The Alleged Car

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Look on the bright side: it's convenient for boiling eggs.

Crazy Vaclav: She'll do 300 hectares on a single tank of kerosene.
Homer: What country is this car from?

Crazy Vaclav: It no longer exists.
The Simpsons, "Mr. Plow"

It was cheap. It was easy to buy. Charitably, it can be called a car. Unfortunately, it tops out at about 40 miles per hour (45 if you're going downhill), it breaks down a lot, you get parking tickets for it while it's in drive, and you probably have to special-order replacement parts from overseas, since you're the only one in your time zone who was enough of a sucker to buy one (and cars like this are inevitably foreign, often from countries that no longer exist due to civil wars and political turmoil). The only reason it hasn't fallen apart yet is because the rust holds everything in place. Often it has some kind of cute or derogatory nickname. Sometimes a car like this is referred to as a Rolls-Canardley: rolls down one hill, can 'ardly get up the next.

New drivers' first cars tend to be like this, due to not knowing any better, or—since most newbie drivers are in their teens or early twenties—they don't have enough money to buy a Cool Car. But even then, logic kicks them in the rear when they realize that the money spent on repairs could have been saved up for a nicer car in the first place.

The polar opposite of the Cool Car. Often found in Injun Country and Ruritanias, or in the parking lot of Honest John's Dealership. Expect My Car Hates Me to happen a lot.

The extent to which this is Truth in Television, like many car-related tropes, is largely the ghost of tropes past: it plays off of pre-1980s notions of notoriously unreliable foreign and used cars which tend not to be true today. Also of note, cars that degrade to the state of disrepair often depicted on television would simply not be street-legal in any modern industrial country with an established vehicle safety code. Of course, that doesn't mean there aren't people who still drive them, or that such cars are not in use outside the US....

Paradoxically, in both fiction and sometimes in real life, a person who operates any such alleged vehicle for any length of time can often become quite emotionally attached to it. Sometimes a person gets in touch with all the car's little quirks, such that only he or she can keep the heap running.

Ironically, this trope was codified by none other than the Ford Model T. Yes, the very car that put the world on wheels was considered obsolete and faintly ridiculous by the height of the silent film era and quickly became the Alleged Car in the hands of comedians like the Keystone Kops, Harold Lloyd, and Laurel and Hardy. They were cheap, disposable, intrinsically funny, and ironically enough, the quirky brake, throttle, and transmission controls that made them seem so obsolete just happened to make them excellent stunt cars.

If it's a horse that gets this treatment, then you're dealing with The Alleged Steed. If the car looks like this, but is secretly a Cool Car, see What a Piece of Junk!. A Chronically Crashed Car may become one of these if it gets repaired one too many times.

Examples of The Alleged Car include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The infamous "Yukarimobile" from Azumanga Daioh. It's a miracle Yukari can drive the damn thing in the shape it's in. Its second appearance in the anime is suitably... ominous.
    • It belongs to Yukari's parents. Presumably it looks like that because it is driven by Yukari. The way that thing gets camera treatment, it is the closest thing the series has to an outright villain. Not even Kimura-sensei is quite as traumatizing.
  • Coach Yamazakura's car in Slow Step. Bikes are faster and factories produce less exhaust.
  • In the manga of You're Under Arrest, Natsumi ends up with one of these after getting her auto license - the car had been assembled out of discarded parts from numerous stolen vehicles. Then it gets customized by Miyuki...


Comics[edit | hide]

  • Archie Andrews' jalopy in Archie Comics. Witness what happens when Archie tries to get it insured:

Insurer: What model is your car?
Archie: Uh, let's see...It's a Ford, Chevy, Plymouth, Pierce Arrow, Packard, De Soto, Hudson-
Insurer: Hold it! How many cars do you want to insure?
Archie: Oh, it's only one car, but it's a collection of replacement parts from several junkyards.
Insurer: Well, what year is it?
Archie: Some of it dates back to 1926!

Throughout its very long run, they had to constantly replace the base car as the car starts to become a classic or an an antique -- something that actually had some worth.
  • Donald Duck's famous 313. In one comic Donald manages to get the car to do 40 mph downhill, gets a ticket, and the cop remarks it's the first time he's ever given a speeding ticket to someone in a Belchfire Runabout (the make of car). In the story Recalled Wreck, Donald tells that he actually build the car himself from parts that by now are all out of production and can't be replaced. It's not hard to guess what happens to the parts next...
  • In Sin City:
    • Gail has an unfortunate tendency to saddle Dwight with crappy cars when he's helping her. Once, during The Big Fat Kill she even forgot to make sure the car had enough gas to get where it was going. A similar car was given to him in Family Values.
    • And then there's Nancy's car, which is so broken-down and idiosyncratic that no one but her can keep it running.
  • Gaston Lagaffe's car (pictured above) is an old jalopy, a Fiat 509 from 1923 or 1925 that goes so slow, pedestrians can outrace it. It leaks so much oil that one strip shows someone water-skiing in the car's oily wake.
  • The title character of Achille Talon drives a car that rolled off the assembly line in 1903 (the British-made Achilles, obviously chosen for its name). And it looks every year of its age.
  • Gabe's beater in The Maze Agency, which is used to contrast Jen's 1958 Corvette, the Cool Car.
  • Brad's perpetually worked-on Chevy Nova in Luann.
  • The 1962 VW Microbus Jeremy and Hector are "restoring" in Zits. It has wildlife living in the engine compartment and creates its own smokescreen as it drives.
  • The Spider-Mobile. Unlike most examples on this page, it was actually pretty pimped out...just really uncool in being pointless (Spider-Man neither needs nor—as the arc in which the thing appeared showed—has the ability to drive a car) and corny looking. The butt of many jokes in hindsight.
  • Harold Harold's car in The Tomb of Dracula.


Fan Works[edit | hide]

I insist, though, that when in Transbelvia, the truly discriminating tourist is obligated to drive the national automobile, the one and only Belv. The Belv is the quintessential East European car, a tiny tin box with a two-stroke motor that sounds like a mimeograph machine on Self-Destruct and smells like a burning blackwall tire. This particular one had a four-speed manual gearbox that liked to crunch and jitter on shifts, brakes operated by cables, and no gauges that worked.

  • Non-car example: Midnight Green's dilapidated cart that he quite happily smashes into a tree.


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • In Madagascar 2 the state of the plane the Penguin Commandos and the Zoo animals attempt to fly back to New York in is so bad that one of the signs it is not working is that its engine is no longer on fire. It also comes with several skeletons on board.

Kowalski: We've lost engine one... and engine two is no longer on fire...

Blue Car: I can't take this kind of pressure
I must confess one more dusty road would be just a road too long... (crunch)
Chorus: Worthless...

Pink Car: I just can't- I just can't- I just can't seem to get started
Don't have the heart to live in the fast lane all that is past and gone... (crunch)

    • Two cars stacked on top of each other

Chorus: Worthless...
Bottom Car: There ain't nothing you can do about it
Chorus: Worthless...
Top Car: Pardon me while I panic!
Chorus: Worthless, worthless, worthless...

    • A red sports car from Kansas City, MO

Red Car: I come from KC, Missouri, I've got my kicks for Route 66
from every truck stop from Butte to MO
from Motown to Old Alabama, from Texarkana to east of Savannah
from Tampa to Kokomo... (crunch)
Chorus: Worthless...

    • An Indianapolis 500 racing car

Race Car: I once ran the Indy 500, I must confess how impressed I did it
I wondered how close did I came
Now I get a sickened sensation, I was at the top of the line, out of sight out of mind
So much for fortune and fame... (crunch)

    • A Texan wedding car

Wedding Car: Once took a Texan to a wedding, I once took a Texan to a wedding
He kept forgetting, his loneliness letting his thoughts turn to home and we turned... (crunch)

    • A hearse (crushed to death at the same time as the aforementioned wedding car)

Hearse: I took a man to a graveyard
I beg your pardons, but it's quite hard enough
just living with the stuff that I've learned... (crunch)
Chorus: Worthless...

    • A holiday bus with a surfboard on her roof

Holiday Bus: Once took a surf after sunset, there were bikinis, there were bums, there were weenies
Believe me, they just wouldn't forget
Pico, let's go up to Zuma, Pico, let's go up to Zuma
From Zuma to Yuma, the rumor was that I had a hand in the lay of the land... (crunch)
Chorus: Better go and hit the highway...
(instrumental)

    • A green Native American pickup truck (who actually COMMITS SUICIDE by driving into the car crusher instead of waiting for the magnet unlike everyone else!)

Chorus: Oooooooh...
Pickup Truck: I worked at a reservation...
Chorus: Oooooooh...
Pickup Truck: Who would believe they would love me and leave me for a bus back to old Santa Fe...
Once in an Indian nation, I took the kids with the skis and a Hopi who was happy 'til I heard them say,
"You're worthless..." (crunch)

  • Cars:
    • The Rusteze Bumper Ointment (Lightning McQueen's sponsor) tent from is full of rusty, beaten-up cars, much to McQueen's dismay. Ironically, his best friend is Mater, a similarly rusty, beaten-up tow truck.
    • The villains of the sequel are all notorious "lemons", such as Gremlins or Pacers. In fact, two baddies from this film are even known as Grem and Acer! The Dragon is based on a German microcar in which passengers always face the back.
  • Both vehicles in The Fox and The Hound probably qualify for this. The widow's is a really old truck, and Slade's is tempremantal after the engine gets shot full of holes by the widow.


Films -- Live Action[edit | hide]

Nick: This is not a cab, my friend, I promise.

