These Are the Ugliest Cars of All Time
Have you ever driven past a car that made you do a double take for all the wrong reasons? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but some cars are just too gaudy or clunky to hold much visual appeal.
Some makes and models are so cringe-worthy it might be hard to believe a single vehicle was ever sold. (Ford Pinto, anyone? Enough said.) If you want your car to make a positive statement, be sure to avoid the 30 ugliest cars of all time when you start shopping.
1955 Dodge La Femme
Let’s start with the 1955 Dodge La Femme. Apparently, this car was originally built for women who were sick of driving male-oriented cars. If that doesn’t make you hesitate, it gets better. The original color scheme of the car was sapphire white and heather rose, and it had a customized “La Femme” script on the exterior.
A little cliche? Yes, but to be honest, the vehicle was actually a revolutionary idea for carmakers to consider, much less produce. Despite the pink roses that beckoned to women in the interior, the 1955 Dodge La Femme flopped after two short years. Shocking, right?
1982 Cadillac Cimarron
In spite of all the fantastically kitschy trends of the 1980s, the 1982 Cadillac Cimarron was not an appealing ride. Although General Motors did its best to create a mindblowing compact car with front-wheel-drive capacity, the Cimarron missed the mark in a major way. As a result, Cadillac’s reputation took a hit for a time.
As soon as this trainwreck was released, it was clear to the manufacturer that it was not going to be a hit. To make matters worse, the 1982 Cimarron wasn’t an original idea. It was basically a remix of the Chevrolet Cavalier with a different coating.
1974 Mustang II
Fact: Ford attempted to revamp the classic Mustang back in the day. The result was the horrid 1974 Mustang II. Just like Dumb and Dumber To, Highlander 2: The Quickening and Jaws: The Revenge, this reboot was a flop.
For starters, it was essentially a ripoff of the Ford Pinto. In terms of the engine, it wasn’t nearly as powerful as the original Mustang. As if that’s not enough, the final fatal error was building the gas tank in the back of the car. Not surprisingly, this shockingly bad design flaw caused several Mustang II’s to explode in rear-end collisions. Yikes!
2003 Saturn Ion
The 2003 Saturn Ion was a pure disaster from start to finish for both the interior and exterior. The inside of this automobile was made entirely from plastic, which was super uncomfortable. Even the outside of the vehicle was coated in a thick sheet of plastic. So not cool.
Of course, this was supposed to protect the door from getting dinged up — although Saturn couldn’t guarantee that, of course. Saturn vowed to never make the same mistake again, but the company paid a pretty high price for this failure. Their punishment? Parent company General Motors dropped them from the GM brand lineup.
1958 Edsel Corsair
If you haven’t seen the 1958 Edsel Corsair, then here’s a little enlightenment for you. There are several obvious reasons this car is an absolute disaster. First, take a look at that grill. On top of that, it’s rumored that almost every single person who bought the car hated it as soon as they drove it off the lot.
Here’s the catch: Ford shelled out about $300 million just to build this eyesore, but the company didn’t see a very high return on the investment. It’s tempting to feel sorry for Ford, but the company ultimately bounced back rather well.
1981 DeLorean DMC-12
You’ve undoubtedly seen Back to the Future, but here’s the kicker: the DeLorean was real! If you thought the car was a glamorous fictional version, you thought wrong. The 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 was a real vehicle. Cool on screen? Yes, but it was a total fail in the automobile market. If you’re wondering who invented this monstrosity, the blame can be put on John Z. DeLorean.
Regardless of the genius behind the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, the car flopped miserably in terms of generating sales. For one thing, any small electrical issue could literally trap you inside the vehicle. Plus, you couldn’t even drive it on the freeway!
1957 Trabant P50
If you think about it, the 1957 Trabant P50 was an automobile that would have been better off as a kid’s toy. Made in East Germany during a time of serious economic depression, the car’s body was created with Duroplast.
If you’re not familiar with it, Duroplast comes from a mix of copper fiber, wood chips and resin and is supposed to feel and behave like it’s really plastic. Reportedly, the 1957 Trabant P50 was so poorly built that the paneling on the side of the car could actually fly off at high speeds. Of course, it could only get up to 18 miles per hour on the road, so the risk wasn’t as scary as it sounds.
2001 Pontiac Aztek
Admittedly, the 2001 Pontiac Aztek is a little more poised than the other vehicles on this list. Nevertheless, this rugged car was actually anything but classy. Not only was the Aztek dangerous on rough terrain, but it was also unreliable and impractical.
Clearly, the car’s only claim to fame was that it was the big prize for the winner of the first season of Survivor. However, the Aztek really played its part in destroying the Pontiac brand. Its one redeeming moment was the brief comeback as the getaway vehicle in the popular show Breaking Bad.
