Guilty Secrets

There are quite a few cars that I see around that certainly weren’t first in the queue when good looks were being handed out. Nor have some of the older ones mentioned here improved with age, yet somehow they still manage to have some kind of strange hold over me. I still want one, sometimes, in my weaker moments. They could be described as the mopeds of the car world – You want to have a go but you don’t want to be seen doing it! I have managed to get this far on my blog without a list. However here follows a top 10 of cars I really shouldn’t like but do with as best an explanation as I can muster as to why I shouldn’t be sectioned for actually wanting these very ugly cars.

10 – Mini Coupe.

I never really got either the old or the new Mini. The reasons for my dislike of the old mini will have to wait for another day. For me though the new one was too expensive, too cramped, came in terrible colours, didn’t have the cute appeal of the original, had no boot, practically no back seats and let’s face it – who drove them? The fact that it handled so well didn’t make up for all these shortcomings. Then they bring out a coupe version which is even worse under all the above headings and if that’s not enough it looks like it’s wearing a baseball cap backwards. A full disguise would be necessary before driving this car in case someone saw me. Apologies here but I can’t think of a single good reason why I want this car yet here it is at ten on my list.

Mini Coupe
There really is no excuse

9 – Subaru Tribeca.

Justifiably criticised at launch (and continually thereafter) as having the ugliest face since Jaws in the Bond movies. As an SUV it has all the problems associated with this type of vehicle – it costs more and uses more fuel to get more slowly to a lower top speed and then takes longer to slow down and stop while all the time being less stable and not handling as well as a normal car. Yet despite this something about this car has grown on me and even though it was pulled due to glacially slow sales I would definitely put it on the bucket list. (It goes without saying a full disguise required here also).

Subaru Tribeca
Yes it really is that droopy

8 – Alfa Romeo SZ

It’s unmistakeably Alfa, it’s unmistakeably aggressive, it’s unmistakeably ugly – I want one. Styled with Zagato (hence the Z) I just love it. Only available in red with a 3 litre V6

Alfa Romeo SZ
It is possible that an Alfa can be this ugly

7 – Citroen XM

Citroen have produced many beautiful and interesting cars. They have also produced some pretty awful looking machines (how about the Ami or the Picasso?). The XM boasts a wedge design with lots of straight lines yet still manages to look soft, squishy and French. Despite this every time I see one (admittedly not very often) I take a second or third look and quite like what I see. There’s no accounting for taste, is there?

Citroen XM
Citroen certainly got this one wrong

6 – BMW X6

Could be argued that this was the beginning of the end as regards beautiful BMWs although the  Bangle 7 series kicked off that trend in my opinion. Still want one though, I think maybe it’s the sheer pointlessness that attracts me (along with the massive engines of course).

Bmw X6
Amazingly manages to look drab and aggressive in equal measure

5 – Ford Scorpio.

So unbelievably ugly it’s “designer” remains a closely guarded secret (probably for his own safety). Success has many fathers …… I’ve always had a soft spot for big Fords though, particularly the Granada. Perfect Q car with the 2.9 V6.

Ford Scorpio
Hard to believe they let it out of the factory

4 – Ford Capri

Apologies to Ford as the only manufacturer with two cars on my list. Still don’t  like the look of this “icon”. It’s always seemed to me a bit too hatchback and not enough coupe. Hate that it’s the car most likely to have the owner and girlfriends name written at the top of the windscreen. It does have something that attracts me too it though – probably that long bonnet with a 3 litre Essex V6 beneath it.

Ford Capri
You can almost see the owners name on the windscreen

3 – Lincoln Continental Mark 111

Almost 6 metres long and weighing in at 2400kg this 7.5 litre V8 monster has to be the biggest, fattest and ugliest car known to man. I have never driven it or even seen one in the flesh but I’m guessing it handled like a swimming pool with a wave machine. I absolutely would drive it  though, maybe even undisguised!

Lincoln Continental Mark 111
It doesn’t get any bigger or uglier than this.

2 – Bristol Blenheim

Bristol hand makes some of the most exclusive, expensive and powerful cars on the planet. They have also made some of the weirdest and ugliest cars on the planet. The Blenheim (named after a bomber the company made during WW2) is a perfect example of this. Big V8 up front a profile that nearly looks right and a butt with a hangdog expression. Unbelievably no change from €200000 for the base model. It is appealing though and you certainly won’t meet to many others on the road.

Bristol Blenheim
What a sad looking rear

1 – Renault Avantime

Designed by Patrick Le Quement, the same Frenchman who penned Ford’s Sierra, the fat assed Megane and the absolutely horrible Vel Satis. I feel so conflicted by this car. I have nothing against Renault per se (I learned to drive in an 1983 R4 GTL) but not only have they not produced a really nice car since the 5 finished production in the early ’90s, they have actually inflicted not inconsiderable visual pain on us all in the intervening years. The Safrane, Scenic and Koleos all spring vividly and immediately to mind. The Avantime though was different. Two massive doors that had a really clever hinge so that you could get out in a car park. Four super comfy armchairs in a luxurious interior. Reasonably powerful engines (needed due to the weight of the car). Most of all though I actually love the look. I know that during it’s entire production run of 6 cars over 2 weeks nobody agreed with me nor could they decide if it was a coupe or a people carrier or just plain crazy. I really like the craziness of it and should I ever get the opportunity to buy or drive one a disguise won’t even be necessary.

Green Renault Avantime
It looks even worse in green.
Panorama of Renault Avantimes
Surprisingly they did actually make more than 6 of them.

There were a few others that almost made it on to my list such as the Chevy El Camino and the old East German Wartburg. They didn’t quite make the cut however. Feel free to agree or disagree with my choices and I would be very interested to hear other thoughts on ugly but desirable cars. Sometimes I feel that a quirky or initially unattractive design can actually make a car more appealing. Am I wrong?

8 thoughts on “Guilty Secrets”

  1. I can´t agree about the XM or Avantime. They count as quirky not ugly. They were well resolved and well packaged. I think if you can find a way to like something it´s not really ugly. Ugly is a word I reserved for the flat-out appalling as in the Pontiac Aztek.


    1. Maybe I’m unfairly comparing the XM to other Citroëns I love (CX, SM, C6 and the DS) but it attracts and repels me simultaneously! I see an Avantime pretty regularly driving around and I think what I love about it is what they were trying to do. I love some of the details also especially the rear light cluster but it really doesn’t hold it all together for me. I still want one though. I do agree though that the Aztec doesn’t have a single redeeming feature.


      1. Hmmm. I am trying to think of a car that I feel divides my opinion in the way you speak of. The Avantime is absolutely right in that it’s internally consistent in its “form language”.
        The Jaguar XJ-S is a car that prevents me from concluding anything to a satisfactory degree. Why? Emotionally I like the rear, and the proportions. Emotionally I feel the front and grille/lamps are wrong. I need to think rationally that overall it’s charming but I end up with conflicting accounts with emotion and reason in discord.


      2. I always had a soft spot for the XJ-S and I know the purists won’t like this but I loved the run out models with darkened tail lights and pepper pot alloys. Totally agree with you about it’s proportions but to steal your word I actually thought the headlamps were charming. Those buttresses gave it purpose and personality I felt. Don’t think I would have it the dream garage though, it came after and before two of Jag’s most gorgeous creations. There really are cars to conflict us all though, no?


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