  • Inspector Clouseau's car in Revenge of The Pink Panther. It looks like a pimped-up Batmobile, but falls apart in the driveway.
  • Smoke Signals has one that's permanently stuck in reverse and thus driven backwards everywhere. According to the makers, this is actually Truth in Television on some Indian reservations.
  • Pow Wow Highway has a car stuck permanently in reverse, too.
  • "The Loaner" from The Mask, given to Stanley as a replacement for his Honda Civic by some unscrupulous mechanics while the latter is being repaired.
  • The "Wagon Queen Family Truckster" from National Lampoon's Vacation. "You think you hate it now -- but wait til you drive it!"
  • The villains in Dead Man's Shoes drove an ancient Citroën that one of them had apparently inherited from his grandmother, complete with a My Car Hates Me moment when the Anti-Hero was advancing on them with an axe.
  • The car that the title character drives in Mr. Hulot's Holiday is so underpowered and rickety, duct-tape and bailing wire could be considered luxury extras.
  • The James Bond movies have a few examples.
  • Speaking of Citroën 2CV, the one driven by Soeur Clotilde in The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez is literally broken apart by the ride's end, losing its doors, wings, windscreen and even the rear axle. Though it's mostly because the nun Drives Like Crazy.
  • Dragnet (1987). "After losing the two previous vehicles we had been issued, the only car the department would release to us at this point was an unmarked 1987 Yugo; a Yugoslavian import donated as a test vehicle by the government of that country and reflecting the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology."
  • The Mario Bros' craptastic van in the Super Mario Bros movie.
  • The VW bus in Little Miss Sunshine has to be push started because it needed a new clutch, but the family would have missed Olive's contest if they had waited for it to be fixed. Also, the horn had a loose connection and beeped intermittently.
  • Subverted in Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. Sean's car is a rusty Monte Carlo that seems to be falling apart... until you realize it's a "sleeper car", that is, a car that looks bland at best, beaten-up at worst, but tricked out under the hood so much it can beat a brand-new Dodge Viper.
  • The second Enterprise is like this in Star Trek V, allegedly because it was a quick refit of another ship still under construction.
  • Andrew Steyn's car in The Gods Must Be Crazy! is nicknamed "The Antichrist" (for multiple reasons) or "Son Of A Mlakka" depending on who you ask.
  • As much a Cool Car as the DeLorean of Back to The Future is, it would always break down at the worst time. Apparently this is Truth in Television. It's implied that Doc Brown installed some sort of override on the ignition; he fiddles under the dash and she starts right up, or the ignition wires are just that loose.
  • Mrs. Larusso's car in The Karate Kid.
  • The car in Dude, Where's My Car?, which makes its appearance in the last minute of the movie. It's a Renault that's about half the size of any other car on the road and ugly as all get out.
  • Frank's "piss yellow" junker in The Frighteners.
  • The title ship in Serenity. In both of the Book Ends, a piece of the ship simply falls off.
  • DJ Drake's AMC Gremlin in Looney Tunes: Back in Action gave revered Looney Tunes voicebox Mel Blanc an extra posthumous acting credit by looping the effects he did for Jack Benny's Maxwell (see below) as it pulled into frame. Apropos of nothing, the car was also a Shout-Out, as its arrival was marked with a snippet of the "Gremlins Rag" (Joe Dante apparently couldn't resist a bit of self-reference).
  • Troy's truck in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
  • Inverted in Wanted. The Lada driven by Fox in the train hunt scene is the quintessencial crappy car in (ex-)Soviet culture. Only she does some really crazy shit with this alleged vehicle: unbelievable stunts, ridiculous speed, aerobatics, you name it. Awesomeness and hilarity combined.
  • Denzel Washington's introductory movie, Carbon Copy, has one of these. Denzel's character purchased it for 14 dollars and a record player, leading his (white) father to reply, "you were overcharged." It has no horn, no brakes, a nonexistent paint job, coughs black smoke everywhere it goes, and becomes a permanently-converted convertible by the end of the film.
  • In Friday, Smokey's car barely runs, but he still installs an alarm.
  • Buford T. Justice's police cruiser in Smokey and the Bandit usually becomes one of these by the end of every movie, in one case being reduced to nothing but a chassis, engine, and wheel, but still keeps going.
  • Watts' Mini in Some Kind of Wonderful.
  • The Dude's Torino in The Big Lebowski was a pile of crap, even before the events of the movie that led to his car being burned by nihilists.
  • The bobsled in Cool Runnings.
  • Ms. Norbury's car in a deleted scene from Mean Girls.
  • Axel Foley's "beat up old Chevy Nova" in Beverly Hills Cop. In one scene, he parks it on an incline and it starts to roll away. His ex-girlfriend Jeanette is apparently quite familiar with the car, as she asks him if he's still driving it.
  • The title character's car from Uncle Buck. It lets out a boom like a high powered rifle when the gas pedal is pressed and leaves a smokescreen the size of Kansas in its trail.
  • In the Hallmark movie Ice Dreams the main character has one of these.

Amy: What's wrong with my car?
Amy's Mom: It's not a car, dear, it's a casualty.

  • Ralphie's Old Man's 1937 Oldsmobile in A Christmas Story.
  • Turned completely on its head in Woody Allen's Sleeper. While on the run from (future dystopian) authorities, Woody's and Diane Keaton's characters discover what appears to be a dust covered, 200 year old, mid-Sixties vintage Volkswagon Beetle. When Woody turns the key in the ignition the car starts without a millisecond's hesitation and purrs happily. Woody observes, "Wow, they just don't make 'em like they used to."
  • Polish Communist film Mis (Teddy Bear), which generally sent up life in the Polish People's Republic, had a sequence in the opening credits where the hero sneezed and his Polish Fiat car fell apart in the middle of traffic.
  • Judge Dredd. At the beginning, when Dredd is demonstrating the Lawmaster bike to a class of cadets, the performance of that particular bike is a bit less than reliable.
  • The BluesMobile.
  • The minivan at the end of Project X, which is missing two doors and has had most of its paint scorched off. Thomas' parents force him to drive it to school as punishment, though his friends think it looks Badass.


Jokes[edit | hide]

  • A common Texan joke involves a Texan bragging about the size of his ranch by explaining that it takes him all day to drive from his house to the end of his property, getting the reply "Yeah, I've had a car like that too..."
  • "Once you start driving a Toyota, you won't be able to stop." It certainly doesn't help that their motto is "moving forward".
  • "At least my Toyota has a manual transmission so if it runs away I can hit the brake and clutch, leaving both hands free for the wheel. Or the Rosary."
  • Jeremy Hotz's routine about his diesel-powered Chevette with a trailer hitch.
  • "How do you get a Yugo up to 60 mph? Push it off a cliff."
  • Comedian Lewis Black had his rental Plymouth Horizon stolen. When he filed a police report, they suggested the thief took it for a joyride.

"I said, 'You know, I don't think you're listening, asshole. The car is a Plymouth Horizon. It is not a joy to RIDE!' This is a car that goes 45 miles per hour with the wind; if you turn the air conditioning off you can supercharge the little fucker to 48."

He also mentioned "never [having] driven a car that's aqua."
  • Trabi jokes. See the Real Life section.
  • Bill Cosby's bit from his Why is There Air album about his first car, a 1942 Dodge he bought for $75, which wouldn't go over 50 mph.
  • Scott Faulconbridge had a routine where he talked about his car. It was worth about twenty bucks. After he filled it with gas.
  • A stock Borscht Belt joke (included in Waak's brief stand-up routine in the film Explorers) is about a car called a "Rolls-Canardly" -- "It rolls down one hill and can 'ardly get up the next."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams, Kate's Citroën 2CV is like this, and is the Trope Namer—at one point she's in court for a traffic mishap (her car threw a wheel and nearly caused an accident) and a police officer refers to it as "the alleged car", and the name sticks. This is Truth in Television at least to some extent for the 2CV—see the Real Life section below.
  • Good Omens loves this trope.
    • Newton Pulsifer has a Wasabi. He praises its incredible gas mileage, but tends to gloss over the amount of time it spends being repaired; he also calls it Dick Turpin (after the British highwayman), because "wherever I go, I hold up traffic." At one point it's described as having been designed on that fateful day when Japan stopped copying Western designs and began coming up with their own, during the brief period of paradigm shift, and ended up with not only all the flaws of Western cars, but also some entirely new ones. Aside from the repair time, it also has a voice that recites, in a particularly bad Japanese accent, "Prease to frasten sleat-bert" regardless of whether the seat-belt is fastened, and an airbag system that deploys on dangerous occasions like when you're traveling slowly on a dry straight road but are about to crash because an airbag just deployed into your face. Newton's attempts to convince others to buy one are motivated by the idea that misery loves company.
    • Crowley drives a 1926 Bentley, which qualifies as a Cool Car. But near the end of the book, he drives it like mad to get from London to Tadfield during a huge traffic jam (including leaping through a wall of fire caused by a cursed motorway Crowley designed), and what's left of it afterwards definitely qualifies as an Alleged Car, assuming it qualifies as a car at all.
    • A third main character, Anathema Device, has an Alleged Bicycle possibly made of drainpipes. All three vehicles get better over the course of the book. Anathema's bicycle and Newton's Wasabi get better than new, with the Wasabi gaining ridiculous gas mileage and its warning system changing to pleasant-voiced haikus.
  • American Gods has a ton of bad (and bad-smelling) cars.
    • Shadow buys a "Pee-Oh-Ess" '83 Chevy Nova for $450 which "had almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock, and smelled faintly of bourbon, tobacco, and more strongly of something that reminded Shadow of bananas." It goes, and that's about all you can say for it.
    • There's also "a lumbering and ancient Winnebago, which smelled non-specifically but pervasively and unmistakably of male cat".
    • An a 1970 VW bus that "smelled of patchouli, of old incense and of rolling tobacco."
    • The Winnebago later gets traded for another car that is in absolutely horrible condition, but will continue to run as long as they keep filling it with oil.
    • Shadow also ends up buying another vehicle that is painted (poorly) a very ugly shade of purple. It's described as a color that a person would only choose while under the influence of many drugs.
  • Jasper Fforde:
    • Played with in The Big Over-Easy, where the protagonist drives a 1970s Austin Allegro that should fit this trope. He replaces it with another one, in showroom condition, in The Fourth Bear—it turns out it's only still running because he bought it from Dorian Gray and there's a picture of the car that suffers all the damage and breakdowns the car would otherwise be subject to. Over the course of the book, the damage sustained reaches such an extent that the picture collapses into an inter-dimensional portal, dragging the car and anyone in it to hell.
    • Thursday Next - Thursday's car is old, makes funny noises, came very cheap from a questionable second-hand car lot, and caught her attention because of a time loop in which she saw herself driving it. But she falls in love with it anyway because it's loudly colored and goes fast.
  • The Dresden Files has Harry Dresden's Beetle, complete with a cute nickname: The Blue Beetle. He can't drive anything else because magic screws up modern technology. Although this is never explicitly stated, it's possible that one of the reasons he's driving a Volkswagen instead of any other random older car is that the engine is farther away from him. Plus, Harry has stated that his mechanic can keep the Beetle running eight or nine days out of ten, which, as far as Harry's Walking Techbane status goes, makes the mechanic a miracle worker. Unfortunately, miracles have limits, and being compacted into a small ball is the Beetle's limit...
  • Discworld: Granny Weatherwax has the Alleged Flying Broomstick.

Its lifting spells had worn so thin that it wouldn't even begin to operate until it was already moving at a fair lick. It was, in fact, the only broomstick ever to need bump-starting.

