70 Ugliest Cars on The Road
Listen, we love all automobiles, okay? We do, promise. But that doesn’t change the objective truth that some cars are plain and simply not attractive. It’s okay! They aren’t all going to be winners. But these ones in particular are noticeable bad. Why were some of these even made? Their purpose is to get the driver around, safely and efficiently. Their purpose apparently is not to do so while being anything remotely good-looking. So here’s to the ugliest cars ever made, salute!
70. Bricklin SV-1
The brain-child of the American millionaire who brought Subaru to the New World, the Bricklin SV-1 was an attempt to build a “safe and economical sports car”, which makes precisely as much sense as “room temperature fire” or a “solar powered tanning bed.” SV-1 even stands for “Safety Vehicle One”, making this one of the least-inspiring car names of all time.
The front end looks like a sad Corvette, fallen upon hard times and forced to do disgusting things for money. The gull wing doors should add class, but they just look awkward. Fewer than 3,000 were made, and with good reason—no one wanted them and the company went bankrupt in the late 1970s.
69. Chevrolet El Camino
The so-called “vehicular hermaphrodite” is probably the most controversial entry on this list. The El Camino’s not-quite-a-truck, not-quite-a-two-door-coup left a lot of potential consumers confused at the time. Coupled with its wonderfully 1980s boxy front end and the odd choice of paint job colors, the El Camino is a symbolically 80s vehicle.
But its history goes much deeper than that. There’s a nobility to the idea behind the El Camino: the desire to produce a car that was both utilitarian and classy enough for social settings. Did it achieve its ends? Probably not, but it was a wonderful dream to have for a time.
68. DeLorean DMC-12
One of the the more controversial cars ever made, the DeLorean is a tribute, perhaps, to the ancient Greek maxim: “to miss a high aim is to fail without shame.”
DeLorean himself was a man with a dream: he wanted to build an innovative car at a brand-new company he would found himself. He took a lot of risk both in the design and the production of the DMC-12: opening a factory in Northern Ireland, investing in a whole new series of production procedures, a car with iconic gull wings and an all aluminum body. The result is a visual mishmash often compared to a toaster, but the DMC-12 has won admirers around the world.
And yes, it was the car in “Back to the Future”. Let’s just get that out of the way.
67. Cadillac Allanté
As some of you may recall, the 1990s were a time of “extreme” products and over the top living. The economy was booming, the tech revolution was on the rise, and things were pivoting toward a more youthful worldview. Sadly, Cadillac—a name synonymous with tradition and complacency—tried to get a piece of that sweet 90s action by introducing a two-seater roadster to its otherwise large luxury car oriented lineup.
And there’s a clue in the name: the word Allanté was randomly generated by a computer and selected by a bunch of executives. Go figure.
66. Buick Skylark
The Skylark is another iconic mid-1980s snore-fest of a car. Like the Sunbird, they appear in movies and television programs as a way of establishing a time and place: middle America in the 1980s. This is generally accompanied by a middle-class sitcom type plot, because what else could you write for or about the Skylark. While it’s a working car for working people who should be proud of their contributions to society, it’s anything other than a fun, enjoyable car to road trip in. Speaking of which, honey, could you pick up the dry cleaning while you’re out?
65. Ford Mustang II
64. Dodge Aspen
63. Chevrolet Celebrity
62. AMC Gremlin
61. 1948 Studebaker Convertible
60. 1999 Ford Taurus
59. Dodge Aries
58. Ford Maverick
57. Blobfish Supra
56. Toyota MasterAce
55. Ford Flex
54. Car Make Unknown
53. 1999 Chevrolet Impala
52. Aston Martin Lagonda
51. Geo Metro
50. Plymouth Prowler
49. Saturn SC (3 door)
48. Citroën BX
47. Ford Escort ZX2
46. 1999 Chevrolet Malibu
45. Buick Electra
44. Geo Storm
43. Plymouth Signet
42. Pontiac Aztek
41. Lincoln Mark LT
40. Cadillac Cimarron
39. Mercury Capri
38. Pontiac Fiero
36. Volkswagen Thing
35. Volvo 240
Speaking of family cars we all grew up with, you—or someone you knew—drove one of these in high school. They likely inherited it from an older relative, who bought it due to Volve’s well-earned reputation for safety and reliability . . . or some such reasoning.
