Cars have been with us for around 130 years now and during that time we’ve seen some truly memorable designs. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, Toyota 2000GT, Jaguar E-Type, Chevrolet C1 Corvette and Aston Martin DB9 are all excellent examples of beautiful car design.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve also seen some shockingly bad cars roll off the production lines over the years. Vehicles like the 1970’s AMC Gremlin or the 1961 Citroen Ami spring to mind, but these two vehicles in particular are so old now that we shouldn’t judge them too harshly. After all, the designers were probably following design trends of the time and perhaps they didn’t look so bad back then?
So what we’re going to look at here are 10 of the world’s ugliest modern cars, limited to 25 years old or less. Because the car companies who built these vehicles simply have no excuse.
10. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
Yes, kicking things off at No. 10 we have Chrysler’s stunningly awful PT Cruiser – in convertible form. The original hardtop version of the PT Cruiser looked quite modern when it was released in the year 2000, but it’s looks didn’t last, and when the convertible version rolled off the production line in 2005 it was clear the designers hadn’t tried very hard.
What they’d simply done with the car was cut the hardtop off and fit one of the most awkward looking folding soft top roofs in automotive history. Even when it was lowered and stowed in the back, it looked like a hilariously bad afterthought. Chrysler made things worse by fitting a rollover hoop (or ‘sports bar’) just behind the front seats, giving the PT Cruiser convertible a rather harrowing appearance.
Even the driver in the photo above has his eyes closed, as if he’s desperately trying to imagine that he’s somewhere else.
9. Nissan Cube
The designers of the third generation Nissan Cube tried to improve on the previous model by giving it more rounded and curved styling, making it less cube and more… well, something else.
This new roundness extended from the rear bumper area right around the side of the car, giving it a rather lumpy and bumpy appearance. The asymmetrical rear window of the previous model remained, but it was more rounded than before – and the same treatment was applied to the side windows too. There’s plenty of messy detailing here, where door shut lines messily crash into other design elements in the bodywork.
The end result can only be described as hideous.
8. Ford Taurus
I’m sure most of you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news that Princess Diana died, or where you were standing when you first saw footage from the September 11 attacks. Likewise, many of you can probably remember the first time you saw a third-generation Ford Taurus. All three of these events were distressing, for different reasons.
In the Ford Taurus’ case, it used a controversial new shape that chief designer Jack Telnack claimed was penned to make it look like a pair of slippers. To me though, it’s appearance is more fish-like than anything else. It isn’t like there’s anything super shocking about the design of the Taurus, it’s just plain ugly and dull from all angles.
Curiously, it went on to become the best-selling car in the United States at the time.
7. Ford Ka
Ford really went through a rough patch in the 1990’s, didn’t they? The Ford Ka was part of their “New Edge” two-pronged assault (along with the Taurus) on the dignity of budget-minded motorists around the world.
The Ka exploded on to the scene in 1996, sporting simple yet bland bodywork, and large one-piece plastic moulded bumpers and wheel arches. The idea behind the giant black plastic bumpers made sense – they were more durable and easier to repair – but my god were they ugly. Ford obviously agreed, and they became body-coloured in the later models which followed.
6. Pontiac Aztec
The Pontiac Aztec may have been made cool by Walter White in Breaking Bad, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it really is an ugly son of a bitch. This is a shame, because the Aztek concept car Pontiac unveiled in 1999 was a rather pretty thing.
Unfortunately, the design of the production version was fiddled with, fussed over, cost-shaved and otherwise compromised until the tough, cool-looking concept had been reduced to a bulky, plastic-clad mess. A classic case of losing the plot. The Aztek violated one of the principal rules of car design: We like cars that look like us. With its multiple eyes and supernumerary nostrils, the Aztek looks deformed and scary. Something that dogs bark at.
5. Infiniti QX80
You know the old idiom about having a face only a mother could love? The Infiniti QX80 puts even maternal affection to the test, with its chunky, hippopotamus-like styling. The QX80 is tall, ungainly and adorned with extraneous chrome bits and strange design cues aplenty. I mean, who thought it was a good idea to make the headlights that small and sitting that low?
The rest of the car isn’t that bad, but the front is such a disaster that you should probably just avoid it all together.
4. Toyota Prius
The 2016 Toyota Prius really is as ugly as a hatful of arseholes. The bodywork shows tell-tale signs of the beating it endured from the ugly stick, with an extremely busy arrangement of bumps, bruises and slashes evident all across the car. The front features two deep gouges on the outside edges of the headlights, which run all the way down to the bottom of the fog lights. The headlights themselves follow the gouge lines and spill downwards into the bumper, adding unnecessary and complicated details to the front of an already busy looking design.
But if you thought the front end looks bad, the rear might just be bad enough to bring the taste of sick to your mouth. If you want to see a photo, you can Google it yourself.
3. Tata Nano
Tata’s Nano looks more Pokémon than car, but still won kudos for being the world’s cheapest car. Still, being cheap doesn’t mean they had to make it look this ugly. The styling is egg-like in comparison, with a stubby little nose, domed roof, and tiny little wheels that almost look like an afterthought.
The Nano looks like it does because space efficiency won out 100% over every other factor in the design process, making it incredibly small and cheap. But my advice for those who can only afford a Nano, would be to save for just a little bit longer and buy something better. Or buy a second-hand car. Anything but this.
2. Ssangyong Rodius
For the longest time, I referred to the Ssangyong Rodius as the ugliest car ever made. There’s simply no redeeming feature or points of merit in the design. But amazingly this time around it was pipped at the post, and has to settle for second spot…
Apparently, the design goal with the Rodius was to capture the essence of a luxury yacht, although I’m not sure how they hoped to achieve that. Whatever happened, it all went horribly long, and the world ended up with one of the ugliest cars ever envisaged. According to those in the know, it drove even worse than it looked – meaning there simply wasn’t any good reason why anybody would buy one.
1. Fiat Multipla
There was only ever one car that could have out-uglied the Ssangyong Rodius, and that of course is the Fiat Multipla. When it was released in 1998,the Multipla received praise by motoring journalists the world over for its excellent interior flexibility. But all of this counted for nothing when you considered how ugly the exterior looked. Like the Tata Nano in third spot, form followed function.
Fiat’s decision to design one of the most clever interiors on the market meant that the exterior styling suffered greatly. That muffin-top bulge at the bottom of the A-pillars looks incredibly bad – as if they cut the top off a small van and simply welded it to the top of a small hatchback. The small, bug-eyed headlights really weren’t a good look either.
Owners loved the adaptability of the clever interior, but they were less keen on the sarcastic sneers and derisive laughter of their neighbours, friends and schoolmates. Children can be cruel.