  • Dave Barry covers this a few times:
    • In the column "Lemon Harangue", he talks about his father's unerringly awful car buying instincts:

For example, my father was one of the very few Americans who bought the Hillman Minx, a wart-shaped British car with the same rakish, sporty appeal as a municipal parking garage but not as much pickup. Our Minx also had a Surprise Option Feature whereby the steering mechanism would disconnect itself at random moments, so you'd suddenly discover that you could spin the wheel all the way around in a playful circle without having any effect whatsoever on the front wheels... You don't see many Minxes around anymore, probably because the factory was bombed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    • In Dave Barry Does Japan, he mentions that his own first new car was a Chevrolet Vega, which was "made of compressed rust".
  • In Markus Zusak's The Messenger, one of the narrator's friends owns a "shitbox blue Ford" of which he is intensely proud and protective - he goes berserk if anyone brings up its shortcomings within his earshot, even at a police officer who told him it wasn't roadworthy. He claims it's an antique, it appears to made from rust, it has a 0.5 percent chance of starting the first time you turn the key, it's often propped by bricks because the handbrake is broken, any replacement part would be worth more than the rest of the car itself put together, and it foils a bank robbery in the opening chapter because the robber chose it as his getaway vehicle and couldn't get it to start before the police arrived.
  • Stephen King's Cujo has a woman and her son trapped in one of these by a rabid Saint Bernard dog.
  • The evil, sentient title car in Christine, also by King, is a sort of twisted horror version of this trope. It completely takes over a geeky young car-lover's life with its constant demand for repairs and replacement parts, all while making him love it beyond reason. Futurama does a Shout-Out: "And then... Honk honk! The car honked its own horn!"
  • In Ilya Ilf and Eugene Petrov's "The Little Golden Calf", the Antelope Gnu was essentially what was considered The Alleged Car in the early 1930s Soviet Union. Unknown origins (allegedly Loren-Dietrich), but obviously heavily modified and jury-rigged, working unstably and finally exploding into small pieces of debris (and being rebuilt).
  • One set of Beachcomber columns describes the saga of the Alleged Ship Saucy Mrs Flobster, flagship of the Lots Road Power Station, and an attempt by the Government to sell her to Afghanistan. The ship is too waterlogged to burn, is missing vital components such as masts, sails, rudders and most of the hull, and the previous purchasers (Lichtenstein) offered sevenpence but pulled out when they saw what they'd be buying. It's only at the very end that anyone wonders why the Lots Road Power Station ever needed a navy in the first place.
  • Stephanie Plum frequently has one of these, due to her financial constraints and how frequently her cars get destroyed. Though this is also somewhat subverted by her Uncle Sandor's powder blue '53 Buick Roadmaster (aka Big Blue). This is the car she drives when her usual one is inevitably destroyed. The Buick is basically indestructible, though Stephanie absolutely hates it (mostly cause it's ugly and large). Women, especially Lula, share her disdain, while men unanimously love Big Blue.
  • In the short story "Tobermory" by Saki, one of the secrets that the eponymous talking cat elects to share is that one of the guests was only invited to the party because the hosts think that she is stupid enough to buy their alleged car, dubbed "The Envy of Sisyphus" because it goes quite nicely uphill, if you push it...
  • In Shoefly Pie, the Alleged car is a Dodge Dart, with the most valued component being the half pizza in the back. t didn't have problems driving (until they took it into a field and the driveshaft fell out), the floor was flintstones style, and the original color might possibly have been blue.
  • In William Gaddis's A Frolic of His Own, the protagonist's troublesome Japanese car, which runs over him, engendering a lawsuit, is called the Sosumi.
  • A subplot in the The Darkest Hours, a Spider-Man novel written by Jim Butcher, involves Mary Jane Watson-Parker having to take her driving test so she can play Lady Macbeth for a theater company in Atlantic City. She surprises Peter by announcing that she had purchased a rusty, lime-green Gremlin. The Gremlin also turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun; when Spider-Man is almost killed by Mortia the Ancient, MJ ends up ramming into her with the Gremlin while quoting Lady Macbeth!
  • The protagonist of Laurie Halse Anderson's Catalyst has a Yugo named Bert, which she describes as "a tissue box on wheels with a bulimic hunger for motor oil."
  • The Doctor from Doctor Who apparently has a particular affection for this trope. In the Eighth Doctor Adventures novels, he has a Trabant, as featured in the Real Life section of this trope page. Even better: he drives it during his stint as a single father and wealthy business consultant, working with the kind of people who drive "Porsches and BMWs", next to which the Trabant looks like "an old drunk uncle at a wedding". He keeps a ton of books in it and it often stalls (in one scene, his would-be-love interest is foiled by his generally oblivious personality and the fact he's preoccupied by trying to get the car to start), but at the end it has its own little Crowning Moment of Awesome when the Doctor needs to go rescue his daughter from being whisked off the planet:

The Doctor smiled, and slammed his foot on the Trabant’s accelerator, astonishing the owners of the Audi he cruised past.

  • Genevive Robles from Bystander by Luke Green has her Termite, which is a discontinued model from 2011 in a story set in 2035. No parts are made for it so it consumes a lot of cash and paperwork to keep operational, especially given that over the course of the book it's in an earthquake and a blizzard, and narrowly misses being crushed by a flying hydraulic arm from a garbage truck. It is also stated to have an air conditioner that smells like ozone; at least once, Lucretia took a ride in it after being drunk and stuck in garbage truck, which couldn't have helped the smell.
  • In the early Spenser detective novels, Spenser drives several of these. The first was a 1968 Chevy convertible in such awful condition that everyone he meets remarks on it. He justifies keeping it by saying that if it gets damaged in the line of duty, he doesn't care all that much. He later wrecks a Subaru somewhere near the Charles River locks. By the 1990s, he's switched to something better, but he still loses cars with some frequency after that, and implies he's never too attached to them.
    • Carried over to the TV series; in one instance, Spenser complains that his car was nearly totaled, and Hawke quips, "that would be redundant."
  • In Wise Blood, Hazel Motes buys an old car for $200.[1] He's quite proud of it, but no one else is impressed, and it's missing several seats.
  • Ephraim Kishon had one, from France BTW. He called it "Madeleine".
  • In Daniel Pinkwater's Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario, one character purchases one during the course of the book. He gets it dirt cheap(less than a hundred dollars), on the condition that he has to wear a chicken suit whenever he drives it.
  • Jen from Extraordinary* has a car that stalls all the time, usually at the worst moments.
  • The March 1980 edition of Australian car magazine Wheels controversially declared "No Car of the Year" for 1979, with the front cover featuring a giant lemon on four wheels. This prompted Ford Australia to hit back with an advertisement for its then-latest model Falcon, depicting a page full of literal lemons with popular car brands printed on them and declaring, "There are times when being a lemon is not a bitter experience at all". Wheels also declared "No Car of the Year" in 1972 and 1986.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In The Middleman, Wendy has a Hruck Bugbear, which is made in the Balkans and described as "a poor man's Yugo". Her soon-to-be boyfriend Tyler likes it, but he seems to be the only one who does.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Giles' first car, a potentially very cool but dreadfully run-down Citroën DS, is one of these until it gets crashed by Spike in the Season 4 episode "A New Man." He replaces it with a Midlife Crisis Car, a BMW 3-series convertible (still used, but much more contemporary). The Citroën is also mocked in the Buffy tie-in novels. Oddly, it's actually totaled in one of them.
    • The entire series seems to revel in this trope. Xander and Oz have both confessed their own personal off-screen road-trip-gone-wrong stories that begin with their vehicles breaking down.
  • Zap Rowsdower's truck in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Final Sacrifice does this. Mike and the bots waste no time in bashing the Rowsdower-mobile.
  • The Reliant Regal three-wheeled van owned by the main characters of Only Fools and Horses is a famous example, the So Bad It's Good of the car world. It's popular enough that more than one Real Life Reliant Regal owner has painted his vehicle to look like it, and it came second only to the General Lee in a poll of the best-ever TV cars.
  • Mr. Bean's 1977 Mini, complete with latch and padlock door system and non-working handbrake, is constantly "The Alleged Car" in its repeated collisions with a certain Reliant Supervan.
  • Columbo drives a beat-up Peugot 403 convertible. He seems pleased to own a foreign car. In one episode, he drives it to a junkyard where a body has been found. A policeman tells him he'll have to dump his car there another day. Columbo is shocked at the idea that anyone could think his car was junk. Oh... just one other thing... Peter Falk allegedly picked it out himself one day after having been cast as Columbo. He saw the car in a mechanic's shop where they were apparently using it as a test-bed/oversized paperweight, and thought that given Columbo's otherwise disheveled appearance, the car would be perfect. He bought it from the mechanics and drove it to the lot that day.
  • The title character of Harry O drives a rust-bucket roadster that's always either prominently featured in at least one scene, or conspicuous by its absence, with Harry riding the bus because it was in the shop.
  • Federal Marshall Mary Shannon drives a beat-up purple Ford Probe on In Plain Sight that is an ongoing topic of conversation.
  • Green Acres:
    • Not a car per se, but Oliver's Hoyt-Clagwell tractor should count.
    • Oliver's car breaking down was the subject of at least one episode, in which Mrs. Douglas used her pancake batter to fix a blown head gasket, something of a great feat, considering her knowledge of cars was limited to referring to the gear shifter as a "pernundel" (because of the order of gears: P R N D L).
  • Steve Urkel's Isetta "microcar" on Family Matters

Steve: Boy, I'm glad I paid the extra four dollars for that sunroof!

