Biggest Car Scams that Were Not Volkswagen's 'Dieselgate'

Published On  December 27, 2015 12:49 PM By Manish Kharinta at


Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’ scandal is all the rage these days. So much so, that even Leonardo DiCaprio has signed up and procured the movie rights for the story of German automaker’s emissions scandal. But this isn’t the first time the automotive industry has been subjected to controversy. There have been many instances in the history, where the industry that is known for its association with liberation and freedom was also associated with violation of human rights and safety. So in light of the biggest automotive scandal till date we have lined the holy trinity of car scams that rattled the industry forever.

3) Tucker Fraud Scam: A dream that knew no bounds!

Tucker motor company was the brainchild of Preston Tucker and was founded in 1948. Preston Tucker took on the biggest of names in the American automotive industry that included Chevy, Chrysler and even Ford. His designs featured some of the most advanced safety features that the cars of that time had ever seen, like reinforced safety cell, padded dash, a center headlight that moved in sync with the front wheels and shatterproof pop-out windshield.

To keep his company from going bankrupt, Preston started selling accessories for cars that were not built or finished and after numerous delays in commencement of production, U.S government finally shut down the operations of Tucker motor company on charges of fraud in 1950 with only 51 cars ever built. The scandal was so bold and so big that Hollywood even made a movie on it.

2) Audi’s Involuntary Acceleration: Unbelievable sights!

Yes, Ironman’s ride wasn’t always helping save the world. The car company also embraced its dark side back in the late 80’s. In a bid to establish itself as the ultimate premium luxury brand in America, in the year 1982, Audi introduced its Audi 5000 sedan and by the year 1986, the car almost destroyed the company’s standing in America as many customers stated to CBS’s 60 minutes that the car would accelerate on its own. For that matter, there was even a video where the car tried to run over its own owner all on its own, like ‘Christine’.

But the true reason behind the scandal was even more “insidious”. The truth was that the entire scandal was a sham, “conjured” up by the crew of ‘60 minutes’. The crew shot the video of the Audi 5000 by rigging the accelerator pedal with an air compressor. The car in reality, worked absolutely fine and any accidents caused due to unexpected acceleration were because of the narrowly placed accelerator and brake pedal, which the drivers would sometimes confuse. Audi is owned by Volkswagen and seems like the controversies just don't leave the German automaker alone.

1. The Volkswagen Beetle Scandal

Well it's not just a scandal but also an origin story of what one may address as the ultimate evil villain (wonder if that is why West Coast Customs used a Volkswagen Passat to build the Darth Vader car). You see the Volkswagen Beetle, which many revere as the peaceful icon of the 70’s, started life when Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche stole the car’s idea from Hans Ledwika, who was the chief design engineer of Moravia-based Tatra motors (not to be confused with India’s Tata motors). The money used to put this stolen concept into production and the factory to build it, was also stolen from the people of Germany (a people’s car indeed then). To cap it all off, the factory incorporated slave Russian labour from the Eastern front for employees.

So, ‘Dieselgate’ wasn’t the first time that the “people’s wagen” had screwed over the people, but I am sure we can blame this one on Hitler.

Check Out the Volkswagen Passat "Force" Commercial

May the  Force be with you!

Recommended Read: Ultimate Car commercials of All Time


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