America is a land of ideas, with a long history of innovation and entrepreneurship that has led to some major contributions for humankind. However, for every iPhone, a tool that helps shapes the daily lives of those around the world, there’s an XFL, a misguided idea that is short-lived and the object of much derision.
In every industry, there are examples of this dynamic. But, in the auto world, they are especially notable, as ill-conceived cars not only become a blight on roadways, but also pose safety hazards to other drivers (if only to their eyes).
And while I know America has the Mustang, Corvette and Thunderbird to be proud of, there are plenty of times when our auto industry’s creations have hurt our reputation abroad. Here are my picks for the three most awful examples:
3. The AMC Pacer – When looking at the 1975 to 1980 AMC Pacers very closely, it’s almost clear what the automakers were going for – my best guess is a sort of American-sized Beetle. However, while initially praised by some magazines of the time as functional and forward-looking, I think it’s perhaps best categorized by one of its least-appealing nicknames “the pregnant roller skate.”
2. The Chrysler PT Cruiser – While I got my first car in the early 2000s, I’ll admit it was an unpleasant time to be a car buyer. With retro stylings in and oversized SUVs all the rage, it was only a matter of time before the two trends collided into a truly terrible idea. As if the faux wood panels weren’t enough, the fact that the PT Cruiser’s back-end looked like a hearse just added insult to injury.
1. The Ford Pinto – Produced around the same time as the AMC Pacer, I’ll admit the Pinto isn’t exactly the ugliest car. But, it has the rare distinction of not only being aesthetically unpleasant – one website hits the nail on the head when it cites its “dumpy proportions and fussy details” – but also dangerous. Due to the placement of the gas tank, the Pinto posed problems even with simple rear-end collisions, and after public backlash, the model was finally killed for good.
What do you think of Pete’s list? Did your favorite model make it? Does it need an addition? Let us know your thoughts below:
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