  • One episode of Michael Palin's New Europe had him take a tour of Nowa Huta (a Communist-built industrial suburb of Krakow) in an East German Trabant, a Real Life embodiment of this trope.
  • Pimp My Ride is entirely about turning an Alleged Car into a Cool Car.
  • Top Gear naturally has a ton of these.
    • One episode features Jeremy Clarkson driving an FSO Polonez, a Polish-built Fiat 125 derivative that he was so unimpressed with that he decreed it be used to play conkers with the aid of an electromagnetic crane. It remains one of his least favourite cars, but later models (produced after The Great Politics Mess-Up) are significantly improved.
    • Another episode has a segment revolving around the question "Did the Communists ever produce a good car?", with said vehicles being tested, for maximum Cold War irony, around the former site of US nuclear missiles, the now closed RAF Greenham Common. The first two cars tested, a Lada Riva and a Moscvitch 408, lose a quarter-mile drag race to a dog.
    • The presenters build their own alleged car in one episode: Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust, an electric vehicle that, despite being a death trap, is fully street legal. It even got a proper review in Autocar; which noted that there were two ways it could take a corner: sliding out of control, or sliding out of control backwards.
    • One episode features the creations of the British Leyland company. James May's actually does fairly well; Jeremy Clarkson's... loses a door. Twice.
    • Many of the show's legendary challenges center around the three hosts being given 1,000 pounds or dollars to buy a car. They then have to to drive somewhere, completing challenges on the way.
      • Richard got very attached to the car he bought in the Botswana episode; he dubbed it "Oliver" and took it with him back home to England; when the car was in a later episode put under threat, he forfeited the challenge. (It's actually an exception: while dirt cheap and bought in Botswana it survived totally unmodified and only broke down once because Hammond accidentally sank it in a river. It's a 1963 Opel Kadett A, if you're wondering.)
      • The Toyota Land Cruiser aka "Donkey" from the Bolivia special. Its engine that hardly ever started, its prop shaft fell out, its differential exploded...
    • The Budget Supercar special has a ton of these. Clarkson's Maserati Merak lost when its engine actually disintegrated into a fine cloud of metal bits. Richard's Ferrari[2] from the same episode had all the engine electronics fail; James' Lamborghini kept running out of electricity, though it WAS the only car that actually ran out of fuel rather than fail. However, following the episode, the Lamborghini was bought by a supercar enthusiast who restored it to working condition, and Richard restored the Ferrari himself; meanwhile, Jeremy's Maserati was so far gone that it had to be broken up for scrap, so it definitely wins the Alleged Car crown for the episode.
    • Top Gear once arranged a Pimp My Ride episode to turn a Lada into a Lotus.
    • And in a complete subversion of this (and the jokes against Toyota above in the Jokes folder) we have the Toyota Hilux. The first one certainly looked like this trope when Jeremy got it. However it was proven that it can't die no matter what you put it through. The little Determinator was driven down stairs, against rock walls, into a tree, lost to the tide, dropped from a crane, had a caravan dropped on it from a crane, hit by a wrecking ball, driven through a shed, set on fire, and dropped from a controlled demolition site. It still drives. Sure it has seawater in a headlight, the dash was destroyed, and there are dents and scrapes everywhere... but it runs. Later they used (new, fresh, and modified) Hilux to drive to the North Pole, and to an active volcano (...after that one also drove to the north pole).
    • Played with in the Albania episode, where the trio were asked to see which of three premium luxury cars (A Rolls-Royce, a Mercedes, and a Bentley) was best for a Leading Light in the Albanian Mafia. Bentley pulled-out due to not wanting to be associated with organized crime and a suffering a sudden sense-of-humor deficiency. Undeterred by this Jeremy purchased a none-too-gently-used Yugo and for the rest of the series they pretended this car was in fact an example of the Bentley Mulsanne they were originally scheduled to test as a Take That for chickening-out.
    • The Middle East special manages to turn high end sports cars into this by putting them into completely the wrong terrain.
  • The American version of Top Gear has had its fair share of alleged cars.
    • In the Alaska Special, Tanner's Chevy allegedly had a diesel engine. The fuel gauge even said it "diesel fuel only". It turned out to be a Chevy Small Block. He still won, and it was the only truck to finish.
    • The show has had some variation on "get a car for cheap/really cheap/obscenely cheap" as the central premise of an episode several times.
      • Rutledge got a Fiero/Ferrari mash-up kitcar for a "$5000 luxury car" challenge that had a leaking problem and struggled to reach 55 mph in the speed test.
      • The "obscenely cheap" version saw the hosts buying cars for just $500. Adam's puke-and-blood stained taxi cab (Tanner and Rutledge's cars had their fair shares of bodily fluids as well) had what he described as "a several minute delay between steering input and actual turning."
  • The short-lived Channel 4 sitcom Hippies featured the "Ginkle", an exaggerated parody of the Trabant, which was incapable of driving more than thirty miles before breaking in half.
  • Jon Stewart says this about the Gremlin he had as a kid: "The car that existed only so that Pinto owners could have something to shit on." In his tribute to Bruce Springsteen during the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, he expanded a little on this: "The Gremlin was a car that was invented for two reasons; one, birth control for young males; and two, it was invented so that the Pinto wouldn't feel so bad about itself."
  • The chevy that SClub got in Miami 7 and later sold in LA 7 was one of these. It had travelled nearly a million miles in its time, and when it reached that number, it unexpectedly transported itself and its occupants 40 years back in time.
  • In one episode of Chuck, Morgan buys a DeLorean with a stuck passenger door that cannot go over 22 miles per hour. Sort of a subversion in that Morgan considers it to be a Cool Car, and even gets a Vanity License Plate for it.
  • The Dodge in Married... with Children. In the episode "Take My Wife, Please":

Cowboy: (from the Village People) Hey, sorry about the Dodge out front.
Kelly: Why, did you hit it?
Cowboy: No. I'm just sorry about.

    • In truth, the car was actually a Plymouth Duster, an pretty desirable car.
  • Most cars on The Red Green Show. Many of these were repurposed on the "Handyman's Corner" segment. For instance, in this clip two alleged cars were combined to make a luxury mid-engine car. Red's own Possum Van was a prime example. Numerous references were made to the crappy cars driven by many of the other Lodge members, to the point where one of the books written by the show's creators noted that having an "old car that barely runs" pretty much confirms its driver as a member of Possum Lodge.
    • Another episode, on the Handyman's Corner, showed Red cutting two cars in half and interconnecting the steering to make a car with front and rear steering. It actually moved several feet.
  • Satan gives Ezekiel Stone one of these in one episode of Brimstone. At the end of the episode Ezekiel realises that it's the second damned soul Satan told him to reclaim that week, and shoots its "eyes" (headlights) out to send it back to Hell.
    • Gives us this lovely exchange:

Detective: Nice wheels, Stone.
Zeke Stone: The wheels are great. The car on top of 'em's crap.

  • Trailer Park Boys:
    • The "Shitmobile".(1975 Chrysler New Yorker 4 door hardtop) It's missing the passenger side front door entirely, and requires a specific method of key turning to start it. It breaks down periodically, but is also shown to be nigh indestructible. The boys have knocked down parking meters and even walls with it, and still been able to drive away.
    • Most of the cars in the show start out in good condition, but usually end up this way by the end of the season. Mr. Lahey's car ended up providing parts for the Shitmobile, and later his cop car ended up without a roof of any sort, which didn't stop any of the characters from driving it.
  • The MythBusters seek out Alleged Cars for their explosions experiments. Those that are perfectly fine (such as Earl The Caddy and the Corvette from "Stinky Car") are soon rendered Alleged Cars.
    • Also fitting in this categories have been alleged snow plows, cranes, cement trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, war machines and just about every other kind of moving contraption.
  • The famous scene in the Fawlty Towers episode "Gourmet Night" where Basil Fawlty's car breaks down in the middle of the road. He then starts shouting at the car, kicks it and runs offscreen... Only to return a few seconds later with a tree branch to start hitting the car out of frustration. One of the funniest and most memorable moments of the series and, arguably, British Sitcom history.
  • In Doctor Who, Time Lords other than the Doctor see the TARDIS as one of these.

The Master: Overweight, underpowered museum piece... Might as well try to fly a second hand gas stove.

  • The Ghostmobile MK-I as seen in The Ghost Busters. It's a 1929 Willys Whippet that always has something wrong with it (usually the brakes).
  • Cedric's Hyundai on The Steve Harvey Show. It and Steve's El Dorado are never seen in the show. With Cedric's car, it has multiple bumper stickers on it to hold the body up and cover up its many dents, it frequently breaks down because Cedric tries to listen to the radio while he drives, and once it would not start simply because Cedric rolled the windows down. When he and Lovita are expecting their baby, she implors him to sell it but in the end, he keeps it and Lovita buys a used minivan.
  • The whorehouse-on-wheels in Tin Man that Cain "borrows" from DeMilo to get DG, Glitch, Raw and himself to the North from "Central City." It breaks down in the middle of a snowstorm, then probably suffered a permanent breakdown after getting Glitch and Cain back to the Witch's Tower, since it is never seen again.
  • One of the "contestants" on the fifth season of Canada's Worst Driver was nominated for owning several Alleged Cars. He proudly declared having never paid more than 400$ for a car.
  • In I Love Lucy, Fred is put in charge with buying a blue Cadillac convertible. The first tip-off is that he bought it for $300.
  • The Bluth Company's stair-car from Arrested Development. While it runs perfectly well, it's slow, very large (wrecking banners and signs suspended high up); hitchhikers hop onto the back of the car whenever it stops, and the driver has to start braking several minutes before they need to get to a full stop.
  • The car Tony bought for Sam on Who's The Boss? would qualify.
  • Greg's first car in The Brady Bunch.
  • On Red Dwarf:
    • Starbug, the transport craft, may qualify as an alleged ship; it frequently breaks down or malfunctions and the interiors are as cramped and dingy as you'd expect from something built by the lowest bidder. Granted, much of the former two may be down to the number of crashes it's survived, but there can't be too many ships where going from Blue Alert to Red Alert involves changing the light bulb.
    • The original, pre-Chicken Walker Blue Midget also counts. It resembled a shabby cross between a chinook, a tank and the space shuttle, was cramped, slow and had a dodgy gearbox. Somehow. When it sprouted legs for Season VIII (and the remastered versions of I-III) it shed most of these qualities.
  • In Adam-12's "The Beast," Malloy and Reed are assigned the eponymous patrol car that's just a few hundred miles away from mandatory retirement.
  • Mr. Roper's car on Three's Company, which he briefly sells to the trio, gets worse every time it's described. One episode says the car must always have a passenger or it will tip over on the driver's side. A mechanic recommends against changing the oil because it's the only thing holding the car together.
  • On Saturday Night Live, Seth Meyers quipped: "A highway safety spokesman said that if you have a Toyota, you should just stop driving it. Toyota owners said 'We're trying!'"
  • The Now Show talked about how they're saving money with the high-speed rail connection from London to Scotland by running it from London to Birmingham and having Toyota supply the brakes.
  • From Keeping Up Appearances, Onslow's beat-up '78 Ford Cortina (the one that runs. Barely.)
  • Barney Fife buys an alleged car (with a transmission full of sawdust) from an alleged sweet little old lady on The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Saturday Night Live also gave us the parody ad featuring The Adobe. "The sassy new Mexican import that's made out of clay!"
  • One episode of My Name Is Earl reveals that Earl and Joy once sold an alleged car to someone. When Earl goes to right this wrong, he discovers that the experience left the man bitter and pessimistic about mankind.
  • Simon's Fiat Cinquecento Hawaii in The Inbetweeners. Small, slow, yellow, missing one of its original doors (later replaced with a red one) and has a tape deck. It winds up in a lake in the finale. Still, it fares better than Neil's Vauxhall Nova which doesn't even have an engine.
  • There's a running gag in the 1980s cop show Hunter about the title character's horrible clunkers. Da Chief loathes him and so sticks him with awful cars, and sometimes it's even had more influence on the plot than just a gag - hard to have a Car Chase when your ride won't start (or the door won't even open, or piles of parts fall out of the bottom.) However, there were also so many instances of him completely demolishing cars in chase scenes that it's possibly Justified: you give this guy a car, it lasts two episodes tops, so you don't give him the best you've got.
  • On The Amazing Race, some of the cars the teams are given turn out to be this, and it's obviously quite deliberate.
  • In the earlier seasons of Boy Meets World it's mentioned a few times that Eric has one of these, but it is never actually seen onscreen.
  • On The Roy Rogers Show, there was Nellybelle, who was run down to the point she often refused to start. Hence Pat Brady's Catch Phrase "Aw, NELLYBELLE!"
  • In the Dirk Gently TV series, Dirk drives an Austin Princess which he's had for at least sixteen years (and, given when the Princess was made, was presumably not new then). It rarely starts, when it does it's always in reverse, and Richard compares changing gears to Russian Roulette.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Adam Sandler's "Ode To My Car" is a profanity-laced Rastafari-esque ballad with a chorus of "Piece of shit car".
  • The Morris Minor in Madness' "Driving In My Car". One line sums it up: I'm satisfied I got this far. We are also frequently informed that it is "not quite a Jag-u-ar".
  • Sir Mix-a-Lot (he who cannot lie about liking big butts) has a track called "My Hooptie."
  • The Coup recorded a fantastic inversion of the Cruising In My Caddy type of song with Cars And Shoes, which lists off a series of increasingly terrible cars that they have owned, making the point that they're crap, but still better than walking.
  • "Two Ton Paperweight" by Psychostick.

