portable driver's side door, from The Mask.
On ReBoot, Bob's car never works properly. He describes it as a classic, but it's a recurring gag that the thing never runs — not even when a virus is about to infect Bob and company and turn them to stone (they have to resort to Percussive Maintenance to get it going again).
The Total Drama series feature several alleged vehicles, though only one of them is a car:
The Lame-o-sine, complete with an obnoxious set of bull horns on the front.
The Boat of Losers, though it was probably in the best of shape compared to the other alleged vehicles.
The single prop plane in Island and the Total Drama Jumbo Jet are certainly less than airworthy, with the former's wings falling off after one flight & the latter's front-end falling off in the Action special.
The contestant-built bikes in "That's Off the Chain" were built from scrap materials. Some held together while others fell apart or blew up.
Wait Till Your Father Gets Home has Harry buy a real lemon from an Honest John's Dealership - in this instance a new car dealship - with faults ranging from defective ignition, bad original tires to malfunctioning fuel pump (though it's more the dealership and shady salesman that's the problem in the episode).
Victor and Hugo's van was prone to back-firing, rumbling and crashing, though that was mainly due to the brothers' inability to drive correctly, or even remember who was behind the wheel. Given this treatment, it was surprisingly resiliant and had a lot of Hammer Space in the rear.
Many of the above are based on the Yugo, also known as the Zastava Koral, or one several other Eastern European Cold War era cars that were exported to the West to raise foreign currency; the Yugo was merely the one that was actually sold the most (in the USA), and the first since The Sixties to make it to the United States, and was thus the best known (in the USA). Ironically, quite a few of these cars were licenced copies of Western European cars, most notably Fiats. Original Eastern Bloc exports were the Trabbi, the Skoda or possibly the Wartburg, though these seldom appeared outside Europe.
The Yugo, based on its reputation, was voted Worst Car Of The Millennium by Car Talk. (Truthfully, there have been worse cars. Not many, but they exist. While hardly a stellar machine, the Yugo wasn't a genuine disaster. Its poor reputation is often explained by it being uncaringly treated as a disposable car and never given even the most basic maintenance, like, say, an oil change.)
Jason Vuic, who wrote a book chronicling the history of the Yugo, noted that the Yugo at least passed U.S. safety and emissions tests, meaning it's at least better than the cars that don't get to be imported to the US because they can't meet basic standards. He also points out that the Yugo may have been a victim of bad timing more than anything else, arriving in the US just as other major car manufacturers were beginning to see the market demand for economy cars and that it did just well enough to survive for a few years and thus be remembered for failing, as car makes/models that fail from the get-go just vanish into consumer history without a trace. Vuic puts down the next entry as being worse...
The Subaru 360. When it was imported, it had to lose weight to under 1,000 pounds. Why? Because then it could be exempt from the safety regulations and be considered a motorcycle! Consumer Reports labeled it "Not Acceptable"; with its laughably feeble 16 hp engine, it's more likely than not to stall while trying to climb a mildly-steep hill. Both the 360 and the Yugo were imported largely through the financing of Malcom Bricklin (You'll see him again later on the list) who apparently never found a car he didn't think he could sell....
The Citroen 2CV, the vehicle which inspired this trope, fits this trope very well in some aspects, though others were averted; mainly, the 2CV was easy and cheap to repair and somewhat more reliable than its competitors, and with all the broken-down and abandoned ones, combined with minimal changes to its design over its production life, made it a good purchase for anyone with a low budget. Still, it did have extreme flaws: early models used a small engine and had doors without locks, so anyone could steal the car simply by opening the door and pulling the ignition cord, which might be indicative of just how confident the manufacturers were that thieves wouldn't find it to be a car worth stealing. It's also remembered for inspiring the term "lemon" ("citron" being the French word for it and obviously resembling the brand's name), though said term apparently dates back to at least 1906.
There was a parody of the famous Citroen "Dancing Transformer" ad that featured a 2CV. It held up surprisingly well until the end...
The Lamborghini Espada. Don't let the maker fool you out that it's a Cool Car, because this bull sucked; the glass in the door panels can shatter if bumped in a car park, the engine starved itself of oil, body corrosion set in quickly causing electrical faults to all the switches, which had a goofy placement layout as well. Proof that anyone who isn't careful can build an Alleged Car.
