The automotive industry has a history of eating its young when it comes to cars that did not make the grade with customers and critics.
The most obvious and famous example has always been the Edsel so MyStarCollectorCar has to acknowledge this unloved car as one of the five most misunderstood cars of all time on our list.
Ford introduced the Edsel as a 1958 model and stopped production after the 1960 model year. The car became a punchline for bad comedy and was a mercy killing for the Blue Oval boys when they discontinued the Edsel.
These days the Edsel enjoys a rock star presence in the car hobby where its unusual style is appreciated by people who like the fact this car stands out in the crowd at every show.
The Nash Metropolitan is our second choice for misunderstood cars of all time. Its parent company eventually became American Motors after a Nash/Hudson merger in 1954 after the Metropolitan’s 1953 debut for Nash.
The Metropolitan was already a fish out of water because it was a sub-compact during an era when the Big Three got bigger, faster and less committed to mileage. It was always a conversation piece and remained a discussion topic until the Metropolitan ran out of road and ceased production in 1960.
Surprisingly, the last Metropolitan left the factory during a year when the Big Three debuted their compact car entries.
The Isetta is our third choice for misunderstood cars of all time. The only people who truly understood the Isetta were young kids and they were not even able to purchase them during the Isetta’s 1953-62 production run under numerous European manufacturer banners.
The cartoon car look of the Isetta was not lost on kids during its run. Unfortunately, the unusual design of the car was indeed lost on adults/customers and they did not propel the odd import to the same sales heights as the Beetle.
The 1961 Plymouths and Dodges are our fourth choice for misunderstood cars of all time. These cars were not-so-affectionately known as “plucked chickens” because Chrysler amputated their fins after the 1960 model year.
The result was Plymouths and Dodges that were not exactly pretty in the traditional sense of the term. In fact, the cars seemed like an afterthought reaction by Chrysler as the company started to disconnect itself from the Exner era of giant fins.
The 1960s would see Chrysler catch up to their Big Three competitors in terms of a new style-but 1961 was not their year to gain ground on the General and the Blue Oval boys. However, the unusual style of the 1961 Plymouths and Dodges has made them a big hit at 21st century car shows.
MyStarCollectorCar’s fifth and final choice for misunderstood car of all time is the Gremlin. They were built by AMC from 1970-78. American Motors was a small company by comparison to its large rivals (Chrysler, GM and Ford) and used any possible means to produce a variety of cars.
One measure was to shorten one model’s wheelbase and build two separate cars. The AMC Javelin and AMX were good examples of this process because the shorter AMX was designed from the larger wheelbase Javelin.
The same philosophy was applied to the AMC Hornet when its wheelbase was chopped and produced the Gremlin. The result was an unconventional car with an unusual style that looked like the car had already been rear-ended.
The Gremlin stood out in a crowd for most of the 1970s and developed a loyal following among its fan base. Those who loved the car were badly outnumbered by those who did not like the car, but these days a Gremlin attracts plenty of attention at a car show because of its unusual style.
There are more examples of misunderstood cars so MyStarCollectorCar will revisit this topic at a future date. Stay tuned.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.