In the fall, auto manufacturers introduce the newest vehicles for upcoming model year. Right now, the 2018 Fords are looking pretty good. Ford has given the already stylish Fusion a couple tweaks for 2018. The Ford Explorer is a rugged beauty. And the F-150 has received a pretty exciting transformation with a sleek new grille and headlamps. Meanwhile, Ford is injecting some fun into their SUV lineup with the EcoSport.
However, manufacturers rarely hit all the right design notes across their lineups. Sometimes, they even give us a profoundly ugly vehicle that influences future generations only by standing as a monument to aesthetic folly. In that spirit, we’re counting down some of the ugliest cars in automotive history.
Firstly, to prevent accusations of bias, we will gaze inward at the sins of the past. Although, neither of the Ford Escort’s first two design cycles produced anything of quality, the third is by far the worst. It wears a black plastic belt, the wheels look like eukaryotic cells, and it’s headlights project self-defeat. In fact, the overwhelming feeling evoked by the Ford Escort is pity: it’s like a Dickensian street orphan without any of the charm or guile. Overall, it’s sadly generic, and one of the ugliest cars on the road.
To the inimitable Escort’s credit, few vehicles from the aesthetic wasteland of the early nineties have stood the test of time. Still the best thing you can say about the Escort is that the Australians called it the Ford Laser – and that’s pretty cool.
Ah. The Pontiac Aztek. For a few years in the early noughties, the Aztek was inescapable. The wildly proportioned space hearse with a plastic mouthguard clogged the roads in auspicious shades of green and red. It was bold, aggressive, and extreme (in the sense that Extreme Doritos are extreme). Reportedly, GM’s designers wanted to make a vehicle that was versatile. They also wanted to combine that versatility with in-your-face styling. Arguably, GM succeeded. And the Aztek even delivered solid performance and flexibility. But, as suddenly as the Aztecs from whom its name was derived, it disappeared from the Earth into history.
And that’s where it should remain: The Pontiac Aztek always looked more like a prop from a Bill and Ted movie than the flagship SUV of a thriving automaker. At least Pontiac exposed the fuel cap, so drivers could shave a few seconds from the time spent standing beside their Hasbro hellbox at the gas station while the public registered its aesthetic contempt with raised eyebrows and muffled laughter.
Like a walrus metamorphosed into a car, or the sheetmetal personification of Donald Trump, the PT Cruise has always disgusted and confused us. The PT Cruiser is defined by that smug grille, cut in two by a thick belt, and brake lights that look like Tylenol gel capsules. While staring at the bulging hatchback (???), the mind runs through questions like, “For whom did Chrysler build this?”, and “Why did they hate them so much?”. But it also draws more existential questions like “Why do I carry on with my Sisyphean toil?” and “Why are my eyes bleeding?”.
Fun Fact: Chrysler offered a “Flame Package” to the PT Cruiser which included only flame decals. That alone would qualify the PT Cruiser for an ugliest cars nomination. But they also offered a “Woodie Package” with simulated wood panelling that must have been in violation of some international law.
Lastly, I present the Suzuki X90. I didn’t want to include this vehicle, but I’ve been forced by my editors. They say the X90 looks like something Fred Flintstone would design if he time travelled to 1980s SoCal. They also say it resembles three Solo “Jazz” cups glued together. Finally, they say it looks the popemobile if the Pope was Max Headroom. But I disagree.
First, the Suzuki X90 defied mundane vehicle classification and stretched our understanding of automobiles. I mean the thing is billed as an SUV despite the fact that it’s obviously a two-door clown car with a top hat. The seats and door panels are upholstered like a baby Greyhound bus for added comfort and flair. And it even has a nifty spoiler and wing mirrors that suggest the X90 was designed by a random number generator. Finally, it has a removable roof, so that bullies can throw garbage at you while stopped at a red light. What more could you ask for?
Did we miss any? What car would make your list of ugliest cars? Add your nominations to the comments below and we’ll cover them in the future.