My. Car. Is a PIECE OF SHIT!!
Want to drive you off a cliff,
Watch you crash into a ravine,
For the things you did to me,
You, STUPID CAR!!

  • "My Chevette" by Audio Adrenaline.

Zero-to-60: sometimes.

  • Bottle Rockets' 1000 Dollar Car suggests you buy a good guitar instead, it'll take you farther.
  • Then there's the parody Christmas Carol based on "Jingle Bells", "Rusty Chevrolet" by Da Yoopers.

Bouncing through the snowdrifts,
In a big blue cloud of smoke.
People laugh as I drive by,
I wonder what's the joke?

  • "500 (Shake baby shake)" by Lush, on the venerable Fiat Topolino:

When things are looking good there's always complications,
I can't be with you so I'm at the railway station

  • And then there's Jonathan Richman's Dodge Veg-O-Matic:

I'm gonna tell you 'bout the car that I just bought.
It's that Dodge Veg-O-Matic there in the parking lot.
Well, I'm gonna tell you 'bout the car that I now own.
Well it doesn't go nowhere, it just stays all alone.

  • Arrogant Worms's song "Car Full of Pain"—complete with a verse describing how it is literally possessed by the Legions of Hell.
  • Weird Al Yankovic's car in "Stop Dragging My Car Around".
  • The guys at Car Talk have been collecting these for some time now. Have a look.
  • The tour bus in Eric Bogle's "Eric and the Informers":

We drove ourselves round in a Kombi van,
A rusty German coffin.
We cursed Adolf Hitler every time it broke down,
Which was everywhere and often.

She needs a carburetor, a set of plug wires
She's ridin' me around on four bald tires
The wipers don't work and the horn don't blow
But there ain't nothin' wrong with the radio

  • "Teardrops on My Old Car", a parody of Taylor Swift's "Teardrops on My Guitar. Here.
  • "One Piece At A Time" by Johnny Cash is a variation: He's put together a Cadillac by smuggling parts out of his auto assembly line job for more than two decades. The car looks very strange by the time he's done; how it runs is not stated.
  • The 1957 Chevy pickup truck from the C.W. McCall song (which is really more of recitation set to music) "Classified":

Well, I kicked the tires and I got in the seat and set on a petrified apple core and found a bunch of field mice livin' in the glove compartment. He says, "Her shaft is bent and her rear end leaks, you can fix her quick with an oily rag. Use a nail as a starter; I lost the key. Don't pay no mind to that whirrin' sound. She use a little oil, but outside a' that, she's cherry."

  • The second verse of Billy Falcon's "Power Windows" is dedicated to one of these. The song goes on to say the car's owner doesn't need a Cool Car because he's found the Power of Love.
  • Jim White's "Corvair" is something of a deconstruction.

I got a Corvair in my yard
It hasn't run in 15 years
It's a home for the birds now
It's no longer a car.

  • Roberto Carlos' "Calhambeque" is about a man that gets an Alleged Car as a replacement after he sends his car to the repairshop, but ends up keeping the Alleged Car in lieu of the "normal" car.
  • The second line in "Beverly Hills" by Weezer.

"My automobile is a piece of crap."

  • The late Tex-Mex singer Selena had a song named 'Carcacha' (mexican word to refer to a run-down car, is somewhat offensive), the lyrics are entirely about a girl's boyfriend's car, which is the quintessence of the trope.
    • The chorus translates roughly to:

Carcacha, go step by step, don't stop "limping" forward.
Carcacha, bit by bit. Please don't leave us!


Radio[edit | hide]

  • Jack Benny's Maxwell.
  • The Goon Show featured Henery Crun and Minnie Bannister at one point driving a vehicle that makes The Alleged Car look positively Bondworthy. Suffice to say, it's seen going at three miles an hour, and the wick in the engine goes out. Though given that, at various times, characters in the Goons drove pianos, brick walls, barrel organs and steam-driven rockets, an actual car, no matter what its condition, would have been fairly mundane.
  • Click and Clack deal with these a lot, including infamously Tom's Dodge Dart, which he appeared as in the Pixar movie Cars.
  • On his radio show, Jim Rome often tells the story of his Merkur XR4TI, which he calls "the worst car ever". (As an inside joke, Jim calls his production crew "the XR4TI Crew").
  • Amos and Andy's taxicab, forming the fleet for the Fresh Air Taxicab Company of America, Inc.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In the unlikely event that a vehicle from Paranoia (especially one from R&D) isn't one of these to begin with, then carrying around a handful of mildly unhinged Troubleshooters with secret society missions to waste each other will probably seriously damage the systems before long. The second edition sample adventure, for example, featured a six-legged Spider Tank submarine built by taking a van and bolting on legs; the bot brain is going senile, and there's a bewildering array of unlabeled and/or mixed-up controls and gauges (pushing down the gas pedal fires a torpedo, for example, and some of the levers snap off as soon as you try to pull them, and as usual the operating manual is above your security clearance).
  • BattleTech players may be familiar with the Hetzer Wheeled Assault Gun, basically an alleged tank. Among its "virtues" are a fairly slow wheeled chassis that prevents it from traversing many types of terrain compounded by lack of a turret for its only weapon, a battery weak enough that its engine needs to keep running pretty much nonstop to keep it charged, and a tendency to reach the customer not quite fully assembled at times. (If you're lucky, somebody thought to include the bolts to fix the last components in place.) It arguably is one of the cheapest ways available to field an AC/20, but between its flaws and the fact that its big gun makes it an obvious fire magnet it's no surprise that many of its crews consider it a rolling coffin in-universe.
    • All that above said, it is not totally unreasonable when you consider that it is a real-life World War II era design. Go look it up, we'll wait.
  • Subverted in Warhammer 40,000: anything the Orks build or salvage will be the alleged buggy, but thanks to the crude-but-effective nature of Ork tech combined with the fact that red wunz go fasta means that they're surprisingly serviceable.
  • Chez Geek from Steve Jackson Games includes, as one of the things you can spend your money on, a card representing "Harold the Hoopty Car". It's worth a lot of Slack (points), but it's very expensive, reduces your effective Income for each turn by 1, and every turn it has a one-in-six chance of breaking down beyond repair.
  • In Adeptus Evangelion, this can be the Player's Evangelion if the player rolls poorly. It can be made by the lowest bidder or held together by duct tape (they're on the same table so it can't be both), have pressurized blood that squirts everywhere, lose bolts in battle that destroy nearby buildings, have a fractured mind, and be colored Neon Green.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Sims:
    • The Smoogo Minima, from The Sims 2, is the cheapest car in the game, and a parody of this trope. Sims even have trouble closing the (apparently poorly fitted) door! Notably, it merely looks the part; other than the door and the way it impacts Sims' stats, it runs just the same as any other Sim-car.
    • The Sims 3 continues the tradition of having various cars of various expense available for purchase. Notably, the less expensive cars are indeed more likely to breakdown, meaning you might be late for work or school or whatever you're trying to get to, and you will get a negative moodlet.
  • Some of the cars in Grand Theft Auto qualify. They look ugly as hell, and are painfully slow.
  • In The Simpsons Hit & Run, most vehicles which get destroyed are reduced to their frames, Buford T. Justice-style. They are still drivable, but have horrible acceleration, very low top speed, and terrible handling.
  • Gran Turismo 4 has many useless historic cars, including the Daimler Motor Carriage(1 HP!), Ford Model T, Daihatsu Midget I, Fiat 500F/R, Subaru 360, 1948 VW Beetle, 1954 Corvette, etc.
  • Forza Motorsport 4 has a couple famous Alleged Cars, like the Ford Pinto, the Chevrolet Corvair - famous for wrapping itself around trees due to massive oversteer tendencies, the Datsun 510, and the Mustang King Cobra. They all function fine, though they are painfully slow when stock - though some are absurdly fast once upgraded with more modern parts.
    • The third game also had a number of alleged cars, including the Fiat 131 Abarth, the aforementioned Datsun 510, the 1969 Toyota 2000GT, the Porsche 914/6, the Lotus Elan Sprint, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint.
  • Saints Row 2 has rusted versions of cars that have absolutely terrible performance. They can be fixed by taking them to a mechanic and performing any customization on them, however the performance only remains OK.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • The Murakami family's van in Kirakira. The main characters have a lot of trouble with it, and predictably, it breaks down completely when they're already in the middle of their Darkest Hour.


Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • Parodied with Strong Bad's car, the Gremlin, in Homestar Runner, which doesn't even seem to have an engine but is treated as a working car by its owner anyway.

Strong Bad: And that was our road trip. Or, more accurately our car trip, since we didn't go on any roads. Or, even more accurately, our car, since we didn't go on any trips either.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

"Why aren't we shooting at them?"
"Budget interlock. The computer recognizes Sam and won't let us shoot a missile that's worth more than the predicted value of his ship."
"So what are we supposed to do? Take him down with rubber bands and paper clips?"
"Still too expensive. The computer will only authorize up to spitwads."

Sam and Helix did manage to get it off the ground by themselves, an act they're very proud of. Unfortunately, the parade committee forced them to return the balloons shortly thereafter.

Esther: "I have a surprise for you," says my dad. "You know that car Hitler liked so much? I made you one out of rust."


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The Simpsons:
    • Crazy Vaclav, whose cars are prone to breaking down. (And for those of you playing at home, a hectare is a unit of area, not length)
    • Comic Book Guy's car, a "Kremlin", isn't much better. As he brags in the game The Simpsons Hit & Run: "I cannot drive 55 because my car only goes to 38!" Of course, if you have the speedometer turned on while driving as him that's clearly not the case... but still.
    • Elderly Butt Monkey Hans Moleman has an AMC Gremlin that blew up when he stopped the car mere inches from being smashed into a tree.
    • Bart stole the engine from Skinner's car by tying it up to helium balloons. To which Skinner replies "That's a rebuilt Yugoslavian engine; there isn't even a Yugoslavia anymore! Bring it back at once!"
    • Homer's regular car (which Homer says it was made in Guatemala, but his mechanic states it was manufactured in Croatia from recycled Soviet tanks) does his job, but breaks up quite often (mostly because of who drives it).
    • Ned Flanders' Geo.

