By on May 22, 2019

The past three Wednesday editions of our Question of the Day post centered around the most gracefully aged designs from everyone’s favorite decade: the Nineties. We discussed American vehicles, moved onto Euro rides, and most recently discussed Asia.

But what happens when we flip the question around, and think about designs that aged in the worst ways?

The structure of our submissions will be the same as before, with Three Simple Rules:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Cadillac Catera).
  3. Any body style is eligible except for trucks.

Your author generally finds Nineties design pleasing in an A E S T H E T I C teal and graphic tape stripes sort of way, so thinking of a poorly-aged American ride wasn’t easy. Nevertheless, here’s one:

For 1993, Lincoln debuted the eighth (and final) generation of its Mark luxury coupe. The Mark VIII moved on from the boxy Eighties, ditching the legendary and outdated Fox platform. It was built on the rear-drive FN platform with the Thunderbird and Cougar at the now-defunct Wixom Assembly plant. Ford spent a long time developing the Mark VIII, starting its project in 1984. The first design was completed in 1988, and Ford planned a product launch in 1990.

However, by the late Eighties the luxury coupe game had changed considerably, and after seeing the competition from other manufacturers, the company ordered a complete redesign. This follow-up effort was presented to Ford brass at the end of 1988, and it didn’t go well — executives demanded another rework. Another mock-up design returned to the boardroom early in 1989, and remained under revision until mid-year.

Now, let’s take a break and watch John Davis talk about luxury:

The resulting design was slick and simple, with aero features suitable for the Nineties (the early Nineties). Ford kept its hands off the clay for… not very long. In 1996 the company implemented a design refresh for the ’97 model year, and created a bulbous monstrosity.

New HiD lamps were housed in big plastic blobs up front, and the rear light bar was swapped for an even larger neon lamp. Often, these later Marks came equipped with super pearlescent paint for extra Palm Beach Edition feels, plus chromed turbine wheels which looked current for exactly five months in 1997. Happily, the revamped design lasted only two years before the model’s cancellation. See ya!

Let’s hear about all those bad-looking Nineties designs you hate.

[Images: Ford, seller]

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162 Comments on “QOTD: Terribly Aged Americans of the Nineties?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Any luxury American car, mostly Cadillac and Lincoln, that had any Broughamification added to it. Be it landau vinyl tops, gold packages, continental kits or stand-up grills, they all aged terribly and looked ridiculous 5 minutes after they were new

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      I saw a brand new ATS last week with a contrasting canvas top – it looked incongruous in the extreme. I almost wanted to ask the driver what she was thinking.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        It’s hard to believe there are still people out there who want to deface a perfectly nice new car with all that added crap

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        @ MiataReallyIsTheAnswer – Within the past five years, I’ve seen those tops on the: XTS, CTS, Buick LaCrosse, Lexus ES (no, really), and Mercedes C-Class (no, really). It’s horrifying.

        The 6th-gen (’85-’93) De Ville seemed to receive extra targeting for Broughamification. That was especially unfortunate because–suspending reality and putting aside issues about brand cachet, MSRP, etc.–the 4.5 and 4.9-powered De Villes were fundamentally decent vehicles. (As I’ve mentioned in many past threads, I used to drive a great uncle in his ’88 after his eyesight had gotten bad.)

        Post-1960s Caddilac and its dealer network seem unable to play the long game. Every Broughamified Cadillac that earns a dealer hundreds of extra dollars costs the brand thousands of dollars in damaged consumer perception.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          The fake top thing seems to be a “moving target” where it almost is like the population “ages into” the desire for that frivolity.

          I have to imagine the guy who was 50 in the 1980s didn’t really have a desire for fake tops, but now that he’s in his 80s… Suddenly he wants one.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            It’s also a cultural thing in that some people believe that McMansions and Landau vinyl roofs are a sign of wealth and should be envied

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Lie2Me

            https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-vs-baby-boomers-big-houses-real-estate-market-problems-2019-3

        • 0 avatar
          Mike Beranek

          Quite a coincidence, I inherited my uncle’s ’90 DeVille after he passed away. After a thorough purge and clean, it ran really well so I kept it. I ended up taking it from 100k-200k with only a few small issues. It was Broughamed to the nines with a fake convertible top, gold trim and rims, whitewalls, and it was triple-maroon.
          Before I traded it in, I had replaced the exhaust, shocks, and tires, and it drove better than ever. One thing I don’t miss is the weak climate control. Like it was afraid of bothering you with heated or cooled air!

