In the annals of ugly cars which ones are the Top 10 worst of all time? This is a question that tends to come up amongst my friends as we are making a road trip to either pick up a rare Torsen limited slip for the race car or deliver my old car to some unsuspecting family member a few states away. So I decided to ask The Stud to make a quick comeback and give us his list of worst. But even ugly has its limits, and ugly but cool doesn’t count so we decided to leave off some cars that are icons like the Tatra T603, AMC Matador coupe, Citroen 2CV (click the links for fun facts and pictures).
Let’s start with the Honorable Mentions that did not quite make it on the list. Cars like the Datsun F10 (otherwise known as the Nissan Cherry). Its amazing the same company known for the 510 and the 240Z, among the most beautiful cars ever made, would ever put something like this into production. Another ugly car that didn’t quite make the list was the Series I Ford Ka, which according to The Stud “looks like the clay model was left in the sun too long”. Ugly is not just a measurement of the entire appearance, for even the details are all wrong on ugly cars. Like the headlights on the Nissan Micra that look like frog eyes (and not the cute ones on the Austin-Healey Sprite). Ford has two cars on the “almost” list as the mid-nineties Ford Scorpio also suffered from poor headlight design. But all these Honorable Mentions are not just “from the past“, for today’s Honda Crosstour just beats out the Acura ZDX as the ugliest car on the road today.
What more can you say about a car that won a poll in 2008 to be “the worst British car ever made”? Whereas the regular Allegro was ungainly looking, the oversized grille of the Vanden Plas model is the icing on the cake. According to The Stud “Talk about putting lipstick on a pig, in this case they also did a collagen injection“. And if the grille wasn’t bad enough, the steering wheel was almost square! (don’t believe it? take a look at the picture here). It looks odd to me but the recent Audi A2 Concept at the Frankfurt show sported one of approximately the same shape. Could it just be that Austin was 30+ years ahead of the trend?
This one almost didn’t make it on the list because it was right on the border of “cool”. Cool because its corrugated body reminds one of the Junkers Ju52 aircraft. According to Wikipedia, one famous HY was used by the murderer in the French Horror Film Haute Tension which is kind of appropriate because what normal person would drive one. Can you believe this one was produced up until 1981? “Any wonder the French car industry is in a bit of trouble?” said The Stud. These vans were famous for being the “broom wagons” in the Tour de France and were affectionately known as a Citroen Tube by some of their fans. Here is one for sale on one of my favorite websites, BringaTrailer.
I am not exactly sure that this should qualify since it is a one-off, but since the sedan version is also pretty ugly I put it on my list. It is also for sale. If you are really, really lucky maybe you could buy this and the HV van listed above so you could have something to tow it home with when it breaks down (and it will break down). Not only is the outside hideous, the inside is not any better. The Stud remarked “The British call it a Shooting Break, because if you bought it one day, you would want to shoot yourself after finding it in your garage the next morning.”
The Tribeca came about at a time when Subaru was re-exploiting their aircraft heritage. If their aircraft flew like this grille looked, then I would not take one to the corner store, even if it was in the trendy TriBeCa neighborhood of Soho. I think the grille was intended to be representative of the crankshaft and the horizontally opposed cylinders. At this point the only comment The Stud made was that he “opposed the grille”. Supposedly the grille design was the brainchild of Fuore Design which designed some earlier concepts for Subaru. The Stud told me that it is not unusual for a car designer to blame someone else when the results go awry.
Some say beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way to the bone. In the case of the Nissan Juke it appears that is not true as the vehicle dynamics are actually not that bad. But the ugly is certainly skin deep. When I entered Juke and Ugly in Google, I was rewarded with so many hits that I couldn’t list all the links here. So you will have to do with a just a few of the best ones. “Perhaps they should have called it the Joke!” The Stud.
This may be the closest thing to weird on the list – everything else shows some signs of functionality and reasoning in their designs. But why the back glass, an obvious copy of the European Ford Anglia and the Mercury Monterey? Because the design brief defined the overall size, required a certain mount of passenger room and restricted the use of a hatchback leading to the only way to package it all. Sometimes it is not the Designer’s fault at all, sometimes it is Product Planning. (“Couldn’t have said it better myself” The Stud).
Perhaps the most misunderstood vehicle on The Stud’s list is the Pontiac Aztek. Often derided as the uglisest car ever produced, those in the car industry know that the original designs looked pretty good, it was only after finance got a hold of the project and put it on the minivan chassis that the program went south. Which is why I decided to put up a picture of the only good looking Aztek I have even seen. The Aztek is also famous for being Walt’s ride in Breaking Bad. Sometimes it’s not the Designers Fault at all, sometimes it’s the Bean Counters. (“True Dat” The Stud).
#3 – SsangYong Rodius
Something we don’t get to see in the States much are vehicles from Korea’s SsangYong Motors. SsangYong, which means “double dragon” has been owned by various companies through the years. That might change one day after recently being purchased my Mahindra. No less than Top Gear has said this is the perfect car “for eunuchs”. Wikipedia has a whole list of insults to the design if you care to read them. The best? calling it a “collapsing bus shelter on wheels”. The Stud just hopes they get their design house in order before they bring product like this here.
What exactly is this? It may be ugly but it at least has a Transformers Toy made out of it. And ugly is more than skin deep…the powerplant? a Camry V6! And if this isn’t ugly enough for you, try the convertible version. The would all be funny if James May hadn’t pointed out that Mitsuoka is Japan’s tenth largest auto manufacturer. They called this model the 01. The Stud remarked “After seeing it I don’t think they will ever make an 02.”
#1 – Fiat Multipla
The superlatives that The Stud used to describe this car, his Worst of the Worst could have made a school kid blush. The only ones that I can print here ate that it “looks like someone put a rubber band on it while it was growing” and “have you ever heard a car say ‘Kill Me, PLEASE!’ “ It was so horrible it was even disguised for the movie Children of Men, because no one would believe a car like this could be produced in the future. But it is the only car on this list to have ever been displayed at the MOMA.
So that does it for our Top 10 list this week. There will not be one next week as we will be busy reporting from the North American International Auto Show. But the list will return in two weeks with a list of Top 10 Best Auto Cartoons. In the mean time if you would like to look at some other great Top 10 lists of Ugly, Popular Mechanics does a great list of the Ugliest cars at SEMA every year. Here is the 2010 list and here is 2011. And the cars.com website just did a great story on the ugliest grilles. (I know the designers on more than one of those grilles).