• Introduction


    As they grapple with their massive challenges, the domestic automakers can at least look back at a history packed with colorful winners and losers. Here is a rundown on the top ten worst-selling American cars of the past 50 years.

    List by Gary Hoffman.
  • Studebaker Wagonaire
    • Image Credit: Author archives

    Studebaker Wagonaire

    Sales: 940
    (1963 through 1966)

    As the Big 3 automakers began producing a dazzling array of models, struggling Studebaker threw its hat into the ring with its Wagonaire station wagon. The roof on this unusual car slid forward to create an open-air cargo area, which served much the same purpose of the so-called Ranchero "pickups" that Ford introduced in 1957. But roof leaks sealed the Wagonaire's fate.
  • Lincoln Blackwood
    • Image Credit: Ford

    Lincoln Blackwood

    Sales: 3,300
    (2001 through 2002)

    Given their potential profitability, luxury pickups have always appealed to Ford's product planners. Priced at more than $50,000, the four-door Blackwood was designed to give Lincoln a piece of the action as well. But not even a box adorned with aluminum pinstripes could rescue it from its flaws: a narrow equipment selection and the lack of a four-wheel-drive option.
  • Studebaker Avanti
    • Image Credit: Author archives

    Studebaker Avanti

    Sales: 4,600
    (1962 through 1963)

    Car lovers raved about the Avanti's design and performance, but Studebaker's own financial and manufacturing problems depressed its sales. Problems with the fit of its innovative fiberglass exterior, for example, led to production delays. There must have been wailing and gnashing of teeth at Studebaker headquarters as a huge backlog of early orders went unfilled.
  • Plymouth Prowler
    • Image Credit: Chrysler

    Plymouth Prowler

    Sales: 8,100
    (1999 through 2002)

    It's fair to say that Chrysler Corp. never intended to set sales records with the Plymouth Prowler, but the model didn't achieve its main goal either: breathing life back into a dying brand. It even suffered the ignominious fate of being re-badged as a Chrysler after Plymouth's demise. Still, its fans love its looks and technology, and it's credited with igniting the retro craze of the last decade.
  • Mercury Marauder
    • Image Credit: Ford

    Mercury Marauder

    Sales: 11,000
    (2003 through 2004)

    The Marauder, a full-sized muscle car, was designed to take on the Chevy Impala SS, but its sales never met Ford Motor Co.'s expectations. Still, it earned good reviews for its power and handling. Its sales performance bore an eerie resemblance to that of an earlier Mercury Marauder that came up short against the Pontiac GTO in 1969.
  • AMC Marlin
    • Image Credit: Author archives

    AMC Marlin

    Sales: 17,000
    (1965 through 1967)

    Originally known as the Rambler Marlin, this car was American Motors Corp.'s contender into the near-luxury segment in the mid-1960s and a part of an ill-conceived strategy to attack Ford, GM and Chrysler at their strongest points. This relatively large fastback preceded the Dodge Charger by about a year, generating excitement but little in the way of sales.
    • Image Credit: Author archives


    Sales: 19,000
    (1966 through 1970)

    As auto buyers demanded more muscle, American Motors Corp. brought out the two-seat AMX -- which it considered a worthy rival to the Chevrolet Corvette -- for just three-quarters of the price. Unfortunately, the public never saw it quite that way. Gear heads and automotive press were far more appreciative, reveling in its powerful V-8s. Today, the AMX's low production levels now assure its value as a collectible.
  • Buick Reatta
    • Image Credit: GM

    Buick Reatta

    Sales: 21,700
    (1988 through 1991)

    The Reatta was a partly hand-made, two-seat luxury car made in a "Craft Centre" in Lansing, Mich., not in a normal factory. With its streamlined looks and sluggish performance, it didn't seem to target any specific segment, and older customers wondered what a sports car was doing wearing the Buick badge. Its run was cut short when it managed only a fraction of the sales forecast for it.
  • Dodge Monaco
    • Image Credit: Chrysler

    Dodge Monaco

    Sales: 22,100
    (1990 through 1993)

    The Dodge Monaco of the 1990s is hardly the stuff of automotive legend. This model was invented to soak up components originally intended for slow-selling Eagle Premier, one of the "orphan" makes that Chrysler inherited from AMC. But despite management's high regard for the power of the Dodge brand, the re-badged version didn't even sell as well as the Premier.
  • Mercury Park Lane
    • Image Credit: Ford

    Mercury Park Lane

    Sales: 22,800
    (1958 through 1960)

    Mercury used its high-end Park Lane model to pursue roughly the same customers that Lincoln marketers were chasing, and the nameplate was dropped when Ford realigned the offerings of the two model lines. The name returned to the Mercury line-up later, notably on the Park Lane Brougham of the late 1960s.
  • Next, Check Out the Home Runs

    Next, Check Out the Home Runs

    Now, view our gallery of the Home Runs: The Best-Selling American Cars of the Last 50 Years

    Click here to see the full list >> Best-Selling American Cars of the Last 50 Years.

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