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            @ Mike Beranek: Too funny. Full disclosure, I omitted mention of the fact that my great uncle traded in the ’88 for a ’92 (+/- 1 year). The ’88 was bog standard appearance-wise. The newer one was Broughamed. It sounds like your uncle’s, only in that brown/champagne color scheme that you’d recognize in Cadillacs of that era.

            In support of PrincipalDan’s theory about aging into these, I still can’t believe my great uncle bought “the Pimpmobile,” as my parents called it. He just didn’t fit the profile: Ivy Leaguer, successful professional, good taste in all other respects. I’m not sure if it was his eyesight or if something in his brain changed, but somehow he got upsold on the “Classic Cadillac” package, as I believe it was called. Crazy.

            It drove just as nicely as the ’88, and he (and we) had zero problems with either car. My parents inherited it and drove it until it got destroyed by a drunk driver. (The kid who hit them was so drunk he didn’t even slow down for the toll booth that my parents were accelerating away from. Fortunately, they were up to 20 mph or so, which reduced the blow slightly as he rammed them from behind at highway speed.)

            Automatic climate control was good on both cars. Disappointing to hear about yours, as that theoretically was a strong suit of ’80s GM designs versus foreign cars. The Pimpmobile eventually got replaced by a ’99 Seville SLS from a different Greatest Generation uncle’s estate. Now that one eventually developed a climate control issue. One side only could do A/C, and the only side only could do heat. It was traded in shortly after developing that, so to this day I’m not sure if it was a cheap sensor or a four-figure repair waiting to happen.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          I see a black Chrysler 300 with a fake tan convertible top about once every couple of weeks. It’s just wrong. It’s driven by a ~40 year old woman and an older, guessing mid-70’s man. I just don’t get it, but even when vinyl tops were common, I didn’t get why anyone would want one. My parents had them on every single car they bought until my mom bought her ’77 Impala without one. Finally. The only car I ever had with one was my ’72 Cutlass that was handed down to me from my mom when I wrecked the vinyl free ’71 Cutlass handed down to me from my sister. On top of it being a vinyl top, it was white, and that made me hate it even more.

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I universally consider such cars “Palm Beach Edition.”

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I universally consider such cars “Palm Beach Edition.”

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Except if it got into any hiphop culture, then it may be cool and gansta again.

      Shamu no sexy.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Ooh – haven’t seen a working Mark VIII for a long time. By the time they hit the second/third owner, the airbag suspension was sagging along and the repairs were too expensive; or they didn’t want have the money or know-how to convert to coil/struts.

    I’ll add the SN95 Mustang, especially the 3.8L “secretary” special with the single exhaust and three spoke rims. Something about those screamed “cheap” to me. The GT version hasn’t aged very well either; not as clean as the Fox Body.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I know two people with MK 8’s. Both bought well used and both in very good shape. Both drive beautifully. A great car by even today’s standards.

      Not very pretty though.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I understand they have a strong following and employed cutting edge manufacturing technology, and some models were fairly reliable, but I didn’t like them much in the 90s and I like them even less today. I am however impressed when I see one running around today in good shape, but only due to the fact that it has survived this long.

    I nominate the FWD GM U-Body mini-vans, the Lumina APV, the Transport, and the Silhouette.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I might be in the minority but I have always liked the looks of this Mark. This is not ginger breaded up like the Marks of the past with excessive chrome and vinyl landau roofs. Just a simple clean design.