And the 240 was safe and reliable, if rather lacking in the looks department. The infamous “flying shoebox” design didn’t win it any favors or nominations for “World’s Sexiest Sedan”. While there’s a sort of quiet dignity to the squared off front end, it’s a long way from a romantic ride.
34. 1991 Pontiac Sunbird
We’re products of the 1990s, dear readers: we came of age in that lost decade and believe me, we remember the Sunbird. Pontiacs mid-sized sedan was ubiquitous on the roads connecting Middle American’s suburbs with the nearest shopping mall. We rode in them, we learned to drive in them and . . . well, may of us had some other firsts in them, but that’s a subject for another time. And we did all of this without noticing how ugly they were.
The front end gives the impression of a grandmother squinting angrily at an errant child, while the long hood and relatively short windshield leave the casual view with the impression that far too much space was spent on the engine and not enough on the passenger compartment. That latter point is true, as anyone who survived a road trip in one of these can attest.
33. Oldsmobile Dynamic 88
We’ve never seen one of these in the wild, but they crop up in the background of late 80s-early 90s home videos, so we assume they must be real. Produced from 1949 until 1999, this car’s 50 year run was marked by lackluster body styles, building, misshapen front ends, oddly positioned headlights, and styling lines that could make a draftsman cry—at least in its later years.
Oddly enough, the first generation, roughly 1949 to 1953, are some of most stylish representations of the body styles of the era, and still beautiful to look at to this day. So what happened? Only a bunch of retired Oldsmobile executives know for sure, but it’s an ugly secret that they’re taking to their graves.
32. Oldsmobile Bravada
“Bravada” means something like “bravery” in Spanish, a title earned by anyone who drives one of these in public.
A spinoff of the S-Blazer/Jimmy family of vehicles, the Bravada was the first truck like vehicle offered by Oldsmobile since the 1920s, and we’re willing to bet they regret the decision. Describing this thing is hard, but thankfully the vehicle in the stock photo is white and that brings one image to mind: This thing looks like a Stormtrooper’s helmet. While we’re fans of the original trilogy and looking forward to Rogue One, the Force is not with this one.
31. Nissan Juke
Another subcompact. Another unfortunate name. Another body style inspired by non-Euclidian geometry and the screams of the damned.
Drawing on the “coke bottle styling” popular in the 1960s and 1970s, the body features a hight waistline, giving it comically small windows, an absurdly shaped front end with a grill resembling the face of a frog that had a close, failed encounter with the wells of a large truck. It just looks wrong, pure and simple: overstyled to the point of ugliness and with lines that lead both nowhere and everywhere at once.
And the name: Juke? Jukebox? What the heck could it mean? Is this a Japanese slang term we’ve just never heard? Oh geez. That makes it worse.
30. Renault Twingo
29. Mercury Comet
28. Ford Pinto
27. Dodge Mirada
26. Chevrolet Chevette
25. Ford Fiesta, First Generation
Let’s get this out of the way: the Ford Fiesta is an established model of minicar, which over seven generations of development has cemented a place in the hearts of drivers who either prefer or need a smaller and more functional ride. The current models look nice enough, and there’s no problem with them.
However, the first generation, born in the 1970s and 80s, were ugly. Boxes on top of boxes with makeshift grills stuck on the front. It looked like a derby car a couple of kids built in their garage and didn’t do that great of a job with. So, great things can come from humble beginnings. Who knew?
24. Tata Indica
Supermini cars are always a gamble. They make a lot of sense—they’re economic, space and fuel efficient, and easy to park in tight space. However, it’s really a challenge to make one that’s anything less than hideous. The designers of the Tata Indica were clearly not up to that challenge.
