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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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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The Zap Xebra


The Zap Xebra is an electric 3 wheeled car produced in China and sold in the United States the Xebra has a 40klm range with a top speed of around 60klm an hour. Technically classed as a motorcycle the car features such luxuries as 4 seats with seatbelts and a radio/cassette and a heater. The Xebra is about the cheapest electric cars you could own with a price tag of around $11k US it could be tempting to some but also remember 40klm is not that far and walking or riding a bike is just as environmentally friendly with far less mechanical problems. Many owners who have ponied up cash for the Xebra have noted it has poor build quality with a tendency to leak water into the electrics, probably not a good thing in an electric car. Zap claim to have rectified the leaking issue but you really have to be keen to go green with a car that looks like this one.

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Zastava 101

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The Zastava 101 is a car built by Serbian car maker Zastava Automobili sometimes better known as Yugo. The 101 was based on the Fiat 128 that first hit the roads in 1969 with the Zastava version going into production in 1971 and also spinning off a hatchback variety not found on its Fiat cousin. While many people pointed out the more popular Fiat 128 was a bit long in the tooth when it was finally retired in 1985 the Zastava 101 is still produced today as the Skala 5 door hatch with a 55-horsepower, 1.1-liter engine on its one trim level. The Skala is available for around 4000 euro's and is popular in its home country of Serbia and a few other eastern European countries. These cars were once exported across Europe and along with its bigger brother the 45 but the Balkan war put trade sanctions on the company with NATO later blowing up part of their factory. 

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AMC Gremlin – what were they thinking?


The AMC Gremlin has to go down in history as one of the worst ideas in automotive marketing history, named after creatures that cause mechanical problems it was released on April fools day 1970. AMC had very little money to invest at the time so when they need a car in the subcompact market they cut the rear off their compact Hornet model and created this horrid looking box. It could come with either a 2l 4 cyl or a 3.3, 3.8 or a 4.2 6 cyl and a 5 lt V8 engine and this was in a market that was compeating against the VW Beetle, despite all that seems wrong on the surface the car sold well and was one of AMC's largest production runs with just over 670,000 cars produced over 9 years. The car even has developed a cult following partly thanks to its over the top 1970s looks and the fact that the larger engine cars are resonable performers if not a bit thursty. But many think this along with a few of AMC's other products are dogs and is probably the car that marked the start of AMC's downfall.

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