Not-so-smart cars make Dumb list

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Paranormal Aztek

The design of the the Pontiac Aztek is beyond our understanding. Perhaps that is why these paranormal investigators use it for their company car. Image: Eric Fischer/Flickr/CC BY

The term “smart car” is one we see a lot today. Ostensibly it means a car featuring “advanced electronics.” But if some cars are smart, there must be some that are not-so-smart on the other end of the spectrum. Several car sites recently made their picks for “dumb cars.” Here are a few that stood out.

The original dumb car

The idea behind this, the original dumb-mobile, is like using a leather strap to sharpen your electric razor. From way back in 1899, the Horsey Horseless was a horseless carriage that was intended as a transition vehicle between the horse-drawn buggy and the automobile. The car’s designer, Uriah Smith, mounted a fake horse head head onto the front of the car. That ought to do the trick.

[Find out how to by a new car the smart way.]

Dumb little Yugo

Yours truly bought one of these iron curtain subcompacts in the ’80s when it was the only new car I could afford. At less-than-$5,000, it seemed a smart buy at the time. Two months later it was a ball of metal worth maybe $20, stuck between a Ford pickup and a station wagon in a freeway pile-up collision. Its poor performance in an accident aside, it also had no guts and probably had no business being on the freeway in the first place. Time magazine called it the “Mona Lisa of bad cars.” After seeing what it looked like after the accident, however, I’d say Jackson Pollock is a better analogy than DaVinci.

Pontiac stupid Aztek

Even the car’s moniker, an intentional-misspelling of “Aztec,” is dumb. Pontiac put this discordant mess of a design out from 2001 to 2005. The angular, over-decorative mismatching of styles gave the impression that the Aztek was designed by three different engineers who didn’t know what the others were doing. In his book “Sixty to Zero,” Alex Taylor III said it “seemed to have been dropped to earth from outer space.” British paper The Telegraph included it in its “100 ugliest cars” list. Need we say more?

The Super Stupid Roadster

The Super Sport Roadster offers plenty of “stupid” for the buck. Made by Chevy between 2003 and 2006, it was another astonishing mismatch of styles. The SSR is a convertible pickup/roadster, making it just the thing for motorists who might want to open up the throttle on the highway, haul some firewood to grandma’s house and have their hair flying in the wind, all at the same time.

The dumb smart car

The Smart ForTwo car calls itself smart, but is it? This glorified golf cart, made by a division of Daimler, has been available in Europe since the ’90s. It is only recently making its way across the Atlantic to the U.S. market, however. The tiny vehicle is great for parking in tight spaces but seems to wring no other advantages out of its smallness. It only has room for two people and almost no storage space. Dumbest of all, though, it burns premium gas, sucking up any fuel cost savings its diminutive size might have been able to exploit.


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