For added fun, the name "Espada" comes from Spanish and refers to the sword used to kill bulls.
The Trabant, vehicle of "choice" for East Germans before the country collapsed. Affectionately called "Trabbi", it would seem like this car was designed as a Communist backlash against Western cars — which then embodied the capitalist principles of freedom and prestige — by creating a car whose sole and only purpose was moving people from A to B (noisily, and with an exhaust plume trailing all the way back from B to A). There are a number of reasons it qualifies:
The engine was a two-stroke, 15-20 hp, 0.5-liter in-line 2 cylinder with a fuel efficiency of 34 mpg (7 liters/100 km, 14.28 km/l) — same as a modern 150 hp, 1.8-liter L4. Top speed was 112 km/h (70 mph — even a modern compact can reach 110 mph / 170 km/h), and acceleration was 0 to 60 mph in 60 seconds. Quite ideal for the limited number of destinations avaiable, for a country that asked for travelling passes to cross the state borders.
The engine was so weak, they had to resort to plastic instead of metal for the hull. And forget about modern polymers — we're talking about whatever was available in the 1960s, including wool and wood pulp. Later models were made with molds that had expired their lifetime two times, making the results extremely flawed and unreliable. On the flipside, you didn't have to wash it — just wait for the next patch of rain.
This was also due to a shortage of metal, since East Germany lacked any sources of suitable metals for car bodies or engines, and had to import it. That cost real money, since nobody is as hard-nosed as a Communist when it comes to trade deals.
No brake lights or turn signals, which would make it illegal to even drive in some countries.
There are two camps of modern-day Trabant owners: one that chooses to keep the original engine in mint condition due to that German cultural phenomenon known as "Ostalgie", "nostalgia for the East"; and a more pragmatic camp that replaces the engine with modern L4 or Japanese superbike engines (a popular choice being the "Trabusa", a Trabant with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine).
The Trabant, needless to say, met its rapid demise when the Wall fell and Communist Germany's Trabant was put to compete against Capitalist Germany's Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche. What was funny was that a couple of German motoring journalists took the "Trabbi" through the notorious "moose test" - where a car is swerved very sharply to avoid an obstacle - and passed with flying colours. Even funnier was that the 1997 Mercedes A-Class, with engineering among the world's best, didn't.
It was said that back when there was an East Germany, you could actually "buy" a Trabant by trading a brand-new pair of western-made blue jeans like Levis, Sasson, or one of the other major brands. The car's owner would give you the car, the keys, and the title...and most likely he got the better end of the deal.
Production capacity at the factory was so poor that when you ordered a Trabant, it could take several years to be delivered. As a result, second-hand examples could actually sell for more than a new one by virtue of actually existing.
After the German Reunification, The Trabant's value dropped to the point that you could buy one for as little as 50 cents American, and thousands more were abandoned roadside or junked.
While Škoda actually did build good and reliable cars, it gained this reputation to some degree due to the dated looks of its 1970s and 1980s models. It has now lost it with better cars since becoming part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group. However, it hasn't lost its sense of humour, and it shows in many of its adverts: a popular one in the UK went "it's a Škoda, honest".
Recently, it seems Škoda vehicles are becoming too good, with parent company Volkswagen forcing Škoda to limit the quality of new models for fear of them competing with Volkswagen!
Rather amusing, since these days, most Škodas are built on last generation VWs. The Fabia, for example, is a Mark IV Golf underneath the skin.
The Edsel's gotten a Shout Out in everything from Garfield to Destroy All Humans! as one of the worst cars ever made. Ironically, it wasn't that bad a car from a mechanical standpoint (it is said to have roughly the same level of reliability as other American cars of its day), it just was marketed wrong, priced wrong, named wrong and, most of all, just plain ugly. Said ugliness? In an effort to create a distinct look for the car, the designers incorporated a huge, bulbous, vertically-oriented chromed grille in the front fascia. The designers called this an "impact ring", the public just called it "hideous". Some said it looked like a "Pontiac sucking a lemon", others less-charitably compared it to a toilet seat. To make it even worse, Ford didn't have any dedicated factories for producing Edsels, so they were crammed onto existing production lines intended for Mercury and Lincoln vehicles. This led to a high number of manufacturing defects: doors that wouldn't open, trunks that wouldn't stay shut, push-buttons that wouldn't do anything, etc. This combination of building inexperience and confusion in the supply chains also meant some Edsels arrived at car lots incomplete, missing things like exhaust or bits of trim that had to be installed by the dealers themselves before they could even sell them. The Edsel line lasted only 2 and a half years and cost Ford a fortune. The Book of Heroic Failures quotes Time magazine as calling it "a classic case of the wrong car for the wrong market at the wrong time".