    I second the GM dustbuster mini vans being among the worst in aging.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      You’re not alone. A 1998 Mark VIII LSC is very high on my “must own” list.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      I concur. I think these were among the best looking Marks since the early 70’s. I especially like the large LED tail lights mostly because nobody else had them. Their ethereal glow when cruising and how they would brighten when the brakes were applied was (to me) a feat of design engineering. However, being some of the first LED technology applied, they were not very reliable. It was only a few years until you regularly saw one or both of those lights on the trunk not working properly.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Honestly I prefer the “FOX” Marks to their successors.

        This bias is influenced by a friend of my Dad’s who owned a “black cherry” Mark VII LSC for many years until wrecking it on an icy curve. There was also a local (Ohio) gentleman with a black Mark VII that had been tastefully and professionally pinstriped and a Playboy Bunny popping out of a top hat on the trunk lid with “Black Magic” scripted under it.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry

          I have long harbored the fantasy of swapping a very warmed-up Mustang 5.0 with 5-speed into a Fox Mark. It would be a VERY easy, exclusively bolt-in swap.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        That big center part is actually neon, not LED. Brake lights and ballasts (!) are available on eBay:

        https://www.ebay.com/b/Tail-Lights-for-Lincoln-Mark-VIII/33716/bn_1429273

        Corey, take note.

        • 0 avatar

          Yep fixed.

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            Thanks. When I read LED, I thought, “That doesn’t sound right.”

            The MN12 Thunderbirds used LED center taillights as part of the trunklid, and it wasn’t very long before individual LEDs started going out. Here’s a thread on the TCCoA forums:

            https://forums.tccoa.com/15-exterior/162265-tail-light-leds-gone-out.html

    • 0 avatar
      TheFirehawkGuy

      I had two of these, a 97 LSC and a 98 LSC both in black. Only reason I got rid of either was because of accidents. The 97 was rear ended in traffic and the 98 was t boned while parked. To this day they are among the most comfortable cars i’ve ever been in.

    • 0 avatar
      jamespdx

      I own a 1998 Mark VIII. It’s a BLAST to drive and everything works as it should. It probably has one of the best “drivers” interiors put in a car since the great “cockpits” of the 1960s. I love all the 90s “high tech” like the suspension that lowers at 55mph and the LED headlights. And the POWER – I recently kept up with a couple kids in a BMW out on the open road and well over 110mph and the car was just as stable as at 55mph! In my opinion it can hold its own against pretty much anything in the same time period and the styling actually looks more forward than a lot of the same rigs from the time period. I have to admit, I like the FOX based Marks better and my favorite is the Mark V – tho it’s just a cruiser, I would even try keeping up with anyone over 70mph!!

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I liked this Mark too – saw them as a “rich old man’s” car when new, but not as gaudy as some of the Caddys of the era.

  • avatar

    I really like the looks of the Mark VIII LSC…. so I too vote down your suggestion of it aging poorly.

    I nominate the 1996 Taurus. Though aging badly may not apply here since they were birthed badly in the first place.

    The Olds (Cutlass) Cierra was also a model that lasted far too long into the ’90s

  • avatar
    ajla

    C5 Corvette. Awesome engine, awful styling. It has an absolutely GIANT a$$ and lost all of the earlier Corvette sharpness for minivan-style gentle curves.
    I was happy when the C6 and C7 brought edges back.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Oh baby cakes, the C5 was most certainly a fat bottomed girl. Still, a much better driving car than the C4 IMHO.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      This is absolutely the right answer, although I’m not sure the C6/7 will age much better (which is fine, makes for a great supply of cheap track rat cars).

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      I think the C5 Corvette looks great. Aged much better than the Camaro and Firebird did from that era.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I thought the C5 looked bland and bloated in photographs, but nice ones that hadn’t been monkeyed with always looked great in traffic. The C6 is my second favorite Corvette design after the C2. The C4 looked great in its introductory form, but lost its surface tension through years of ‘freshening.’ The late ones certainly were better performers though. The C7 just makes me sad. It’s a tribute to bad taste.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDutchGun

      C5 looked better in Z06 guise, but that didn’t happen until after 2000.

