40 Of The Best And Worst Ford Vehicles To Ever Roll Off The Production Line

Ford has been in the spotlight ever since the first Model T debuted in 1908. It’s one of the greatest marques in automotive history and a pioneer of innovation in personal mobility. Ford has introduced more iconic vehicles than any other auto manufacturer. However, it doesn’t mean that it never made mistakes.

From vehicles marred with severe engineering flaws and serious safety issues to wacky cars resulting from weird executive decisions, Ford has also made some crazy bad cars over the decades.

Best: Ford Thunderbird (1955-1957)

Ford launched the Thunderbird in 1955 to compete against the Chevrolet Corvette in the two-door sports car segment. However, it initially decided to brand the vehicle as a personal luxury car, shifting focus from its inherent sportiness to its comfort and convenience features.

t-bird
Ford
Ford

The Thunderbird ended up being a great success, outselling the Corvette by more than 23-to-one in its year of launch. The 1955 version was equipped with a 4.8 L Y-block V8 engine that produced 198 horses and catapulted it to 60 mph in 11.5 seconds – a decent time back then.

Worst: Ford Pinto 1971

Not just Ford’s, the Pinto is considered the worst car ever made by any auto manufacturer. It had a horrible build quality and would burst into flames in pretty much every rear-end collision. Even though it killed a number of people right after its debut in 1971, Ford ended up selling more than 3 million units during its 9-year-run.

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Ford
Ford

Ford could have prevented the tragic deaths by a number of solutions, but it chose to pay millions in damages instead as they cost less than what the modifications would have cost. The Pinto went on to become a classic case study in business ethics.

Best: Ford F-100 (1953-1956)

With over 40 million units sold, Ford’s F-Series is the best-selling nameplate in the North American market and the second most-selling vehicle in the world. Though the entire series is special, the second generation that ran from 1953 to 1956 model years is considered the most iconic. If you disagree, just ask any hot rodder!

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Ford
Ford

The second-gen F-100s were unarguably the best-looking trucks ever made and were immensely popular among the rodders who wanted a bed behind the seats. The looks were complemented with a resilient chassis and a heavy-duty engine, ranging from a 137 hp 6-cylinder to 170 hp Y-block V8 to a beefed-up 300 hp powerplant over the years.

Worst: Ford Edsel (1958-1960)

Named after Henry Ford’s son, the Edsel was Ford’s “jack of all” aimed at attracting all demographics. But, as it usually is with such projects, it turned out to be a master of none and a terrible automotive mistake.

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Ford
Ford

Plagued by problems ranging from oil leaks to stuck buttons, the Edsel was an outright disaster. Ford spent around $250 million to roll out 18 different variations of this car and had to bear an estimated $350 million in losses. That’s $2.3 billion today!

Best: Ford GT40 (1964-1969)

The GT40 is unarguably the best Ford ever made. It’s the car that broke Ferrari’s winning streak at Le Mans and won the endurance race four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969. Fewer than 135 units of the GT40 were built from 1964 to 1969, and this legendary car was what inspired the modern-day Ford GT.

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BBC
BBC

Interestingly, the GT40 was born out of the most infamous grudge in automobile history. Henry Ford II was about to buy Ferrari but Enzo Ferrari changed his mind and pulled out of the finalized deal at the very last moment. A furious Henry Ford II told his team to build a car to dethrone the Ferrari from Le Mans – and they did just that!

Worst: Ford Bronco II (1984-1990)

The Pinto’s SUV version, the Bronco II was notorious for its rollover accidents caused by a short wheelbase, narrow track, and tall center of gravity. Even though the stability issues did surface during the design and verification phase, Ford gave the green signal for production after the stability reports disappeared in a document handling procedure.

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IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons
IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons

The rollover accidents happened even at speeds as low as 20 mph, killing at least 800 people over the years. Ford ended up paying $113 million to settle 334 injury and wrongful death lawsuits, though it kept claiming that the rollovers were either caused by bad driving or unsafe modifications to the vehicle.

Best: 2017 Ford Focus RS

With a turbocharged 2.3-L inline 4-cylinder spitting out 350 horses under the hood, the 2017 Focus RS is a platinum-grade compact hatchback that leads all others in its class and is simply one of the best Ford cars in recent times!

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Ford
Ford

The 2.3-L EcoBoost engine (the same that has been used in the 2017 Mustang) works in conjunction with a six-speed manual transmission and a torque-vectoring AWD system to enable this beast of a hatchback to hit speeds as high as 165 mph and manage a 0-60 time of just 4.6 seconds!