Probably the only good thing was how the Edsel was promoted — a TV special featuring a plethora of the era's biggest stars, including Bing Crosby. The Edsel Show did well in the ratings; the car itself didn't.
Much of the Edsel's misfortune was its introduction just as America was souring on huge over-the-top land yachts. Ford introduced the sensible compact Falcon for the 1960 model year and it was an immediate success - the fancier sibling Comet became a Mercury, but had been considered for the Edsel lineup, an interesting case of What Might Have Been.
The Edisons of Maniac Mansion also had an Edsel, although it wasn't bad (it just kept with the whole "Ed" theme) and even has rocket thrusters! It's a feature you need to use for one of the endings.
In the early 1970s, when the oil crisis forced American manufacturers to crank out small cars or die, the Chevy Vega, AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto were, in truth, no worse than any other compact of the era. The Pinto coupes and sedans, though, had a defect that caused the gas tank to be ruptured by a differential bolt in a rear end collision, coupled with a lack of a proper bumper, causing the fuel to ignite from the friction in a severe rear end collision (just fire, no explosion). The wagons and related Mustang II and Mercury Bobcat never had the fault, since the gas tanks were in a different location and the use of heavier heavier bumpers.
There were exactly 27 deaths from such accidents between 1971 and 1977 (out of over 2 million units sold), and overall, the Pinto was no less safe than any other compact of the era (the NHTSA deemed it to have no recallable faults in 1974), and the damages Ford was made to pay were $2.5 million in compensatory and $3.5 million in punitive in the Grimshaw v. Ford case, and compared that to recalling two million Pintos for barely justified repairs costing $11 per vehicle alone, plus the costs of a recall and all other associated costs, as detailed in the so-called Pinto Memo, which wasn't about the Pinto specifically, and addressed improving vehicle safety in rollovers, and was submitted to the NHTSA.
The 1980 Chevy Citation and its Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick derivatives, intended as GM's world-beating answer to the Honda Accord, was instead a world-beating mashup of poor engineering and atrocious build quality. Among its many flaws were over-enthusiastic rear brakes that would lock up and cause an "atomic death-skid" at the slightest provocation. If that weren't enough, they were also known to rust out quickly and have mechanical issues, particularly failing head gaskets. Having the same name as a term for a parking ticket probably didn't help, either.
Ford (Jokingly referred to as an acronym for "Found On Road Dead" or "Fix Or Repair Daily) seems to have had a problem with quality control, at least at its British assembly plant, well into the 1980s; the phrase 'Friday afternoon car' is alleged to have originated with their products.
With Honda motorcycles you can occasionally encounter the 'Friday Afternoon Design': a part from one model that almost fits earlier or later models, but is subtly different for no apparent reason.
This typifies the whole post-war British car industry, resulting in Morgan being the only remaining wholly national car company, the rest either having gone under or being bought out.
The problems weren't exclusive to the British-produced Fords, either. Ford automobiles were well-known for electrical system defects well into the early '90s. The otherwise passable Aerostar minivan line was plagued with these up until it was discontinued in favour of the Windstar.
A contributor to Reader's Digest had her alleged car publicly displayed. She had driven to Florida to visit a friend just before a hurricane struck. When a news crew was speaking afterward of the devastation, they used a close-up image of her car. The car was completely untouched by the actual hurricane.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Chrysler foolishly took control of the Rootes Group in Britain which supplied them with cars smaller than what Chrysler Corporation proper wanted to build, with generally poor results. The nadir was the 1971-73 Plymouth Cricket (aka Hillman Avenger) which had poor workmanship and tended to rust like crazy. To add insult to injury to the Chrysler-Plymouth dealers, the Dodge sales channel got the far better Mitsubishi-sourced Colt.