1971 Chevrolet Vega
It’s not only less popular car manufacturers like Pontiac and Saturn that have made some pretty terrible cars. Industry leading General Motors is responsible for more than a few flops as well. Take the 1971 Chevrolet Vega, for example. Ironically, its engine was so cheaply made that you couldn’t even put oil in it.
That was a huge problem, considering the Vega lost the ability to lubricate its pistons and tumblers after putting only 100 miles on the vehicle. You don’t have to know a lot about cars to know that’s a big no-no for any engine. Plus, the bumper would rust at the mere sight of rain.
1987 Yugo GV
Get this. The 1987 Yugo GV actually had its own slogan: “Everybody needs a Yugo sometime.” While that wasn’t exactly true, some impressionable car buyers decided to give it a shot, and, boy, were they disappointed. Once the Yugo’s poor sales record slapped the manufacturer in the face, it was soon dropped from production.
In short, the manufacturer got it all wrong with the Yugo. The car was made so cheaply that the timing belt needed replacement every 40,000 miles. It was also super tiny, which added to the weird factor. Even crazier, the original commercials for this car showed people pushing a broken Yugo!
1971 Ford Pinto
Okay, so you’ve finally reached the infamous 1971 Ford Pinto. This car is synonymous in pop culture with being a lemon. Similar to the Mustang II, it had a gas tank that was located in the rear of the vehicle.
As mentioned before, this resulted in some major accidents that included a lot of fiery explosions. In fact, Forbes stated, “When people talk about how bad American small cars created an opportunity for the Japanese to come in and clean house in the 1970s and ’80s, they are referring to vehicles like this.”
2002 PT Cruiser Convertible
Adorably nicknamed the “PT Loser,” the PT Cruiser ranks up there with American Idol as one of the worst parts of the early 2000s. (Amen?) It performed in a mediocre fashion, but it wasn’t the internal workings of the car that made it such a failure.
Although Chrysler was going for a semi-hot rod design, the whole convertible element clearly threw this vehicle off track. If you have a 2002 PT Cruiser convertible sitting in your garage, it’s not too late to junk it. With such an odd body and mismatched exterior, the car itself couldn’t blame you for wanting to get rid of it!
1973 Reliant Robin
Here’s where it gets weird. The 1973 Reliant Robin only has three tires on it. You might have saved a few bucks on a tire change, but there’s literally no other reason to put something like this on the market.
With one tire in the front and two tires in the back, the 1973 Reliant Robin certainly wasn’t known for being stable. But here’s the craziest part: If you turned a corner at more than 15 miles per hour, the car could flip over and roll into the other lane. It goes without saying that the Reliant Robin wasn’t so “reliant” after all.
1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV
Just take a look at this car. Are there any redeeming qualities on the 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV? Channeling the late Elvis, the Lincoln Continental certainly had a bit of charm in its day. This particular model was sure to drop jaws, but that probably wasn’t a good thing.
As an overstuffed, extravagant behemoth of a vehicle, the Mark IV was called an “overgrown Thunderbird” by many critics. Besides being one of the worst looking models in the Lincoln Continental series, the car was also very slow and heavy. Needless to say, this clunker wasn’t a big selling automobile either.
1978 FSO Polonez
The 1978 FSO Polonez was a massive flop as soon as it was released. In fact, almost everyone hated it from the day it rolled off the factory line for the first time. Allegedly, this particular vehicle inspired so much criticism because it broke down as soon as it was driven off the lot.
One reviewer made this scathing remark about the FSO Polonez: “Built by communists out of steel so thin you could use it as a neck curtain, it is as reliable and long-lasting as a pensioner’s erection.” That certainly explains why it’s on this list!
2002 Citroen Pluriel
If you’re wondering how the 2002 Citroen Pluriel ended up on this list, ponder a few of the real facts. Although it might look like the epitome of cute and breezy, it was actually the complete opposite.
Convertible? Sort of. You literally had to get out of the car, take off the roof and manually roll it back to enjoy the whole convertible experience. Then, you had to repeat the ordeal again anytime you wanted to put the roof back on the vehicle for snow and rain. Even though Citroen made this process much easier in later models, it was too little too late to convince people to take a chance on the Pluriel.
2007 BMW X6
In terms of appearance, the 2007 BMW X6 isn’t that bad, but once you look under the hood, you find the ugly that landed the vehicle on this list. The bottom line is that the BMW X6 couldn’t actually do anything it was advertised to do.
As a so-called “sports activity vehicle,” this thing doesn’t stand a chance on rugged terrain. That probably explains why sales and customer reviews weren’t so hot. Ultimately, BMW went back to the lab and produced a much more palatable version of this vehicle. Talk about making a big comeback!
