The Chevy Vega: Motor Trend’s Car of the Year?

1983 Renault Alliance

1983 Renault Alliance

When auto writers make lists of the worst cars ever, the Chevy Vega is nearly always on that list, along with a Renault or two.

Look back through the years, however, and you’ll see something fascinating: Vegas and Renaults on some very well respected lists of annual BEST cars. Shocking, I know! Now, Car and Driver magazine is attempting to right those wrongs by formally apologizing for missteps like this: naming the Renault Alliance to their 1983 10 Best Cars list.

The apology is proof that even the highest profile automotive magazines can easily get sucked up into the hype of a new product or a new brand entering the market. Using their own words:

 It’s always a risk making judgments based on the initial exposure to a car, and sometimes a vehicle’s ultimate crappiness only reveals itself with the fullness of time.

Other cars of ultimate crappiness that have received past accolades are now notorious stinkers.

2002 Ford Thunderbird

2002 Ford Thunderbird

The 2002 Ford Thunderbird has been exposed as an overweight and overpriced clunker whose good looks initially stole the hearts of many. This was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year.

Also winning Motor Trend’s coveted Car of the Year award was the infamous 1971 Chevy Vega. That’s a completely laughable notion today, but think of the poor people who went out and bought one on that advice. Seems like those folks need more than a simple apology; perhaps a reimbursement of towing costs incurred throughout the ‘70s!

1980 Chevy Citation

1980 Chevy Citation

Remember the 1980 Chevy Citation? I sure do, but I think it’s only because my brother became trapped in the backseat of one by a seatbelt that refused to detach. Maybe we only had it because my dad was a Motor Trend reader and this, once again, was a shameful Car of the Year choice.

I’m sure some cars getting attention today will turn out to be serious stinkers or simply fade into automotive mediocrity, but I also think some of today’s cars will be remembered and collected as classics for years to come.

What award-winning cars of today will fade away, and which will go down in automotive history as true classics?

My votes: The North American Car of the Year, the Hyundai Genesis, will be discontinued while the Motor Trend Car of the Year, the Cadillac CTS, will be remembered as the car that brought Caddy back.


1 Comment

  1. Yea well Motor Trend isn’t trying to right any wrongs as they stand by the Vega to this day.
    Motor Trend’s Frank Markus said after driving my 6k mile ’73 Vega GT in 2010, “After a few gentle miles, I begin to understand how this car won its awards and comparison tests.” “Well-maintained examples are great looking, nice-driving, economical classics—like Baltic Ave. with a Hotel, the best ones can be had for $10K or less.”

    Motor Trend’s Frank Markus said after driving my 2k mile ’76 Cosworth Vega in 2013, “Stylish and historically significant but ridiculously overpriced in its day and ultimately a bit unfinished, the ultimate Vega now represents a serious collector bargain.”

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