      1997 Vette with a tan top, auto, and base wheels…. Yuck

  • avatar
    jtk

    Saw someone driving a last-gen (1991-96) Oldsmobile 98 this morning. Whitewalls, the rear fender skirts or whatever… it just screams “old lady on the way to buy a single can of tuna” to me.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree about the 96 thru 99 cockroach Taurus–much prefer the lines of the prior Taurus and the Taurus starting in 2000. Don’t care much for the current Taurus which will be discontinued.

    Also honorable mention to the Olds Achieva which never looked good.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Those Achievas sure lasted, hardly a day goes by that I don’t see one still sputtering about

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      …I always liked the Achieva coupe’s looks. The sedan, not so much (with the partly covered rear wheels from sharing the rear sheetmetal with the Skylark), but I did like the coupe.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’ll go with the Skylark being hideously designed. The Riviera too. My only issue with the Achieva (besides the stupid name) was the low hanging sheet metal over the rear wheels, as well as the too-big tail lights.

        Another nomination: late 90’s Mercury Cougar.

        • 0 avatar

          Skylark bad with that ice breaker nose. Especially the stumpy coupe.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Grandma had a 3.1 V6 Skylark with that tough 3 speed auto. She was very happy with it but it had replaced a 4cyl Tempo.

            You could break the tires loose practically at will with that much torque off the line in the Skylark.

          • 0 avatar

            What happened to all those Skylarks? I do remember seeing them fairly often, along with that same era Cutlass Supreme sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            Blackcloud_9

            I’m probably one of the few who liked the Skylark with the cow-catcher (railroad term) nose. While not my favorite design, I gave Buick a lot of props for trying to stand out in a world full of blob-mobiles

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Corey,

            I remember an employee event at GM headquarters where they revealed the upcoming 1992 Skylark (via video clip). Bob Stempel and his team were excited about the rebirth of design at GM (compare the 1991 Skylark). The audience reaction was about as close as you could get to audible gasps (GM headquarters employees in 1991 weren’t a terribly expressive group).

          • 0 avatar

            Thinking on it, the Skylark would’ve been a better selection for a badly aged car. I could’ve used that marketing they did with the abstract painter. Hilarious in teal.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The Achieva aged badly in the same way that the Alero (which followed) still looks pretty decent design wise.

    • 0 avatar
      JRoth

      Couldn’t agree more on the Achieva—pornstache grill that looked bad the day it came out. The Calais it replaced was nothing special, but it was a reasonably handsome car. The Achieva was just goofy.

      Later in the ’90s, the Intrigue and Alero came out a year apart. I still think the Intrigue is one of the best-looking sedans of the aero era, while the very similar Alero was strikingly wrong—headlights too big, curves lumpy instead of sumptuous.

    • 0 avatar

      2000 Taurus was forgettable. I would rather prefer 1996 ovaloid. 1992-1995 is the best looking but cost cutting, poor panel fit and huge gaps…compare that same period VW Passat.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I keep seeing you say that, but having owned several, I’ve never experienced gaping panel gaps and shoddy build quality. Maybe the Passat was more precise when new, but I’m completely satisfied owning a 250k+ mile Taurus over a 150k mile 1995 Passat.

  • avatar

    Corey Lewis has made a powerful enemy with this post. I should make him regret what he has said about the Mark VIII in some sort of TTAC rebuttal.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    The dustbuster minivans were pretty bad, but even though I try to forget, there were still quite a few K car variants on sale in the late 1990’s. Plymouth Accliam, Dodge Spirit, Dodge Shadow, Plymouth Sundance I feel like these cars were relegated to the scrap heap as soon as possible and like a shared traumatic experience, the general public has supressed all memory of their existence.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      “were relegated to the scrap heap as soon as possible ”

      I actually think they were quite mechanically robust for the most part, a few failed ultradrive transmissions notwithstanding. They lived on in Central NY trailer parks for a loooong time.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        My family had two K variants in a relatively short period of time in the 1990’s. I couldnt tell you what the engine or transmission options were on those vehicles. I can tell you my parents will never buy another Chrysler product as long as they live. Talk about holding grudges. I have never personally had a Chrysler product myself, my parent’s bias probably being a large part of that.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      My mom had a Shadow. It was actually screwed together pretty good, and with the 5 MT in 2 door configuration it was not all that bad of a driver for the time.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      Acclaim/Spirit is one of my favorite boring cars. As for 90s cars, I don’t think Pontiacs and F bodies don’t look good.