Conan O'Brien started a contest for people to send in videos of their alleged cars called "Conan, Please Blow Up My Car!" where the winner received a new Lexus HS 250h in its place (replacing a 1980 Toyota Corolla two-door with the roof hacked off to make a "convertible"). He also frequently mentions his own alleged car, a 1992 Ford Taurus SHO.
A similar contest was held in Canada by Auto Trader, called "Cliff your Ride".
Some cars that are genuinely good manage to earn this reputation over time nonetheless.
The Dodge Neon earned large amounts of critical acclaim upon its launch in 1994 and was a huge success in both the showroom and on the track, as well as being a very influential design and concept that all of today's compact cars are modeled after to some extent. However, the quality/reliability problems that plagued early models (Its tendency for head gasket failure being the most notable), its "cute" design and the fact that many were turned into "rice burners" during the street racing fad of the mid-2000s lead to the Neon being a common Alleged Car today.
The redesigned, front wheel drive 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was praised by critics upon launch and is considered to be a good car in its own right, but the disastrous "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" marketing campaign used to launch it was a massive failure that caused sales of the Oldsmobile brand as a whole to crater, leading to the brand's eventual demise in 2004. The 1989 Cutlass is thus considered to be the car that killed Oldsmobile. As a result, today they are undesired and valueless.
The Goggomobil Dart. "If you needed a sudden burst of acceleration, it was best to jump out and run".
A certified lunatic in Germany has fitted one with a 9-cylinder, 10-liter radial aircraft engine. It out-accelerates Porsches.
The Fiat Ritmo/Strada, which, due to using recycled Soviet steel, was infamous for quickly rusting away. Dunno if any exist anymore, much less working ones. By the way, FIAT was often backronymed as "Fix it Again, Tony", or "Failure in Automotive Technology".
The Alfasud had similar rust issues despite some decent engineering and design.
This North Korean car, given the pathetic state of their automotive industry compared to the one south of the DMZ, is a good candidate for The Alleged Car. It's a rebadged version of the Fiat Siena by Pyeonghwa Motors as the Hwiparam.
The Hindustan Ambassador is sometimes accused of this by Indian urbanites (the car is a licensed reproduction of the Morris Oxford and has been in continuous production since 1956), but consistently tends to outperform western imports or more modern Indian models (apart from SUVs), due to its spaciousness (8 people can sit in one more comfortably than four people can in a Maruti), easy repairability (Percussive Maintenance works here), and general hardiness on rural roads. Also, because the model is so old school, it remains a favorite for retro car enthusiasts.
Devrim, the first Turkish-produced car, had this reputation although it was the result of a botched public display rather than a genuine fault with the car. Four prototypes were built and two were brought to the capital for display. The engineers left the fuel tanks mostly empty for safety while the cars were transported. So, when the then-President Cemal Gürsoy got in one of the cars to drive around the Parliament, the car only went for a hundred meters before stopping. The other car, now fully fueled, was brought and driven around with no trouble but the damage was already done and the newspapers had a field day mocking the car's performance. Its successor, Anadol, had better luck and became fairly popular in the following years until being discontinued in 1991.
Thanks to some incidents involving malfunctioning gas pedals, Toyota's cars have started to take on this reputation, putting a huge black mark on their once world-class record for reliability. The nature of the problems has also caused their slogan, "Moving Forward," to become a bit uncomfortable. Though Only In America.
It would be unfair to call such a classic vehicle as the Volkswagen Beetle an Alleged Car — except that the earliest models had a crashbox transmission, hand-operated windshield wipers, no cabin heater, semaphore flags for turn signals, no fuel gauge (when the engine started to cough, you switched to the two-litre backup tank and looked for a gas station), and a starter crank hole. (On the other hand, those very same early models would climb a 1:1 grade in first gear. That's a forty-five degree slant.)
Even a VW with all the above faults was just the most basic model imaginable - a normally equipped Bug had exhaust-(or engine-block-)heater, pneumatic windscreen washer (running off the pressure in the spare wheel) and electric wipers. There was a worse moment in its history yet: the cars assembled hastily from leftover parts in the bombed Wolfsburg factory between 1946-1949 had engines which barely lasted 30,000 km, upholstery glued with horribly stinking fish glue, matte paint mostly in maroon, black or grey...
