Cars That Should
Never Have Been Made
Probably the first time in history an auto
company was paid to stop making a car
First things first. Iran is a very dangerous place to drive a car...or to be a pedestrian. 25,000 people die on Iranian roads every year.
And the only car they've ever had is the Iran Khodro Paykan - a car totally bereft of safety features or pollution controls. See where this is going?
The Paykan was derived from the unremarkable Hillman Hunter in 1966, and produced until 2005 with engines from Peugeot.
Over that period of time, however, the Paykan became a 100% Iranian car - which isn't saying much.
Hillman was a British car company that made a series of lovely medium family cars and light trucks.
The Hillman Hunter was the replacement for the Hillman Super Minx and Imp.
Both the Imp and Minx were outdated, but very nice, post-war designs with some issues, least of which was a rather weak engine.
Iran Khondro Paykan
The Hunter also became Iran's only car...ever.
Hillman was part of the Rootes Auto Group, which includes Sunbeam and Humber.
The Hunter - conceived in 1962, was supposed to address a lot of overheating issues that had plagued the Hillman Imp in previous years, such as warped cylinder heads.
The resulting Hunter, part of the entire Rootes 'Arrow' range, rolled out of the factory for the first time in 1966. The Hunter was a conventional 4-door with a four banger up front and rear-wheel drive.
The Hillman Hunter - a competitor for the Ford Cortina - was nothing special. The live axle suspension would be familiar to anyone who has ridden in a horse-drawn buggy. The 1,725 cc engine had twin carbs, about 107 horsepower and got decent gas mileage.
The Hunter remained basically unchanged for 13 years with the exception of servo-assisted brakes and modifications to the grill.
Chrysler bought the troubled Rootes Group and handed over complete Hunter knock-down kits - minus the motor - to Mahmoud Khayami, owner of Iran Khondro - formerly Iran National.
For a while things went well as the Paykan was manufactured in Iran with the Hillman engine...but then Rootes went bankrupt. Chrysler walked away and Peugeot stepped up to the plate.
It should be noted that Peugeot does indeed make a fine car....now.
But in the 70s, 80s and 90s you only bought one if you absolutely had no other options. And yes, they were that bad.
The Paykan's biggest problems came about after Rootes stopped supplying the 1,725 cc motor and it was replaced by the extremely unreliable Peugeot 504 engine.
The Paykan got such terrible fuel mileage its owners could only afford to operate them with government-subsidized petrol.
Many modifications were required to keep this beast running, and the results were ominous.
In the late 90s, the Paykan was officially recognized as an environmental hazard because of its high fuel consumption and noxious exhaust.
In 2005, Iran Khondro was offered a cash incentive by the Iranian government to stop making the Paykan.
Makes you wonder though, doesn't it?
How friggin' bad is a car when a Third-World government asks you to stop making it?