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The Ugliest…

I have long held the ugliest motor vehicle ever made was the Vanden Plas version of the Austin Allegro. Not that the Allegro was pretty in the first place but that front-end – truly lipstick on a pig territory.

Look away now or experience the true horror (this is not safe for children or those of a nervous or vomitous disposition).

Did anyone involved in the production (I dare not even use the word “design”) of that monstrance ever look at that and feel pride? If they did they ought to be in five-point restraints in a laughing academy or at least a rest-home for the emotionally interesting.

I’m sure reams have been written on the decline of the British (or rather the British owned) car industry but sometimes a picture says a thousand words…

Just yesterday Land-Rover (owned by Tata of India) announced a thousand new jobs in Merseyside and Nissan proved years ago Brits could build cars. If ever there was a case-study for the disastrous effects of nationalization on an industry then… Well, I’m not going to write it – otherwise I’d rapidly end-up out the back with the glass of single-malt and a revolver. You get the picture – you’ve seen it.

Anyway readers, what are your automotive horrors? The real ugly ones…


  1. Stonyground says:

    I recall that a few years ago someone posted a whole load of pictures of ugly cars on the web and there certainly were some monstrosities among them.

  2. Sam Duncan says:

    Ask this question on any American forum and someone is sure to mention the Pontiac Aztek. And honestly, it’s hard to argue. They don’t make Pontiacs any more.

    In the rest of the world, the Daewoo Tacuma/Rezzo was pretty horrendous. And all the worse for, ostensibly, being designed by Pininfarina.

    The current Nissan Juke‘s no oil painting either. And I’m convinced BMW is using the MINI division as some kind of competition among its designers to see what they can get away with. (Look at it. Look!) But that’s probably just me.

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    It might have been this Telegraph list, Stony. I’m not sure I agree with the top 20 (although the Aztek “won”). The Austin Ambassador was no uglier than other cars of the era, I liked the TR7, and although the Fiat Multipla was hardly pretty, I always had a soft spot for its form-follows-function simplicity. If Alec Issigonis had designed the successor to the Mini himself, I bet it would have looked a lot like a tiny Multipla.

  4. JuliaM says:

    The Multipla, no question.

  5. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    At the other end, two of the coolest cars ever:

    The Mercedes Benz SSK “Count Trossi”

    Heinz Phantom Corsair, a late-Thirties version of the Batmobile.

  6. David Gillies says:

    Off the top of my head, the AMC Gremlin and Pacer are utterly hideous. Epitome of where the US car industry went wrong in the 70′s. The Chevy Avalanche is an absolutely ridiculous mish-mash; neither fish nor fowl.

    One car I find utterly hideous is the Mercedes G series. They’re top-end cars, in the $80,000 bracket, and they look like the designer saw a Securicor van and thought it would make a good SUV if only it didn’t have so many concessions to styling.

  7. NickM says:

    There are loads of lists and to Julia and David the Multipla, Gremlin and Pacer are hardy perennials on most of them.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    PST: You should mark that NSFW. And the sound those SSKs make, with the supercharger whine…

    I’m still going to defend the Multipla. If George Jetson drove an early 21st-Century family hatchback – that didn’t fly – I swear it’d look like that. Or put it this way: I’d rather be seen in one of those than a Ford S-Nooze or Renault Snoreic. Mini-MPVs are dull. At least Fiat made an interesting one.

    The toned-down version they did in response to customer revulsion, on the other hand, now that was ugly.

  9. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Oh, and let’s not forget the Mormon Meteor. It’s a doozy.

  10. Bod says:

    While the Allegro Vanden Plas was fugly, it was never so common (or as nasty) as the Morris 1500, living proof that British Industry was capable of learning a few things (presumably as revenge for Tupolev stealing the design of Concorde) from Lada.

    Craptacular British Leyland

    (Sorry about the craptacular linkiness and I hope it works)

  11. JuliaM says:

    It seems some have decided that even when you START with a car not on that list, there’s no way to go but down ….