The DAF was a Dutch car which, due to its terrible styling and being available with automatic transmission only, was soon deemed unsuitable for anybody under 65. But as the transmission is a CVT (Continuously Variable) (nicknamed the Jarretelle Drive) they can drive backwards just as fast as forwards. And despite its rather modest engine power, due to that CVT it could out-accelerate most contemporary cars from a standing start. Today, DAF just focuses on transport trucks.
As a result, they provided for a lot of entertainment, races driving them backwards were popular for some time. Today, most DAF's are gone for rather obvious reasons.
In Russia, Alleged Cars are still commonly called "Antilopa Gnus" Whatdoes ittake tostand out as an Alleged Car in Russia? Those, for all their shortcomings, at least were the popular production models, with parts widely available, and their simple and sturdy construction meant that everybody and their dog could fix them anywhere.
Although for the Russians themselves, there's a single model whose Alleged Car fame far surpasses all other Soviet/Russian cars combined. That's the infamous ZAZ-965◊. Its brand name Zaporozhets is usually shortened to Zapor (Russian for constipation).
The Hispanias in the 2011 season Formula One, compared to the rest of the cars in the series, definately count as this.
At least the Hispanias can qualify for the race. The Andrea Moda and the 'Life' cars from the 1990s rarely made it beyond the end of the pitlane. One of the Andrea Moda's unfortunate pilots was Perry McCarthy (aka 'The First Stig') who posed for photographers in a faux-triumphal pose next to its silent form when it ground to a halt after a few hundred metres. The Life car was a repurposed Formula 3000 chassis with a W12 engine instead of the conventional V8/10/12, and was usually about twenty seconds off the pace.
In China, the worst are the Xiali (based on a Toyota design) and Suzuki Alto, two of the first to enter market. The latter is often joked to have been designed to drive on sidewalks. The former is joked for its design's 2-decade production without major change.
The Lancia Beta, which rusted to point of scrap, ruined the reputation of Lancia (a manufacturer of otherwise decent cars) in the United Kingdom, forcing the company to pull out of the UK entirely, much to the chagrin of Top Gear's presenters years later.
The Lancia Gamma wasn't a hell of a lot better. Its engine overheated very easily, wore out its cams fairly quickly, and if you turned the wheel to full lock on a cold day, it could lurch the engine, because the power steering was driven by the left timing belt.
Time Magazine's "50 Worst Cars of All Time": In addition to some of the autos listed elsewhere here (like the Trabant and various Leyland Yard products), we also have such gems as:
The 1920 Briggs and Stratton*
Yes, the lawn mower people
Flyer: "...A motorized park bench on bicycle wheels."
The 1956 Renault Dauphine: an ultra-cheap rust magnet that went from 0-60 in 32 seconds.
The 1975 Bricklin SV1: A concept for a safer sports car, all the safety features weighed down the car to the point that it couldn't outrun a school bus.
One of the alleged safety features was the lack of a cigarette lighter or ashtray (as the car's creator, Malcom Bricklin, wanted to discourage smoking and driving).
Despite the claims of safety, there was one glaring problem that made the car downright dangerous. The doors were electrically operated and too heavy to open by hand if the motors failed, so a dead battery meant the only way to get out of the car was to climb out through the rear hatch.
The 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda: A beautiful supercar filled with cutting edge electronics and gadgets that refused to work.
The 1982 Cadillac Cimarron: An alleged luxury car — a rebadged, 4-speed manual transmission Chevy Cavalier sold at Cadillac prices. Nearly killed the Cadillac brand and remains an Old Shame.
Unfortunately, the majority of the list is little more than a rant about cars the writerdoesn't like and a socio-political rant, with some misinformation thrown in. There are maybe 15 geneuinely bad cars on that list. Most are even admitted to have nothing wrong with them, and several are concepts that never even saw production.
The Czechoslovak Velorex company is quite a name in motorcycle sidecars. They also built something that might be described as a car, but which is basically a motorcycle sidecar without the motorcycle. If you've looked at the pic and are unsure about what the bodywork is made of: yes, that's actually vinyl-coated canvas over steel tubing. The frame is attached to what is effectively the rear end of a motorcycle with a 125cc or 250cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine (later models had a 250cc twin) driving the single rear wheel. Tiff Needell took one for a spin once, and reported, yelling over the din of the engine that "braking is accomplished by writing a letter politely asking to reduce your speed, oh, sometime next week".