    • 0 avatar
      JRoth

      Saw an Acclaim the other day, first time in ages. I thought it was a Spirit, though; I’m sure I could tell them apart at the time, but nowadays they look identical.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    All Mark VIII’s are beautiful – even today.
    Next!

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    Yes, I realize that my nomination traces its roots back to the late 70’s, but the 1991 Ford Crown Victoria Country Squire wagon just looks ancient… because it is. The faux wood paneling is, in some respects, a blast from the past and greatly appreciated when in good condition, but usually they’re faded, peeling, and well disheveled.

    https://free-classifieds-usa.com/vehicles/cars/1991-ford-crown-victoria-country-squire-lx-station-wagon_i74291

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Ok enough with the dust buster bashing, yes they were terrible I had the lovely chevy version as a company car for a year or so and they sucked brand new. But you know what looks worse today than the dustbuster, a Buick Roadmaster wagon, I could go with it’s Chevy cousin but the Buick was more glam and faux wood, not sure if the Chevy had that option.
    It hurts me to say it, as I generally like Buicks and would buy a La Crosse or a regal wagon for my next car. But that thing has not aged well at all. Given the choice to drive today between the Roadmaster or the dustbuster, I would walk but if I had to take one, give me the dustbuster.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    Author is WRONG on the Mark VIII!

    1996 “guppy” Taurus was and remains an abomination.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Pretty much any GM F-body. They were the Bic lighter of cars. :-(

  • avatar
    ptschett

    Wow, wrong on the Mark VIII and doubly wrong on its wheels. My ’96 Thunderbird had a set of later-series Mark VIII painted 16″ wheels for much of the 2000’s.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’d say the bubble (’91-’96) Caprices haven’t aged well (certainly, look somehow more dated than the boxes that preceded them), but they were weird looking when new.

    The early Navigators, and ’98+ Town Cars are also hugely dated now.

    • 0 avatar
      MartyToo

      I agree that the Chevy bubble look was awful when new and worse than awful today. The craziest version is the Buick Roadmaster.

      But Buick had its own issues with bad aging when you consider the Park Avenue of the early 90’s. It looked wonderful at first and the smaller companion LeSabre did too. But over time the LeSabre became only associated with aging seniors and the car in its base trim a joke.

      But the Park Avenue, which I liked in ’91 and was a perk that my banker friend had as part of his compensation, looks like a stale piece of Italian bread in 2019.

    • 0 avatar
      MartyToo

      I agree that the Chevy bubble look was awful when new and worse than awful today. The craziest version is the Buick Roadmaster.

      But Buick had its own issues with bad aging when you consider the Park Avenue of the early 90’s. It looked wonderful at first and the smaller companion LeSabre did too. But over time the LeSabre became only associated with aging seniors and the car in its base trim a joke.

      But the Park Avenue, which I liked in ’91 and was a perk that my banker friend had as part of his compensation, looks like a stale piece of Italian bread in 2019.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      But you got to love that “Navaigator” badge with the globe next to it.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I may be biased, but I find the first gen Navigator to be still decent looking, especially compared ti the generation that followed, and definitely to the first (extremely dated upon debut) Escalade.

        • 0 avatar

          The back of the Nav is where I have issues, it’s very oddly proportioned. And the interior. The front and sides are fine.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Giant cartoon tail lights are a sign of wealth and prestige

          • 0 avatar

            Well then, the Alero must be priced like a Bentley!

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The 1st gen Navi looks like cartoonish garish trash these days, the SUV equivalent of the worst of Disco-Brougham excess. In contrast, the 1st gen Expedition looks very cleanly and purposefully styled. If I could find a clean one, I would legitimately consider swapping my 4runner for one as a way to get an affordable capable beach cruiser that offered more room and comfort for the family on the long haul down to the OBX.

