WHEN we look back at the oddball entrepreneurs that have populated the British automotive industry’s who’s who list, it is a real wonder that British cars even got a second look abroad.
The kindest way to describe the British sense of car design is to say that they are eccentric, and so today we are here to celebrate the individual minds that ignored the advice of friends, the shrieks of horror from children and the voice inside their head telling them to stop.
Without these hideous creations we will never appreciate the beauty of Italian cars. By the way, if you look up the list of 100 most ugly cars, there are either very few or no Italian cars on them. They are mostly American, British and German.
TOP 10 UGLIES
1. MARCOS MANTIS M70
While this list is drawn up in no particular order of hideousness, the Marcos Mantis M70 deserves special attention thanks to the total and utter failure in aesthetics.
The M70 was supposed to marry a spacious cabin with sporty styling and by that we mean a wedge for a nose.
The unwanted child of this marriage is a car so awkward that every time you see it, you feel like slapping yourself for thinking rude thoughts about how you would get rid of it.
After the initial embarrassment as how many swear words you can blurt out in sight of the Mantis M70, comes the utter disbelief of how anyone can continue build something that looked like it escaped from Mary Shelley’s twisted mind.
2. 1975 AUSTIN PRINCESS
The 1970s was guilty of many unforgivably disturbing trends, from floppy pants to floppy collars to cars that are best viewed with the assistance of Lucy and her diamonds in the sky.
The Austin Princess looks like a a car that has given up hope, taken too much heroin and starts to stoop in despair. If the Princess is the ‘after photo’, the ‘before photo’ is the 1980s Volkswagen Scirocco.
3. VAUXHALL VIVA
If you put together a room full of accountants and toilet-fitting designers and told them to build a car, the accountant would tell the team that building a car is too expensive while the toilet-fitting designers will insist that everything be made of stainless steel. They would both miss the point of the car and come up with a beast that no one wanted to make but gets made anyway.
The Viva is not ugly, but it is less interesting than a farm tractor.
4. AUSTIN MONTEGO
The Austin Montego is simply the same mistake made by the team that gave us the Viva, only with sharper creases.
5. 1976 ASTON MARTIN LAGONDA
If the Viva and Montego were the result of suffocating committees, the 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda is what happens when you give a designer absolutely no restrictions. They go bananas and design what looks like a really fancy, space age metal-cutting board with wheels.
There is absolutely no reason for metal-cutting boards with wheels to exist, and yet it does. If it exists, then it must be in art.
6. TRIUMPH TR7
Lucy and her diamonds probably had a say in this design as well. The Triumphs that came before this were all pretty cars and the TR6 was actually a handsome and butch machine that could twist knickers at 50 paces.
If you do get your knickers in a twist, just get within 100 paces of the TR7 and it will immediately unravel and you will feel a sudden lack of will to breathe.
7. MORRIS ITAL
This is what desperation looks like - when it’s 2.30pm on the Friday of the design submission and the boss expects you to blow his pants off at 3pm and all you have are just some soft bits in your hands.
You take a few bits of plastic, tape them onto the car and call it the Ital, in the hope that the boss is dazzled by the name that closely resembles a land that produces pretty cars and forgets to look at the car itself.
Apparently the plan worked.
8. 1994 FORD SCORPIO
This wasn’t the car that they planned to show to management but someone had left the clay model in a hot oven and they only found out at 2.30pm on the Friday of the submission and the boss was already on the way to the studio.
9. AUSTIN ALLEGRO
Inspired by a grinning turtle head, the Allegro’s designers wanted to express pure modernity with this car. The use of horizontal steering spokes and rounded squares for steering wheel was their ultimate homage to cutting-edge design.
10. DAIMLER SP250
The board wanted to see a V8 sedan, but the design wasn’t ready so they looked at the two-door prototype instead. Someone told them they could make it cheap by using fibreglass bodies and slap them onto the Triumph TR3 chassis. The cars could reach 200kmh with the V8 under the bonnet but the chassis was so flimsy that the doors would sometimes just pop open. People were so petrified at the prospect of the doors opening at speed, they failed to notice the ugliness of the car.
Esteemed readers who have choice words to share with me with regards to my selection of less than pretty cars can write in to email@example.com. Don’t expect replies.