2002 Lexus SC 430
Even though it’s rare for Lexus to make a mistake, the 2002 Lexus SC 430 is at the top of the company’s fail list. According to one critic, “These are mainly hideous because of their stock wheel and tire sizing. It has no sidewalls (supposedly sporty), but the wheels are tucked in and tiny like a Toyota Echo econo-car.”
If you’ve ever bought a Lexus before, then you already know how good it feels to say that you’re a proud Lexus owner. That wasn’t the case with the 2002 Lexus SC 430. At $61,055 (in 2002!), it just wasn’t worth the money.
1989 Eagle Premier
It’s time to take a moment to talk about the disastrously hideous 1989 Eagle Premier. No matter which way you look at this car, it’s all wrong. The car’s boxy exterior, sweaty interior and lackluster driveability make this thing a nightmare. Driving more than 10 miles without having engine trouble felt like an accomplishment to owners of this vehicle.
However, there was a tiny audience that actually loved it. Strangely, some people who fell in love with Japanese designed vehicles chose this vehicle instead of more appealing classics like the Honda Accord or the Toyota Camry. What a brave choice!
1974 Bricklin SV-1
If you’ve ever wanted a car that had vertical doors — and you couldn’t get your hands on the DeLorean — then the 1974 Bricklin SV-1 might be a dream car for you. For everyone else, this vintage vehicle wasn’t trendy enough to be a hit. Besides its technological errors, it wasn’t nearly as safe as its manufacturers promised.
Despite the SV standing for “safe vehicle,” the tin can-shaped body and cheap exterior didn’t seem too sound at all. But wait, there’s more! This bad boy weighed a literal ton. If you’re looking to add this rare disaster to your collection, then you’re in luck. There are still Bricklin SV-1s out there!
1976 Chevy Chevette
If you’re asking yourself why the 1976 Chevy Chevette is on this list, just take a look at this car. Yes, it was considered adorable by some, but its driveability factor was basically zero. Not only that, but this poor thing only got up to 51 miles per hour on a good day, and it was extremely loud to drive on the road.
Not only was the Chevette super cramped, but the rear-wheel-drive econobox was out of date as soon as it rolled off the factory line. The car was very affordable at the time, but the cheap components haven’t helped the 1976 Chevy Chevette age well at all.
1997 Plymouth Prowler
If you aren’t sure why car manufacturers ever thought there was an audience for the 1997 Plymouth Prowler, the answer is simple. Supposedly, the Prowler design was suggested to appeal to fans of retro films (and maybe Hot Wheels?). However, the car definitely couldn’t live up to all the hype when it was released.
With enlarged front wheels and a pseudo hot rod exterior, the Plymouth Prowler’s cool factor wasn’t enough to make up for its confusing design. Not to mention that it also had a relatively poor commercial performance due to its ultra-weak engine. As it turned out, looks didn’t matter much, which Plymouth learned quickly from the Prowler mistake.
1957 King Midget Model III
Apparently, it was okay to call a car the “King Midget Model III” back in 1957. Despite its atrocious name, the car was intended to be a cute alternative to the pricier cars you could find in London at the time. Too bad it looked like something that operated with bicycle pedals.
You actually had to assemble the 1957 King Midget Model III yourself. If you weren’t good with your hands, that certainly would have presented a problem. With so many people relying on pros to put their cars together, it’s no surprise that it stopped production pretty quickly.
1958 Zundapp Janus
Take a long, hard look at the 1958 Zundapp Janus. Although the Germans are celebrated automakers, this car could possibly be their greatest automotive mistake. For starters, you can enter the car from both the front and back of the vehicle. Not weird at all, right?
As if that’s not strange enough, the Zundapp Janus only achieved a wimpy 50 miles per hour when it was running right. Even though it was heavily marketed by its manufacturer, the Janus remains one of the strangest car failures of all time. The point? No amount of advertising could have made this vehicle take off.
1961 Chevy Corvair
Although rear-wheel-drive vehicles are a popular trend now, the 1961 Chevy Corvair wasn’t a very popular car back in 1961, mainly because it was known for spinning out when taking a curve on a relatively normal highway road. Admittedly, that would be both annoying and dangerous when you’re trying to get from place to place.
Sadly, the rear-wheel-drive appeal wasn’t enough to make the Chevy Corvair fly off dealership lots. It simply lacked the style of other similar cars, which were able to pull off this feature with style and stability.
1971 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron
Despite the fact that the 1971 Chrysler Imperial LeBaron was the first car in America with a four-wheel anti-lock braking system, it’s still one of the ugliest cars ever. In addition to being way too long, the car’s boat-like physique had a humongous fender as well.
Regardless of the huge exterior size, the interior was much tinier than you could ever imagine. As a result of the strange proportions, the Imperial LeBaron had really poor driveability. In fact, car critic Tom McCahill said this atrocity “cornered at speeds flatter than a tournament billiard table.”
