Damn Your Eyes: The Ugliest Cars Ever Made
…and some of them don’t even have good personalities
1932 Stout Scarab
The Stout Scarab is believed to be the world's first minivan, possibly the world's first aluminum unibody, and definitely the world's first truly ugly car. The Scarab's oddball shape comes courtesy of a rear-mounted Ford V-8 and a wide body that lacked running boards, all very innovative stuff—but there was no excuse for the Scarab's ridiculous flattened face. The fact that it was named for an Egyptian dung beetle certainly didn't broaden the car's appeal, and it's no surprise that only nine were built.
1946 Crosley CC
Crosley's miniature cars proved popular during the gas rationing of World War II, and when peace resumed they were ready with a new car called the CC. It was one of the first production cars to use a slab-sided design with no running boards, and one look makes you wonder how the trend ever caught on. With its squashed visage and undersized wheels, the Crosley looked more like a toy than a car. Under the toilet-seat-cover hood sat a new stamped-steel overhead camshaft engine which proved to be every bit as troublesome as its container was ugly, and as prosperity returned after the war, the Crosley was left behind.
The Ugliest Cars of the 1950s
1951 Allard P2 Safari
There are a few things in life we simply cannot wrap our heads around, and this is one of them: Who thought it was a good idea to graft the front of a sports car onto the back of a woody wagon? British automaker Allard did, and the results are every bit as revolting as one might expect. Production estimates for this Ford-powered eyesore range between 10 and 13, some five of which are known to exist. We imagine the rest were destroyed by mobs with torches and pitchforks.
1958 Ford Thunderbird
The year 1958 was a bad one for styling at FoMoCo, and the Thunderbird is possibly the most aggrieved victim. We all know what the 1955 Thunderbird looked like—a cleanly styled two-seat roadster that was refreshingly free of chrome gew-gaws. Ford put that to a temporary end in 1958, replacing the original with this over-sized, over-adorned, four-seat schlockmobile that practically dripped with 1950s excess. Sales soared, which only proves that tastelessness knows no temporal bounds. Fortunately, sanity was restored with the elegant lines of the third- and fourth-generation Thunderbirds, which were truly beautiful cars, and the 1958 Thunderbird remains one of Ford's most hated cars—and deservedly so.
1958 Lincoln Continental
With its canted headlights, near-vertical body sides, and the ridiculous concave treatment given to the front fenders, the 1958 Lincoln gave the impression of taking up as much space as possible for no good reason at all. If you really want a laugh, check out this short video comparing Lincoln's styling to the '58 Cadillac, which is itself no prize. (We love the disdain in the announcer's voice every time he talks about the Caddy.) Lincoln tweaked the styling in '59 and '60, making it slightly worse each time—but the 1961 Lincoln that replaced this monstrosity was one of the prettiest cars the division ever made.
1958 Subaru 360
The Subaru 360 (check out our test drive!) was built to meet strict Japanese kei car standards that limited its dimensions and engine size. We can't find anything in the regulations that dictate a car must be hideous to look at, but to be fair, our Japanese is a bit rusty. Few kei cars of the late '50s and early '60s are lookers, but the 360 is one of the ugliest ever made, looking rather like a rare form of sea life plagued by multiple congenital deformities. When Subaru began importing the car to the US in '68—its styling unchanged—they ran commercials that called it "cheap and ugly". (Seriously—watch for yourself.) Truth in advertising is always nice to see, even if the Subaru 360 isn't.
1961 Citroen Ami 6
We expect weird designs from France, but the Ami ("friend") might be a step too far. The Ami 6 was the first car to use headlights that weren't round, and yes, we can kind of dig the wavy front-end treatment. The reverse-raked rear window certainly wasn't unique to Citroen; Mercury, Lincoln, and the Ford Anglia used it as well—but combined with the angled B-pillar, the Ami looks as if its entire greenhouse is being blown back in a stiff breeze. Even the French hated it—in 1962 the Ami 6 was outsold two-to-one by the ancient 2CV on which it was based.
1965 Rambler/AMC Marlin
Many people dismiss the Marlin as a badly-executed rip-off of the fastback Dodge Charger, but in fact the Marlin beat the Charger to market by a year—but while the Charger got the proportions right, American Motors' Marlin got them completely wrong. What's remarkable about the Marlin is not just that it's ugly, but that it's ugly from every angle; there is simply no viewpoint from which this car looks good. Check out this photo, this photo, this photo, and this photo—see our point? Sales of the fastback Charger were bad, but Marlin sales were even worse. P.S., sorry for making you look at five more photos of the Marlin.