Worst: Ford Thunderbird (1980-1982)

The 1980 Thunderbird was another example of Ford messing up with an iconic vehicle. The car which used to be one of the best in Ford’s entire lineup till 1979 (its 25th anniversary) went through a terrible change, largely due to the fuel crises of the 70s.

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Ford
Ford

Ford drastically cut its size and practically turned it into a Fairmont. This transition from a luxurious full-size icon to a mid-size skinny vehicle wasn’t appreciated by consumers and the sales plummeted.

Best: Ford Mustang (1965-73)

The first-gen Mustang is unarguably one of the best Fords of all time. It’s the car that started the pony revolution and made the term “muscle car” a household name in North America. The Mustang nameplate was introduced in 1964 and till its last iteration in 1973, it had dramatically evolved into an icon.

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Heritage Images via Getty Images
Heritage Images via Getty Images

The Mustang 1965 (introduced in April 1964) was powered by a 4.7-L V8 powerplant that produced 271 horses at the crank and catapulted it to 60 mph from a standstill position in 9 seconds.

Worst: Ford Focus (2012-2016)

The third generation of Ford Focus is notorious for its poor reliability. The 2012-2016 Focuses, in particular, were part of numerous recalls caused by Ford’s new automatic ‘PowerShift’ transmission and a malfunctioning exhaust system.

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Ford
Ford

The 2014 Focus is considered one of the worst Fords ever made, with complaints of excessive vibration, grinding noises, jerky shifting, and even complete failure to get into gear at all. The 2012 Focus also had a critical electric power steering fault.

Best: Lincoln K Series (1931-1940)

Lincoln K Series was launched in 1931 to replace the L Series. Featuring 6.3-L V8 and 7.3-L V12 powerplants, the most potent powertrain churned out 150 horses – that was pretty decent back then!

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Lincoln
Lincoln

The Lincoln K Series, however, wasn’t about performance. It was about luxury – which it had a lot. The K Series cast into the shade the likes of Cadillac, Packard, and Bentley, and remained a highly acclaimed luxury vehicle for decades.

Worst: Ford Fiesta (1978-1980)

The first-generation Fiesta was as underpowered as it was unattractive. With a 1.6-L inline-4 that could only produce a measly 54 hp and an extremely inferior build quality, this small car lacked even the basic safety features.

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Ford
Ford

The Fiesta was assembled in Europe and wasn’t meant for the US market. But Ford decided to bring it home to compete with Volkswagen Rabbit. The result was, well, a massive blow for Ford. Even though the Fiesta remained a best-seller in Europe, it’s considered one of the worst Fords ever.

Best: Shelby GT350 (1965-1966)

The Shelby GT350 was a performance version of the first-generation Mustang and also the first collaborative project of Ford with the legendary automotive designer Carroll Shelby.

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Ford
Ford

The Shelby GT350 was more lightweight and aerodynamic and was devoid of all convenience features that could be a hindrance in its conquering the tracks. It was equipped with a modified 4.7-L V8 powerplant that produced 306 horses at the crank, enabling a 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds.

Worst: Ford Mustang II (1974-1978)

The Mustang II was Ford’s failed attempt to sell more vehicles. Mustang sales had been dropping as they grew bigger over the years and Ford’s solution was to eliminate the very features that made Mustang what it was.

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Ford
Ford

Based on a Pinto platform (yes, the same Pinto that “kaboomed” on rear collisions), it was grossly underpowered and painfully slow, with a 0-60 time of 10.5 seconds. Ford’s ridiculous plan backfired and the Mustang II came out as a massive disappointment.

Best: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

Ford F-150 SVT Raptor is a bigger, badder version of the already-iconic Ford F-150 pickup. This full-size, all-wheel-drive truck boasts a crazy level of power, all thanks to its twin-turbo 3.5-L V6 engine mated with a 10-speed auto transmission.

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Ford
Ford

With an incredible 450 hp output, this gigantic beast can hit 60 mph from a standstill in just over 5 seconds, while hauling pretty much anything you can load on it. Besides its incredible power, its insane off-roading capabilities make it one of the best Ford vehicles ever made.

Worst: Ford Fairmont (1978-1983)

The 1978 Ford Fairmont was, simply put, unattractive and dull. Its distasteful squareness traveled to the interior, with awkward dashboard gauges and an unusual front seat. The performance was also not inspiring by any means.