Tata Motors is an Indian company, and that may explain the design choices that seem so odd to an American audience. However, the overly compact body looks truncated, the angle of the steering wheel is steep enough to ruin any hope of headspace in the cab of the vehicle, and the lackluster performance is not enough to offset the problems in its looks.
Tata may be capable of great things. Maybe we’ll see them someday.
23. 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera
The 1980s were an odd time: the music was great, but the visuals—big hair, shoulderpads, aand the like—were all awful. The 1987 Cutlass Ciera is a case in point.
This is the ultimate 1980s Dad Car. The one that every suburban family had, used regularly, and was more or less indifferent to. We all learned to drive in one, as they were popular used cars through the 1990s. Filmmakers use them to establish a sense of time and space—what else screams 80s Americana louder and prouder? And that’s great and all, but this is a really ugly shoebox of a car.
22. Edsel Ranger
You don’t’ see many of these on the road anymore. Largely because Edsel vanished as a company a long while ago, and with good reason.
The body design looks like a parody of a 1950s automobile, with the misshapen fins, strange body lines, and the frankly nearly-obscene front end: you know what it looks like, we know what it looks like, so let’s not pretend. Just don’t make us say it; this is a family website.
Despite a host of features, the Edsel Ranger only ran from 1958 to 1958. We think that’s testament enough to what the American consumer thought about it.
21. Volkswagen 181 (the “Thing”)
You knew this was coming. You knew it deep in your souls. Be honest with yourself.
To be fair to the Thing, this is a case in which form definitely took a backseat to function. The Thing is a spinoff of series of military vehicle projects that various Western European nations collaborated on over the course of the 1960s and 1970s. So its ugliness—part jeep, part dune buggy, part garbage can—is a way of working the performance desired into the most economical and durable package. So once again we have a dichotomy: the triumph of performance and engineering and the failure of any sort of aesthetic consideration. Still, it’s a classic and that does have some charm.
20. AMC Matador
19. 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier
18. 1989 Dodge Ram
17. AMC Pacer
16. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
15. Daewoo Tico
A city car—designed for the cramped driving conditions of its native South Korea—the Tico was produced by Daewoo from 1991 until 2001. It’s hard to explain what makes this so ugly. There’s nothing wrong with it, but there’s nothing right about it, either. It’s the Platonic ideal of nondescript, and that lack of distinction is reflected in its trite little name: Tico.
Not surprisingly, this failed to catch on in the US, UK, or Western Europe, but it found a home of sorts in Eastern Europe, particularly Romania. Rumor has it that Ticos can still be seen on the streets of South Korea if the day is particularly mediocre.
14. Wartburg 353
Another winner of a name, at least from an English-speaking perspective: nothing sexy has the word “wart” in the title. And this isn’t just cultural bias: this is one ugly car, with an ugly story behind it.
It’s a mid-sized family car from East Germany, a now-defunct country in which most people couldn’t afford cars—or anything else. And it’s probably lucky that they couldn’t—with a oddly balanced body the Wartburg 353 was prone to under-steer, particularly during inclement weather. While it did offer fairly decent performance when skies were clear, the threat of death every time it rains hardly made up for it.
13. Subaru BRAT
Let’s be honest: if we told you there was a car called a Subaru BRAT, and that we wanted you to drive it, you’d feel insulted. To your manhood/womanhood/personhood/adulthood, take your pick, but you’d feel insulted. The name itself is stupid, is what we’re saying.
The design of the actual vehicle is, to our eyes, equally juvenile. This baby pickup looks like a toy. The bed is too small to be anything but a joke, the front end looks like a Germlin, and the cab is too small to be comfortable. We’re not sure who this was for, or who designed it, but it’s a mistake.
12. Matra Rancho
Oh look, another French car already. Didn’t see that coming.