1968 Lombardi Grand Prix
You wouldn't expect to find an Italian entry among a list of the worst-looking cars. The idea that the Italians could come up with a poorly-proportioned pig like this still blows our minds, but it's true: This dumpy little sports car really does come from the same country that gave us Battista Farina, Giorgetto Giugiaro, and Gina Lollobrigida, though with its 843-cc, 47-hp Fiat engine, we can't imagine it was very sporty at all. Abarth built a version called the 1300 Scorpione, and while the company did nothing to alleviate its dreadful looks, they doubled the horsepower, enabling the car to evacuate itself from our field of vision that much quicker—and for that we are thankful.
1970 Marcos Mantis M70
If we had to nominate one vehicle as the ugliest car in the world, it's the visual crime scene you see here. Few of Marcos Engineering's cars are particularly attractive, but the Mantis achieves a level of hideousness rarely seen on four wheels. Everything about this car is wrong, from the lumpy lines to the poor proportions to the disconcerting details. We can't even accuse the designers of being blind, because you can practically smell how ugly the Mantis is. Amazingly, Marcos managed to sell 32 of these monstrosities in a two-year period. We didn't know it was possible to blackmail so many people at once.
1974 AMC Matador
The Matador was clearly designed as an American interpretation of the classic European sport coupes, and yet it is the consummate ugly American: Fat, excessive, lazy, and gawd-damn proud of it. Its awkwardly bulbous body houses mechanical bits of the most vapid and insipid ilk: Pushrod V-8, column-shift automatic, live axle with leaf springs. Everything that was wrong with 1970s American car design is wrapped up in this clunker from Kenosha, and the sad part is that it actually drew praise for its design—proving, to borrow a line from the dinner scene in Scent of a Woman, that maybe God thinks some people don't deserve to see.
1975 Triumph TR7
The Triumph TR7 was a British sports car aimed at the American market, and the story goes that its thick roof pillars and gun-slit windows were designed in anticipation of U.S. rollover standards that never materialized. Richard Porter, author of Sniff Petrol and former head "Top Gear" writer, surmised that British Leyland's strategy was to build a car so ugly that the ground would repel it. Happily, most TR7s quickly rusted to the point of compromising their structural integrity, sparing future generations the sight of this terrible Triumph.
1976 Aston-Martin Lagonda
Modern-day Aston Martins are the stuff of dreams, so it's a bit hard to understand how they came up with something so unpleasant looking as the Lagonda sedan. It looks like an 80s-era Chevrolet Caprice that went four rounds with a rolling pin and lost. If you've ever wondered why this publication has been restrained in its criticism of the Aston-Martin Rapide, well, now you know.
1976 Rolls-Royce Camargue
When the Camargue was launched, Rolls-Royce touted the eight-year development of its innovative split-level automatic climate control system. Apparently, they spent so much time on the air conditioner that they forgot about exterior design. Rolls farmed the design out to Pininfarina, which must have been harboring some post-WW2 resentment, because what they sent back was, well, this. Up front, the Camargue replaces the classic Rolls façade with a stupid wide-eyed stare, while the rear styling seems to have been inspired by the contemporary European-market Ford Escort. Amazingly, Rolls kept this monstrosity in production for eleven years before replacing it with the Silver Spirit.
1982 Cadillac Cimarron
In retrospect, we know that Cadillac's decision to turn the Chevy Cavalier into a luxury car was the beginning of the end for the brand that once called itself the Standard of the World, but let's not get so wrapped up in the story that we forget what a visual turd the Cimarron was. As a Cavalier, the J-body wasn't a bad-looking economy car; it was trim and modern and right for the times. But gussied up as a Cadillac—no, no, no, no, no, and no. As a Cadillac, the Cimmaron was small, chintzy, and completely lacking in the design artistry and sophistication one expects from an upscale car. Viewed through the luxury lens, the Cimarron was pathetic—and ugly.
