You may be asking about the greatest vehicles award, however there are separate awards for the worst cars of the year, with a list of seven cars.
1974 Ford Mustang II: Powerless Car of the Year
Ford decided to use the Pinto’s chassis and then slap a poor excuse of a Mustang on it, calling it the Mustang II. Not only did Ford make a bad car in the Pinto, never mind the sales, but they also decided to use the Pinto’s chassis and then slap a poor excuse of a Mustang on it, calling it the Mustang II. All this ‘Stang had were asthmatic six- and four-cylinder engines, so forget about the V8s. Sure, this was the Mustang that filled a gap in the market and saved Ford.
It didn’t need to win the Car of the Year title from Motor Trend in 1974, though, because it was as far removed from its previous muscle car incarnation as coloured chalk is from cheese.
1980 Chevrolet Citation: The Falling-Apart Car of the Year
You might be wondering what was wrong with the Chevy Citation. What should have been asked instead is, “What wasn’t?” The Chevy Citation, named Car of the Year by Motor Trend in 1980, seemed like a terrific car at first, almost like an American Accord, until it started to come apart.
The Citation was one of GM’s front-drive X-cars, and it was poorly put together from the start, with rattling parts. It corroded and seized, and the strange vibrations caused by the steering alone might give you seasickness. After the Citation, it took years for GM to regain its tarnished market reputation.
1985 Merkur XR4Ti: A Peculiar Car of the Year Pick
Ford, or should we say Lincoln/Mercury, released the Merkur XR4Ti in 1985, which not only looked European but was also pronounced Mare-Coor. It was dubbed “perhaps the slickest vehicle ever to come out of the Ford Motor Company” by Car & Driver at the time.
It was an oddity, in the form of a turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder with an aerodynamic body and 170 horsepower in the European Sierra. The media was all over it, but the customers didn’t want the car or the odd pronunciation that came with it.
1990 Lincoln Town Car: Repackaged Car of the Year
The Lincoln Town Car was nothing more than a drab vehicle, resurrected in a slightly polished guise to keep milking an already drained nameplate. Sure, it was a tenth of an inch bigger today, and the length was also 1.2 inches longer – but everything else was the same.
The squeaky suspension, out-of-breath 150-horsepower 4.9-liter V8, and syrupy four-speed automatic transmission made it a mediocre tub of a car, and there was no justification to award it Car of the Year. Probably, the competition in 1990 was worse.
1995 Ford Contour: Barely Noticed Car of the Year
Car and Driver made a concerted effort to persuade the public to buy the Ford Contour and its Mercury twin, the Mystique, which were intended to replace the dreadful Tempo and Topaz. It’s fine if you haven’t heard of any of these; they were all somewhat forgettable.
However, Car and Driver urged the public to have a look at these vehicles because they were fun to drive and resembled European sedans. The issue was that both the Contour and the Mystique were too small and cramped for their class, and the public, let alone the Car of the Year campaign, never saw the appeal.
1997 Cadillac Catera: Snoozefest Car of the Year
Cadillac was on the verge of bankruptcy in the mid-1990s. The majority of the European competitors were performing far better, and technically, they were kicking their butts. Clearly, Germany was producing high-quality automobiles, so Caddy focused his attention on the Opel Omega MV6.
Caddy had redecorated and rebadged as the Cadillac Catera, and he was confident that the game had been won. The Catera, on the other hand, broke down on a frequent basis, and even if it didn’t, it lulled you to sleep with a poor performance. Despite being awarded Car of the Year by Automobile All-Stars, the Catera was unable to be rescued.
2002 Ford Thunderbird: Dreariest Car of the Year
This was the end of the Ford Thunderbird, and those who had the misfortune of owning one heard it as a tortured whimper rather than a final hurrah. Thankfully, just a few did. The style was classic and lovely, to the point where Motor Trend named it Car of the Year right away.
It would have been better if they had actually driven it. Looks don’t make a car, and the 2002 T-bird was more of a Thunderchicken, agonisingly boring to drive and horribly pricey at $40,000 a pop. Please allow me to pass.