Top 5: failed car companies

Many people believe they have designed the car of tomorrow, but few get to realise that dream and build it. For some, however, the dream becomes a nightmare.

Tucker Sedan

The 1948 Tucker Sedan was initially going to be named the Tucker Torpedo, a name more apt as it sunk quickly after launch with only 51 made. The innovative car was the brainchild of Preston Tucker and a bid to build "the first completely new car in 50 years". But the dream was mired in financial difficulties, government investigations, bad press and speculation the Big Three helped in its demise. The director Francis Ford Coppola made a film, starring Jeff Bridges, about Tucker's ambitious bid called Tucker: The Man and His Dream.


If John DeLorean could have used his famous invention to travel back in time - as it did in the Back to the Future films - then it is more than likely he would have done things a bit differently. DeLorean had worked at GM before deciding to go alone, he decided to build the car in Northern Ireland - because of government financial incentives - but production was hit by delays. The car was then launched in a recession and there was no government bailout. DeLorean was arrested, but later acquitted, for drug smuggling.


While Tucker's life was made into a feature film and DeLorean a documentary, Malcolm Bricklin's inflated foray into the motoring was chronicled in a musical last year. The vehicle, designed by Herb Grasse, who also created the original Batmobile, was called the SV-1, standing for safety vehicle one. Production was doomed with each vehicle costing $16,000 to make, while selling for $5,000. For some strange reason the Canadian mint issued a $20 coin to honour the company mired with financial difficulties. Funny eh?


In the 1970s Gerald Wiegert was working on producing a super car. The W2 concept car was created in 1978 and covered 16,000km, more than any concept. In 1989 the tennis player Andre Agassi was one of the first buyers of the W8, an evolved W2. However, the company had to give him his money back when his car failed to work. A total of 17 Vector W8s were made. Wiegert built a third prototype, the WX-3, in 1992, but before it could go into production Vector was taken over and Wiegert was fired.


It is a bit harsh to call the Amphicar, a portmanteau of amphibian and car, a failure with close to 4,000 models sold, it was one of the most successful amphibious vehicles ever. But as we had to use the Sheikh Zayed Bridge on the commute to work, rather than drive across the channel, we can safely say the Sixties car did not change the auto world. Built with an engine from a Triumph Herald the "car" could achieve speed of 110km on land and seven knots in water. In 1968 two Amphicars crossed the English Channel.

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