QOTD: Best-looking Awful Car?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd best looking awful car

“Awful” can mean a lot of things, some of them pretty benign. A car can simply a boring appliance, and to some, this makes said car awful. Others might disagree.

Other vehicles might boast many positive attributes, only to have reliability issues render them awful in the minds of many. Yet an awful car can still be a thing of beauty, in the purely physical sense. Name one.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made a point of looking, in vain, for that goddamn comet in the evening sky, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes from my viewing point along a well-treed shoreline of a nearby river. I’m convinced it’s a hoax.

The only real comet to ever exist was built by Ford Motor Company’s Mercury division. Prove me wrong.

But it’s entirely possible that, during those moments of fruitless sky scanning, my eyes flitted across a gleaming point of light. A very important star, if there ever was one: Vega.

The Chevrolet Vega was a disaster that sullied General Motors’ reputation in an era of decline, hastening the growth of a stigma that only swelled in size during the ’80s diesel fiasco. We all know the car’s shady history. Designed by committee at the highest levels of the GM totem, then hastily foisted on the Chevrolet division. There were innovations, careful considerations to packaging and shipping and cost.

Alas, GM delivered an oil-gulping turd that turned brown faster than a sliced apple on a hot day. But boy, was that an attractive car.

With a front mimicking a second-generation Camaro, a sporty, sloping roofline, and a tidy, almost Italian rear, the Vega had all the right proportions. Its little steel wheels were fetching, like that of a circa 1980 Corolla. Combine that car’s looks and handling dynamics with reliability, and you’d have had a real winner. Too bad that by the time GM fixed the model’s grievous engine wear, overheating, and corrosion issues, customers were treating it like a coughing stranger in an elevator.

Luckily for GM, Ford was already earning itself a black eye at this point with its sometimes-explosive Pinto, while Chrysler Corp was doing its part for domestic car stigma with the new Aspen and Volare. Sad!

My choice of Vega for best-looking shitty car might run in opposition to your choice. There’s a lot of automakers out there, and many foisted vehicle son the buying public that prioritized style over function and durability. Name some names.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Aug 01, 2020

    Shocking comment from me: For some, it's a Tesla Model S, X, or 3. Despite widespread praise and adoration - and objectively good looks - all of them have had their share of ownership horror stories.

  • Geo Geo on Aug 02, 2020

    Some early Korean vehicles looked great but were awful to own and drive. This would include the Hyundai Excel, Stellar and Pony. This tradition held into last decade with the Aveo and Suzuki Verona; both nice-looking but crappy. I believe reputable European designers were involved with most of these examples.

  • Kcflyer Ford expects to lose 3 BILLION DOLLARS on their EV business this year. That's on top of the 3 BILLION DOLLARS they lost over the last two years. So they will just "charge" it to the profitable albeit unreliable ICE vehicle division :)
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Ford is near #1 in recalls in North America. Another numb-nut in the C-Suite is an attempt to avoid responsibility.Instead of spending money on another layer of mis-management, how about spending the money on the vehicles!!"STOP THE HURT""STOP THE PAIN""I DON"T WANT MY CAR SPENDING MORE TIME AT THE DEALERSHIP AGAIN"
  • Another So the United States invaded and killed Kaddaffi just so Fiat could buy Chrysler. And now Peugeot is buying out Fiat. Soon will China buy out Peugeot? Did the US not care about their critical industry that they willingly give it away even if a nice neat little war is needed to do so?
  • Dale Houston At home on a Level 2 charger. Charging at home is EVs secret weapon, for those who can charge at home. I still have to visit a gas staton roughly monthly for one or the other of our Mazdas and that process sucks.I have not used a Supercharger in over a year, but will this summer when I am taking a road trip. It's been fine, but slower than pumping gas. Best to time it with meals.I have not used an off-brand commercial charger yet.
  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.