Have you ever been coasting down the road when suddenly, this horrendous-looking muscle car cruises past you and you ask yourself, who would drive such a car in public, and to make it worse, with the windows rolled down?
Why some of these cars are even in existence remains a mystery. It is hard to explain what pushed designers into creating some of these monstrosities. Worse still, they tried to pass them off as muscle cars! Calling them an absolute mess would be more like it. Like most art, automotive design is subjective in many ways. There are no rules that define what can be universally described as butt-ugly, but let’s just say there are some cars that have defied this logic, the phrase ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ just about summarizes it.
There’s this dynamism that is expected from a muscle car and when you fall short of incorporating this into your design, what’s left is an assortment of parts that don’t quite go together.
15. FORD MUSTANG II
Ford have for a long time prided themselves on building what can only be considered as the ultimate muscle cars of the past few decades. Unfortunately, in the case of the Mustang II you can do nothing but wonder what exactly went wrong. ‘That’s not a mustang’ seemed to be the popular sentiment with most car enthusiasts. Pretending that it didn’t exist did not make it go away though. It’s hard to believe that the designers who came up with this ghastly piece of engineering, tried at one point in time to pass it off as the next big thing in the motor industry. It also didn’t help that its design was based on the Pinto, which had encountered several problems in the years before. You know a car is in trouble when it is categorized next to the likes of the C3 Corvettes; talk about dragging the mustang name through the dirt.
14. 1978 AMC GREMLIN
Upon its release, the Gremlin was hideous in all ways possible. From its abnormally long hood to its low roof, its design perplexed consumers everywhere. Couple that with its fender flares and body-colored bumpers, and you have to ask what the designers were thinking. This brand had been around for almost 8 years, and everybody had already started getting tired of the company’s predictable design. So as a send off, the AMC designers fashioned the final car in their line, the Gremlin, to be different. No am not joking, this is the car they came up with to honor the legacy of the Gremlin. Astonishing, isn’t it? The result served as their final ‘screw you’ to the world; they basically announced that they weren’t interested in making stylish cars anymore.
13. 1980 CHEVROLET CITATION X-11
The fact that the Citation was in fact the successor to the gruesome Nova explains its undesirable design, as the bar was set so low. Touted as General Motors’ answer to the front wheel drivers which had begun to flood the American market, the X-11 failed to make an impression. Its sales dipped incredibly after the first year. The best way to describe it? “insanity manifested as a two-door sedan that relies on the tagline ‘ugly but cool’ to distract consumers from its unappealing exterior”. The company went as far as changing the car’s name a few years later, to try to fool consumers into thinking that it was in no way related to the original ugly Chevy. Yeah, rock bottom couldn’t have hit any harder.
12. 1975 CHEVROLET CHEVETTE
It is hard to instigate a conversation about the ugliest cars Chevy has ever produced without mentioning the dreadful ’75 Chevette. It definitely did not help that the ‘Vette’ was slow as hell, and its disguised hatchback model only aided the misleading notion about how comfortable it was. Add this to its grid-design grille and tacky headlight frames, and you can guess the reaction drivers got on the road as they crawled past in this deplorable piece of machinery. The front suspension incorporated into the Chevette was in later years used to fashion the Pontiac Fiero. You really don’t have to wonder why both of these cars slowly disappeared into obscurity.
11. 1983 DODGE 600
Most of you have never heard of the Dodge 600. This is because the impact this ugly muscle car had on the market was so minuscule that production had to be halted after only a few years. It’s like they purposely set out to design a car that broke all the rules governing aesthetics required of a conventional muscle car. Someone at the Dodge factory thought it a good idea to install an automatic roof to this car, so that it could function as a convertible! Who even comes up with this stuff? That said, this eyesore endured a torrid time competing with the more established brands.
10. 1972 FORD PINTO
This tiny car embodied the term ‘bland appearance’ to the core. Apart from its hard-to-love exterior, its interior design was also nothing to write home about. It was one of those cars that you just could not unsee; its unorthodox look did not evoke the futuristic elements that the designers were trying to convey. Flaunted as Ford’s response to the smaller Japanese imports that were so popular in much of the 1960s, the Pinto was uglier than it was unsafe. This pint-sized atrocity was so hated that it has made the list of worst cars ever made for various publications, like Forbes and TIME Magazine.
