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

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
edited March 2014 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.
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Comments

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    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:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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: 12,726
    50 cars on that list, and my Echo is not among them. Proof positive its styling is a winner! ;-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,277
    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

    image
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    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. :-)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,277
    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...

    image

    image

    At least the Echo was reliable.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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 dunno...it'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.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well there you go..I rest my case!!! :P
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    That's fine, if you want Business Week to be your arbiter of taste. :)
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    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

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well if it's any comfort the first generation Prius was worse.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,299
    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
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    You forgot the Packard Hawk, which should be a poster child for homeliness:
    image

    I thought your list was generally pretty good---you have a good eye for regrettable design.
  • au1994au1994 GAPosts: 1,638
    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.

    2019 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Venetian Red over Black
    2017 BMW X1 Jet Black over Mocha

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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?

    image
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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...
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,299
    edited November 2010
    A '58 Packard Hawk is not "...of the past fifty years". The '50's would open up a whole new list of such cars, for me!

    I dislike the catfish mouth and toilet seat on the trunk. Take those away, and it's a Studebaker Golden Hawk. I don't think many would call that an ugly car. And it has a beautiful, functional instrument panel and leather interior.

    I think the Packard Hawk looks better when compared to '58's other behemoth monstrosities. And, as we've discussed before, they bring surprisingly big money when they're for sale...definitely more than most anything else on my list (at least, non-letter Chryslers and closed cars). At production of 588, I couldn't even find any completed sales on eBay to list here.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    edited November 2010
    1958 Buick Roadmaster
    1958 Oldsmobile 98

    These two were most grotesque with their huge amounts of chrome placed willy nilly on car sides and huge ugly grilles and back ends.

    Lets stretch a little and say 50+ years of cars.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    edited November 2010
    1961 Plymouth Fury
    1962 Plymouth Fury
    1962 Dodge Polara
    1970 Pontiac Catalina/Bonneville
    1974 AMC Matador coupe
    1974-78 AMC Matador sedan
    1974-1977 Datsun B210
    1976-80 AMC Pacer
    1985-88 Cadillac DeVille/Fleetwood FWD
    1986-91 Cadillac Eldorado
    1986-91 Cadillac Seville
    1999-2002 Mercury Cougar
    Toyota Echo
    Suzuki X90
    Isuzu VehiCross
    Pontiac Aztek
    Honda Element
    Nissan Juke
    Scion xB

    There would be a lot more, but I felt they were merely "homely" versus outright grotesque.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    The 58 Packard Hawk is uniquely grotesque to me because it destroys a formerly attractive car. I'm amazed anyone would buy one, but then I'm constantly amazed at what people buy. You can get pretty good money for a 58 Buick or Olds coupe and well over $50K for convertibles of these cars.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,299
    edited November 2010
    Lemko, you and I often agree on one of the other forums and I almost entirely agree with your assessment here!

    I have to say, I pretty-much agree with the big '70 Pontiacs. It sort-of pains me to say so. I really like big '60's Pontiacs, ending with the '68's. I think the '70 Bonneville looks a 'teeny' bit better than the Catalina and Executive, only because of that colored panel between the taillights.

    I left out the '90 and '91 Eldorado from my list, only because I thought they got more palatable with the extended little 'fins' in the back, although honestly I can't remember what year those started. I remember looking at new '86 Eldorados and being aghast at how thin the seats were.

    Guilty pleasure: I actually like '74 and later Matador coupes, if they don't have a padded top and little opera window! In one model year, they went from the tallest intermediate to the lowest! But they still had the old unfortunate AMC interior and instrument panel, and with no filler panels between the body and bumpers, I remember that you could see the unfinished/rusty inside of the bumpers on the cars!
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Tail fins have saved a lot of cars from oblivion.

    What a frightening thought!

    The fact that 1958 was 52 years ago drastically affects this list. You could pretty much walk down any street and see a dozen ugly cars back then. in some ways that's why the 58 Edsel always sticks in my head. it took a lot of work to be distinctively ugly in 1958.

    I hate to admit it but I liked the Packard Hawk when it came out. My alibi is I was only 7 at the time.

    There's a lot of those that aren't terribly ugly - the Pinto was a rolling ball of death but it looked OK. Not great but OK. It got better looking if you were cross shopping it with a Gremiln.