1949 Crosley Hotshot
At the shorter end of the spectrum, the 1949 Crosley Hotshot car only measured out to be 145 inches in length. Why? The car was made right after World War II ended, and manufacturing resources like steel were in short supply. Maybe people thought they were doing their civic duty by driving a Crosley Hotshot, or maybe they were intrigued by the strange shape.
However, the body design of these cars had virtually no safety features, and driving it was more than a little dangerous. In fact, driving the 1949 Crosley Hotshot was so risky it was featured in a short film vignette called Mechanized Death. If you’re not ready to die, then definitely avoid this retro vehicle.
1911 Overland OctoAuto
Do yourself a favor and check out the 1911 Overland OctoAuto — but just for kicks. As one of the first vehicles ever made, it’s actually not that bad of an attempt, but no one needs more than four wheels on a car, let alone eight. From its extra wheels to its three axles, the Overland OctoAuto was the car industry’s first major disaster.
Not to mention that this crazy car was a whopping 20 feet long, making you wonder who ever needed that much room in the first place. As a result, the Overland OctoAuto made virtually zero dollars while it was in production. Good riddance!
Before Prius and Tesla, there was the 1997 EV-1. As the first electric car, its two doors and zero emissions weren’t enough to convince people to buy it, making this vehicle a major flop for investors. Allegedly, even those who bought it didn’t have a very good time driving it.
If you were one of the unlucky people who tried to buy this car in 1997, then you may have had to lease one instead, as they weren’t available for sale in many cities. Eventually, GM dropped the EV-1 right before the electric car craze took hold. Sad!
There’s nothing like saving the best for last. Take a look at the classic 1961 Amphicar. This land-to-sea vehicle — yes, you read that right — was pretty incredible for its time. Although it could technically float on water, it didn’t actually function well as a boat or as a car. In short, even people who loved boats hated this vehicle.
If you want to take the Amphicar out for a spin on the water, be prepared for a slow trip. It moved extremely slowly across the water, maxing out at a dismal 7 miles per hour. It’s pretty bad when you could outswim your own boat (car?).
AMC Matador (1977 Barcelona)
The American Motor Company (AMC) produced quite a few variants on the Matador model during the 1970s. While any of the Matadors could nab a spot on our list, the 1977 Barcelona (pictured) — with its Golden Ginger Metallic and San Tan color scheme — takes the cake.
James Bond enthusiasts may also remember the AMC Matador coupe from the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun. In the film, the titular villain — also known as Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) — outmaneuvers Bond in a car chase scene, namely because his Matador transforms into a flying vehicle.
2009 Nissan Cube
Although the Nissan Cube is still manufactured and sold today, we may have remained a more fashionable society if its production had ended in 2009 — like analog television did. (Hello, digital.) Upon its release in the states, the Cube was named one of the Top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000 by Kelley Blue Book.
The Japanese-made subcompact car will be discontinued in its home country after nearly two decades of production. Clearly, there’s a market out there that’ll be sad to see this sturdy, geometric car go — we’re just not that market.
1970 Bond Bug
Although the ’70s-era Bond Bug looks and sounds like something out of a James Bond film, the car doesn’t have any connection to 007. With two seats and three wheels, this tangerine-colored automobile was marketed by the Bond Motor Company as a “fun car.”
Reliant Motor Company took over the production of this British microcar, with a spokesperson stating, “The fact it has three wheels is quite incidental. It’s a new form of transport.” (Eh, not quite.)
But while the Bond Bug didn’t become a huge hit here, it did have some traction in a galaxy far, far away. The car’s designer, Tom Karen, built a version of Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder on the chassis of a Bond Bug for use in Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (1977).
1999 Corbin Sparrow (Myers Motors NmG)
Another example of a three-wheeled car, the Corbin Sparrow certainly gets an “A” for effort. With a 1999 debut, this all-electric vehicle was certainly ahead of the eco-friendly trend. Notably, this personal electric vehicle (PEV) was designed specifically for commuting and city driving.
Allegedly, a Corbin Sparrow could travel upwards of 150 miles on a single charge. But its look — and nicknames — remain unappealing. The original model was called the “jelly bean,” whereas the later hatchback version was dubbed “pizza butt” since it was designed for use by Domino’s. Like other eyesores, this car is featured in various films, including Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).
1973 Volkswagen Thing
The Volkswagen Type 181 was manufactured between 1968 and 1983, but it didn’t hit the highways in the U.S. until 1973. Developed for the West German Army for use during World War II, the Type 181 was renamed the Thing in the States.
At the time of the Thing’s U.S. release, dune buggies and off-roading were becoming all the rage, so it seemed like a perfect time to capitalize on that market with a durable, well-priced car. But even though this four-door convertible is definitely Hummer-chic, the very name “Thing” doesn’t sound all that inspired.