An Alleged Motorcycle is the Chang Jiang CJ750: a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of a pre-WWII BMW. Using tooling the Russians considered worn, having by then been in production use for 20 years already. Chang Jiang also builds a copy of the Jawa 353, again using the original tooling.
The DeLorean DMC-12. Despite the Lotus Esprit inspired design and gullwing doors, the car's production run seemed to be cursed from the word go. The factory was located in Dunmurry (a suburb in Belfast), Northern Ireland (this was in 1978, and it was placed right on a religious fault line; word is the factory had one entrance for Catholics and one for Protestants). Making matters worse alongside budget overruns, engineering hassles and production delays was the fact that almost all the workers had never had a job in their lives, much less one producing cars. the inevitable quality control problems that resulted from this were so bad that despite each car having a 12-month/20,000km warranty, many dealerships refused to carry out any work on them because they weren't being reimbursed.
To add insult to injury, far from being the thinking man's supercar its creator envisioned it to be, the DMC-12's performance was quite lacklustre, due to it being the victim of a watering down campaign. It was originally meant to have a rear-mounted rotary engine but this was changed to a mid-mounted 2.8 litre V6 due to fuel consumption concerns, however, the change in powerplant reduced performance (it was initialy figured to have 200 HP, but the changes resulted in the car only making 145 HP in 'dirty' euro trim, the US version was an even sorrier 125 HP due to requirements for catalytic converters and other emissions controls) and had a knock-on effect on the cars' already less than perfect 35:65 front/rear weight distribution. In the end the DMC-12 was too slow and sluggish to convince anybody it was the real deal, and allegations that John DeLorean had taken to drug smuggling in order to pay the bills were the final nail in the DMC-12's coffin.
Probably the only thing preventing the DMC-12 from becoming completely forgotten was its role in the Back to the Future films. Many people may not know that using a DeLorean as the basis for a flying time machine wasn't because it was a Cool Car, but because it was proof its inventor was a bit of a Mad Scientist.
However, as of 2013, DMC is back with new DeLorean DMC-12s. They sell three versions: the classic engine, the stage two engine that is a higer performing V-6, and the DMCEV that is all electric, has over twice the horsepower of the original, and a modernised interior that allows for GPS and Smart phone compatablity.
Despite its sleek Italian design, early versions of the Isuzu Piazza had handling that left much to be desired as it rode on a chassis that was copied from an economy car and it showed. Later models had Lotus tuning, but not until near the end of its short production run.
The AMC Gremlin and Pacer. Underpowered, rust-prone, and homely-looking. Rightly or wrongly, they're blamed for killing off AMC as a car maker for good in the early 80's, as they were eventually bought up by Chrysler.
In actuality, it was just the opposite. The Pacers and Gremlins were no better or worse than any compact car of the era, and even developed a cult following. AMC's switch to even smaller, front wheel drive cars and discontinuing the Gremlins and Pacers in The Eighties is what clinched it for them.
Interestingly, no one ever complains about the Hornet, despite the Gremlin literally being a hatchback version of the Hornet.
(30 miles on electric, 20 MPG on gas, about 60 MPG equivalent- for comparison, a Chevrolet Volt can go 35 miles on electric, 35-40 MPG on gas, and has a 90 MPGe rating)
, fast *
(a bit over 6 seconds to 60 in gas-electric mode, over 7 seconds in pure electric)
, or spacious *
(that swoopy body gives it a subcompact classification by the EPA. For a car that costs as much as $115,000. Ouch.)
As mentioned in the video game entry, the Datsun B-210, made by Nissan in the 1970s. It sold well given it always started and fitting the oil crisis used less fuel, but was ugly, fragile, and slow. Dave Grohl told on how he and Kurt Cobain tried to drive from Seattle to Los Angeles (where they'd record Nirvana's Nevermind) in Kurt's B-210. Throughout the entire journey, they had to take 10 minute-breaks because the car engine overheated, making them quit 5 hours later, as they just reached Oregon. So they drove back (as Krist Novoselic had rented a van to do the trip), making sure to stop at a quarry to stone the car in anger.
