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50 Years of Ugly Cars --You Be The Judge!

MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
edited March 7 in Pontiac
Yes, yes, beauty *IS* in the eye of the beholder, but I have to say, aside from 4 or 5 on the list that I might defend, by and large these do seem to be the homely pups in the litter.

Why do you think Car X or Car Y made the list? What is it about certain cars that, time and again, seem to offend most people's sense of style?

50 Years of Ugly Cars

Be sure to specify which car you are talking about when you post a comment.


  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,931
    Without plowing through all 50 pages of photos (no doubt with a bunch of ads on every page), from a few thumbnail clicks, I'd say they didn't really try hard enough.

    I don't mind the Brat (I don't much mind that style rig anyway, from Rancheros to the SSR), and the Hummer may not be your cup of tea, but it works for what it is. And the boxy Volvo 240? That's practically a classic. The Prius isn't any more offensive than a Probe or Corolla.
  • Ya, a lot of those on the list appear to be more personal preference of the author than actually ugly.

    For the time, the El Camino was inoffensive IMO and the the 240? That was the style that pretty much put Volvo on the radar for a lot of buyers. Functional, safe and solid. Same with the original Mercury Sable. The Taurus it was based off was the quintessential turning point for mainstream midsize family sedan styling IMO.

    Also, the Cimarron wasn't ugly!!! It was a cheap piece of garbage but there is nothing about it that I would call ugly. Tasteless? yes. Ugly? no.

    Other notable disagreements for me would be the RAV4, Prowler, PT, Prius, IQ, Baja, New Beetle and Element which I am especially fond of... nice of them to pick the dullest color combo possible on that one.

    I'd replace a few of those with cars like the BMW Isetta, Studebaker Avanti, Citroen D-type or SM, AMC Matador, Toyota MR-S...

    And the Enzo??? Really? :confuse: Has this guy never seen a Mitsuoka Orochi?

    image :sick:
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    edited November 2010
    The Volvo 240 is more "homely" than ugly. I mean, it doesn't make babies jump of their carriages like some cars. But it is certainly not much more than a lump of metal, in that configuration. Maybe the problem with the 240 is that it stayed the same far too long and began to be noticeably dated while other cars were going "aero".

    Oh I think the Prius is pretty ungainly. I suppose a hippopotamus is not at all ugly to another hippo, but seeing the Prius wallowing down the street is not a pretty sight IMO.

    The Element doesn't win any awards but I'm not offended by it. Ditto the El Camino and the Cimarron. The Cimarron is guilty of being bland, not ugly.

    The Avanti suffers from being totally out of fashion to the modern eye. The shovel nose is simply no longer appealing I think to modern sensibilities. It's rather awkward. One has to be very very careful about the "nose" of a car, more than any other part of it.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    50 cars on that list, and my Echo is not among them. Proof positive its styling is a winner! ;-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,159
    edited November 2010
    I guess I'm in the norm because I don't find the Prius to be all that offensive. It was a case of form follows function and the low drag levels help fuel mileage while the hatchback offers the utility over a conventional Corolla.

    No it's not a beauty queen either but ugly? I would give that nod to the original EV-1 myself... :D

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    in saying this list misses the mark more than once. The New Beetle and the PT Cruiser? This guy is seriously reaching.

    And some like the Element and the Cube are designed to be polarizing - if you don't like 'em, you just don't understand, that's all. Same with the SSR, GM's cartoon truck. :-)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,159
    edited November 2010
    I don't see how the Echo deserved all the criticism it got yet the original Daewoo Aveo of the same era got a free pass...



    At least the Echo was reliable.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    edited November 2010
    I think you have to stand next to a Prius and walk around it for a moment. It's not bad from the front but as you get the profile and then that whale-butt....I's not the UGLIEST car by any means....but on a scale of 1 (Citroen Ami6) to 10 (whatever beautiful car you pick) I'd give the Prius about a 3 or 4

    ECHO -- again, awkward when you see a real one and you stare at it. Something is just not right with that car---the rear windows I think and how the belt line works its way up to a stubby rear deck. It's a tad disturbing but not offensive.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,931
    edited November 2010
    I'd buy one. :shades:

    Come to think of it, friends have an ECHO, but I liked the Tercel better. The ECHO got a bit inflated.