9. 1977 DODGE CHARGER DAYTONA
The original 1969 Charger Daytona will forever go down as one of the best cars ever produced. So you can understand why the fans of the original were elated to hear that another version of the car was in production during the late 70s. The Malaise Era brought with it the 77 Dodge Charger Daytona, which was never able to live up to its predecessor’s legendary status. The result was a beat-down version, which embodied none of the original’s attributes. This version offered very little visual improvements from the rest of the cars this era were so passionately churning out. Simply put, it was revolting
8. 1971 FORD MAVERICK GRABBER
Unlike most of the stylish cars that were featured in the film ‘Fast Five’, the ’71 Ford Maverick has secured its place as a junk-yard regular. While the rest of the other cars will likely end up as collectibles in the near future, the Maverick should count itself lucky if it makes it past the end of this decade. In simple terms, it hasn’t aged well. How it got the tag ‘muscle car’ in the greater part of South America will never be understood, up there with who killed President John F. Kennedy. Its plastic hood, underwhelming exterior and shelf paper dash board are the best the designers could come up with. And to think their plan was to come up with a car that could rival the Mustangs and the Chevys of that time!
7. 1985 FORD EXP
Often referred to as Ford’s ugly little sin, there was no denying that the Ford EXP was hideous. From its towering rear cowl line to its extremely unattractive front end, the EXP was a laughably unstylish piece of engineering. Although you cannot condemn Ford’s intention to deviate from their range of overweight 70s muscle cars, this model never lived up to the hype surrounding it. Its goofy front end coupled with its bubble-back, borrowed from its other stablemates such as the Mercury LN7, made it the laughing stock of the muscle car family at that time. Guess what happens when economic times become hard? Well that’s easy; people stop buying cars, especially ugly ones.
6. 1977 MERCURY CAPRI TURBO RS
It would be impossible to picture someone walking into a showroom and pointing to the Capri and saying ‘That’s the one I want.’ The Capri was often referred to as the mechanical twin of the Mustang II, which is one hefty tag to live with. Like most of the muscle cars of the Malaise era, the Mercury Capri continued the unfortunate trait of being borderline sluggish. We’ll never know what exactly doomed this model, what we do know is that ‘it was an unnecessary addition to the muscle car family’ is a shared sentiment. The worrying fact about the Capri is that most of the people who owned these cars during the 70s still haven’t completely recovered from the experience.
5. 1980 AMC CONCORD SUNDANCER
If there ever was a car that could be described as horribly disfigured, it would have to be the Sundancer. This piece of engineering from the AMC factory was renowned for its lack of sleekness. Its basket handle roof support did not do it any favors. The Sundancer was a result of a decision by AMC, which stemmed from the logic that their revolting Concord and Eagle models could be improved by being turned into convertibles. This obviously didn’t work, and the end product was a failed excuse of a muscle car. To put it bluntly, the Sundancer resembled an unholy union between a concord and those discarded crocs you hide at the back of your closets.
4. 1973 CHEVROLET VEGA
You can tell some thought went into the Vega’s design, only that they got lost on the way and as a last resort attempted to amalgamate all the ideas together. You have to give them credit though, the designers went out of their way to try and come up with a new car that didn’t mimic the 70s bad taste. Unfortunately, they fell short and the Vega is surviving proof. This stylistic nightmare was not only bad to look at, but most of the consumers quickly got tired with some of the problems that were a constant feature of the two-door vehicle. Its rushed production ensured that it had minimal design input, which when you think about it, sentenced it to a fate similar to the ’72 Pinto.
3. 1985 MUSTANG GT
This mustang GT announced its dreadfulness during the latter half of the 80s. Somewhere in the midst of coming up with this car’s design, the balance of power and style got lost, and what was left was a weird-looking mustang. The front end resembled the early designs of the 60s Mustang, while the back end emulated the design of the third-generation Mustang. These different styles might have worked separately but put together, they resulted in an ugly design that left a lot to be desired. I’m just taking a guess here but I’m sure that most of the people who purchased this model wished they had bought a Camaro instead.
2. 1980 CHEVROLET CORVETTE CALIFORNIA 305
Oh, and no one can forget the ‘legendary’ 1980 Corvette. At least its predecessors didn’t feel the need to be anything other than extraordinary. Chevy fans have for ages hoped that this model would be erased from the history books, as it was the most unconventional one made, and not in a good way either. From the car’s styling (which borrowed nothing from the past beauties that built the ever-revered brand), to the engine that was in every way muffled by the emission controls that took root in the 80s, nothing about it felt like a Corvette. Per the circumstances that worked against it, this can be considered one of the low points of Chevrolet engineering.
1. 1980 PONTIAC TURBO TRANS AM
This Firebird pony car struggled to remain relevant during times when auto engineers were constantly breaking boundaries with new designs. Its much-maligned muscular styling conjured up the bad memories that accompanied the disco era of the 1980s. General Motors tried to conform to the emission standards of this timeframe by coming up with an engine that was eventually hated by all quarters. Even the designers of the ever-dreaded 1980 Corvette pitied the end product that came as a result of this ‘clever’ style of engineering. And it did not help that its distinct features were a sight for sore eyes.