REVIEW: Lemons: The World's Worse Cars written
by Timothy Jacobs 1991 Bison Books
So we've all heard
when god hands you a lemon make lemonade -
How about when Detroit hands you a lemon -
what do you do? Well - you write this book.
thought when just flipping pages was who ever
heard of these vehicles - the list is
endless...and unfortunately I do agree with
the choices featured. The tried and true
lemons come to mind - the
"exploding" Pintos, the "unsafe
at any speed" Corvairs, the
"handsome design, wish it would run"
Jaguars and the "Fix It Again Tony"
Fiats. But when and where did Lemons originate
and have we really improved over time? As
early as the 1760's a steam powered vehicle
made it's entrance to the Lemon Hall of Fame
by being barely controllable (even at 3 mph)
as it sputtered through out Paris streets. The
1763 Cugnot steam vehicle was defiant of all
mechanical principles that came to mind and
therefore became the world's first Lemon.
production defects, poor reliability and just
plain UGLY design - the cars that made it in
to this book - well.they deserve to be
here. The famous East German Trabant, a
plastic bodied, 2 stroke engine was not known
for its' power but for its' adverse effect on
the environment <cough cough> Thought as
the perfect "every man's car" it's
coarse personality did not win awards but
because of the monopoly more than 2 million of
these vehicles were sold. The Trabant was
available for more than 30 years without any
changes - try that in Detroit. But let's not
forget cars such as the Ford Edsel, Chrysler
K-car, and Pontiac Fiero. Do I even have to
ask why the goldfish aquarium looking AMC
Pacer was written about? The Big Three were
not exempt and neither were the famous
marquees of Mercedes (1969 C-111) and BMW
(1950s-Isetta). The poor Mercedes was sleek
and fast but plagued by many Wankel engines
difficulties therefore lemonizing it before it
came into production. The BMW Isetta, with
its' ONE door that made up the FRONT of the
car, made it impossible for a driver to get
out if in a front end collision ..that is if
you even survived the impact - the Isetta
crumpled like a used kleenex.
"Bizarre and Overdone" to the
"Failure of Quality Control"
section, this book is the reason for the
question "What were they thinking"?
Interesting for the car buff - its' filled
with great historical information. Timothy
Jacobs writes without spitefulness or
grouchiness - but with keen sense of good
& bad taste. I can only hope that in the
future designers will receive their
credentials by learning from the mistakes
shown here .. but then again - who thought
of the Pontiac Aztek?
Lemon: a yellow
oval citrus fruit with acidic juice b: tree
bearing it. 2. Pale yellow colour 3. Person or
thing regarded as a failure.