15 Surprisingly Dangerous Cars

Driving is dangerous, but some cars can actually increase the danger, whether through unsafe design or poor manufacturing. Life is full of dangerous things: sharp objects, diseases, Terminators, gravity, honey badgers. Take your pick. None of them mind if they hurt you. Automakers, on the other hand, generally want you to be as safe as possible. After all, repeat business is good business. But all the same, sometimes it doesn't work out that way.

Maybe it's bad engineering or maybe a vehicle is rushed to market too quickly. Sometimes it's a good idea brought to consumers before its time, and others it's a bad idea in any time. In other cases, the fault simply lay with sloppy construction and cut-rate materials. No matter what the reasons, there have been plenty of vehicles on the road that could have been rolling advertisements for the coffin industry.

On this list, we're going to look at 15 dangerous vehicles that self-preservation might advise against driving. Driving any of these is by no means a guarantee that things will go wrong on the road, but all 15 have histories or tendencies that suggest they're more dangerous than the average car.

  • As of this writing, the Ford Pinto is the very first on the list - and it'll probably stay there forever. A prime example of an under-designed car being rushed to market, the Pinto's tendency to explode during even a minor rear-end collision are so well-known they've become almost a running joke. Not so funny are the people the car's inadequately protected gas tank killed; but the fallout did do a lot for drawing the public's attention to car safety. 

  • The Cobalt was the best known car in a massive recall in 2014. The fault lay with a bad ignition switch that could randomly shut off while driving. The result was a complete loss of engine, power steering, power brakes, and (compounding it all) airbags. 

  • 1984 to 1990 Bronco II

    One glance at this early compact SUV tells you exactly how it got on this list. Based on the Ranger compact pickup, this SUV was simultaneously long, narrow, tall and top-heavy. Meaning, it would roll over if the driver so much as tilted his head. At the time of the lawsuit against Ford in 1992, there were three deaths per 10,000 Broncos sold resulting from rollover accidents. 
  • You know that old saying about those who fail to learn from history? Ford repeated the Bronco fiasco almost word for word with its replacement, the Explorer. Early Explorers weren't quite as prone to flipping as Broncos, but the '90s still found many with their undercarriages the wrong way up
  • 1960 to 1963 Chevrolet Corvair

    To be fair, the Corvair's issues weren't its fault. Despite Ralph Nader's accusations in his landmark book Unsafe at Any Speed, the rear-engined Corvair wasn't much more prone to spinning out than any rear-engined Porsche. It's on this list because it was involved in a lot of crashes: GM had over 100 lawsuits pending at one time. But, in reality, that had a lot more to do with the fact that Americans didn't know how to drive rear-engined cars than anything else. 
  • You have to wonder how hard Pontiac reconsidered this car's name when it developed a reputation for randomly bursting into flames. The problem lay with faulty connecting rods, which had a tendency to snap, go through the engine block, and spray oil all over the exhaust. Pontiac recalled every Fiero ever made in 1990, but not before being saddled with one of the most ironic names in automotive history.