Even if Chevrolet were to stop producing cars today, the company would go down in history as having built some of the world's greatest automobiles. The heights of their success include models like the Corvette, Camaro, Bel Air, and a long line of dependable pickup trucks.
But every company that's lasted as long as Chevrolet always has ups and downs in its history, and Chevy has just as many duds to go along with their greatest hits. From designs that were terrible to bad engineering decisions and even some straight-up confusing concepts, Chevrolet has struck out so many times that it can feel almost amazing the company still builds cars at all.
Keep scrolling for 18 Chevy models that earned the company absolutely zero street cred.
Possibly the most hilarious Chevrolet in recent history, the SSR posed an enormous problem for the brand the second it left the factory. A hardtop convertible pickup truck with a solid bed cover and a V8 engine might sound good on paper, but no one wanted to pay over $40,000 for an SSR, leading Chevy to end the model after only 9,000 sold.
The early 2000s were a time of reckoning for Detroit as a whole, as many brands attempted to bring back retro styling to attract younger customers. Besides the SSR pickup truck, Chevy also struggled with the HHR, which was another bulbous-fendered failure. At least the SSR had some semblance of style, though, whereas the HHR was just ugly.
Chevrolet definitely sold more Avalanches than it did SSR pickup trucks, but that doesn't mean that the model had any semblance of street cred. Just about its only saving grace was a little detail thought up by one smart engineer: truck bed walls that were insulated for tailgating. This combination of SUV-pickup didn't do well, and all the ugly cladding didn't help, either.
Chevrolet has built nine generations of the Malibu, the first three of which were solid classics. Since then, though, the Malibu has suffered from one bland redesign after another and these days, it's merely another ho-hum commuter sedan that definitely doesn't deserve the historical and legendary name on its rear end.
Many automakers in the US struggled to keep up with the times in the 1970s and 80s, resulting in plenty of models that have been forgotten over the years. Some cars from the era were so bad, though, that they've remained famous. The Chevy Vega earned itself that dubious honor, just one of Chevrolet's flops during a rough few decades.
Economical commuters cars hold their own place in automotive history because they are a necessary part of the market—yet have very few redeeming features. The best of them are just little, reliable cars that will chug on forever. The worst are cars like the Chevette, which Chevy obviously tried to make cool by combining "Chevrolet" with "Corvette" in vain.
12 Camaro 'Iron Duke'
As cool as the third-gen Camaro may look on the outside—and in sweet period ads like the one above—there's no arguing that it was a seriously underperforming muscle car. The cars equipped with the 'Iron Duke' engine were the worst of the lot, thanks to a powerplant that might have sounded as tough as John Wayne but was actually a puny inline-four.
The Chevrolet Cavalier will go down in history as one of the lamest cars to ever hit the market from any manufacturer. The boring exterior is matched by a cheap interior and build quality so terrible that even today, people remember—and almost celebrate—the Cavalier as the worst car they've ever driven.
Going through the annals of Chevy's history, it's almost amazing that the company has stayed afloat given how many enormous duds they've released. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Corvette and Camaro high points, low points like the Citation seen above were far too frequent, it seems, for a company to survive.
9 Lumina APV
Minivans were all the rage during the late-90s and early-2000s, which forced every auto manufacturer to add minivans to their lineups. Some turned out great while some, like Chevy's Lumina APV, ended up being strange, ugly ducklings that created little more than a sense of wonderment about the fact that they ever got past the design phase.
The Corvair is one of Chevy's most famous models, though not for a good reason. At first, the Corvair seemed like it was trying to take on the Porsche 911 (or 912) with a rear-mounted, air-cooled flat-six engine. But where Porsche has always placed a premium on excellent handling, the Corvair's rear suspension could cause lift and did cause a scandal that made Ralph Nader a famous man.
Not many gearheads even remember the Chevy Uplander enough to hate it, though one look at its minivan-crossover style should definitely get any gearheads blood boiling. The current rise of the crossover is depressing enough without seeing all the awful steps along the way that led to today's sad state in the auto industry.
6 Monte Carlo
Giving a car a name like Monte Carlo should be against the rules unless it's amazing in every way. Amazing in every way is not how many people would describe the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, though, which was a car that tried to be sporty within an exterior that looked more like a grandma's idea of a cruiser.
5 Malibu Maxx SS
This little hatchback is another example of just how misguided some automakers get with their naming practices. Using the name "Maxx SS" to describe this five-door Malibu wasn't about to fool anyone into thinking it was a cool car, and yet, still Chevy attempted to salvage what was always going to be a terrible seller.
When gasoline prices go up these days, automakers sell more electric and hybrid cars. But back in the days before technology advanced to that point, when gas prices hiked, automakers had to work on producing cheap, efficient commuter cars. The results were not always pretty, as is the case with the Chevrolet Sprint, a forgotten little hatchback that deserves to remain out of the spotlight.
Another hilarious failure from Chevy, the Spectrum earns a place on this list by right of its having been completely forgotten, even by the majority of huge Chevy fans. The Spectrum was yet another entrant into the long line of boring economy cars that came out in the 1970s, 80s, and even 90s. The only positive about it might be that Chevy—hopefully—has learned its lesson.
Maybe the executives at Chevrolet have learned that cars like their current Camaro and Corvette should be their design inspiration, even when developing cheap commuter cars. This doesn't seem to be the case, though, because of models like the Cruze, which started out as a bland sedan and has only developed into a bland hatchback.
An impala is an amazing animal to watch bounding over tall grass—and early Chevrolet Impalas were classic cars the established the nameplate as a winner. However, the current Impala, however, is just another step in the wrong direction for Chevy, making it another nameplate that the company needs to restore to its former glory.
Sources: Wikipedia, Car and Driver, and Jalopnik.