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Ford
Ford

The standard engine was an underpowered 2.3L (140 cu-in) inline-4 that could manage just 88 hp. Even though the 1978 Fairmont was hailed as the most efficient Ford sedan from a space-per-weight perspective, it turned out a failure overall.

Best: Ford V8 (1932-1934)

While the Model T brought cars to the masses and the Model A added style to the bare-bones 4-cylinder machine, it was the 1932 Ford that introduced power and performance to the Americans. Though marketed as the Model 18 in the year of its launch, it was more commonly known as the Ford V8.

1932 Ford Model B Custom Car
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images
National Motor Museum/Heritage Images via Getty Images

With a new 221 cu-in (3.6-L) flathead V8 engine rated at 65 hp, it was the first affordable car to have a V8 and was, therefore, an extremely important milestone in automotive history.

Worst: Ford EXP (1982-1988)

Introducing this two-seater compact sports coupe was a big mistake. The EXP lacked purpose, was extremely underpowered at 70 hp and offered nothing special. It couldn’t convince buyers right from its inception in 1982, and the arrival of Pontiac Fiero and Honda CRX just made things worse.

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Ford
Ford

Being Ford’s slowest-selling nameplate in the compact sports coupe segment that was already pretty flooded (with Ford Festiva, Ford Escort, 2-door Ford Tempo, and the latest Ford Probe), the EXP was discontinued in 1988.

Best: 1949 Ford Custom

The 1949 Ford is the vehicle that saved Ford from bankruptcy in the immediate post-war period. It was Ford’s first post-war vehicle that featured a completely new design, one that inspired the American auto industry for the next 35 years.

Leipzig Spring Fair 1949
Erich Andres/United Images via Getty Images
Erich Andres/United Images via Getty Images

Created by famed automotive designer George Walker, the new “envelope” design with sleek styling made this car immensely popular in the post-war era, so much so that the automaker ended up selling a total of 1,118,762 1949 Fords. It’s easily one of the best Fords ever made!

Best: Ford Maverick (2022)

So many customers wanted to purchase a Ford Maverick truck that auto manufacturer announced it would stop taking orders! Demand for the affordable pick-up truck escalated in early 2022 at a much higher rate than Ford anticipated.

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Ford
Ford

The Maverick is the first compact truck released by Ford in over a decade, as the popular Ford Ranger ended production in 2012. It’s also sold at an affordable price point, starting at $19,995.

Worst: Ford Th!nk City (2002-2012)

If a car has an exclamation mark in its name, it better be badass. The Ford Th!nk City, however, was nothing like that. It was hardly even a car. This micro-electric vehicle was the brainchild of TH!NK Mobility – a Norwegian carmaker that partnered with Ford for a brief stint.

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Mahlum via Wikimedia Commons
Mahlum via Wikimedia Commons

The Th!nk City was a cramped, impractical, and extremely over-priced car with a pathetic range of 50 miles. It was also plagued with numerous issues and was recalled multiple times. Ford eventually cashed out in 2003 and TH!NK Global declared bankruptcy in 2011.

Worst: Ford Gran Torino Elite (1974-1976)

Ford Gran Torino Elite was a mid-size two-door luxury coupe that Ford rolled out as a less expensive alternative to Thunderbird. Like Mustang II, it was based on a Mercury platform, the concurrent Cougar XR-7 to be precise.

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Ford
Ford

The most notable difference from Cougar XR-7 was the mildly restyled front end that resembled Thunderbird. The Gran Torino Elite, however, was no T-bird. It was uncomfortably loud and had plenty of faults that made it an inconvenient ride.

Best: 1982 Ford Mustang GT

The 82 GT is what returned Mustang to its former glory and, therefore, qualifies as one of the best Ford cars ever made. While the 1981 Mustang had a measly 4.2-L engine, good for just 115 horsepower, the 82 Mustang GT had a 4.9-L V8 engine.

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Ford
Ford

Spitting out 157 horses, the 82 GT had an incredible performance with a 0-60 time of just a little over 7 seconds. Unarguably the best Mustang with the “Fox body” design, that was introduced in 1979, the 82 GT marked a turning point for modern-day muscle cars.

Worst: Ford Explorer (1991-2002)

Remember Bronco II? The top-heavy, roll-prone SUV that killed hundreds of people in rollover accidents. The Ford Explorer was its successor. And just like its big brother, it too caused at least 330 deaths due to the SAME problem!

