So here is what I consider to be the ugliest American cars ever made. Yes, there are plenty of foreign cars that got hit with the ugly stick, but for the purposes of this list, I’m sticking with American cars, and the good ole’ US of A has had a few duds over the years when it comes to looks and styling.
Starting with the bottom is the Cadillac Cimarron. While I realize that the Cimarron is not the ugliest American car on the road, it forever changes the term, ‘the Cadillac of…’ when used to describe the best of something. As the term suggests, a Cadillac is supposed to be the ultimate in design and styling, which the Cimarron is not. Most Cadillac fanatics will tell you they do not even consider the Cimarron a Cadillac. It was ugly, poorly made and completely un-like what a Cadillac should be.
Next up is the Chevy Chevette. This car came during a time when gas was becoming very expensive-if you could get it at all-and obviously no one in the US could figure out how to make an economy car look cool, kind of like the early days of diet food, sure it was good for you, but it tasted so bad most preferred to starve. The US had to compete with the likes of Honda and Toyota, and while they got the size right, that was about the only thing they got right. All you could really say about this car in the late 70’s was that it got good gas mileage and it was easier to park than most of its American brothers and sisters.
Coming in at number eight is the Chevy Citation. This is the line that replaced the Chevette, and believe it or not, won Motor Trend’s car of the year for 1980. Still doesn’t change the fact that it was ugly. It looks like a boxy, bloated Pinto, and yes, that’s on the list too.
At number seven on the list is a more recent design, the 2001 Pontiac Aztek. It kind of looks like a cross between an SUV and a Toyota Prius-yikes! It’s hard to tell if it’s an SUV or a car, today we call them ‘crossover’ vehicles, but the body lines have no distinct style, it’s over done with plastic body cladding, and the bumpers, well, just look at it, it’s pretty damn ugly.
Number six on the list is probably a car not many have heard of, and the fact that it was hideously ugly may be why. AMC, who has brought to the car world some pretty ugly cars, introduced the Matador in 1971. It replaced the previous Rebel line of cars, and I think it represents the worst of 70’s styling, much like a few other AMC cars. If you took the front end of a Ford Pinto, stretched out the wheelbase, slapped some Corvair taillights on it, then added a Chevy Vega roofline, you get something that looks like a Matador. Even worse was the Barcelona model, which came standard with an interior that no car should ever have, even seatcovers from the flea market would look better than that interior.
Next up is the Mustang II. By 1974, the Ford Mustang was due for a radical change, unfortunately, the muscle car era was over, and smaller, more fuel efficient cars were on every car makers mind, too bad styling was not. Looking like something between a Pinto and a bad dream, the Mustang II represented a huge shift for the popular sports car. Unfortunately, the Mustang wouldn’t look cool again until at least 1985. It came in the Pinto fastback version, or the boxier standard type-both were incredibly ugly. The only good thing that came out of the Mustang II was that hot rodders could take the front ends out of them and bolt them up to their old rides giving them independent front suspension and disc brakes.
Number four on the list is the AMC Gremlin. The name alone screams ugly, but in my opinion, it still isn’t as ugly as its close cousin, which is number two on my list. It was yet another car meant to compete in an auto market where cars were getting smaller and more fuel efficient, but its looks were nothing like the more popular imports of its day. The 70’s were destined to be an era of odd automotive styling, and the Gremlin was evidence of that trend.
At number three is the Ford Pinto. It would forever be synonymous with failure. It not only had ugly styling, but it was plagued with mechanical problems, most notably, its propensity to explode with a rear end collision. Of all the really bad designs that came out of the 70’s, the Pinto somehow gets looked at as the benchmark of bad design, but next up on the list is actually worse.
I would say the AMC Pacer should be number one, but it was a very difficult decision and it took the number two spot. What can you say about it, it’s so ugly it’s hard to know where to start. When it debuted in 1975, Road Testmagazine said it looked like a ‘four-foot submarine sandwich’. The Pacer even made the Pinto look tame, which is saying a lot, I think. Personally it reminds me of those odd space ships that were used for the series Lost in Space. If you want people to stare at you while you’re driving, get a Pacer.
Number one should be no surprise. The 1958 Ford Edsel was hands down the ugliest car ever made, even though I personally think the Pacer was uglier, more people will say ‘Edsel’ when they think of an ugly American car. It was the grill, that toilet seat or horse collar front end is what sealed its fate for sure.