PONTIAC AZTEK (2000): I admire designers who try something different, but when they produce a car like the Pontiac Aztek, which looks like a bucktoothed dinosaur, I’m not so sure. It has what look like two bonnet lines, gaping grilles, undersized wheels and, in base specification, lots of unpainted plastic – enough to make even the Fiat Multipla gag (SAM SHEEHAN - SENIOR STAFF WRITER). I was present when the wraps came off Pontiac’s eyesore SUV at an LA motor show preview in 2000. With hindsight, the pre-reveal video that concealed GM’s ugly duckling gave a clue that a nasty surprise was coming. But that was nothing compared to the embarrassed silence and nervous shuffling-in-seats as the audience absorbed the full horror unfolding on stage. (JULIAN RENDELL - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT)
SUZUKI X90 (1995): Ugliness exists within and without. You don’t need me to explain why the exterior of the X90 is so irredeemably hideous. My bigger problem is the ugliness of its concept: I don’t think there could be a more rubbish layout for a car than a two-seat, two-wheel-drive SUV. When we did our class top tens when the X90 was new, we had to create a separate class for it alone. And we still placed it 11th… (ANDREW FRANKEL - SENIOR CONTRIBUTING WRITER)
PERODUA KENARI (2000): The ridiculous looking Kenari supermini-cum-MPV was as bad as it looks: out of nine criteria rated by consumer bible What Car?, it scored four one-star results, four two-stars, and hit the heady heights of three stars just once. And that was for equipment, which it was relatively loaded with in a desperate bid to lure buyers who hadn’t been blinded by the styling department. (JIM HOLDER - EDITORIAL DIRECTOR)
REVA G-WIZ (2001): There may well come a time when the hemmed-in denizens of the world's megalopolises will look back and grant the G-Wiz a snifter of conceptual respect. They will need to have all been blinded by nuclear fallout first, though, because Bangalore's carbuncle was so offensively imbecilic in appearance that it made commuting by rickshaw, tandem or sidecar seem preferable. (NIC CACKETT - DEPUTY ROAD TEST EDITOR)
VANDEN PLAS 1500 (1975): Take one underwheeled, bloated, piggy-eyed, under-achieving Austin, and slap a pompous, chromed hearse grille to its nose. Furnish it with olde worlde accoutrements such as picnic tables and a rev counter-less dashboard in walnut veneers. Upholster with Connolly leather and Wilton carpets. Jack the price by 40%. Sell many more than said exercise deserved. (RICHARD BREMNER - SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITOR)
SUBARU IMPREZA WRX (2000): A rally-honed performance car based on a middling Japanese saloon, the Impreza WRX was never a looker in the conventional sense. But it had a certain menacing elegance about it – until the second-generation Impreza arrived in 2000, with big, bulbous, doe-eyed headlights. It pretty much ruined the whole ‘mean and menacing’ thing. (JAMES ATTWOOD - DIGITAL EDITOR)
SSANGYONG RODIUS (2005): The Rodius was meant to capture the essence of a yacht (or something) and it did in some ways - it was an absurdly spacious car. But it was also atrocious to look at. Designed by a Brit, Ken Greenley, a former head of car design at the Royal College of Art, it got canned in 2011 due to poor European sales. Its replacement, the Turismo, may be underwhelming, but at least its staid MPV looks no longer hurt my eyes. (RACHEL BURGESS - NEWS EDITOR)
PORSCHE CAYENNE (2002): Yes yes yes, I know, it’s the car we should all love because it’s the car that saved Porsche. It’s the cash cow that keeps on giving and, without it, Porsche wouldn’t make massive profits and - even though every model it introduces has to make a profit - cars like the Cayman GT4 and 911 GT3 would be stifled of R&D money and would be much less than they are. But strike a light, will you just look at the darned thing. (MATT PRIOR - EDITOR-AT-LARGE)
NISSAN CUBE (1998): It’s easy to brandish an opinion-splitting design as 'quirky' or 'funky' – but for the Nissan Cube there can be only one word: 'ugly'. It went down a storm in the Japanese market, but only a few made it over to the UK – one of which haunts me on my road thanks to a 'quirky' neighbour. (DOUG REVOLTA - REVIEWER)
NISSAN MICRA C+C (2005): My choice could have been any number of supermini-derived folding hard-top coupé convertible things (what a mouthful that is) that arrived after the turn of the century. I dislike them all as equals, although some more equally than others, with the Micra winning that vote for its sheer tragicness. Beyond the looks, it had a terrible driving position and comedic rear seats. It was British designed, engineered and built; the next time Nissan did that, it made the Qashqai. Strange world. (MARK TISSHAW - EDITOR)
MORRIS ITAL (1982): Grafting on bigger light clusters to the old Marina and giving it a fancy designer name didn’t fool anyone. A double-volume Ital Design tome with everything they ever doodled, fails to mention it. From possible every angle the Ital is an early 1980s brick outhouse. In fact, it's so monumentally ugly that I bought one. (JAMES RUPPERT - USED CAR CORRESPONDENT)