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IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons
IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons

After widespread condemnation and a host of congressional inquiries into Ford’s dedication to the safety of its vehicles, Ford blamed the accidents at the Firestone tires used in the Explorers and ended its 90-year-long partnership with the tire manufacturer in a scandalized controversy. Congress chose to side with Ford.

Best: Ford GT (2017-2022)

A remnant of the iconic GT40, Ford GT is a limited-production supercar. A total of 1350 units were planned for its second generation, which debuted in 2017 and will end with the 2022 model. While the first-gen GT (2005-2006) with its supercharged V8 was also a rockstar, the second generation is rarer and more iconic.

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Ford
Ford

Equipped with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-L V6 EcoBoost engine (a modified version of the one used in the Ford F-150 Raptor), the 2022 GT spits out an insane 660 hp, good for a top speed of 216 mph and a 0-60 time of a mind-boggling 3 seconds!

Worst: Ford Contour (1996-2000)

Ford launched the Contour to replace the Tempo in the North American market and to dominate the compact sedan segment. It was, in fact, the US version of the Belgian-built Ford Mondeo that debuted in 1992 and had become a best-seller in Europe.

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Ford
Ford

The Contour wasn’t too bad a car. It had good handling and a pretty decent interior. However, it was priced relatively higher than other rivals and was marred by a faulty transmission, which eventually led to its discontinuation in 2000.

Best: Lincoln Continental (1961–1969)

One of the longest nameplates in the auto world, the Lincoln Continental got the recognition it deserved with its fourth generation that debuted in 1961. Though it was a bit shorter than its predecessor, it was finer in all aspects.

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Heritage Images via Getty Images
Heritage Images via Getty Images

With its clean styling, luxury amenities, and a powerful 7-L V8 powerplant good for 300 horses and 465 lb-ft of torque, it’s the Lincoln that could finally stand up to the immensely popular Cadillacs of the era.

Worst: Ford Taurus (1996-1999)

When it comes to ruining a good car, no auto manufacturer even comes near Ford. Once the best-selling car in America, the 3rd generation Taurus met a sad fate.

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Ford
Ford

A failed redesigning experiment in both exterior and interior dethroned this insanely popular midsize sedan and paved the way for the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord to dominate the segment. They haven’t come off the ladder since then – and Ford has never again competed for the top spot in the sedan segment.

Best: 1966 Shelby Cobra 427

The Shelby Cobra 427, with its 427 cu-in (7-L) V8 engine, is one of the most iconic American sports cars. This car is the brainchild of the man, the legend Carroll Shelby himself, and was produced from 1962 to 1967.

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Ford
Ford

Like the GT40, it too was meant to unleash fury on the race track against its Italian rival (which it did several times). Just 31 Cobra 427s were made with road-legal specs. The standard 427 V8 delivered a whopping 425 horsepower, a top speed of 164 mph, and a 0-60 time of 3.5 SHORT seconds!

Worst: Ford Ecosport (2018-2022)

While the first generation of Ford Ecosport was mediocre at best, the second generation was an outright disaster. This subcompact SUV is unarguably dead last in its highly competitive class.

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Ford
Ford

Marred by an unexciting ride, a brazen lack of safety features, and a below-average fuel economy, the Ecosport is one of the worst cars to come out of the Ford line-up in recent years. Years of plummeting sales have finally made Ford pull the plug on this outdated vehicle and the 2022 version would be its last model.

Best: 1969 Ford Capri

Before the Mustang became a global car, Europe had its own “pony” car in the form of the Ford Capri. It was a massive success in Europe and is still one of the most sought-after platforms for modification.

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Ford
Ford

The Capri uniquely blended Mustang’s performance with the best bits of the Cortina to create a sizzling vehicle. This rear-wheel-drive coupe is considered one of the best Ford cars to be sold outside the North American market.

Worst: Ford Tempo (1988-1994)

Being the first passenger car to have all-wheel drive and a driver’s side airbag, the first generation of Tempo sold over 400,000 units in just 1984 – the year of its launch. It was a massive success in Ford’s bid to economize its lineup and was, in fact, one of the vehicles that kept Ford from going bankrupt in the 80s.

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Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The second generation, however, was one of the worst Fords ever. From a faulty ignition to unintended acceleration to steering problems, the 1988 Tempo had it all. A bland design topped it all. The decline was so steep that Ford had to end the production in 1994.

Best: Ford Escort RS2000

Almost unknown in the North American market, the Ford Escort has been a popular name in Europe. It’s one of the most selling vehicles of all time, with 20 million units sold overall. The first generation that debuted in 1968, in particular, was the most iconic.