The early '80's Cadillacs were let down by manufacturer engine choices and arguably good ideas that were put into production 20 years too early.
The V8-6-4 engine, a V8 which used a crude cylinder deactivation system to try and save fuel. Such systems are common today, but 70's era electronics simply weren't up to the challenge and it gained a reputation for never working right that it never really shook.
To further compound problems, the engine in question (a decent all cast iron 368 CID V8 based on the venerable 472, at least without the V8-6-4) was offered alongside the infamous Cadillac 4100 V8, known for using iron cylinder heads on an aluminum block. Given the material technology of the time, such "composite" designs were notoriously unreliable and led to head gasket and mechanical failure after as little as a year in rather spectacular fashion, requiring a replacement of either the engine or the car (Swapping the motor for a proven Chevy 350 V8 will solve all those problems, though).
The other option, a Diesel Oldsmobile 350, which left buyers with a choice of buying a car that would leap and shake or one that wouldn't start if it was near freezing temperatures. Adding to the issues, the diesels had inadequate and badly-designed head bolts. Combined with aforementioned poor head gaskets, premature mechanical failure was almost unavoidable. Also, the conspicuous lack of a fuel-water separator meant that it was easy for the engine to hydrolock itself. If that happened, owners unfamiliar with the quirks of diesel motors could consequently damage or destroy theirs simply by trying to start it.
The Reliant Robin can't be easily considered an Alleged Car, because it's hard to classify it as a car. It has two defining features, one being the fact that it only has three wheels, the single wheel is in the front. The other? Rolling over. One takes a sharp turn in a Reliant Robin at their own risk. It may be the only car in history to roll over 360 degrees from cornering too hard. In the UK, especially Oop North, the Robin became popular as it only required a motorcycle license to operate and thus avoided many taxes that car owners were saddled with. In spite of—or because of—this, the Robin has become something of an icon of British popular culture. The yellow van in Only Foolsand Horses is commonly mistaken for a Robin (it was actually a Reliant Regal Supervan), as was the light blue van that was always getting tipped over. Top Gear has done several segments on the Robin (and its tipping over) and the Robin even has a racing circuit where tipping over is so common there are established techniques for righting oneself right there on the track. The London Olympic opening had a Reliant Robin that... just exploded.
Yahoo automotive contributor Tim Cernea has several of these stories, the most tropeworthy being his 1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero. In true handyman fashion, he described the car losing its fuel tank on the highway as "a minor setback".
The G-Wiz is a very tiny electric car. Ok, technically it is legally a "Heavy Quadbike" in Britain for its extreme lack of power (meaning it can skip all those pesky safety regulations for real cars). You can't use any of the electronics such as the radio, since it will kill the G-Wiz's already very short battery life. It has extremely poor acceleration and top speed, limiting its use to city use almost exclusively. At least the car's slowness decreases the chance of a crash, which is good thing, since the G-wiz can take a crash with another car as well as a bicycle. An acid spraying bicycle. At one point, Jeremy Clarkson had a G-Wiz go up against four guys carrying a table in a drag race. The table won.
Ralph Nader would have you believe the Chevrolet Corvair is an Alleged Car, with claims (detailed in his book, Unsafe At Any Speed) that it would roll over on turns due to its suspensions and rear engine. The NHTSA found, after severe testing, that "the 1960–63 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles used in the tests...the handling and stability performance of the 1960–63 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover, and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic." Additionally, Car and Drivercritisized Nader for ignoring driver induced crashes from lack of adapting driving habits and maintenance to the rear-engined layout, and problems not found in Porsche 911s, which featured the same layout and a similar suspension, or the Type 1 Beetle, with Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen using very similar swing axles to the Corvair with no issues (the Corvair's swing axle was actually sourced from the Corvette, which also did not have any such problems).
Following World War 1, the Bristol Aircraft Company found itself at a loose end and decided to make use of its aircraft engine technology in producing cars. Unfortunately, said technology was based around radial engines, which are about the most unsuitable shape possible for mounting in a car. The only way to fit the three-cylinder radial they used into the car was to mount it with the crankshaft vertical, above the rear axle (in contrast to the above examples where the engine is on the same level as the axle). This resulted in the car's centre of gravity being ridiculously high and going round any approximation to a corner at any useful speed while remaining upright was more or less impossible.
