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Chevrolet Vega
Chevrolet Vega
In the early 1970s. especially after the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, American automakers needed to show they could compete against Asia's popular compact cars.

The Chevrolet Vega, introduced a couple of years earlier, may not have consumed a lot of gasoline, but it earned a bad reputation for burning through motor oil. The Vega's light-weight aluminum engine was the culprit.

Besides that it also had a reputation for being badly built. It was probably a bad sign when, eight miles into a test run on GM's proving track, a Vega literally fell apart, according to John DeLorean recalling his days a GM executive in his book 'On a Clear Day you can see General Motors.'

Along with cars like the Ford Pinto, the Vega helped cement the idea that Detroit just didn't know how to build a good small car.

NEXT: Cadillac Cimarron

Last updated June 02 2009: 3:55 PM ET
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