1985 Consulier GTP
What makes a supercar super? It has to be fast, it has to be agile, and it has to be beautiful. Perhaps the folks at Consulier figured two out of three was close enough. Oh, it was fast—impressively so, especially considering it had a 190-hp Chrysler turbocharged four behind the cockpit. The GT weighed a mere 2,200 lb thanks to a lightweight composite frame and an industry-first body shell made entirely of Kevlar and carbon fiber. But in a time when Ferrari, Lamborghini, and classic Cobra posters were vying for wall space, the Consulier GTP wasn't even in the running. Can you imagine Samantha Fox draping herself over the Consulier's hood? Of course not—she'd probably wrench her back on the headlight pods.
1989 Alfa-Romeo SZ
When it comes to Italian cars, beautiful design is almost a given—so how the hell did this happen? With its flat planes, odd proportions, and a weird change in beltline angle fore and aft of the B-pillar, the Sprint Zagato looks like it was designed to be a Lego model rather than a real car. (Even the wheels look like Lego parts.) It's almost as if someone accidentally put the prototype into a compactor and threw the switch before realizing their mistake, and rather than fix it, they put the partially-crushed Alfa into production.
1990 Chevrolet Lumina APV/Oldsmobile/Pontiac
Ah, the Dustbuster vans—probably the ugliest cars GM ever made until the Pontiac Aztek stole the title a decade later. Trying to make the minivan look futuristic and unique was an admirable goal, but it turns out that people bought boxy vans because they were, y'know, boxy, and sticking an anteater nose on the front didn't add to the appeal. Piloting one felt like driving from the back seat, and anything that slid down the dashboard couldn't be retrieved without removing the windshield. GM spread the love over three divisions with the Chevrolet Lumina APV, Oldsmobile Silhouette, and Pontiac Trans Sport, and all three became among the most hated cars in America—and they deserved every bit of it.
1992 Buick Skylark
If you ask me, the last and final iteration of the Skylark has escaped the drubbing it so richly deserves as one of the worst-looking cars ever made. How does it offend the eyes? Let us count the ways: The pointless point on the front bumper and grille; parking lights that look like they were driven in with a rubber mallet; thick body cladding with two-tone paint (Pontiac should have had the monopoly on that one); and that ridiculous fender-skirt look (in the 90s? Puh-leez.) You don't see many of these around because Buick couldn't give away a car this ugly.
1995 Oldsmobile Aurora
The Aurora was a last-ditch attempt to rejuvenate the Oldsmobile brand, and it was a technologically innovative car that was marred by heinous styling. With a body shape lifted from the horribly-named Oldsmobile Tube Car concept of 1989, the Aurora looked as if it had been styled by erosion, with squinty headlights and a grille-less nose that gave it the appearance of a face with no mouth or chin. It looked more like an undressed mannequin than a technical tour-de-force, and despite rave reviews the car failed to take off with the public. Once the Aurora failed, it was pretty much a straight shot to the grave for Oldsmobile, which folded in 2004.
1996 Ssangyong Korando
Designing the ugliest cars in the world seemed to be South Korea's national pastime for much of the 1990s, though export markets were often spared the most egregious visual sins. Not so for the Ssangyong Korando, which escaped to Europe like a lab experiment gone wrong. From the front this chunky off-roader resembles a Jeep Wrangler that lost a fight with a taffy puller; from the back it looks like a Geo Tracker wearing zombie contact lenses. Cheap and capable, the Jimmy Durante of off-roaders had one undeniable drawback for its owners: They had to look at it every day.
1998 Fiat Multipla
The Multipla is one of the few award-winning cars on this list—only the awards it has one are all of the ugliest-car variety. There is so much wrong with this design that one can while away the hours finding new things to make fun of: A hood that looks like it's been sat upon, a Pacer-like devotion to fishbowl glass, an overall impression someone sawed two cars in half and stuck the top of one to the bottom of the other. The interior is no better: All of the gauges and controls are crammed on the center stack, giving the appearance of a Fischer-Price toddler activity board that's been attacked with a razor blade. The Multipla is so far out that even the French thought it was awful—it truly is one of the ugliest cars in the world.
2002 Renault Avantime
Renault's idea for the Avantime should sound familiar: It was a car for empty nesters who had grown used to the size of their Espace minivans, the same motivation behind today's big five-seat SUVs like the Honda Passport and Ford Edge. Renault thought a two-door one-box art car was the answer. It was, in some ways, a cool piece of hardware: The articulated doors (double-hinged to open in less space) were nifty, the glass roof was a glimpse into the future, and the reverse-slanted rear window would survive into other Renault models, but after selling a mere 8,000 examples over two years, Renault realized this was un pont trop loin and gave up. Even in this retrospective documentary, Renault admits the Avantime was something of a disaster.