Meanwhile in Germany, the Rumpler aircraft company found itself in a similar predicament, and turned out a car whose Cw (coefficient of air resistance) was only equall`ed 50 years later for your average family car, when CAD and windtunnel testing became commonplace.
60 Minutes did a special on Audis in 1985 that showed the gas pedal would fall to the floor when the brake was pressed and the transmission shifted to reverse. Problem is, they lied. There is nothing wrong with those cars, just a lack of familiarity on drivers' parts with the closer and smaller pedals on European cars. Audi's sales have never recovered. Note
The controversy was sparked by a woman who ran over her own son while shifting to reverse, which was caused by her foot slipping off the brake and slamming the gas. 60 Minutes' test used a modified transmission that would push the gas pedal to the floor when the brake was pressed, undisclosed in the report. Unfortunately, Audi publicly stated it was the drivers' fault. The upside, though, is that it created the idiot-proof measure of Shift Lock on automatic transmission, requiring the brake to be pressed before shifting to reverse.
It has recently been proven the 2009-10 "Runaway" Toyota controversy was caused the same way: drivers mistaking the brake pedal for the gas.
This came back to haunt Chrysler again during The Seventies. In 1976, Chrysler introduced the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare; a pair of new compacts designed to succeed the long-running Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant. The car was fairly successful at first; only to run into reliability problems and rust issues that led to their being the most-recalled cars in the industry until the Chevy Citation and the rest of the GM "X-body" cars (mentioned above)— something that Chrysler could ill afford as its financial situation worsened during the late 1970s.
The Pontiac Aztek was an Alleged SUV if ever there was one. It had a notoriously ugly exterior design that, in theory, was supposed to look "Futuristic" but invited ridicule instead. Also, because of all the weird angles, it can't shed snow as well, leaving you a rolling snow bank if you lived anywhere where it snows. To add to the problems, its motor was too small for its weight. In theory a V-6 should have used less fuel than a V-8, but in practice, the overworked motor had to burn through gas even faster just to stay at highway speeds. The not insignificant amount of aerodynamic drag created by the aforementioned awkward-shaped exterior did not help, in fact it made the performance and fuel economy even worse. It's telling when a vehicle with such a large gas tank still has to make frequent stops at the pump, which made it an even worse liability as gas prices rose. By the time of the economic crisis of the late 2000s, the Aztek had damaged the Pontiac brand so badly that GM canceled the entire Pontiac line. It is generally seen as the "point of no return" where Pontiac lost its credibility as a performance vehicle brand and became a parody of itself. Some members of the automotive press were openly comparing it to the Edsel as the true scope of its failure became obvious. As of the 2010s, Aztek's are one of the cheapest used cars on the market because few people want them, the combination of notorious ugliness, anemic performance and poor mileage having doomed them. At the very least, they taught the major automakers of the world how to make a V-6 SUV, by showing them exactly what not to do.
The Ford Excursion, also known by the cynical nicknames of "The Ford Excretion" or "The Ford Excrement". The combination of its curb weight of 7230 lbs (making it about a ton heavier than even the biggest stereotypical "land yacht" sedans of the 1970s), and its 6.8L V-10 engine, make for the ultimate gas guzzling SUV, getting only a pathetic 9.6 mpg. It also comes with the option for a 7.3 L Turbo-Diesel V-8 engine, which gets slightly better fuel mileage at just over 10 mpg, but it's still rather wasteful. So what's the trade off for the single digit fuel economy? Well it's big. So big that parking it becomes difficult, and dangerous (assuming you can even find a parking space that it'll fit in). And it's loud. Extremely, ear damagingly loud. So if you like big, loud, wastefully gas guzzling SUVs, or if you're a Mexican drug lord looking for something to show off status and seat lots of goons with lots of firepower, then it's perfect; otherwise, avoid it like the plague, or the price of gas alone will bankrupt you. Simply put, it was a symbol of everything that was wrong with American consumerism of the early 00s until the Hummer H2 came out a couple years later, which gladly deposed the Excursion as the ultimate gas guzzling SUV.
The line about Mexican Drug lords isn't just a joke either. The Excursion's popularity with the Mexican cartels is one of the reasons why Ford continued to sell the Excursion in Mexico after it was canceled in the rest of North America. Talk about bad publicity.