The World’s Worst (and Ugliest) Cars
“QUANTUM SHOT” #749
“What we really need is a car that can be shot when it breaks down.” (Russell Baker).
Here at Dark Roasted Blend we normally celebrate weird and beautiful… except when we equally celebrate weird and ugly. Both “beautiful” and “ugly” sides of things are worth mentioning when they are brought to extremes. We already covered the ugliest architecture, the worst roads, and even the ugliest facial expressions. Now, it’s time to see some atrocious cars and collectively abhor their unnatural shapes!
Officially, the World’s Ugliest Car – looks like it’s melting
The Aurora monster was built in 1957 by an eccentric New York priest trying to make the ultimate safety vehicle. Clearly, this design was not graced by the hand of God: only one prototype was produced, and it broke down 15 times on the way to the press conference, requiring towing to 7 different garages (more info):
Safari Car (left) and 1968 Ostentatienne Opera Sedan, made by Mohs Automobile – no side doors here; entry is from the rear door, what a bright idea:
It should come as no surprise that during the long history of the automotive industry there has been some truly shocking cars created. Often experimentation and innovation goes too far, overriding common sense and resulting in Frankenstein vehicles prospective drivers scream and run from. Our friends at Netcars.com provide us with more examples of awful automobiles:
Overland OctoAuto (1911): perfect for Doctor Octopus’ garage!
Measuring more than 20 ft in length, Milton Reeves’ barmy behemoth had 8 wheels and received zero customer orders when it went on display at the inaugural Indianapolis 500. Unable to realize that 4 wheels was the future of automobiles, Reeves made a 6 wheeled SexAuto the following year, which was another flop. Imagine the length of congestion lines today if 8 wheels had caught on as a design concept!
Also billed as the “Easiest Car in the World on Tires”. Easy on tires, perhaps, but certainly not easy to drive! The photo of the man in the image below is of Elbert Hubbard, who actually drove OctoAuto and lived to write an article about it in 1911.
Here is some strangely bloated 1912 racing car from Turin, Fiat F76, rightly called “The Beast of Turin”:
Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo! (don’t you just love this name?)
Not really a car but some sort of a bike / cart hybrid, this two-wheeled 3,200-lb monstrosity was built in 1913 and was powered by the very first V8 engine that was made in Detroit. Check out the huge external radiator, made from the shiny copper tubes… The Scribbs-Bah…Bi…Whatever… even comes equipped with the training wheels!
A similar two-wheeled (or somewhat three-wheeled) “thing” was manufactured from 1925-1928 in France from a design by the Mauser company (better known for guns) and called a “Monotrace”:
King Midget (1946): Plain as a Box
Aiming to provide a cheap kit car every household could afford, Midget Motors Corporation put together the King Midget package, containing an instruction manual, axles, chassis, steering system, springs and patterned schematics for the sheet metal. Able to accept all one cylinder engines, the King Midget was bargain basement design at its worst and later models were discontinued with stricter safety and emissions regulations.
To say that King’s dashboard was simple is an understatement (left), and to our eye, this vehicle looks better and more interesting when totally rusted:
Even Uglier: The Town Shopper
Made by Carter Motor Corporation in California in 1950:
Here is a three-eyed 1948 Crossley (left) and a 1942 one (right):
Renault Dauphine (1956): considered by many to be “the Slowest Car of All Time”
Proof that no one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence and taste of the general public, the Renault Dauphine sold very well, over 2 million units globally. Not bad, considering it was a cheap heap of junk with no identifiable redeeming feature other than what the scrap merchant ultimately offered for it. A continental bad joke, the Dauphine possessed the glacial acceleration (able to reach 60 mph from start in “only” 32 seconds) and was so prone to rusting that one hard winter could corrode the front wings into sieves.
People were saying that “if you stood beside it, you could actually hear it rusting”. Imagine how criminals rejoiced when French police was outfitted with Dauphines! And yet it even was used in car racing:
Zunndapp Janus (1958): better not to look where it’s going…
When the Janus was unveiled industry experts weren’t two-faced with their reaction, they all openly agreed it was terrible. Equipped with a 250-cc engine and boasting a maximum speed of 50 mph, the Janus proved that motorbike manufacturers shouldn’t meddle in the motorcar market. Hilariously, the back seats were rear-facing so the red-faced passengers could watch congestion build up behind them while being serenaded with an irate cacophony of car horns.
