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The 80s was a magical time where neon patent leather and crimped hair was the norm. It was a time when perms, pantsuits, and mall culture reigned supreme. To understand the 80s, you probably need lots of cocaine. There's no other way to explain this decade.
Among all the greatness that came with 80s punk rock and killer TV shows that featured awesome cars were some serious missteps. Among fashion trends, this involved shoulder pads and permed hair. In cars? Well, the worst cars of the 80s will definitely make you realize that some things are best left in the past.
1982 DeLorean DMC-12
Okay, look—please don't kill me. I love DeLorean cars, primarily because they were some of the coolest cars to ever be made iconic by a movie series. As a Back to the Future fan, it'd be impossible for me not to fantasize about driving one of these things.
However, these fuckers are regularly considered to be one of the worst cars of the 80s for a huge range of reasons. In fact, it was one of the most dangerous cars ever made.
Dangerous, often-malfunctioning gullwing doors would often cause victims of car accidents to get trapped inside. A terrible electric setup meant that it could burst into flames.
Oh, and it was ridiculously slow considering how swanky it looked. Camaros could outrun them. All things said, though, these were 80s cars through and through. They were so 80s, the company went bankrupt due to a botched $24 million cocaine deal done by the CEO John DeLorean.
1982 Chevrolet Camaro "Iron Duke"
If there's one thing that the guys of the 80s loved, it was a powerful car. On first glance, you'd expect something like the "Iron Duke" to be a seriously speedy car. Heck, it even looks like one of the most powerful muscle cars of the 80s.
So, why's it one of the worst cars of the 80s? This "muscle car" had only 90 horsepower, putting it on the same playing field as cars from the 1940s. It was one of the weakest muscle cars in the history of the term—and therefore was panned by its audience.
1980 Chevrolet Citation
Nothing quite sounds as bad as being told that you received a citation at work, and perhaps that's why the naming of this car seemed to be such salient foreshadowing. Unlike many of the worst cars of the 80s, this was one series that got pretty good acceptance from customers.
What made it a rotten egg of a car, though, is that it literally received a lot of citations when it came to safety. Tons of recalls later, the Chevy Citation became one of the biggest regret purchases of families throughout the United States.
1981 Cadillac V8-6-4
In many ways, the 1981 Cadillac V8-6-4 was a car before its time. This car allowed the drivers to disable up to four of its eight cylinders as a way for drivers to save money on gas. V8-6-4 cars would also tell you how many miles you had left before you were out of gas, and exactly how many gallons you had in your tank.
It was a great concept, but the problem was that technology wasn't actually up to the task at the time. Nowadays, it could potentially work. However, timing made it one of the worst cars of the 80s.
Most V8-6-4 cars experienced very serious drivability problems, including engine lag, digital reading glitches, or even sudden car stalling. Drivers would get so exasperated with these cars that they'd junk them or just get the systems disabled altogether.
1982 Cadillac Cimarron
Seeing how bad a lot of the worst cars of the decade were, and seeing that they didn't really cause entire brand sales to dip, it's really impressive that Cadillac could make a turd this bad. Statistics show that the Cimarron was mostly responsible for the dip in Cadillac sales through the decade.
At the time, Cadillac was trying to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW for the luxury car market. They got very lazy, and basically repackaged a Chevrolet with extra features as a Cadillac. Buyers and critics both noticed, primarily because the Chevy they chose wasn't even a good one.
The Cimarron was rapidly panned and was cited as one of the "The 20 Dumbest Cars of All Time" by Autoblog. We can't disagree, considering that it actually almost killed off Cadillac.
1984 Maserati Biturbo
A Maserati? As one of the worst cars of the 80s? Believe it or not, it happened. First off, the Biturbo didn't even look like a good car. It looked just like any other car on the road, and during this decade, that's already a major no-no.
Performance-wise, a typical Chevrolet could have been more reliable. In fact, the Biturbo was so unreliable, it was mentioned as one of Time Magazine's "50 Worst Cars of All Time," with writer Dan Neil saying the following:
"Everything that could leak, burn, snap or rupture did so with the regularity of the Anvil Chorus. The collected service advisories would look like the Gutenberg Bible."
Basically, it was the Ford Pinto of the 80s. Yes, it was that bad.
The Yugo wasn't so much a car as it was a travesty. This kludged-together box with wheels has been called "the Mona Lisa of Bad Cars" by legendary car writer Dan Neil. Priced at only $3,900 brand new, this was made to be a discount car—and it sure as hell looked like it.
Most critics will tell you that this car was a nightmare in terms of quality. Everything was bare-bones cheap and would break down if drivers so much as breathed the wrong way. Eventually, it became a good lesson in why you need to pay for quality.
They were so bad, people would refuse them even when they were given away for free.
1983 Renault Alliance
In the 80s, French automaker Renault paired up with the guys at American Motors to create the 1983 Renault Alliance. This car was supposed to open up American markets to Renault and get people interested in the brand as a whole.
Initially, it won an award from Car and Driver for its design. Its shoddy workmanship, though, made the magazine go so far as to admit they made a mistake with the award and APOLOGIZE to readers. The apology noted:
"The Alliance proved that Wisconsin workers could assemble an Renault with the same indifference to quality that was a hallmark of the French automotive industry. By the late '80s, the sight of rusted Alliances abandoned alongside America's roads was so common that their resale value had dropped to nearly zero."
The Renault Alliance was one of the only cars of the 80s that was so poor quality, it helped kill off not one but two car brands' credibility in an entire continent. That makes it one of the worst cars of the 80s, regardless of its design.
1980 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel
If you have heard the bias against diesel engines, then you already have witnessed the legacy of the Oldsmobile Delta 88 Diesel. This car epitomized everything that people hate about diesel cars, and then took that image, and seemingly added steroids to it.
With its massive V8 engine, the Delta 88 could only eke out around 105 bhp, all while guzzling ample amounts of fuel. Smelly, loud, and clunky as could be, this visible eyesore of a car was the reason why many buyers still won't bother with a diesel car.
It was so direly unpopular, the Delta 88 still makes it hard for people to even like the best diesel trucks of today.
1988 Trabant 601
Trabant is not a name most people in the United States will recognize, but if you lived in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell, you already know the name all too well. This was a brand of cars that was built in Commie Germany—and actually monopolized German streets.
Realistically, every Trabant could be considered one of the worst cars of the 80s. These things were as bare-bones as they could be, were grossly uncomfortable, and typically would break down if someone was too heavy or just moved incorrectly.
One rider describes the Trabant 601 as such:
"I drove this car when I visited Germany. This was apparently the posh model, and it was new. It bellowed out a terrible noise, the gearshifts were like sledgehammers, and the black trail of smoke didn't help, either. Communism and cars don't go together."
Incidentally, the moment the Wall fell, Trabant went out of business.