Remember the "Double Nickel?" That was the federal law passed in 1974 that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 mph as a fuel-saving measure. Five years later during the Carter administration, NHTSA required speedometers include a special emphasis on the number 55 to keep drivers focused on the legal rate and forbid them from registering a maximum speed above 85 mph. The speedometer limits didn't govern the speed of the car, though, and the 85 mph max looked pretty silly on cars like the Chevy Corvette. NHTSA began rolling back the regulation in 1981 after discovering it did little to change driver behavior. Today, speedometers routinely go to 160 mph, even though the maximum allowable speed limit is less than half that.
The scrap heap is piled high with lousy cars. But a few famous flops deserve a little reconsideration.