There are no bad cars, only bad people. That being said, there are many ways to ruin a car’s reputation. In some cases, it’s not even the fault of the person driving the car.
Just as we remember the lovable ones, we also remember the not-so-lovable ones. The following cars have made their place in history because of their darker associations.
Bonnie & Clyde’s Ford V-8
They weren’t the first or last career criminals to capture the hearts of the American public, but Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow managed to combine many of the most cherished story tropes in their whirlwind crime spree: rebellion against authority, star-crossed lovers, and a cross-country road trip with a car that is as much a character as they are.
The stolen Ford in which Bonnie and Clyde made most of their getaways currently sits in a roadside attraction, riddled with the bullets that put their lives and crime spree to a calamitous end. What made their V-8 famous is that, despite over a dozen high-profile bank robberies, the only way the FBI was able to chase the duo over state lines was in pursuit of their stolen car.
OJ’s Ford Bronco
There are few events that defined the ’90s more than the OJ Simpson trial, and the opening salvo of the long tribulation captivated the whole country. For nearly two hours, 95 million people watched as 20 patrol cars followed a white Ford Bronco in a low-speed pursuit along the 405.
The Bronco didn’t feature prominently in the trial that followed because it wasn’t even Simpson’s car — it was his friend Al Cowling’s. After turning down an offer to exploit the car’s notoriety for a tourist trap, Cowlings eventually sold the car to Simpson’s former agent, Mike Gilbert, who has turned down as much as $275,000 for it.
James Dean’s Porsche Spyder
James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder was as slick a ride as it was hard to get in the U.S. Nicknamed “Little Bastard,” Dean’s Porsche could do 0–60 in seven seconds and hit 150 mph. But only a few weeks after he got it, Dean was killed in a highway collision on the way to a road race.
Legend has it that Dean’s Porsche was cursed. Future Jedi Alec Guinness told Dean that the car was “sinister” and would claim his life in a week. Several others who crossed the car’s path ended up maimed or dead.
Al Capone’s 1928 Cadillac V-8 Town Sedan
Considering Al Capone’s status in the Chicago criminal underworld, it makes sense that his car would have some modifications. His Cadillac V-8 could go up to 110 mph and was outfitted with bulletproof armor. It also was designed to give off the appearance of a Chicago police car of the era. Not only was it painted green and black to look more like a cop car, Capone’s Cadillac also had a regulation police siren.
Capone’s car sold for $341,000 at RM Sotheby’s St. John’s in 2012.
The Ford Pinto
The Pinto is perhaps the most infamous car that has no one else to blame. Between 1971 and 1978, as many as 130 people would die as a result of the Pinto’s design, which had the gas tank between the rear axle and a purely ornamental bumper.
In the investigations that would follow, it was discovered that the Ford Company had conducted a cost-benefit analysis to see the damage to their reputation and finances they could endure before having to issue a recall — a full two years before the Pinto hit the streets. The discovery of what would come to be known as the “Pinto Memo” did more to sully the image of Ford in America’s eyes than the criminal negligence of selling the Pinto in the first place.