MITSUOKA OROCHI (2006): Japanese design works well when it is an exercise in restraint, but the country can also get it catastrophically wrong, as this 3.3-litre V6 Toyota-engined spaceframe monstrosity attests. If a serpentine monster from a Manga cartoon made wild love to a Toyota Celica Mk6, this might be the spawn. It cost a sobering £44,000 and, no, that wasn’t how much they paid you to live with the thing. (MATT BURT - EXECUTIVE EDITOR)
LANCIA THESIS (2001): This wasn’t sold in the UK, thankfully, so perhaps you’ve never seen one. How many beautiful designs Lancia came up with – Stratos, Delta Evo, Flaminia GT – only makes the gormless Thesis more of an affront. People often describe cars as having ‘faces’ - well, the Thesis’s is one filled with sorrow. (KRIS CULMER - PRODUCTION ASSISTANT)
LAMBORGHINI LM002 (1986): The original Lamborghini SUV made ugly an art form. Surviving in production until the early 1990s, it could have been the gnarled chrysalis that the beautiful DIablo supercar eventually emerged from. I drove one in 2015 - and was every bit as appalled by the gruesome features and angular styling in the metal as I had been in pictures. And I still loved driving it - despite the fact that one of its fittings actually tore my jeans. (MATT SAUNDERS - CHIEF TESTER)
HYUNDAI COUPE (1999): How sadistic a surgeon comes up with a facelift like this? The original frumpy but inoffensive Hyundai Coupe morphed into this horrendous-from-every-angle, overdesigned, nightmare-fuelling monstrosity, confirming everyone’s fears about the new millennium. An insult to sports cars everywhere. (JIMI BECKWITH - STAFF WRITER)
FORD SCORPIO (1994): Some love this car for its heroic ugliness, and others extol its vast rear leg room. Ford claimed its sales met expectations, but it never released its designer's name, and pulled it from sale after four years. Hero or not, it resembles a giant frog. (TOM EVANS - SENIOR CONSULTING EDITOR). I once had a mildly traumatising experience as a very young child when I found a small fish in a stream with a worm wedged hopelessly in its mouth. I wasn’t sure which one I pitied the most. I must have suppressed the memory, because it only came flooding back to me the first time I saw the Ford Scorpio. (DAN PROSSER - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT)
CITROEN AMI 6 (1961): Only six years after the DS, Citroën turned out what is demonstrably the most poorly styled production car of all time. Based on the 2CV, it looks like a child’s doodle made real. The rear view - with the extreme rake of the rear window, overhanging roof panel and table-top boot lid - is unmatched in its ugliness. But it’s probably the bizarre ‘melted’ bonnet that is hardest to comprehend. (HILTON HOLLOWAY - SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT)
ALFA ROMEO SZ (1989): Until recently, I thought Zagato was responsible for this grim-looking contraption, but it turns out to have been a couple of misguided blokes from Fiat’s own design department. They were clearly having an 'emperor’s new clothes' competition with one another, to see how awful they could make a car look while using Alfa Romeo’s overall cred to get it made. Alfa’s big bosses were clearly on holiday. On the road, the SZ handled passably (although not in the wet), but the styling could have been improved by any passing eight-year old. (STEVE CROPLEY - EDITOR-IN-CHIEF)
Autocar recently chose its 100 most beautiful cars for the first time in 15 years. Now we have polled everyone in the team to identify the cars we feel are most certainly not beautiful - they are in fact, the ugliest cars we know.
The journey that car companies take to produce an ugly car can take many paths, even if the destination remains the same. Producing an ugly car isn’t something a car firm plans to do, obviously. In many cases, manufacturers were trying to make a statement. Sometimes they were trying to create blue water between the cars they were originally based on and a new derivative with a different name (step forward, Pontiac Aztek and Vanden Plas 1500).
Other times, they were trying to breathe new life into a model range at facelift time: looking at you (not too closely), Subaru Impreza, and please take a bow, Morris Ital. The latter car's new dress did little to obscure the fact that it was a nine-year-old Marina.
They may be heralding a marque's dramatic and surprising arrival into a new segment. The Porsche Cayenne is an obvious case here, and indeed that example reminds us that not all of these cars were disastrous: dynamically, mechanically or commercially. However, generally speaking, those cars that were rubbish to drive, unreliable, and visually challenged didn't fly off the forecourts.
Selecting ugly cars is, by its nature, a subjective exercise, so we asked each member of the Autocar team to make a personal choice based on any criteria they chose. And it’s worth noting some of the picks sparked serious office debate. So we hope you enjoy scrolling through the gallery above, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.