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In the modern sense they may be known for some award wining, elegant and top of the line vehicles presiding on the market, but that doesn't mean "German Reliability" isn't open for a few errors every now and then. There's a fair share of junk line machines, some of which you may or may not have driven some time ago. But that's what mistakes are for, right? To make the end results even more modified and advanced than the last; to learn something from the failures that pockmarked the past.
In some cases, lessons were learned and, in others, not so much. Still, whether it be Mercedes-Benz, Volskwagen, or even Messerschmitt, some German manufacturers have proven to engineer the most luxurious, sporty, and classy vehicles of their times. Others have unfortunately crafted the worst German cars ever built. These don't just look terrible and unsafe, the engines, features and components were built only to be driven into the ground. About the only fortunate thing they have left is that they won't be remembered as the worst cars to ever be invented, so at least that's something.
Opel Kadett E
Not only does the Kadett E run pretty lousy, it also looks like pretty junky. Honestly, I hate to be mean, but this thing looks like it could be a prop car in a post-apocalyptic flick. Made from 1984-1991, the Kadett model E was filled with issues from top to bottom, making it one of the worst German cars ever built. This damn ride was so bad they had to rename it to the Pontiac LeMans when imported to America, so thanks Daewoo I guess?
Despite the ugly appearance and boxy shape, this small car was named European Car of the Year upon initial release. There was just too much of a sporty vibe imbued into this blend of engineering; almost a crossover before its time. There was even a convertible version released 1987, and a year later the engine was replaced to give it a finer liter count and better exhaust emissions, but as you can see no one really noticed.
BMW 5 Series GT
While its specs and components may ring true to the various safety awards and reliability the car truly does have to offer, it's still a pretty terrible car in the long run. No one stopped to ask about practicality when it came to designing this awkward, bulky and seemingly disoriented vehicle.
The 5 Series GT also costs a whopping $70,000 and over, which will only come back to bite you in the ass after all those gas payments are met on useless miles. Rare as it may be, BMW has gifted us with one of the worst German cars ever built by making this half-sedan, half-SUV that ends up looking more like a vehicular Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Interestingly, Trabant means "satellite" in German, but the manufacturer didn't reach any heights of stardom, unfortunately. The automobile company began in East Germany under manufacturer VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau and was highly sought after before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Don't let that fool you, though. The Trabant was so bad it only lasted a little over 30 years in production, from 1957 to 1990, finalizing at only around 3 million cars in totality. Older Trabant models have gained prominence among collectors all over the world, but they're still some of the worst German cars ever built.
Volkswagen Golf (Mk. 4)
Finding itself somehow ironically among the worst German cars ever built, Volkswagen's Golf (Mk. IV), released officially in 2001, won best selling car of the year, which is odd since it's so absurdly dreadful looking. Not to mention that Volkswagen's overall safety ratings were headed down the toilet, marking the car brand with some pretty hefty claims of unreliability, which would later haunt them for years to come.
All thanks to the Golf Mark IV. It marked the beginning of the compact car, the boxy shaped, sporty rides with hatchbacks and no kinds of safety. Unlike what you may have pictured in your mind, the Golf came out looking like a literal golf cart had fused together with a large UPS shipping box and a sporty little engine was tossed in for good measure.
Like the Golf and the Kadette, Opel's Vectra may have seemed promising in design, but when set loose on the mean streets, it didn't end well for anybody. Initiated in 1988, the Vectra model A was a testament to the true compact vehicle, a small boxy machine that looked almost too small to be real.
One thing about the Vectra that sets it apart from the rest, hence making it one of the worst German cars ever built, is the employment of a fully independent suspension system. Lacking any true semblance of a sports car, yet attempting its very hardest to be just that, the Opel Vectra simply misses the mark. It's not a bad car, it's just not a good one.
Here's your pretty little Hurst 250, which has left history so well received not even the internet has so much of an inkling of information on this early automobile. It's one of the most depressing of all the worst German cars ever built, because the Hurst 250 could have been a legend.
The development of the Hurst 250 was discontinued only after 47 copies had been made by 1950. These initial microcars, Soviet constructions made with a 100 cc engine capacity and a lousy 2 horsepower, eventually were modified with a single cylinder, two stroke engine, which reinforced the Hurst with 250 cc and 6 horsepower. After 1950, however, the Hurst 250 fell into oblivion, and all but 47 of its kin still remain to retell the company's sad tale.
Yes, that's the car and brand's actual names sporting another box shaped machine that looks more like a cross between a Mini Cooper and an ugly BMW. All jokes aside, the Fortwo is truly incredible with its employment of electricity and clean energy. That doesn't make up for it being one of the worst German cars ever built, though.
Hey, Car and Driver rates them a whopping 2.5 our of 5! Yikes, and I just thought their cars looked ugly. If you're settling for wheels over looks, though, they are pretty affordable, coming in at a nice $15,000, but is it worth it? I highly doubt it.
Volkswagen New Beetle
Remember the good old days when your friend used to punch you on the shoulder, "Green punch buggy; no punch backs!" Well, gone and goodbye is that phrase with the introduction of Volkswagen's New Beatle, literally coined "the girl's car."
Beyond these ulterior traits, it's clear that the VW New Beetle was no match for the modern world. Adding somewhat more bulk to the exterior and switching the engine to the front of the car added more luggage room, in the end it's still considered one of the worst German cars ever built. That's a real return punch to the gut for the engineers over at VW.
Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG
While they may be known as one of the most reliable car brands in the world, Mercedes also proves to be truly unreliable when trying their hands at the all-too dreaded minivan. Let's just speak our mind here and get it off all of our chests: Mercedes-Benz does not need to be making minivans. Period.
The R63 AMG isn't the only one, either. Take a look at the exquisite and glorious details of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W168), which is pretty much a smaller micro version of the minivan. Designed rather poorly in its first run, the A-Class found some trouble in its stability control systems, which would be amended later on, despite the fact that the A-Class was already long history.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe (W202) and (W203)
These two bad boys are just another failed attempt made by Mercedes in trying to dabble with different car types they just could not emulate. In rolls their compact executive car, produced from 1993 to 2000, the C-Class Coupe, which ended up looking like a sedan more than anything else. It didn't stop there — oh, no. After their attempt to craft a sporty executive luxury vehicle failed, their next approach was to make an all-sport coupe that looked sleek and drove like a rocket.
Mercedes may be producing some truly quality coupes nowadays, but back in the early 2000s... it's better left unsaid. For starters, the C-Class W203 was too cheap and unreliable, marketed to Americans in the hopes of making a fast and easy dollar, which in the end led to failure.
They definitely look like some of the worst German cars ever built, but the Messerschmitt KR200s aren't necessarily cars, per say. Called the Cabin Scooter, this type of vehicle was a three-wheeled bubble car, sometimes even coined a "microcar," and was designed by aircraft engineer Fritz Fend. Before you ask, no it wasn't revolutionary. In fact, three wheeled cars are some of the most dangerous cars ever made. Way to go Communists!
From 1955 to 1964, 40,000 of these hideous and practically useless scooter vehicles were produced by the aircraft manufacturer. The microcar featured a dual-mode ignition and a "steering wheel" control stick reminiscent of an airplane. I mean the damn thing didn't even have a fuel pump, that's how bad it was!