BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder, they say, but that doesn’t explain how a car can be brought to market that looks like it drove through the ugly forest, bouncing off every tree as it went.
When a car designer creates a baby that you’d have thought only they could love, it then has to be signed off by the head of design, and then other members of senior management, long before it finally is revealed to the public. This allows plenty of opportunity for a few nips and tucks. The result, usually, is a car that looks at least acceptable to most buyers.
Sometimes, though, a car is presented to us that looks so horrible that it defies explanation. has gone through its archives to come up with a list of what it thinks are the most hideous cars ever to leave the drawing board. Tell us which is the worst of the worst in our poll below.
Have they missed anything? Are any of these just misunderstood gems? Let us know in the comments.
1 Fiat Multipla
The tragedy of the Multipla is that its Elephant Man-esque exterior enclosed a genuinely clever and spacious interior, and it wasn’t bad to drive, either. It’s a shame, then, that you’d rather walk than be seen in it.
2 Volkswagen Type 181 (aka Trekker / Thing)
The VW Type 181 was designed for the German military in the late 1960s but sold to the public from 1980 under a number of names, including the the Trekker in the UK and the Thing in America. Quite what the Germany army or anyone else needed with a Mini Moke-inspired biscuit tin is anyone’s guess. [Image credit: Sven Storbeck]
3 Nissan Cube
The Cube’s design does what it says on the tin – it’s like a box on wheels. It was quite practical for a small car but the asymmetric rear put off a lot of potential buyers, which is something Land Rover should have considered when designing the latest Discovery.
4 Cadillac Seville
With the downward-sloping shoulder line it looks like the rear of the 1980 Seville has melted. It does grab the attention of some car collectors, though, and can sell for more than £10,000. [Image credit: Morven]
5 Sbarro Autobau concept
It’s as if Bruce Wayne, having spent the family fortune, was forced to create a Batmobile from a Bond Bug. Amazingly, this concept isn’t from the ’80s; it was revealed at the 2010 Geneva motor show. While there was something special powering the wheels — a mid-mounted 12-cylinder unit from Ferrari — the Autobau only produced 500bhp, which isn’t much by today’s supercar standards.
6 Chrysler PT Cruiser
Like the Prowler below, from Chrysler-owned Plymouth, the PT Cruiser was an attempt to recapture some 1950s hot rod magic. It was a failed attempt, though, and the only magic you’d want is the ability to make it disappear.
7 Aston Martin Lagonda
Now prized by collectors (they can fetch more than £100,000), the wedge-shaped Lagonda of the 1980s stands out as Aston Martin’s least attractive design by some margin. The minimalistic interior was extraordinarily futuristic, though, with a single-spoke wheel and digital instruments.
8 Nissan Cargo
Like a less attractive van conversion of the Popemobile, the only thing that could make it worse is a tongue-in-cheek Picasso-inspired special edition with a humourless name. Step forward the S-Cargo (pictured).
9 Fiat 600 Multipla Marinella
Poor Multipla… it’s a name without much dignity. The 1958 Fiat 600 Multipla Marinella could be considered cute but it’s more often described as more suited to an amusement park than public roads. To our eyes, it resembles a shrunken milk float crossed with a Riva speed boat, and taking a moderately quick right-hander might be.. interesting. [Image credit: Brian Snelson]
10 Plymouth Prowler
It harks back to the American hot rods of the 1950s but the Plymouth Prowler of the late 1990s just doesn’t quite work visually. The optional trailer doesn’t help one bit. Not long after the Prowler’s release, the Plymouth brand died. Buy one of these today, though, and you’re looking at a cool £30,000.