    That BMW 7 isn't ugly. Disappointing? Sure.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh you were 7 at the time? Well, in the Catholic Church that's the cutoff age for being liable for committing sins. :P

    But we forgive you my son.

    re: 50 years---oh I don't know, I don't think cars suddenly starting getting beautiful in 1960.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    Yeah, i remember the nuns telling me I was eligible to go to hell now....

    if I went I might see some of these cars.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    I have to say, I pretty-much agree with the big '70 Pontiacs. It sort-of pains me to say so. I really like big '60's Pontiacs, ending with the '68's. I think the '70 Bonneville looks a 'teeny' bit better than the Catalina and Executive, only because of that colored panel between the taillights.

    I think the last big Pontiac that truly excitesme is the 1967 models. I just thought they totally screwed the style up for 1968....almost overnight the car went from hip, swinging, youthful, and sporty, and transformed into sort of an old man's car. It redeemed itself somewhat for 1969, with a less beaky front end, smoother lines overall, and what I thought was a really attractive rear. But then, for 1970, they screwed it up again with that neoclassic front-end with the too-small grille and the horn ports that gave it a 6-headlight look.

    I'm really not all that fond of the redesigned '71 Pontiacs, either. The overall shape I find attractive, it's just those front-ends. I think it looked better in '72, but I really didn't find the big Pontiacs attractive until 1975-76. And the downsized '77's I really love, especially the Catalina. But by that time, the public had pretty much deserted Pontiac when it came to bigger cars, so they weren't strong sellers.

    I gotta admit, the '74+ Matador coupe is sort of a guilty pleasure of mine, too. Hideous, but I love it! One added bonus on the base coupe that didn't have the padded top was that it had one feature very few 2-door cars did by that time...roll down rear windows. And I kinda like some of the Matador interiors of the time. A bit tacky, even for the 1970's, but they seemed pretty plush. I always theorized that since AMC really didn't have the resources to put money into engineering or making the cars truly modern, so instead they tried to compensate by sprucing up the interiors. Some of the Concorde models, and the nicer trim level of Pacer were pretty nice inside, too.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    The car I learned to drive in was a 67 Tempest wagon with the dreaded OHC engine that died at 56K. Had a Buick 6 after that.

    It wasn't an exciting car but it looked great and other than a nasty habit of randomly stalling at the worst possible moment it was cool.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    It wasn't an exciting car but it looked great and other than a nasty habit of randomly stalling at the worst possible moment it was cool.

    My grandparents' first non-Ford car was a 1967 Tempest. They followed it up with a '71 Tempest and then a '75 Dart Swinger. All three of those cars had problems with stalling, but the Dart was so bad that it sent them running and screaming back to Ford with a 1977 Granada, and they never strayed again.
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 2,077
    Many of those cars aren't ugly. Sure, the Chevette was garbage but what we really ugly about it? I think that the writer's perception is clouded by what was a bad car. For ugly, I think that we need to include 62 Skylark/Tempest and many 60s oddball Plymouths, the 1970s Matadors, the 1970 (I think) Thunderbird (the one with the schnozz) and the new CTS coupe
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    Interesting list Lemko. I think 1960 put out a lot of ugly. I wasn't as offended by the 62 Fury and Polara, but think they would have probably looked better if they had stuck with the originally planned full sized platform.

    I don't care what others say, the Yaris is just about as ugly as the Echo was.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    A Granada? We had one of those, too. It didn't inspire too much Ford loyalty.....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Volvo 240 ---it's hard to call a shoe box "ugly".

    Maybe the writer is remembering how quickly a Chevette GOT ugly. One year on the street and it was cooked.
  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    The 58 Buick may be garish, but the 58 Olds is one ugly sucker!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    yeah but worth $30K-$50K. Ugly but loved I guess ???
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    For the most part, I think 1960 was actually a pretty attractive year, although it was a time of growing pains, as the auto makers were sort of stuck between the era of late 50's excess and early 60's sensibility. Off the top of my head, the only 1960 car I think was truly ugly was the Plymouth...and it would get a lot worse for 1961! I think the rest of the Mopar lineup that year looked good, though.

    I'm also not that fond of the 1960 Mercury...not really hideous, but kind of awkward yet plain, at the same time. But the Ford and Lincoln, I find oddly appealing.