    I like a lot of Citroëns too, lol.
  • Well there you go..I rest my case!!! :P
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,931
    That's fine, if you want Business Week to be your arbiter of taste. :)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,669
    They should have just sold it in the U.S. as a hatchback the way it was designed to be. Gluing that ugly little trunk on it, with the super-high roof it had, was just a guarantee of funky, out of proportion design.

    Even now I much prefer the looks of the Yaris hatch to those of the sedan, even though they have now lowered the roof and designed the sedan to be a sedan from the start.

    Thanks for giving the Echo credit for "disturbing" rather than "offensive"!! :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • Well if it's any comfort the first generation Prius was worse.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,345
    Hmm...ugliest cars of the last fifty years? To my eyes, the list would have to include (in no particular order):

    1962 Rambler Classic two-door sedan...looks like it's from an Eastern bloc country
    1965 Ford Fairlane....blocky body too big for the wheelbase
    1962 Dodge Dart (big model)
    1961 Imperial--even the nameplates are too big
    1963-64 full-size Chryslers (although I admire the '65's and also the '64-66 Imperials)--not a unified line on them
    1960 Lincoln--fill in your own description
    1969-73 "Fuselage" body full-size Chrysler, Plymouth, and Dodge...too damn big
    Early '60s Valiant and Dodge Dart station wagons
    Any Gremlin
    Any Pacer (although the "X" model has grown on me)
    '74 and later Ambassador or Matador 4-door sedans
    Toyota Echo
    Toyota Prius (both generations)
    Pontiac Aztek
    Nissan Cube
    Nissan Juke
    '80-85 Cadillac Seville
    '86-89 Cadillac Eldorado
  • You forgot the Packard Hawk, which should be a poster child for homeliness:

    I thought your list was generally pretty good---you have a good eye for regrettable design.
  • au1994au1994 Posts: 732
    edited November 2010
    The ones I disagree with:

    --El Camino. I have always liked these and I don't the design is overly ugly. Form follows function and if there was a model available today, I'd have it. How many of us really need a Ram 2500 for our bi-annual trip to Home Depot for mulch?

    --Volvo 240. It's hip to be square.

    --BMW 7 series. Not the marque's finest hour, but there is much worse out there.

    --PT Cruiser. I'll probably get killed for this one, but we had one back in my married days and aside from being underpowered, I liked the design. Incredibly functional interior as well. I once carried a hot water heater with the back seats out. I will admit that the lack of power is why I got rid of it, even though it was my wifes ride.

    2013 335i Sport Line Alpine White over Coral Red w/Black Trim

    2005 330cic ZHP Monaco Blue over Natural Brown w/Black Trim

  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    edited November 2010
    I'd really hesitate to brand a car truly "ugly" unless just about all of it was offensive--front, back, you name it. An awkward line here or there might make it homely from some angles, but doesn't it take a special car to offend you when you walk completely around it?

    One idea of how we might judge a design could be the concept of "coherence"--you know, when a designer is trying to convey an image, a feeling, an "idea".

    When you have a design where no part of the car speaks to, or reflects, or mirrors, or repeats, any other part, then we have chaos---and when we have a chaotic design, it usually is pretty ugly to most people.

    Look at this thing below....let your eye try to follow it---what's the "idea" here? I find it chaotic---it almost looks like it's being blown to pieces in stop-action, doesn't it?

  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 38,931
    I thought Chrysler was making a mistake getting rid of the PT Cruiser. It wouldn't take much to improve it into a nice grocery getter.

    Shifty, I feel pretty much the same way about '57 Chevys and a lot of cars of that era.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    edited November 2010
    Tail fins have saved a lot of cars from oblivion.

    The PT Cruiser just ran its course--sales dropped every year, more and more. The public is done with it as a viable product to sell them. I never liked them from Day One, and was very surprised at the car's success---which was substantial. I was completely wrong in assessing its appeal. But then again, I'm a elitist , (which is one of the nicest things anyone could call me btw) so bound to be wrong a lot when it comes to mass appeal.
  • Well, that and GM's copycat HHR came along...
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