Maude: "Come on, Ned, Move this thing!"
Ned: "I CAN'T, IT'S A GEO!"

Fry: "I've never seen a supernova blow up, but if it's anything like my old Chevy Nova, it'll light up the night sky!"

    • Also in "Bendin' In The Wind" Fry finds an old VW dug up van with corpses in it.

Fry: Hey, Mister? Mind if I take this old van?
Surly Man: Sure. You wanna dump the corpses out of theres, it's yourses.
Fry: Yeah yeah, I've gotten used cars before.

  • Kim Possible - The Roth SL Coupe (a.k.a. 'the Sloth') Kim's father gives her in the episode "Car Alarm"... before the tweebs soup it up. Ron's scooter definitely qualifies as The Alleged Motorcycle.
  • In Daria, almost every car that doesn't belong to Daria's family is one of these.
    • Tom's Pinto. Tom also drives two different cars in the series that Daria both describes as something you'd want to get a tetanus shot before handling.
    • Also from from Daria: Mystik Spiral's affectionately named "Tank". It "was a van at one point", and breaks down so frequently that Jane has memorized the exact number of seconds you need to hit its dashboard to make it go again. Trent never worries about leaving it unlocked in streets for days at a time because no one ever wants to steal it.
    • Trent's Plymouth Satellite.
  • In Mission Hill, Jim knows Andy hates the Bilgemobile.
  • The Rambler on Life With Louie.
  • Wacky Races has a Cool Car or two but mostly ridiculous cars.
    • The Cape (trope) drives a car that looks cool, but has a tendency to fall apart every episode.
    • Mumbly, a clone of Wacky Races's Muttley, is a parody of Columbo right down to the car which literally fell apart into a pile whenever he parked it.
  • The Venture Brothers has Henchman #24's powder blue Nissan Stanza.
  • The five-part DuckTales (1987) that introduces Gizmoduck sees Scrooge and Launchpad acquire an alleged spaceship.
  • In Dan Vs., nine times out of ten, the reason for Dan seeking revenge is due to something happening to his car, which is probably how it got to be in the condition it's in. People tend to assume it's been abandoned, and when it was accidentally donated to the Salvation Armed Forces, the volunteer responsible told him, "In my defense, no one would want to keep a vehicle like that."

Salvation Armed Forces Employee: We only received one car donation today, and it was not in drivable condition.
Dan: Yes! That's the one!

  • Stanley Ipkiss's indiscriminate-model clunker, complete with a portable driver's side door, from The Mask.
  • On Re Boot, Bob's car never works properly. He describes it as a classic, but it's a recurring gag that the thing never runs—not even when a virus is about to infect Bob and company and turn them to stone (they have to resort to Percussive Maintenance to get it going again).
  • The Total Drama series feature several alleged vehicles, though only one of them is a car:
    • The Lame-o-sine, complete with an obnoxious set of bull horns on the front.
    • The Boat of Losers, though it was probably in the best of shape compared to the other alleged vehicles.
    • The single prop plane in Island and the Total Drama Jumbo Jet are certainly less than airworthy, with the former's wings falling off after one flight & the latter's front-end falling off in the Action special.
    • The contestant-built bikes in "That's Off the Chain" were built from scrap materials. Some held together while others fell apart or blew up.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Saga of Tuck, Mike's car, the Beast, runs. Most of the time. Beyond that, there's not much one can say for it.
  • In Night Hunters, the Chevrolet Impala starts off this way, until it's crushed and repaired