          • 0 avatar
            scott25

            The fact that almost every 1st and 2nd gen Navigator still running is dragging its belly on collapsed suspension doesn’t help the proportions any.

            Agree the original Expedition has aged very well.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I 100% wish they kept that, or at least resurrect it as part of their whole glory days throwbacks they’re trying for with all the classic names they’re using again.

    • 0 avatar

      The early Navigator falls under truck to my eyes.

      BUT it always makes me consider how little they tried to make that car special. Cadillac’s first Escalade receives similar damnation, though I think the luxing worked a bit better there.

  • avatar
    relton

    I had a Mark VIII for many years, until I bought my BMW. I really liked this car, and drove it 140,000 miles. The earlier Mark VIIIs were a little faster than the later ones. Mine did 14.8 sec 1/4 miles at the strip, repeatedly, with the air on.

    I eventually sold it because Ford could not supply reliable replacement parts. For example, it used up 12 alternators in the last year I owned it, stranding me in several places. The alternator, like many Mark VIII pieces, was unique to that car.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I saw a late 1990s Century today, with its chrome wheel covers. They looked and felt dated when new. The corresponding Regal was decent, but the Century was terrible.

    The leftover RWD BOF sedans always looked dated and out of place compared to their smaller FWD cousins. The whale Crown Victoria was dated in 1998. By 2011, it was an absolute relic. Ford should have replaced it in the late 90s with a RWD unibody sedan sharing its underpinnings with the Aussie Falcon.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford seemed to have silos in that era, where there was no intersecting thought of “we can use this or this” from various places.

      Like how they didn’t use the aluminum Jag XJ platform on anything for Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Left hand having no idea what the right hand is/was doing. Thankfully things seemed to have changed since then.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That was the whole problem with the PAG. It was mostly a group of separate companies doing separate things, to the point that people imagine connections that aren’t there. No, the LR3 and LR4 weren’t on an Explorer frame. No, the 5.0-liter AJV8 isn’t related to the Coyote 5.0.

        As for not using the aluminum XJ platform, the X350 debuted right about the time Ford began cutting costs on the Lincoln products. They certainly weren’t going to give them a nice platform. The MKS showed more where their line of thinking was, by tarting up pedestrian platforms. More than that, I imagine it would have driven up the prices to (a) ship the XJ-based Lincolns from England, or (b) retrofitting one of the American factories to handle them.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “No, the LR3 and LR4 weren’t on an Explorer frame. No, the 5.0-liter AJV8 isn’t related to the Coyote 5.0.”

          But there are a few shared bits and pieces: the LR3 offered the Ford dog’s breakfast 4.0L SOHC V6 as a base motor, and used Explorer rear diffs (similarly had issues).

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    1992-1993 Geo Storm. (yes, based on a Japanese car, but sold under an American flag.) Once they ripped the half-open headlights off of it, and put those squashed oval lights in, it went from not half bad to Michael Jackson’s face after 1997. Nothing seemed to match – design, colors, flow…it just looked off.
    Plus, looking back at it now, it’s hard to take seriously a vehicle doused in faded teal or aqua paint, covered in “sports graphics” and striping as any kind of semi-performance vehicle. I know the early 1990s were a happier time, and we all have a pair of moth-eaten Hammer-pants buried in a box in the attic somewhere next to the picture of a family member rocking a Bud Bundy or Billy Ray mullet, but what the hell were we thinking with all of the stickers on cars? Yes, the Storm was a terrible offender!
    …and the wagon version – let’s just say there must have been some serious hard core drugs being taken in some of those design meetings!

  • avatar
    scott25

    How has no one said Ford Aerostar? Sure it was an 80’s design but it was still going into the 90’s. Astro/Safari aren’t far behind especially the facelifted ones.

    For cars, final Riviera is the undisputed champ, followed by mid-90’s Bonneville/Cutlass Supreme, whale-bodied Caprice, 1998 Concorde, and ‘96 Taurus and Sable (wagon especially).

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      I dunno, I always thought of the Aerostar as being kind of generic, the only thing odd about it was the long sloping windshield and hoodline.