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Ford
Ford

The production run also saw various special editions, of which the Ford RS2000 was the most acclaimed. It featured a turbocharged 1.8-L 4-cylinder engine that churned out 250 horses and 220 pound-feet of torque, enabling it to accelerate to 60 mph from a standing position in just 3.8 seconds!

Worst: Ford Festive (1986-1990)

The Ford Festiva was originally designed by Mazda for Europe and Australia. The North American versions (later sold under Aspire nameplate) were made by Kia and marketed by Ford.

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Ford
Ford

Despite the involvement of three auto giants from three countries, the car was shockingly inferior. With ugly looks, unimpressive features, and a grossly underpowered engine, the Festiva shouted cheap from everything used in it. The “special features” in the top-of-the-line variant were a tachometer and cloth seats!!!

Best: Ford Transit

While they might not be as popular as Ford trucks, the Transit vans are just as important as the much-acclaimed F-series. In fact, these almost unrecognizable vans do a lot of grunt work around the world and are hailed among the best vehicles to come out of Ford.

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Ford
Ford

Since its debut in 1965, Ford has sold more than 8.5 million Transit vans, making them one of the most sold transit commercial vehicles around the globe. The Ford Transit, also known as T-series in some countries, has been highly popular in Europe since the day of its launch.

Worst: Ford Probe (1989-1997)

The Probe was a sports coupe that Ford launched in 1989 to succeed the EXP in North America and the Capri in Europe. It was based on the Mazda MX-6 platform and was designed by both Ford and Mazda.

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Ford
Ford

Ford has originally made this car as the fourth generation of Mustang in a bid to cut production costs, but a strong objection from muscle car enthusiasts regarding the Probe’s front-wheel-drive, absence of V8, and Japanese ancestry made Ford rebrand it to a different vehicle. The Probe failed to convince buyers at both sides of the Atlantic and was discontinued in 1997.

Best: 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500

One of the best Fords ever made, the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 was immortalized when it starred alongside Nicolas Cage and Angelina Julie in the 2000 blockbuster action thriller “Gone in 60 Seconds.”

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Ford
Ford

Be it looks, style, or performance, the GT500 wasn’t short on anything. Equipped with a Ford Cobra FE 428 cu-in (7-L) V8 mated with two 600 CFM Holley four-barrel carburetors, it churned out a whopping 400 horses. But despite this insane output, it’s the styling of this car that made it an automotive icon!

Worst: Ford Windstar (1994-1998)

The minivan craze was at its peak in the early nineties and Ford didn’t want out. Even though the American automaker had no luck in this segment, the Windstar sold a decent number when it was introduced in 1994.

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Ford
Ford

But then complaints of all kinds started pouring in. The most notable reliability issue was the blowing head gaskets caused by a faulty cooling system, a tighter engine bay, and higher loads. Also plagued with several transmission and suspension issues, the Windstar just didn’t age well.

Best: Ford Mustang (6th Generation)

The Mustang is and will always remain the definitive pony car. Though it has never gone out of style, the 6th generation took things up a notch, ensuring that it will be in demand for the years to come.

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Ford
Ford

The variety in appearance and performance packages makes the Mustang accessible to everyone. The base trim of the 2022 Mustang starts from $28,400, giving users an easy entry into the pony car club with a 2.3-L EcoBoost engine good for 310 horses and all those million-dollar looks!

Worst: Ford Model T (1908-1927)

Ford Model T is, no doubt, a piece of automobile history but it’s also one of the worst Ford cars ever made. When it was released in 1908, at least 31 people were killed in summer that year in Detroit alone.

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Ford
Ford

Essentially a dumpster on wheels, the brakes were non-existent, the gas tank was located underneath the seats, and the flat glass windshields severely cut anyone involved in a crash. Despite being an automotive legend, the Model T was a death trap as not a single accident on this bare-bone car ended well.

Best: Ford Model T (1908-1927)

Surprised at seeing the Model T again? Well, branding it a “worst” Ford just because it wasn’t safe would be a gross injustice, considering how momentous and historically significant this icon of a car was.

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Ford
Ford

Sure, it killed many people, but don’t forget that it was 123 years ago. Being the first car affordable to working-class Americans (thanks to Henry Ford’s assembly-line genius), the Model T will always be the most significant and coolest Ford ever built. It’s also one of the most sold cars ever, with over 16.5 million units making out of the assembly during its 20-year run.