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Many of the above are based on the Yugo, also known as the Zastava Koral, or one of the many Eastern European Cold War era cars that were exported to the West to raise foreign currency; the Yugo was merely the one that was actually sold the most (in the USA), and the first since The Sixties to make it to the United States, and was thus the best known (in the USA). For Europe the most likely candidate would be the Trabbi, the Skoda or possibly the Wartburg. As a side note, the Yugo, based on its reputation, was voted Worst Car Of The Millennium by Car Talk. (Truthfully, there have been worse cars. Not many, but they exist. While hardly a stellar machine, the Yugo wasn't a genuine disaster. Its poor reputation is often explained by it being uncaringly treated as a disposable car and never given even the most basic maintenance, like, say, an oil change.) Jason Vuic, who wrote a book chronicling the history of the Yugo, noted that the Yugo at least passed U.S. safety and emissions tests, meaning it's at least better than the cars that don't get to be imported to the US. Jason Vuic puts down the next entry as being worse...
  • The Subaru 360. When it was imported, it had to lose weight to under 1000 pounds. Why? Because then it could be exempt from the safety regulations and be considered a motorcycle! Consumer Reports labeled it "Not Acceptable"; with its laughably feeble 16 hp engine, it is more likely than not to stall while trying to climb a mildly steep hill.
  • The Citroen 2CV - the vehicle which inspired this trope - fits this trope very well in some aspects, though others were averted; mainly, the 2CV was easy and cheap to repair and somewhat more reliable than its competitors, and with all the broken-down and abandoned ones, combined with minimal changes to its design over its production life, made it a good purchase for anyone with a low budget. Still, it did have extreme flaws; early models used a small engine and had doors without locks, so anyone could steal the car simply by opening the door and pulling the ignition cord. It is also remembered for inspiring the term "lemon" ("citron" being the French word for "lemon" and obviously resembling the brand's name).[3]
    • There was a parody of the famous Citroen "Dancing Transformer" ad that featured a 2CV—it held up surprisingly well until the end...
  • The Lamborghini Espada. Don't let the maker fool you out on the feeling that it's a Cool Car, because this bull sucked; its glass on the door panels can shatter if knocked in a car park, and the engine starved itself of oil quickly and corrosion sets in, causing electrical faults on the out of control switch placement.
  • The Mongol Rally challenges its participants to drive from London to Ulanbataar in The Alleged Car. Cars can be disqualified for having too powerful an engine (though exceptions are made for cars of "significant comedy value", e.g., ice cream trucks).
  • And who could forget the Trabant, vehicle of "choice" for East Germans before the country collapsed. Affectionately called "Trabbi", it would seem like this car was designed as a Communist backlash against Western cars—which then embodied the capitalist principles of freedom and prestige—by creating a car whose sole and only purpose was moving people from A to B (noisily, and with an exhaust plume trailing all the way back from B to A). There are a number of reasons it qualifies:
    • The engine was a two-stroke, 15-20 hp, 0.5 liter in-line 2 cylinder with a fuel efficiency of 34 mpg (7 liters/100 km, 14.28 km/l) -- same as a modern 150 hp, 1.8 liter L4. Top speed was 112 km/h (70 mph—even a modern compact can reach 110 mph/170 km/h), and acceleration was 0 to 60 mph in 60 seconds. Quite ideal for the limited number of destinations available, for a country that asked for travelling passes to cross the state borders.
    • The engine was so weak, they had to resort to plastic instead of metal for the hull. And forget about modern polymers, mind you—we're talking about whatever was available in the sixties, including wool and wood pulp. Later models were made with molds that had expired their lifetime two times, making the results extremely flawed and unreliable. On the flipside, you didn't have to wash it, just wait for the next patch of rain.
      • This was also due to a shortage of metal, since East Germany lacked any sources of suitable metals for car bodies or engines, and had to import it. That cost real money, since nobody is as hard-nosed as a Communist when it comes to trade deals.
    • Add in the fact that the gas tank was mounted in the cowl above the engine (and the driver's legs) for additional fun. (the gas "gauge" was a sightglass in the dashboard.) To fill it, you had to open the hood, pour gasoline in the 24-liter fuel tank, pour two-stroke oil, and mix.
    • There are two camps of modern-day Trabant owners: one that chooses to keep the original engine in mint condition due to that German cultural phenomenon known as "Ostalgie", "nostalgia for the East"; and a more pragmatic camp that replaces the engine with modern L4 or Japanese superbike engines (a popular choice being the "Trabusa", a Trabant with a Suzuki Hayabusa engine).
    • The Trabant, needless to say, met its rapid demise when the Wall fell and Communist Germany's Trabant was put to compete against Capitalist Germany's Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche. What was funny was that a couple of German motoring journalists took the 'Trabbi' through the notorious 'moose test' - where a car is swerved very sharply to avoid an obstacle - and passed with flying colours. Even funnier still? The 1997 Mercedes A-Class, with engineering among the world's best - didn't.
  • While Škoda actually did build good and reliable cars, it gained this reputation to some degree due to the dated looks of its 80s models. It has now lost it with better cars since becoming part of the Volkswagen-Audi Group. However, it hasn't lost its sense of humour, and it shows in many of its adverts: a popular one in the UK went "it's a Škoda, honest".
    • Recently, it seems Škoda vehicles are becoming too good, with parent company Volkswagen forcing Škoda to limit the quality of new models for fear of them competing with Volkswagen!
    • Rather amusing, since these days, most Škodas are built on last generation V Ws. The Fabia, for example, is a Mark IV Golf underneath the skin.
  • During The Eighties Britain imported a fair number of cars from the Eastern Bloc to satisfy demand for a low-cost alternative to Western cars; the Russian Lada Riva serves the same role in British humour as the Yugo does in American humour. Škoda cars also used to, but see above.
    • Lada Niva, arguably the first crossover in the world, is remembered fondly by many, on the other hand. It experienced a short period of popularity in Brazil after the market was opened for imported cars in the early 90s, and has a small number of enthusiasts. Your Mileage May Vary, but after this [dead link], it might count as What a Piece of Junk!.
    • As a subversion of the "Eastern Bloc cars suck" idea, the Fiat 126p (built in Poland under licence) was actually better regarded by British drivers than its Western counterpart because its heavier construction (either a consequence of engineering constraints or so it doesn't fall apart if you try driving it on Polish roads, depending who you ask) made it easier to control and less prone to rust.
  • Actor Rupert Grint purchased an ice cream truck as his first car. Definitely overlaps with Cool Car (and totally owns Ashton Kutcher's International CXT super-pickup...). Small wonder his website has the subtitle "Ice Cream Man".
  • It appears that, in a few years, Chinese cars will occupy the same position that Eastern bloc cars used to hold. Seriously - just watch this crash test video, comparing a Lexus and a Fiat with a pair of cheap Chinese cars. In fact, they've already done so, at least in Russia: the crash tests in the video were done by Russian AutoReview magazine back in 2005. People still buy them, because they're cheap.
    • The FAW F1, briefly sold in Mexico around 2008 as a cheap little car, had a paint job that was so ridiculously shoddy it would actually fall off when the car was washed.
  • Pretty much everything to come out of a British Leyland factory in the 1970s had a tendency to be an Alleged Car. British Leyland was an amalgamation of several other car makers who were forced to merge and nationalise, in an effort to better compete with the likes of Ford and Vauxhall. The employees were entrenched along the lines of the companies they used to belong to (the Austin employees would have nothing to do with the Triumph employees who in turn would have nothing to do with the Rover employees, who wouldn't want to be seen dead with the Jaguar employees, and so on). The unions of the various car factory workers also grew increasingly belligerent and Bolshevik under the auspices of Derek Robinson (AKA Red Robbo) and they literally would spend more time on strike than they did building cars. On the other side of the coin, the upper management was hopelessly out of touch and behind the times, especially when they got their way with the designers, who were typically much more progressive (Alec Issigonis' conflict with William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, over the design for the Morris Minor was a case in point). In addition, British Motor Holdings (a merger of Austin and Morris) was dominated by its engineers at the expense of all else - the Quartic square steering wheel is but one example. It doesn't take much imagination to realise what effect these would all have on quality control.
    • The Austin Allegro, one of the more popular cars from British Leyland, would later become one of its most infamous. Aside from including the lax standards of quality control of typical 1970s British-built cars, it had a squared-off steering wheel and was more aerodynamic going backwards than forwards. The Daily Telegraph wrote that "the most charitable explanation for how this car entered production is that it was part of a successful Communist plot to destroy Britain's motor industry."
    • Many British Leyland cars exported to America - most notably Jaguars - were typically fitted with Lucas Industries electric components that were prone to malfunctioning. This led to Lucas being nicknamed the "Prince of Darkness" in America.
      • "The reason Brits drink warm beer is because Lucas also makes refrigerator thermostat switches."
      • "Lucas invented the three position switch -- dim, flicker, and off."
    • Another notable example was the Triumph TR7, and not necessarily for reliability reasons. Auto designer Giorgetto Giugiaro — who created the bodywork for iconic cars like the Lotus Esprit, De Lorean DMC-12, Maserati Ghibli and Volkswagen Golf — had a memorable reaction upon seeing Triumph's notoriously ugly TR7 during the 1975 Geneva Motor Show. After viewing the profile of the car, with the sculpted curve running along the side, he took on a puzzled expression, slowly walked around the car and exclaimed in startlement: "My God! They've done it to the other side as well!"
    • The below-mentioned Time article said of the Triumph Stag, which it uses as a representative for British Leyland cars as a whole, "The Stag was lively and fun to drive, as long as it ran. The 3.0-liter Triumph V8 was a monumental failure, an engine that utterly refused to confine its combustion to the internal side. The timing chains broke, the aluminum heads warped like mad, the main bearings would seize and the water pump would poop the bed — ka-POW! Oh, that piston through the bonnet, that is a spot of bother."
    • How bad was British Leyland? Rover's Sterling 827 SLi was essentially a license-built version of a mid-80s Honda (Accura) Legend, one of he best-engineered cars of its day—but even Honda engineering was no match for British assembly quality!
    • To top it off, BMW purchased British Leyland (by then known as the Rover Group) and reputedly ended up losing billions of dollars in the six years it owned them. Inverted with the Land Rover (sold for a profit) and MINI (kept by BMW and now bigger than ever) divisions, but still played straight with the rest of the Rover Group which was effectively given away for next to nothing.
  • There is now a competition devoted to the Alleged Car: the LeMons, a two-day event for cars bought and fixed up for $500 or less, excluding safety equipment. Prizes are awarded to the car with furthest distance on the track before it breaks down completely, the amount of horrible vapors that exude from it, and which one is just plain worst. And for those who are too proud of their beloved Alleged Car (we're looking at you, Richard Hammond) to smash it up, there's a Concours de LeMons, whose show categories are worth a read just for laughs.
  • The Edsel's gotten a Shout-Out in everything from Garfield to Destroy All Humans! as one of the worst cars ever made. Ironically, it apparently wasn't that bad a car (it is said to have roughly the same level of reliability as other American cars of its day), it just was marketed wrong, priced wrong, named wrong and, most of all, just plain ugly to most people. (The Book of Heroic Failures quotes Time magazine as calling it "a classic case of the wrong car for the wrong market at the wrong time." The book also claims that half the Edsels sold were defective in some way: doors that wouldn't open, trunks that wouldn't shut, push-buttons that wouldn't do anything, etc.)
  • In the early 1970s, when the oil crisis forced American manufacturers to crank out small cars or die, the Chevy Vega, AMC Gremlin and Ford Pinto gave American small cars this reputation: having absolutely zero experience in building small cars, the American manufacturers, to put it lightly, stumbled quite a bit in their attempts at building small vehicles, to the extent that the Ford Pinto would actually explode when crashed!. In fact, Ford officials knew perfectly well that the Pinto's gas tank tended to explode, could have rectified the situation, and chose not to on the basis of a "cost-benefit analysis" (basically saying "It's cheaper to let people burn to death, wrongful death lawsuits and all, than to change the car"). It's often held up as an example of why punitive damages should be legal in lawsuits. This is why Toyota, Honda and Datsun (now Nissan) became popular in the States—being manufacturers from fuel-deprived Japan, they had way more know-how on subcompact design, and the Toyota Corolla, Datsun B-210 and Honda Civic ended up ruling the day.
    • As a further illustration of the incompetence of American auto manufacturers of the time, the exploding gas tank was not a problem until the second year of production. The first production year automobiles were perfectly safe; which makes sense, since most of the car was by Lotus, with a Ford body dropped on it. It wasn't until 1972, when they started doing everything themselves, that the problems started. Interestingly, the problems that plagued the Pinto did not necessarily translate to the Mercury Bobcat or Ford Mustang 2; both of which were nothing more than a modified Pinto chassis with a different body dropped on top.
  • The 1980 Chevy Citation and its Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick derivatives, intended as GM's world-beating answer to the Honda Accord, was instead a world-beating mashup of poor engineering and atrocious build quality. Among its many flaws were over-enthusiastic rear brakes that would lock up and cause an "atomic death-skid" at the slightest provocation. Having the same name as a term for a parking ticket probably didn't help, either.
  • Ford (Jokingly referred to as an acronym for "Found On Road Dead" or "Fix Or Repair Daily) seems to have had a problem with quality control, at least at its British assembly plant, well into the 1980s; the phrase 'Friday afternoon car' is alleged to have originated with their products.
    • With Honda motorcycles you can occasionally encounter the 'Friday Afternoon Design': a part from one model that almost fits earlier or later models, but is subtly different for no apparent reason.
    • This typifies the whole post-war British car industry, resulting in Morgan being the only remaining wholly national car company, the rest either having gone under or being bought out.
    • The problems weren't exclusive to the British-produced Fords, either. Ford automobiles were well-known for electrical system defects well into the early '90s. The otherwise passable Aerostar minivan line was plagued with these up until it was discontinued in favour of the Windstar.
  • The Chinese FAW cars. They look like a poorly modded old compact, and there are reports of people in Mexico who bought one tempted by the ridiculously low price, only to later rub the car with a cloth when washing it and seeing the paint come off. (FAW is better at making trucks.)
  • A contributor to Reader's Digest had her alleged car publicly displayed. She had driven to Florida to visit a friend just before a hurricane struck. When a news crew was speaking afterward of the devastation, they used a close-up image of her car. The car was completely untouched by the actual hurricane.