The dashboard was no less hilarious:
Amphicar (1961): equally bad on the road and in the water
There was a certain sinking feeling about this bizarre concept car, seemingly thought up by a drunk car designer who had watched far too many Bond films. Able to drive on land and ride on water, the Amphicar wasn’t watertight and therefore only floated for as long as a pump held out or passengers could bucket the rising flood overboard. With a top speed of 7 mph when on water, consumers decided to keep their cars and boats as separate vehicles.
Peel Trident (1966): you’ll be so hot, your skin will start peeling off
A woeful attempt to make a futuristic car, the Peel Trident was made on the Isle of Wight and was basically a go-kart with a ludicrously heavy bubble-like chassis. Slow and cumbersome, the Peel Trident was quickly laughed off the road, particularly as the plastic dome threatened to cook the passengers under the harsh gaze of the sun.
The Bond Bug (1970): Ask Sean Connery what he thinks about this
Ugly as sin, the Bond Bug was a two seated sports car with three wheels which had a short production run of four years, during which the guffaws from car critics resounded loudly. The bright orange body paint made it look like a satsuma on wheels and the price was ridiculously high for such a small oddball of a vehicle that fared poorly when compared with the iconic and cheaper Mini.
Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar (1974): a pyramidal abomination
Surely this ugly duckling should be applauded for being an early attempt at introducing an electric car on to the motor market? No, it looked like the mismanaged mix of a golf-cart and a garden shed. Made as a response to the 70s fuel crisis, the Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar placed the reputation of car design and manufacturing itself in jeopardy with its unpopular box-like body. Its production run ran for four years.
Yugo GV (1985): go yugo yourself, why don’t you?
The car that raised fitness levels of passengers by forcing them to push it, the Yugo GV was actually imported from the Soviet Bloc to a world that really didn’t want them. Their poorly assembled engines would break down with low mileages on the clock, leaving an unwelcome box-shaped eyesore on the side of the road and kids trembled at the thought of their parents bringing one home, knowing the playground gibes that would await them.
Here is mis-proportioned Austin Allegro/Vanden Plas, with a Rolls-Royce-styled grill no less! On the right is the Austin Allegro All-Ego variation:
Incredibly awkward-looking Aston Martin Lagonda wagon (left) and the overly souped-up Porsche:
Miserably-shaped 1965 Citroen Ami:
Ungainly Ford Taunus 2000 GXL with a custom front:
A kit car, but no less crime against any design sense (“a dash of Corvette, the headlights from a Cougar, tail lights from a Vauxhall, powered by a VW engine”), more info:
The 1977 Volkswagen prototype by Luigi Colani (definitely not the high point in the career of the master):
It also has some sort of a cancerous growth in the middle of the steering wheel:
Fiat Multipla (1998): this is ugly beyond reasonable level of ugliness
Proof that looks do matter, the Fiat Multipla is an ugly beast that had drivers staying away in droves. Less aesthetically pleasing than a proboscis monkey, Fiat trumpeted its excellence as a family carrier, while families pointed out they wouldn’t be seen dead in it. Given the advancements made in car design over the decades, how on Earth did the schematics for the Multipla ever get used for anything other than a practical joke?
The dashboard also wins the title of “The Ugliest Car Dashboard of All Time”:
Another Fiat, this time called “Doblo” (left), and a weird Japanese item:
Strange Tanghua (“A Piece of Cloud”) concept car from China, 2008:
What is this?? A customized Tato Nano, that’s what:
Fiat Aquila concept (left) and a custom abomination from the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show:
Here is a truly outrageous-looking concept car, the recent 2010 Sbarro Autobau – more info. It may look like it’s got teeth and preparing to eat you for breakfast. It also looks like it’s been hastily put together from LEGO blocks by a 4-year old. But in any case, the future is here and looks as yellow as it can possibly be.
Speaking about futuristic concept cars (by the way, check out Rhombus – a wildly different concept car), not all of them were nice to look at. The following is 1955 “Astra Gnome”, the Mars Vehicle, looking somewhat like a cross between my vintage hair dryer and the ironing board:
Well, my eyes hurt now from all this ugliness; gotta get some eye-bleach. Stay tuned for the next part in this series!