Top 10 Famous Problematic Classic Cars

Written by Danny Collins
Last updated: June 2, 2023

Classic cars hold a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts and collectors. They evoke a sense of nostalgia and represent a bygone era of design and engineering. However, not all classic cars have a flawless reputation. Some of them gained notoriety for their persistent issues and problematic features.

In this article, we explore the top 10 famous problematic classic cars in the UK, examining their shortcomings and the challenges they posed for their owners.

1. Morris Minor

Green Morris Minor car

Although the Morris Minor, a beloved British car manufactured from 1948 to 1971, is renowned for its delightful aesthetics and lasting appeal, it was not without its fair share of issues. One of the most notorious issues was related to its suspension, stub axle spindles, and trunnions. These components were prone to shearing, causing the front wheels to come off while driving, resulting in hazardous situations. The problem could be attributed to design flaws and inadequate maintenance practices.

2. Hillman Imp

Hillman Imp car

The Hillman Imp, introduced in 1963, boasted a lightweight alloy engine, excellent handling, and a spacious interior. Unfortunately, it was plagued by several problems. The head gaskets were notorious for blowing frequently, leading to engine troubles. The engine’s design and cooling system made it prone to overheating, exacerbating the head gasket issue. Additionally, the Imp featured pneumatic throttles, which were prone to malfunctioning. The van versions of the Imp also had a fire risk as leaves could block the air intake and cause combustion, leading to potentially dangerous situations.

3. Citroen GS

Citroen GS classic car
The Citroen GS, manufactured from 1970 to 1986, was a compact car with innovative features. However, it had an engine issue that could cause the cams to wear out prematurely, typically around 60,000 miles, unless they were properly lubricated. Neglecting this maintenance task could lead to engine failure and expensive repairs. The issue stemmed from the engine design and the need for meticulous maintenance practices.

4. Citroen 2CV/Dyane

Citroen 2cv

The Citroen 2CV, fondly known as the “Deux Chevaux,” and its variant, the Dyane, were iconic cars with a reputation for durability. However, they were not without their problems. The front drum brakes required constant attention and adjustment, demanding regular maintenance. Moreover, accessing the brakes was a cumbersome process that involved removing the front panels and driveshafts. This made routine brake maintenance time-consuming and challenging.

5. Jowett Javelin

The Jowett Javelin, produced from 1947 to 1953, was a unique British car with advanced engineering for its time. However, it suffered from a flaw in its gearboxes. These gearboxes were prone to poor manufacturing, often causing the engagement of two gears simultaneously, resulting in severe damage to the transmission and drivetrain. The gearbox issue was a result of quality control problems and manufacturing deficiencies.

6. Triumph Herald

Triumph Herald car

The Triumph Herald, a compact car manufactured from 1959 to 1971, featured a separate chassis frame, which was prone to rusting. The rear swing axle suspension outriggers and box sections were particularly susceptible to corrosion. This issue could compromise the structural integrity of the car and alter the angle of the rear wheels, leading to handling and stability problems. The rusting issue was a combination of the car’s design and exposure to harsh weather conditions.

7. Triumph TR5 and 6

Triumph TR5

The Triumph TR5 and TR6 hailed as the ultimate sports cars of their time, and has a reputation for performance and style. However, they were plagued by a faulty mechanical fuel injection system. The system tended to malfunction when the fuel tank was only a quarter full, causing the engine to stall. Additionally, the fuel was returned back into the engine, leading to major engine issues and poor performance. The fuel injection problem was attributed to design flaws and issues with the fuel delivery system.

8. Jaguar XJ-S

Jaguar XJS

The Jaguar XJ-S, a luxury grand tourer produced from 1975 to 1996, had its fair share of problems. One notorious issue was the difficulty in accessing the faulty spark plugs. Rectifying this problem required hours of dismantling the car, making routine maintenance tasks cumbersome and time-consuming. Furthermore, the XJ-S often experienced rust issues with its boot lids and buttresses, while blocked water channels caused damp interiors. These issues were a result of design challenges and inadequate corrosion protection measures.

9. Ford Cortina Mkll

Ford Cortina Mkll

The Ford Cortina Mkll, a popular family car produced from 1966 to 1970, featured a self-cleaning paint that was supposed to enhance its appearance. However, this unique paint formulation had a downside. It caused scabs and blemishes to develop all over the car’s body, resulting in a less appealing appearance and a potential decrease in resale value. The self-cleaning paint problem was attributed to the paint’s chemical composition and the interaction with environmental factors.

10. Reliant Robin

Reliant Robin car

Despite the Reliant Robin’s unconventional design and unique features, which garnered attention and made it a memorable three-wheeled economy car produced from 1973 to 2002, it faced its fair share of challenges. The lightweight body, made of fibreglass, had a downside as it was flammable, posing a safety risk. Additionally, accessing the engine for maintenance or repairs was a challenging task, and leaky fuel pipes and arcing spark plug leads were common issues that plagued Robin’s owners. The Reliant Robin faced challenges due to its unique design and manufacturing limitations.


While classic cars exude charm and evoke memories of a different era, it’s essential to acknowledge their flaws and problematic features. The top 10 famous problematic classic cars in the UK, such as the Morris Minor, Hillman Imp, Citroen GS, Citroen 2CV/Dyane, Jowett Javelin, Triumph Herald, Triumph TR5 and 6, Jaguar XJ-S, Ford Cortina Mkll, and Reliant Robin, serve as reminders that even beloved classics can have their fair share of challenges.

Understanding the issues associated with these iconic cars can help collectors and enthusiasts make informed decisions when it comes to restoration, maintenance, and ownership. By being aware of the potential problems, owners can take appropriate measures to mitigate risks and enjoy their classic cars to the fullest.