      As a utility vehicle it gets a pass anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You leave the Riviera alone…lol!

    • 0 avatar

      I like Riviera’s design. It had period bio-design and unapologetically American big. And LH cars – big, good looking and American – more than current 300 and Charger. And CV, Impala, Roadmaster – big, good looking and American. 90s car were big with big engines and that made them different from German and Japanese cars.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Would that not count as a truck seeing as how it’s nothing more than a covered Ranger?

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        It was loosely based on the Ranger. It had a hybrid frame/unibody setup (like an XJ Cherokee) and coil spring rear suspension (like a Crown Vic). There were some shared parts, but “nothing more” isnt an apt description.

        • 0 avatar
          tankinbeans

          I admit I’m a bit loose with descriptors. I know the one I had, admittedly older when I got it, felt ponderous and more than a bit truck like with the fuel economy to match.

          Aerostars have a soft spot in my life because my first car was an Aerostar.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Yes, they certainly wouldnt be mistaken for a Lexus GS lol, but they did ride and drive better than the Ranger. My family bought one new (traded in a 1985 Ranger actually), and since becoming an adult, I’ve owned several. I really miss my 1994 Sport shorty. Loved that thing.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I know the ‘Stang boys will pillory me, but the SN-95 was one ugly doorstop. The late Fox-bodies weren’t much better.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDutchGun

      Agree about SN95, possibly the worst generation of Mustangs, other than the Mustang 2.

      Fox bodies in LX and notch configuration are great looking. I was never a fan of GT styling back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Mustang got better-looking after the 1999 refresh, but was never pretty, I agree. The 2005 “retro model” was a breath of fresh air. And I’ve never had any love for the angular Fox-body Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        I liked the Fox body, give me an LX 5.0L hatch with a stick and call it a day. The 94+ was never my favorite by any means, but I dont necessarily hate it (and yes, there are plenty of FoMoCo products I do hate, including just about anything carrying the LTD moniker, several iterations of the Thunderbird, and FWD minivans not named Transit Connect).

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I think I might be the only person to prefer the early soap bar SN95’s to the post-’99 New Edge refresh, but they look really sad in V6 spec. They’re dated, but a clean GT on those very 90’s 3-spokes (6-spokes?) works for me. The New Edge is trying to put the new family face on a body that wasn’t quite designed for it, although any of the special editions (Bullitt, Mach 1, SVT) pull it off.

      • 0 avatar
        A Scientist

        Agreed. While I never cared much for the SN95, I always thought the New Edge models were way worse. To me they look like the SN95 after putting on the “freshman 15”. Horribly bloated looking, and they attempts at more angular styling just fails miserably.

        • 0 avatar
          TheDutchGun

          They also added a number of decorative non-functional air scoops for no apparent reason, especially later in that model cycle.

          Agree with the comment above that 05 brought a breath of fresh air. I’m biased however, as I bought an 06 GT back then.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    The sixth generation Buick Skylark from 92 to 98 was a horror and has aged horribly.

    I think a lot of the mid 90s Ford sedan and coupe products also didn’t age well. Certain trims of the SN095 Mustang, the all oval Taurus, the refresh of the Tempo sedan that lived on until 1994 (the Mercury Topaz has aged better and the coupe has aged incredibly well), the third gen Escort.

    I was never a fan of the W-Body Monte Carlo that had just flat out weird lines to my eyes.

    I think the Mark VIII was a beautiful car and one of the few Fords from that era not called F-150 or Explorer that has aged very well when it comes to looks.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    1996-99 “Fishface” Taurus has never aged well. The 2000 refresh is much cleaner and coherent.
    The Mark VIIII still looks great.
    92-02 Seville, Eldorado-The stealthy Art and design wears well when everything else got blobby or overwrought like the Lexus.

