- Jul 31, 2013
Five Worst Automotive Designs of All Time
By and large, automotive designers are polite group who don't like to criticize another designer's work. However, the following design gaffs were so egregious than when prodded, they couldn't resist mentioning a few of the designs they love to hate. Unlike the lists that showcase good design (where there was limited consensus), the following cars appeared with alarming frequency
For purists, the Jeep Compass is wrong for many reasons. Skirting the arguments that the legendary brand should never produce a car-based utility vehicle (the Compass shares underbody and power train components with the Dodge Caliber, Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring), the Jeep SUV is just plain ugly to many designers. "Bloated" and "too tall" are descriptors often heard when the Compass (new in 2007) is discussed.
Everybody loves to make fun of the ungainly Pontiac Aztek, especially its first-year model (2001). General Motors invited the deserved criticisms of the Aztek's exterior styling by bringing the SUV to market knowing that it was ugly. Wayne Cherry was in charge of GM's styling at the time, but the fault is not entirely his. Dysfunctional corporate rules hog-tied Cherry's group. GM wisely changed their internal systems after this fiasco.
Ferrari Mondial 8
Proving that even legendary manufacturers can produce a stinker every now and then, the Ferrari Mondial 8 (1980-82) stands out as a poster child for poor design. Pininfarina is credited (and therefore somewhat discredited) with responsibility for the design that lacks continuity and balance.
The Mustang II
Built from 1974 through 1978, the Mustang II was a popular car. But then again, there were plenty of popular things in the 1970s that we'd consider laughable today. "It was the right car at the right time," said Buck Mook, a major player in the design of the Mustang II. Your author believes him to be correct, but that doesn't mean the car's design has aged particularly well ÔøΩ especially when the roof is covered in vinyl and the tires are sporting white walls.
Richard Teague penned some winners (the AMC AMX) and some losers. To the eyes of our designers, the 1973-1978 AMC Matador Coupe was a dud. Crazy, disproportionate curves and gaudy tunneled headlights highlight the coupe's extreme long-hood/short-trunk design. Some felt that the always-struggling AMC needed to differentiate their cars with styling, and Teague's group did achieve their goal, although some would ask, "at what cost?"
A Curious Exception, the first generation Edsels (produced by Ford Motor Company between 1958-59) didn't show up on any list from our designers. Perhaps time has healed the design wound that this car inflicted on the American landscape? The cars were ridiculed by the American driving public when they debuted, be even so, more Edsels were sold in two years than Pontiac sold Azteks in five.