  12. In my youth, I fell for the charms of both the Triumph TR-7 and the Fiat X-19, both of which now bring to mind an aerodynamic turd.

  13. Lynne says:

    Anything SsangYong produces. My pet hate is the Bond Bug, especially one with go faster stripes and flames.

  14. Andrew Duffin says:

    For mass-market cars it just has to be the Multipla.

    I saw one once that had a sign on the back saying “if you think this is ugly wait until you see the front.” Says it all really.

  15. NickM says:

    I forgot about SsangYong! The extremely ugly sister of the Korean car trade. What was that people carrier type dealy they made called? That was hideous. And yeah the Bond Bug – it’s kinda like what the Sinclair C-5 wanted to be when it grew-up. Which brings me to an interesting point. I bet if the C-5 came out today it wouldn’t be laughed at and indeed the Greens would laud Sir Clive with great praise and not laugh as we did in more sensible times. Indeed if you bought oe you’d be getting cash-back from the government. A new and more plasticky form of road-kill would proliferate…

    Unfair! I have a love of creative bodging! It is hilarious though.

    Except they weren’t very aerodynamic. Complex business compressible flow.

    They didn’t steal the Concorde designs! The Tu-144 was quite, quite different. Just look at size, speed, planform, outer anhedral, canards, engine-placement. I’m sorry but the Concordski myth is something that irks me. If the Tu-144 owes anything to any Western plane it is to the XB-70. I could go on… But the likes of TsAGI were (are?) aerodynamic masterminds in their own right. If anything caused it to be a failure it was generally piss-poor Soviet manufacturing.

  16. john b says:

    British Leyland built crap cars, went bust and was nationalised – in that order (the nationalisation was in 1975). While nationalisation didn’t improve matters, it’d be a struggle to suggest that it made anything appreciably worse.

  17. NickM says:

    Maybe but it kept a failed company creaking alonng at huge tax-payer expense for years and years.

  18. Sam Duncan says:

    The SsangYong Rodius. Yes, I forgot about that too. I still think it’s a toss-up between it and the Daewoo, though.

    SsangYong doesn’t have a good track record, but not everything they do is hideous. The previous Korando looked like a Jeep with clinical depression, but the current one’s pretty innofensive. Think Kia Sportage. They also sell a limo in their native Korea called the Chairman, which was originally a rebadged Merc S-Class, and still looks a bit like one with touches of Audi at the rear. See? That’s not too bad.

    I’ve just discovered, however, that they own the British firm Panther Westwinds, responsible for some of the worst crimes against car design ever committed. For that they must pay.

  19. Ed P says:

    The Nissan Juke makes me puke. It resembles a shaved squatting cat.

    The (V97 or something) Volvo has rear light clusters like the hands in Munch’s Scream.

  20. The Apiarist says:

    How about the Wolsey Hornet, which was just a mini with a silly front end (rather like the VP Allaggro)? My mate bought one of these but the engine sounded like a metal dustbin full of bricks tumbling down a fire escape. After a few days we figured out that two of the plug leads were on the wrong plugs. Once corrected, it ran fine.

    That night we went out to celebrate and, on the way home, ended up in a ditch having skidded off a bend in the rain. Car was written off and three of us still have the scars (literally). No seat belts, see.

  21. johnnyrvf says:

    @ NickM an ex-girlfriend of mine’s father worked at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow in the aeronautical section and helped develop the Gas Turbines for the 144, as well as other military aircraft. She could identify all the components in a Gas Turbine engine and used to help when I rebuilt M/C engines on the kitchen table, she was an ex gymnast and believe me even now in her sixties is still a very attractive woman. Just goes to show that not everything that came out of Soviet education was bad.

  22. Mr Ed says:

    Ugly cars are surprisingly common.

    Some 1970s Japanese cars were dog ugly, even if they worked. I recall a Top Gear special on a Japanese/Italian collaboration that married Japanese style with Italian build quality.

    And this Nissan is no looker…

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