    And I thought GM's cars that year were okay, although I thought they all got much better looking for 1961-62.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    I, personally, LOVE the 1958 Buick, especially the Limited with the 15 slashmarks down the quarter panels. This car was actually two inches longer than a 1958 Cadillac DeVille. I'd love to have one of these for my personal car!

    image
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    1958 Edsel
    1958 Buick
    1958 Oldsmobile
    1960 Lincoln
    1960-62 Valiant
    1961 DeSoto
    1961 Dodge
    1961 Imperial
    1961 Rambler Ambassador
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    Yeah, I think the '58 Buicks definitely fall into the ugly but cool category. And I think it pulls off that look a lot better than the Olds, which IMO tends a bit more towards ugly and a bit less towards cool.

    I just looked up the specs in an old brochure, and just learned that the Limited was actually 8" longer than the Roadmaster...227.1" versus 219.1". I guess all that extra length was in the rear deck?

    As for something like a 1958 Edsel, I think they're actually pretty attractive from the side and rear...it's just that front-end, with the jutting headlights, and that horsecollar/toilet seat/sexually suggestive looking central grille theme.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,376
    That's a great list! I think i agree on all of them.

    Back to the Chevette - they didn't get ugly until you had to ride in one. That was one narrow car! At the time I rode in one I was maybe 130 pounds (at 5'5") - pretty skinny - and I felt cramped as hell. That takes some doing. I was way more comfortable, if not less embarrassed, in a Gremlin.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    Back to the Chevette - they didn't get ugly until you had to ride in one. That was one narrow car! At the time I rode in one I was maybe 130 pounds (at 5'5") - pretty skinny - and I felt cramped as hell. That takes some doing. I was way more comfortable, if not less embarrassed, in a Gremlin.

    I could actually see that. AMC really didn't have the money to do a "proper" compact car, so they simply took the compact Hornet and chopped something like 12" out of the wheelbase, all of it in the back seat area. The result is a car that feels like a compact up front, although the back seat was probably as miserable as any other subcompact of the time.

    Last time I sat in a Gremlin, or Hornet, I just remember the steering wheel being in sort of a bad position for me, and overly large in that mid-60's fashion. And the seat was pretty thinly padded.

    Can't remember the last time I sat in a Chevette, but I'm sure I'd hate it if I had to repeat the experience!
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,299
    '61 Ambassador...how could I have left that one off my list? I'm afraid I disagree on its "cool" factor though!

    http://04snake.com/images/FandRimages/HaroldAnthony_fandr11-crop.jpg
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited November 2010
    Young people seem to like the sense of the "ironic" and the grotesque. I often see them buying these cheaper old cars because they are so weird. I surmised that it's all about the urge to be different within the very conformist culture that we live in--by that I mean mass marketing is selling all of us the same things. How else could you explain the enormous automotive aftermarket for customization?

    So yeah, you can't get much weirder than a '61 Ambassador, or buying some other ugly duckling and showing it off---because you'll be one of the few people to have one.

    It's a kind of cheap celebrity, really.

    Some people dress like Elvis. Some try to win the Ugly Dog Contest. It's like that. :P
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 2,077
    edited November 2010
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    Yeah, those beak-nosed '70-71 T-birds were pretty grotesque up front. Shame, because I thought the '67-69 models were pretty nice. I never really cared for the big, overblown '72-76 T-bird either. The '72 was kind of ugly, but after that, it just sort of morphed into what looked like an overgrown intermediate Torino. The Mark IV was so much more tasteful looking I thought, and by that time, probably didn't cost a whole lot more than a T-bird, so I'd imagine most buyers just bought it instead.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 48,223
    Speaking of a young people trend, I have noticed hipster types in my area gravitating towards old Darts and Valiants - slant 6 cars. Likely due to low price, durability, and a little funkiness. But it's cool in a way to see the under 30-something crowd wanting plain old cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well for one thing they are a lot easier, and far less expensive, to fix than just about any other "old" American car. I mean, a big old 60s Cadillac 4-door for $6000 bucks might seem like a really cool surf car or "art" car to drive to Burning Man or some such, but finding parts, working on those huge yachts, and buying the gas for them is not something many 20-somethings are prepared to do.

    A Dodge Dart you can fix with parts you buy from Home Depot.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 48,223
    I suppose a 71 Valiant is pretty much the automotive equivalent of a fixie bicycle too.
This discussion has been closed.