2004 Infiniti QX56
The Nissan Armada on which Infiniti's mondo-sized SUV was based wasn't a bad-looking vehicle, so how did the QX56 end up so ugly? The low headlights and tall grille suggested a Neanderthal-like visage and its accompanying cognitive inabilities, while the roofline—arched above the doors and flat over the cargo area—recalled the cobbled-together look of the 1955 Nash Rambler Cross Country. In a time when people were starting to resent the rich, the QX56 gave the other 99 percent something else to hate. Infiniti redesigned the QX56 in 2011 and managed to make it even less attractive, but the latest iteration (now called QX80) is less of an assault to the eyes.
When the new entry-level Jeep appeared in 2007, we called it a "baby-doll Infiniti QX56 with the Hello Kitty face," and contrary to what the millennials among us might believe, we did not mean that as a compliment. Based on the Dodge Caliber—which means it was as unpleasant to drive as it was to look at—the Compass was an on-road car for an off-road brand, and its styling reflected the neutered nature of its mechanicals. Amazingly, Jeep allowed this pretender to sully the showrooms for four years before restyling it to look like a baby Grand Cherokee. It was still terrible, but at least it wasn't terrible looking.
2008 Mitsuoka Galue
Mitsuoka is a Japanese company that attempts to imbue modern Japanese cars with classic 1950s British styling cues, and you don't need to look at the cars to know what a ridiculously bad idea that is. The sports cars aren't terrible, as you can see here—actually, the Rock Star has an old-Corvette vibe that is kind of cool—but the sedans are a horror show, as the Galue illustrates. Why would anyone do this to a lovely car like the Infiniti Q70? If this were a horse, we'd send it to the galue factory. (Rimshot!)
2011 Aston-Martin Cygnet
Despite having seen several of them in person, we still can't convince ourselves that the Aston-Martin Cygnet was a thing that actually happened and not just a nightmare prompted by some bad shrimp at Aston-Martin's Geneva press conference. The mere idea of turning a Scion iQ into an Aston-Martin to meet emissions standards is ugly enough, and the reality is worse—the car was funny-looking as a Scion but a visual abomination as an Aston-Martin. To be fair, Aston did demonstrate a sense of humor with a one-off V-8-powered version that they let us drive.
2012 Mini Cooper Coupe
The folly of BMW's plans to expand the Mini Cooper into an entire range of cars became apparent in 2011 when they first showed the two-seat Cooper Coupe. It was designed to look like a kid wearing a baseball cap backwards, and it proved to be every bit as annoying as said kids tend to be. The Cooper Coupe drove well enough, as most Minis do, but the ridiculous-looking roof shaved precious headroom and obliterated the rear view, while the lack of a back seat made an impractical car even less usable. Mini killed it after 2015, and it has been missed by exactly no one.
We had a lot of suspicions about what could go wrong with Jeep's first Fiat-based SUV, but no one imagined that styling would be the problem—and yet the automotive world's collective jaw dropped to the floor when Jeep introduced this multi-fanged chinless wonder at the 2013 New York Auto Show, and not for any of the right reasons. Not since the Pontiac Aztek had a newly-launched car spurned so many jokes. Turns out it didn't drive badly at all—it was the first in a line of surprisingly capable off-road crossovers from Jeep, but oddball looks and abysmal refinement kept buyers away until the bugs were ironed out. Amazingly, Jeep didn't update the Cherokee's styling until the 2019 model year.
2018 Rolls-Royce Cullinan
When Rolls-Royce announced an SUV, the world braced itself. We figured it might be a bit dull and derivative like the Bentley Bentayga, but no one was prepared for the assault on the ocular senses with which Rolls-Royce presented us. It's a monstrosity, with every poor Rolls-Royce styling cliché grafted onto a body that likely came from a box stamped "Contents: One Big Generic-Looking SUV." "Top Gear" host Chris Harris famously said it looks like a Chinese knock-off of a Rolls Royce, and we can't come up with a better assessment. To be fair, we did enjoy driving it—but that's largely because once inside the Cullinan, you don't have to look at the outside.