Daewoo Cielo

The Dawoo Cielo takes our number 5 spot of Australias worst cars. Also known as the 1.5i between 1994 and 1995 the Cielo was Daewoo’s first entry into the Australian Market. Daewoo had a long association with GM long before it became part of GM in 2002 and the Cielo was no different. The car would be a familiar sight to any Europeans as it is based on the Opel Kadet E that was first sold in Europe between 1984 to 1991. So by the time it got to Australia it was over ten years old but despite its dated style and bad quality fit and finish they sold like hot cakes. Daewoo were quick to point out the engine was made by Holden and that their $14,000 was the cheapest in the market for this class of car. A face lift came when the car was renamed Cielo in 1995 that saw a smother looking front and rear end treatment so it no longer looked like a 1980s car, unfortunately not much was done to the 1980s handling or the build quality. Today you can pick up plenty of used examples of the Cielo for under $1000.  A similar Laser or Corolla of the era can sell for as much as $7000.

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Datsun 120y Why Why

Number 6 in our list of Australia's worst cars goes to the Datsun 120y. Based on the chassis of the Datsun 1200 that was produced from 1970 to 1974 when the 120y was launched on the Australian market as its replacement. Both cars were known as the Sunny in Japan, but perhaps it was a good thing the 120y was not named this in Australia as it was a pretty dull car. Featuring a 1.2 L engine, dull breaks, a choppy ride and a sloppy gearbox, the 120y was surprisingly popular. We are not sure why that is as it was an fairly ordinary looking too. You could option up to the Japanese built 2 door coupe version that was a popular way to look sporty when you are taking almost 17 seconds to get from 0 to 100km/h. The 120y was replaced by the next series in the very dull Sunny line (and also now named Sunny) in 1978.

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Holden Piazza, the Italian Gemini


Hitting our number 7 spot for Australia’s worst cars is the Holden Piazza. Launched in Australia in 1986 at just under $35,000 the Piazza hardly took sports car market by storm probably because of its huge price tag at the time and the fact that motoring journalists at the time gave it pretty bad reviews. The Piazza was made in Japan by Holden’s Japanese cousin Isuzu, based on a 1979 showcar designed by Italian design firm Giugiaro it certainly looked the part, but unfortunately underneath was the chassis of a 1970’s Gemini stuffed with a 2 litre turbo. This dated design made the car handle terribly and anyone who wanted to drop that much cash on a sporty hatch back at that time probably opted for much better handling Celica at a similar price. Holden tried dropping the price and later varieties had reworked suspension that brought the handling up a wee bit, but not enough to acquire many more sales. The Piazza was one of Holden’s biggest flops of the time and was killed off by 1988. Pictured above is the original press photo of the Isuzu version, the Holden version was identical except for the huge Japanese mirrors on the guards, a huge TURBO decal on the top back edge of the guard, slightly different wheels and Holden badges. 

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Holden Camira, anything but super


Billed as "the supercar" by Holden Marketing the Camira was Holden's first attempt at a front wheel drive car. Derived from GM's J car program. This was the first time that GM would use the same basic design for a car around the world, although they did feature different grills and trim, they were the same basic chassis and body design. The Camira featured styling very reminiscent of the Commodore at the time it was released and was an instant hit It even got a car of the year award in 1982, but it wasn't long before some models overheated or rusted prematurely and the Camira quickly earned its name as a lemon. Later models like the JD (pictured) and JE are said to be a huge improvement over the first JB model, but buyers weren't convinced. In New Zealand the reputation was so bad they chose to import the Japanese Isuzu version instead of the JD. You would of thought that with so much extra cash in only designing a car once for every market they would of got it right the first time, but it seams GM must of forgot to ask Holden to test it properly before release.

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FSM Niki 650, too little, too late

The Niki 650

Coming in at no 9 of Austrlia's worst cars is the FSM Niki 650. based on the Fiat 126 the Niki was built under licence by Fabryka Samochodów Malolitrazowych (FSM) in Poland from 1973 to 2000 and exported to Australia between 1989 and 1992. Fitted with a 2 cyl 650 cc engine and drum breaks all round the 126 was probably an OK idea in 1970's Europe, but a car that took almost a decade to get to its claimed top speed of near 100klm/hand couldn't stop if it ever did get there was unheard of in Australia in 1989. One other thing that was unheard of was the price tag launched at $7990 it was the cheapest car in Australia at the time, but the old saying rings true here that you get what you pay for.

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The Lada Samara, a commie catoastrophy

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This week we are starting a top ten series of the worst cars ever sold in a particular market, and this weeks turn is Australia. Coming in at number 10 is the Lada Samara, the Samara was a Russian built car that was imported into Australia from 1988 to 1996, at the time it was imported it was one of the cheapest cars in its class on sale and that was a feature that not only showed in its price tag but also in its fit and finish. The legendary Peter Brock even had a crack at fixing some of their flaws before they went on sale after his much publicised falling out with Holden, suprisingly he never fitted a energy polarizer to one. Eventually the Samara changed names to the Lada Cevaro and Volante after a minor facelift but it was not enough to stop buyers remembering the horror stories of their poor reliability and body gaps you could almost fit your hand in. The terrible ad above is from the Russian market but some how we thought it fitting.

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Yugo – the car for when you can’t afford a decent car

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Our classic car ad of the week features one of the worlds worst cars, the Yugo. Produced since 1981 in Serbia by Zastava the car was imported into the US in 1985 and sold as the cheapest new car available. Based on the Fiat 128, a car that dates back to 1969, the Zastava was popular in eastern Europe where the choice of other cars on offer made the Zastava look like a good buy and economical motoring. By the time the car got to the US under the Yugo name, the unrefined and sluggish box was bought up by cheapskates who would of been better off finding a decent secondhand car. Not only did the car suffer from poor build quality and performance, the market of customer the car was aimed at were often too tight to service them properly making the cars mechanical woos worse. Sales in the US stopped around 1992 when UN sanctions against the former Yugoslavia stopped exports. NATO later bombed the factory that has since been rebuilt to churn out a face-lifted version of the car that is known today as the Zastava Koral.

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Zoe Zipper – only its designer could love it

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The Zoe Zipper was a three wheeled car introduced to the United States in 1983, produced by Misuoka Motors of Japan (a company well known for creating odd cars) it featured only one seat, a 50cc Honda motorbike engine and rather strange styling. The car surprisingly was not a hit with most people preferring two or more seats in their cars and more conventional design. It has been said that fewer of 50 of the cars were built with a sedan, a convertible and a type of mini truck all being available. Today the Zoe company is no more but Misuoka is still around in Japan creating cars based on small Nissan's and Daihatsu’s with old world Jaguar front and rear end styling.

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