At the beginning of the automobile industry, car manufacturers churned out vehicle after vehicle without giving too much thought to style or aesthetics. It wasn’t until styling became a selling point that the world was presented with some of the ugliest cars ever created. You might not think a car can be ugly, but you would be wrong. From the bulbous headlights of the Pontiac Aztek to the bulbous tank-like shape of the Subaru Baja, there are plenty of cars that would beg to differ.
Anyway, history has not treated kindly these sinfully ugly machines. They’ve been saved from the scrap heap of time by retro-car enthusiasts who can’t look away (or sometimes they were never built at all). Either way, here are some exceptionally ugly cars with which you can go on a grand tour of automotive ugliness. These are my top picks for the ugliest cars manufactured since 1900.
1932 Stout Scarab
The Stout Scarab is considered as the first jitney. It is also the first vehicle to use aluminum on its unibody structure. When it was introduced, it had innovative features that would change the automotive world forever. The Scarab may be the most unusual of the early forgotten cars. Despite its innovations, this is why it ultimately failed: It looks like a dung beetle.
Built by Edsel Ford’s son, Henry II, the Scarab was revealed to the public in 1951 at the New York Motorama, where it cut quite a figure. Time magazine described it as “an egg with wheels.” The Scarab seemed like something out of science fiction—perhaps a prop in a Flash Gordon serial. And it stirred up plenty of conversation—most of it less-than-positive.
1946 Crosley CC
The Crosley was introduced at a time when fuel rationing was being enforced. Despite the cheap materials that went into its construction, it proved to be very durable. As solid as a rock, many are still roadworthy today. The CC was the first car to use the toilet seat cover, other companies quickly followed. It’s so ugly it can be compared to other design disasters.
The Crosley soon became the butt of jokes, when in 1947 Tom Dowling of The New Yorker said it “might be mistaken for a motorized organ”. No doubt when its owner had to run the engine without the added boost of the car’s heater, that would lead to some cold mornings. It is hard to believe this car existed, but it has disappeared from history as quickly as it appeared.
1982 Cadillac Cimarron
The Cadillac Cimarron wasn’t just ugly but insulting also. Not only was the second-generation Cavalier mechanically identical to its Chevrolet counterpart, but it was also four inches shorter with almost 50% less trunk space. Worse still, its interior was downgraded with cheap plastic in place of chrome and leather.
Cadillac’s decided to convert the Chevy Cavalier into a luxury car, it appeared as the beginning of the crippling for the brand that once renowned as the Standard of the World. The Cimarron was a mistake, and Cadillac learned what not to do from it. But let yourself stay calm and do not get so wrapped up in the story that we forget what the real appearance purpose of Cimarron was.
1985 Consulier GTP
In 1988, the Consulier GTP was a revelation. The Chrysler-sourced turbo motor put out a modest 190 hp, and it’s Kevlar/composite shell weighed only 2200 pounds—a feat that would take carbon fiber 25 years to match. But even with all that going for it, Consulier somehow missed the mark. Under the hood, the Consulier seems to have more in common with a truck than a sports car.
The Consulier GTP was a small car created in the mid-1980s by the Consulier Industries Corporation. It was produced as a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car that had a composite frame along with body shell entirely composed of Kevlar and carbon fiber. The Consulier GTP was built specifically to be a supercar, and it had an impressive amount of power because it only had a 190 horsepower Chrysler turbocharged four.
1989 Alfa-Romeo SZ
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most unusual cars ever made: The Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato. When it was released in 1963, this car was full of weird flat planes and odd proportions. The car was a flop at a first. Nobody expected to see a car that different, especially from Alfa Romeo. But the Zagato shows its charm with time.
The car is a joke—because its design isn’t finished. The fact that it’s still in production is pathetic, and we hope the company comes to its senses and scraps this piece of work before someone gets hurt. Beautiful design is something we come to expect from Italian cars, but the Sprint Zagato looks like something you’d build with Legos.