  • avatar
    A Scientist

    Another vote for the fishface Taurus. Good God what an eyesore. Even when they first came out, I couldn’t understand how you could go from such a cleanly styled model in the first-gen to THAT butt-ugly thing.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    We are well over 100 comments and can I possibly be the first one to bring up the first gen Chevy Lumina? Base trim sedan would look horribly out of place today. Ugly then too.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Yes, and the Cutlass Ciera/Century. It was like 1984 in 1994. I dont hate the cars, but they were definitely past their “best by” date, even though they kept selling decently. Perfect for someone who just wanted “a car”.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Although Chrysler’s cab forward design did not age well IMO, U vote for the 99′ Olds Alero, which looked like the designers stuck random Olds parts onto a base Grand Am and then cursed it with those giant ugly taillights that would’ve looked too big on an RV.

    On the interiors front, I vote for every interior made by GM for the entire decade. they had the worst cheap looking interiors until Daimler took the crown by a country mile.

  • avatar
    STS_Endeavour

    The Mark VIII – I want one to this day. With gullwings.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    All. All of them are bad.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    The ’93-’96 Mark VIII’s were a bit cleaner, style-wise, but it was hard to argue the improvements of the ’97-’98 models. I had a ’98 Mark VIII LSC Spring Feature Edition… 1 of 117. Fabulous road car… quick, quiet, and comfortable. It ate up miles like no other… best car for a cross-country trip. From Florida to California, I set the cruise on 80 & just ROLLED… and got 26 mpg along the way. Loved the driver-focused cockpit, & amazingly comfortable seats. There were downsides tho. Parts were expensive… and now, SCARCE. I preferred the look of the octastar wheels over the turbines, but they were hard to come by. The 32 valve 4.6L was a great engine… smooth as silk… plenty of power… and the aluminum Teksid block made that engine quite sought-after for engine swaps… provided you could shoe-horn it in… that was one fat motor, but had loads of power-building potential. These days, I squeeze myself into a Focus ST… my, how the times have changed.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      I firmly believe both my (1st and 2nd gen) VIII’s were underrated on power – a car that size that moves like that is making well over 300 HP. Those Cobra mills love to run.

      These days I squeeze myself into a Hemi Charger. OK, no squeezing required :)

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Ovoid Taurus gets another vote.

    My personal nominations go to the 92-96ish Sable and Grand Am (Prix?) With the full length light bar.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Last gasp Cougar pre dated the current obsession with random curves, lines, complex sheet metal pressings trying too hard to be different. And it still looks like a queef in sheetmetal.

    Late 9Os Cadillac DeVille. Exact opposite of the Cougar: no style, boring, generic, wanna be Caprice [how far Cadillac had fallen ]. A car with such a lack of style and presence it provokes rage in me today. Fung Gu GM.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    Especially true if the Northstar engine exploded like Polaris, the Northstar. Seriously, my friend ditched his Caddy when the engine block or the head cracked. It’s so long ago that I forget which. POS engineering.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Count in for Mark VIII love and even the late cars. I’ll admit that I’m biased, I owned a 95 Cougar with the 4.6 in this pearl white with the basketweave wheels and trunk mounted luggage rack. I have never seen another car just like it. The cockpit in the T-bird and Cougar was very driver focused as well. I even bought a “Spins Prohibited” placard out of Sportys pilot shop catalog and stuck it by the gear selector.

    My Cougar was my last “personal luxury coupe”. It was no sports car, but it was a great cruiser. I’ve always wanted a Mark VII or Mark VIII, though I prefer the VII because it was a car of my youth. I actually like the style refresh on these post 97, but it looks better in dark colors, especially black. The side profile isn’t as nice, you can really see the T-bird in the side profile and Ford’s wheel choices did not age well.

    290hp was pretty decent in 1997. My only experience with that motor is in the Continentals of the same time, which I think aged even less gracefully than Mark VIII did. But I remember that motor being strong and smooth, although the soundtrack wasn’t as good as the Northstars in the Caddy.

    Corey said somewhere above that an Eldorado touring coupe from the same time has aged more gracefully in terms of style. I’d agree, but the Fords seemed to be better constructed. I remember sitting in an Eldorado ETC in its last year (2002?) at the auto show. I closed the long heavy door and it rattled the same way my 84 Eldorado did. It was around 45k and it just didn’t seem worth it.


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