The Weekly Driver

Website • Podcast • Newsletter

Established 2004

The worst car ever? Auto-Kabine, a VW Bug on steroids

The ugliest car ever made is an ideal topic over a great burger and couple of beers. There’s plenty of room for discussion. But the worst car ever? There seems to be a consensus: The Hoffmann Auto-Kabine.

M. Hoffmann, a post-WWII engineer and entrepreneur, built bicycles and Vespas in Germany in the late 1940s and then decided to entry automobile manufacturing. It was disastrous.

The Auto-Kabine, circa 1951-1954, is considered the worst car ever.
The Auto-Kabine, circa 1951-1954, is considered the worst car ever.

The Auto-Kabine microcar, which resembles a VW Bug on steroids, couldn’t have been a more contrary mechanical assemblage.

The engine drives the single rear wheel mounted on a cradle. It pivots on a kingpin in the center of the vehicle’s triangular frame. An extraordinarily complex lever mechanism operates the steering. The short wheelbase, rear-wheel steering proved to be the vehicle’s demise. The engine was a 200cc single-cylinder with 6.5 horsepower.

There was little control or stability except at low speeds. The top speed was about 27 miles per hour. 
 
In its three-year tenure, about 100 Auto-Kabine microcars were manufactured, with a cost of $690.

The Auto-Kabine microcars remaining are relegated to private collections and displayed at vintage car shows.

One reviewer described the Auto-Kabine experience as “driving a forklift at high speed.”

Jason Torchinsky, a writer and commentator for Jalopnik, reviewed the Hoffmann. He lived to tell the story of the “worst car ever.”

Subscribe!

To get our weekly newsletter with automotive news and commentary delivered to your email inbox.