  • During the 1960s and 1970s, Chrysler foolishly took control of the Rootes Group in Britain which supplied them with cars smaller than what Chrysler Corporation proper wanted to build, with generally poor results. The nadir was the 1971-73 Plymouth Cricket (aka Hillman Avenger) which had poor workmanship and tended to rust like crazy. To add insult to injury to the Chrysler-Plymouth dealers, the Dodge sales channel got the far better Mitsubishi-sourced Colt.
  • Conan O'Brien started a contest for people to send in videos of their alleged cars called "Conan, Please Blow Up My Car!" where the winner received a new Lexus HS 250h in its place (replacing a 1980 Toyota Corolla two-door with the roof hacked off to make a "convertible"). He also frequently mentions his own alleged car, a 1992 Ford Taurus SHO.
  • A similar contest was held in Canada by Auto Trader, called "Cliff your Ride".
  • Some cars that are genuinely good manage to earn this reputation over time nonetheless.
    • The Dodge Neon earned large amounts of critical acclaim upon its launch in 1994 and was a huge success in both the showroom and on the track, as well as being a very influential design and concept that all of today's compact cars are modeled after to some extent. However, the quality/reliability problems that plagued early models (Its tendency for head gasket failure being the most notable), its "cute" design and the fact that many were turned into "rice burners" during the street racing fad of the mid-2000s lead to the Neon being a common Alleged Car today.
    • The redesigned, front wheel drive 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was praised by critics upon launch and is considered to be a good car in its own right, but the disastrous "This Is Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" marketing campaign used to launch it was a massive failure that caused sales of the Oldsmobile brand as a whole to crater, leading to the brand's eventual demise in 2004. The 1988 Cutlass is thus considered to be the car that killed Oldsmobile. As a result, today they are undesired and valueless.
  • The Goggomobil Dart. "If you needed a sudden burst of acceleration, it was best to jump out and run". (A certified lunatic in Germany has fitted one with a 9-cylinder, 10-liter radial aircraft engine. It out-accelerates Porsches.)
  • The Fiat Ritmo/Strada, which, due to using recycled Soviet steel, was infamous for quickly rusting away. Dunno if any exist anymore, much less working ones. By the way, FIAT was often backronymed as "Fix it Again, Tony", or "Failure in Automotive Technology".
    • The Alfasud had similar rust issues despite some decent engineering and design.
  • In the fifth season of Canada's Worst Driver, one nominee for the title bought and drove only these. You can't get much of a car when you'll only spend $300 on it.
  • This North Korean car, given the pathetic state of their automotive industry compared to the one south of the DMZ, is a good candidate for The Alleged Car. It's a rebadged version of the Fiat Siena by Pyeonghwa Motors as the Hwiparam.
  • The Hindustan Ambassador is sometimes accused of this by Indian urbanites (the car is a licensed reproduction of the Oxford Morris and has been in continuous production since 1956), but consistently tends to outperform western imports or more modern Indian models (apart from SUVs), due to its spaciousness (8 people can sit in one more comfortably than four people can in a Maruti), easy repairability (Percussive Maintenance works here), and general hardiness on rural roads. Also, because the model is so old school, it remains a favorite for retro car enthusiasts.
  • Devrim, the first Turkish-produced car, had this reputation although it was the result of a botched public display rather than a genuine fault with the car. Four prototypes were built and two were brought to the capital for display. The engineers left the fuel tanks mostly empty for safety while the cars were transported. So, when the then-President Cemal Gürsoy got in one of the cars to drive around the Parliament, the car only went for a hundred meters before stopping. The other car, now fully fueled, was brought and driven around with no trouble but the damage was already done and the newspapers had a field day mocking the hell out of the car's performance. Its successor, Anadol, had better luck and became fairly popular in the following years until being discontinued in 1991.
  • Folkrace is a Scandinavian pastime, resembling rallycross, but with participating vehicles required to be The Alleged Car. This is enforced by a rule disqualifying any racer who refuses to sell their car for the fixed price of 6500 SEK (approximately $1000 US).
  • A similar "tradition" exists in New Zealand with the Undie 500. Starting from Canterbury University in Christchurch, cars bought for, or worth, under NZ$500 (about US$370 currently) travel the 360-odd km to Otago University in Dunedin. And then back. Some of these (predictably) don't last the distance. It's basically a good opportunity to trolley oneself on the journey while an appointed sober driver can only watch. But not while driving, of course.
  • Thanks to some incidents involving malfunctioning gas pedals, Toyota's cars have started to take on this reputation, putting a huge black mark on their once world-class record for reliability. The nature of the problems has also caused their slogan, "Moving Forward," to become a bit uncomfortable. Though Only in America.
  • Fords with cruise control have an ongoing issue that causes them to spontaneously combust when sitting idle without being on.
  • It would be unfair to call such a classic vehicle as the Volkswagen Beetle an Alleged Car—except that the earliest models had a crashbox transmission, hand-operated windshield wipers, no cabin heater, semaphore flags for turn signals, no fuel gauge (when the engine started to cough, you switched to the two-litre backup tank and looked for a gas station), and a starter crank hole. (On the other hand, those very same early models would climb a 1:1 grade in first gear. That's a forty-five degree slant.) Even a VW with all the above faults was just the most basic model imaginable - a normally equipped Bug had exhaust-(or engine-block-)heater, pneumatic windscreen washer (running off the pressure in the spare wheel) and electric wipers. There was a worse moment in its history yet: the cars assembled hastily from leftover parts in the bombed Wolfsburg factory between 1946-1949 had engines which barely lasted 30,000 km, upholstery glued with horribly stinking fish glue, matte paint mostly in maroon, black or grey...
  • A possible example of the Alleged Personnel Carrier is the Soviet BMP-1. A very capable infantry fighting vehicle, it was nimble, amphibious, provided all-around protection for the passnegers and crew, and even had a small cannon in a turret to defend itself (or to hurt the enemy) with. The downside? The troop doors which were for the troops inside the primary means of getting in and out of the vehicle also doubled as one of its sets of fuel tanks. If an enemy got behind them...
    • It had one other fatal flaw as well. The sloped front glacias, acting to deflect projectiles and to act as a bow when crossing water, would allow a normally obsolete tilt-rod mine to tilt with little resistance until it was directly under the BMP, namely right under where the driver sat. Naturally, this left the vehicle a sitting duck and utterly trashed the morale of anyone driving it in an area lousy with these old mines...like Afghanistan.
  • The DAF is a Dutch car which, due to terrible styling and an ingenious belt-driven automatic (=CVT= - Continuously Variable) transmission, was soon deemed unsuitable for anybody under 65. But because of this CVT, they can drive backwards just as fast as forwards.
    • As a result, they provided for a lot of entertainment, races driving them backwards were popular for some time. Today, most of them are gone for rather obvious reasons.
  • In Russia, Alleged Cars are still commonly called "Antilopa Gnus" What does it take to stand out as an Alleged Car in Russia? Those, for all their shortcomings, at least were the popular production models, with parts widely available, and their simple and sturdy construction meant that everybody and their dog could fix them anywhere.
  • The Hispanias in the 2011 season Formula One, compared to the rest of the cars in the series, definately count as this.
    • At least the Hispanias can qualify for the race. The Andrea Moda and the 'Life' cars from the 1990s rarely made it beyond the end of the pitlane. One of the Andrea Moda's unfortunate pilots was Perry McCarthy (aka 'The First Stig') who posed for photographers in a faux-triumphal pose next to it's silent form when it ground to a halt after a few hundred metres. The Life car was a repurposed Formula 3000 chassis with a W12 engine instead of the conventional V8/10/12, and was usually about twenty seconds off the pace.
  • In China, the worst are the Xiali (based on a Toyota design) and Suzuki Alto, two of the first to enter market. The latter is often joked to have been designed to drive on sidewalks. The former is joked for its design's 2-decade production without major change.
  • The Lancia Beta, which rusted to point of scrap, ruined the reputation of Lancia (a manufacturer of otherwise decent cars) in the United Kingdom, forcing the company to pull out of the UK entirely, much to the chagrin of Top Gear's presenters years later.
  • Time Magazine's "50 Worst Cars of All Time": In addition to some of the autos listed elsewhere here (like the Trabant and various Leyland Yard products), we also have such gems as:
    • The 1920 Briggs and Stratton[4] Flyer: "...A motorized park bench on bicycle wheels."
    • The 1956 Renault Dauphine: an ultra-cheap rust magnet that went from 0-60 in 32 seconds.
    • The 1975 Bricklin SV1: A concept for a safer sports car, all the safety features weighed down the car to the point that it couldn't outrun a school bus.
      • One of the alleged safety features was the lack of a cigarette lighter or ashtray (as the car's creator, Malcom Bricklin, wanted to discourage smoking and driving).
      • The company's production process was so inefficient that the cost of building a Bricklin was over three times the price it sold for. (They probably expected to make it up on volume.)
    • The 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda: A beautiful supercar filled with cutting edge electronics and gadgets that refused to work.
    • The 1982 Cadillac Cimarron: An alleged luxury car—basically a rebadged, 4-speed manual transmission Chevy Cavalier sold at Cadillac prices. Nearly killed the Cadillac brand and remains an Old Shame.
  • The Czechoslovak Velorex company is quite a name in motorcycle sidecars. They also built something that might be described as a car, but which is basically a motorcycle sidecar without the motorcycle. If you've looked at the pic and are unsure about what the bodywork is made of: yes, that's actually vinyl-coated canvas over steel tubing. The frame is attached to what is effectively the rear end of a motorcycle with a 125cc or 250cc two-stroke single-cylinder engine (later models had a 250cc twin) driving the single rear wheel. Tiff Needell took one for a spin once, and reported, yelling over the din of the engine that "braking is accomplished by writing a letter politely asking to reduce your speed, oh, sometime next week".
  • An Alleged Motorcycle is the Chang Jiang CJ 750: a Chinese copy of a Russian copy of a pre-WW 2 BMW. Using tooling the Russians considered worn, having by then been in production use for 20 years already. Chang Jiang also builds a copy of the Jawa 353, again using the original tooling.
  • The Chrysler TC by Maserati.
  • Arguably one of the most famous examples, the DeLorean DMC-12. Despite the Lotus Esprit inspired design and gullwing doors, the car's production run seemed to be cursed from the word go. To elaborate: the factory was located in Dunmurry (a suburb in Belfast), Northern Ireland (bear in mind that this was in 1978, and it was placed right on a religious fault line; word is the factory had one entrance for Catholics and one for Protestants). Making matters worse alongside budget over runs, engineering hassles and production delays was the fact that almost all the workers had never had a job in their lives, much less one producing cars. the inevitable quality control problems that resulted from this were so bad that despite each car having a 12-month/20,000 km warranty, many dealerships refused to carry out any work on them because they weren't being reimbursed. To add insult to injury, far from being the thinking man's supercar its creator envisioned it to be, the DMC-12's performance was quite lacklustre, due to it being the victim of a watering down campaign. It was originally meant to have a rear-mounted rotary engine but this was changed to a mid-mounted 2.8 litre V6 due to fuel consumption concerns, however the change in powerplant reduced performance (it was initialy figured to have 150kw of power, but the changes resulted in the car only making 110kw in 'dirty' euro trim, the US version was an even sorrier 95kw due to requirements for catalytic converters and other emissions controls) and had a knock-on effect on the cars' already less than perfect 35:65 front/rear weight distribution. In the end the DMC-12 was too slow and sluggish to convince anybody it was the real deal, and allegations that John DeLorean had taken to drug smuggling in order to pay the bills were the final nail in the DMC-12's coffin.
  • Elvis fired his gun at his De Tomaso Pantera when it wouldn't start.
  • Despite its sleek Italian design, early versions of the Isuzu Piazza had handling that left much to be desired. Later models had Lotus tuning, but not until near the end of its production run.
  • The AMC Gremlin and Pacer.
  • The Zundapp Janus.
  • The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid is quickly gaining this reputation. Owners are reporting a litany of problems, and Consumer Reports had their Karma die on them with only 200 miles on the odometer. Compounding matters is that the car isn't even all that efficient,[5] fast,[6] or spacious [7]
  • Dave Grohl told on how he and Kurt Cobain tried to drive from Seattle to Los Angeles (where they'd record Nirvana's Nevermind) in Kurt's old car. Throughout the entire journey, the car overheated to the point that needed a pause, making them quit as they just reached Oregon. So they drove back (as Krist Novoselic had rented a van to do the trip), making sure to stop at a quarry to stone the car in anger.
  • The early '80's Cadillacs were saddled with the 8-6-4 engine which used a crude cylinder deactivation system, or the Genre Killer Diesel 350, which left buyers with a choice of buying a car that would leap and shake or one that wouldn't start if it was near freezing temperatures.
  • The Reliant Robin can't be easily considered an Alleged Car, because it's hard to classify it as a car. It has two defining features, one being the fact that it only has three wheels, the single wheel is in the front. The other? Rolling over. One takes a sharp turn in a Reliant Robin at their own risk. It may be the only car in history to roll over 360 degrees from cornering to hard. In the UK, especially Oop North, the Robin became popular as it only required a motorcycle license to operate and thus avoided many taxes that car owners were saddled with. In spite of—or because of—this, the Robin has become something of an icon of British popular culture. The yellow van in Only Fools and Horses was a Robin, as was the light blue van that was always getting tipped over. Top Gear has done several segments on the Robin (and it's tipping over) and the Robin even has a racing circuit where tipping over is so common there are established techniques for righting oneself right there on the track.
  • Yahoo automotive contributor Tim Cernea has several of these stories, the most tropeworthy being his 1965 Ford Falcon Ranchero. [dead link] In true handyman fashion, he described the car losing its fuel tank on the highway as "a minor setback".
  • The G-Wiz is a very tiny electric car. Ok, technically it is legally a "Heavy Quadbike" in Britain for it's extreme lack of power. It has extremely poor acceleration, you can't use any of the electronics such as the radio, since it will kill the G-Wiz's very small battery life, and basically disintegrates in a crash.
  1. accounting for inflation, about $1500 in 2011 money
  2. Jeremy: It's not a Ferrari!
  3. Though said term apparently dates back to at least 1906.
  4. Yes, the lawn mower people
  5. (30 miles on electric, 20 MPG on gas, about 60 MPG equivalent- for comparison, a Chevrolet Volt can go 35 miles on electric, 35-40 MPG on gas, and has a 90 MPGe rating)
  6. (a bit over 6 seconds to 60 in gas-electric mode, over 7 seconds in pure electric)
  7. (that swoopy body gives it a subcompact classification by the EPA. For a car that costs as much as $115,000. Ouch.)