Since the late 1950s, each of the three American auto manufacturers have had on-again, off-again flings with bringing in vehicles produced by either their offshore subsidiaries or foreign makes with which they have business relationships to sell in the home market, usually wearing familiar Detroit nameplates. These so-called “captive imports” have played many roles over the years: Some have been used to plug gaping holes at the bottom of product portfolios. Others were intended to bring some European class and pizzazz to the showroom. But all have one thing in common: They must have seemed like good ideas at the time.
Alas, many of these globally-sourced machines earned their places in American automotive history for all the wrong reasons. Whether they were victims of currency fluctuations, slapdash execution, marketing department hubris or some combination of the three, the following 10 captive imports used their green cards to slit open the fingers of their immigration sponsors.