• May 12, 2009


The annals of U.S. automobile history may be littered with the occasional hatchback success story, but for every Volkswagen Golf or Toyota Prius, there are dozens of failed three- and five-door hatches that, for whatever reason, fizzled out shortly after hitting the American market. In fact, this particular Top 10 list could easily have been fleshed out into a Top 20 if we had the patience, but cars like the Toyota FX, Plymouth Laser, and Nissan NX failed to meet our tough standards for relative obscurity, and thus they will have to be reserved for future lists.

That said, follow along with us as we take a guided tour of some of the most obscure hatchbacks from the last three decades. Don't sweat it if you don't recall a few of the forgotten machines on our list – most of us – with at least one glaring exception *cough, Paukert, cough* – had to delve deep into our rapidly fading memory banks just to remember the names of these unloved glassbacks.



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  • 66 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      i like these features, they are fun, but i absolutely hate the format of having to go through a slide show.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How can you forget the Chevy Citation (You deserve one for driving it) and the Merkur XR4TI?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Because the Citation is a pretty well known model, and the topic concerns FORGOTTEN hatchbacks.

        I think the internet has been the biggest killer of reading comprehension.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That should read, "Top 10 Hopefully Forgotten Forever Hatchbacks"
      • 5 Years Ago
      My cousin's first car was a 1984 Oldsmobile Firenza hatchback (mid 90s, say 1993 or so). It was not a sporty car, nor was it terribly reliable--I remember that it would eat brakes. And yet he loved it enough to 'customize' it, spending money on wire wheel covers, tinted windows, and an upgraded stereo system. The hydrolics in the fair-spaced hatch had long been busted--a 2X4 or a broom handle proved to be a cheap enough fix.

      My cuz had take an plebeian car and made it HIS car. I envied the personal driving freedom he enjoyed during his last two high school years, and watching his experiences probably contributed to my preference of small cars today. I like hatchbacks, and I wish there were more choices out there for them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know it was a pile of crap (and that it only had something like 55 hp), but did anyone catch the milage figures on that Renault Encore ad? 52 Hwy 38 city???
      • 5 Years Ago
      While the Corsica and Beretta were by now means great cars, they weren't as horrific as claimed here. The paint problems they had were not specific to Corsicas and Berettas, but to every vehicle emblazoned with certain paints in the 80's- manufacturer made no difference. These cars were also platform mates and thus mechanically identicle to the Grand Am.

      Also, the Grand Prix 2+2 was not a hatchback, but rather had a decklid that was all of about 12" deep.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dodge 024/Plymouth TC3
      • 5 Years Ago
      The '72, '73 Nova is pretty forgotten.
        • 5 Years Ago
        And now that I see it, I am stunned that I have never noticed one before.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about the old VW Scirocco? That was a fun car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly - no one has forgotten it as it was fun and cool looking.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I also remember Olds Cutlass being offered in a hatchback version for a while...made for a really strangely shaped back end on that car.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The Cutlass and Buick Century were offered as a fastback, but not hatchback models for 1978 / 9. Sales were miserable, as the look did not translate well to a midsize car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Aerocoupe isn't a hatchback. It just has an itty bitty trunklid behind a huge back window.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Isuzu Impulse. Discuss.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A solid (and gorgeously styled) pick, but I'm kind of partial to the I-Mark... ;)
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Handling By Lotus"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Impulse? US version of the Piazza, which was itself originally a concept car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "2.0 Turbo Intercooler" lettering on the sides of the hood.
        Loved that car! Timeless Giugiaro design and that spacecraft dash with the coolest looking buttons I've ever seen! RWD with turbo fun --- weeeeeeee!!!
        Seriously, looking back now ... I should have never sold my Isuzu Impulse!

        OK, need a minute alone now ...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I loved, LOVED the original Impulse - not the gross second generation clone of the Geo Storm. That first, Giugiaro-designed one was stunning with such a sleek, slightly sinister and balanced look. It doesn't look that dated even today.

        A friend in hs had one and we all drooled over the interior with the pod controls, and for whatever reason were fascinated with the single wiper. So very exotic! I remember the ad campaign showed the car mostly in shadow with dramatic copy.

        Yes I remember an article about the "rebirth" of the Ford EXP. Apparently some line workers (who probably should have been focusing on quality control) put the newer Escort nose on an old EXP body they had sitting around and convinced management to look at it. So they brought it back without the frog face, but the results were as lousy as the first attempt. The LN7 died early, but the idea of its bubble glass hatch was grafted onto the larger Capri until it got canned as well.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Rebadged as a Geo Storm in its second iteration.
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