The Matra Rancho is an attempt at an off-road vehicle. We say attempt, as it was a barely modified version of an existing pickup truck rather than a full on 4×4 intended to go past the point where the blacktop ends. The engine wasn’t that robust, the front-wheel drive didn’t offer great performance, and that’s before we get to the part where the body design is just . . . wrong. We can’t put our finger on it, but there’s something really off about all of this. All the elements are there: off-road body, over-sized headlamps, cargo bar on the roof, but the way it comes together looks like a parody, not a vehicle.
11. Citroën Ami
Our first—but likely not our last—entry from France, the Citroën Ami is a four door supermini which first appeared in 1961 and reflected the status quo in Europe from that era. Despite these disadvantages, the Ami stuck around until 1978—the best selling car in France up to that point.
All the problems in this one come from the rear of the vehicle. The front end looks alright, but what is up with that swept-over design? It’s like a station wagon and a sedan swapped half their parts, and the end result gives you the functionality of neither.
10. Ford Contour
9. Ford Probe
8. Nissan Cube
7. Saturn Ion
5. Lightburn Zeta
Lightburn and Co. were an Australian automobile manufacturer who achieved very little fame outside their native land. That may or may not be a shame, but we can’t feel we missed much with the Zeta.
The design may be informed by the fact that Lightburn started as a manufacturer of cement mixers and washing machines, and both of those aesthetics show through in Zeta. A bug-eyed sedan with an oddly symmetrical body, weak-looking wheel wells, and a windshield that’s more of an afterthought, this is not a sporty vehicle for cruising the highways of the Sunburned Country. We’re not sure what it was, come ot think about it, but we suspect there’s a reason only a few hundred were made.
4. Bond Bug
No, not Bond, James Bond. This Bond is the product of the Bond Cars Ltd, later purchased by Reliant.
Once again, the concept isn’t bad at all: an affordable car for urban and suburban living. A three wheeler to save space and weight, An engine designed with economy in mind. Sure, no problem thus far. Then you add in a body that looks like a beach buggy and a frankly bizarre flip-top door . . . thing, and suddenly we’re in territory that is frankly ridiculous. This looks like something a child built with leftover model parts, not a serious car for life on a serious earth.
3. Fiat Multipla
We would have loved to be at the design meeting in which this particular body style got pitched. “We’re going to make a two door compact multipurpose vehicle. It has a strange bulging windshield frame for no reason. Oh, and the two sets of headlights are offset. Why yes, one’s on the bulge. We think the kids will like it. Sure.”
It was 1998, the era that gave us Jar-Jar Binks. What can we say?
Unlike Jar-Jar, the Multipla got mixed reviews. Top Gear Magazine alternately named it “Ugliest Car of the Year” for 1998, while simultaneously praising its flexibility and performance as a family car. So, a commentary on the duality of the human experience? Sure. Sure.
2. Nissan S-Cargo
Introduced in 1989, the S-Cargo is the first and perhaps the most misguided attempt in the ongoing effort to reinvigorate “retro” body styles that dominated the last decade of the 20th century.
Inspired by the Citroen 2CV Fourgonnette, the S-Cargo was likewise intended to be a delivery van and perhaps personnel transporter. The name is a pun: S-Cargo/escargot due to its snail-like appearance. And that appearance was ridiculous, the performance mediocre and the price point failed to find it a foothold in the marketplace. A reviewer referred to it as “the height of postmodernism”–which is either a dated compliment or damning by faint praise. We’ll leave that up to you.
1. Sebring-Vanguard Citicar
Here we are in the heart of the 70s aesthetic: innovation and foresight wrapped in a frankly horrible visual appearance. Introduced in 1974 by the US-based Sebring-Vanguard. The Citicar was a response to the then-ongoing oil crisis: small, shaped like a disco shoe, and powered by an electric motor. This was an ambitious vehicle, hampered by both its ugly looks and its mediocre performance: 36 miles-per-hour as a top speed isn’t all that thrilling, even for a car designed for the most urban of urban living. Production ceased in 1979, and while interest in electric cars would reemerge decades later, the Citicar is now an historical relic.