Britain’s ugliest cars – from the melted hearse to the plastic pig

Britain’s ugliest cars – from the melted hearse to the plastic pig
Britain’s ugliest cars – from the melted hearse to the plastic pig

Car design is a subjective thing. The Lamborghini Miura has been splitting opinions for decades and for every person who loves the VW Beetle there’s another that thinks it’s a bubbly abomination.

However, there are some models we can almost all agree are downright hideous and should be consigned to the scrapheap.

Cars like the SsangYong Rodius, which was once described by a reviewer as looking like a melted hearse and, memorably turned into a “luxury” yacht by James May on Top Gear.

Yet, despite its looks, there are more than 3,500 Rodiuses still on British roads showing that there must be someone who still loves it. And it’s not the only wheeled horror that still has a place in the hearts of UK motorists.

To celebrate such motoring monstrosities, car comparison site Motorway.co.uk has come up with a list of the country’s 20 ugliest cars and found out how many of each are still on the go.

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Still on the road: 7,064
Aiming for 1930s gangster chic and hitting deformed London taxi, the PT Cruiser was definitely an opinion splitter. For some reason Chrysler thought making a convertible version would help. They were wrong.

SsangYong Rodius

Still on the road: 3,625
Not much of a looker from the front, the Rodius’ biggest offense to the eyes comes at the back, where it looks like two teams of designers submitted separate plans and the engineers simply stuck them both together.

Vauxhall Frontera

Still on the road: 3,433
One of the less offensive models on this list, the Frontera came along before we were ready to get fully on board with SUVs and looks oh-so-90s with its plastic bull bars and removable rear roof section.

Reliant Robin

(Picture: Alex Livesey /Allsport/Getty)

Still on the road: 1,280
Christened the Plastic Pig due to its fibreglass body and appalling road manners, the Robin has been the butt of automotive jokes for decades. Despite that, it was, amazingly, still being built until the turn of the millennium.

Nissan Cube

Still on the road: 1,026
Nissan’s attempt at a quirky mini MPV might have fitted in in its native Japan where kei cars are big business. But its boxy shape, weird asymmetrical styling and difficult front end meant it never caught on in the UK.

Triumph TR7

Still on the road: 1,001
British Leyland’s follow up to the classically style TR6, the TR7 was clearly a product of the 1970s. Its wedge-shaped design was penned by Harris Mann, who also created the even uglier Austin Princess and Allegro, and its fairly clean lines were ruined by giant rubber bumpers and ungainly pop-up headlights.

Rover CityRover

Still on the road: 943
Brought to Britain during Rover’s death throes, the CityRover was a rebadged Tata, shipped in from India and with a new badge and bumpers slapped on it. Top Gear magazine placed it second on a list of the worst 20 cars of the last 20 years, beaten only by…

Perodua Kenari

Still on the road: 653
Top Gear’s worst car of the last 20 years, the Kenari was based on the Daihatsu Move and was, simply, grotesque. Powered by a 54bhp 1.0-litre engine it was launched in 2000 and produced for almost a decade. In that time it was facelifted, but that didn’t improve things.

Morris Marina

(Picture: Vauxford – Wikipedia)

Still on the road: 328
Another Top Gear whipping boy, the Marina was a big seller in the UK in the 1970s but has largely succumbed to rust and TG’s passion for crashing them. According to journalists past and present the uninspiring design perfectly reflects the car’s driving experience.

Reva G Wiz

Still on the road: 294
Not technically a car but a quadricycle, meaning you can “drive” it on a motorbike CBT licence. The G Wiz was a basic electric car built in India and roundly criticised at the time for being slow, badly built and so unsafe that Auto Express described it as a “rolling coffin”.

Suzuki X-90

Still on the road: 211
Like the Frontera, the X90 can be viewed as ahead of its time, paving the way for the inexplicably popular compact crossovers now crowding our roads. It was tiny, plasticky, ugly and short-lived but also ahead of its time due to its SUV styling but urban friendly size and running gear.

Austin Allegro

Still on the road: 198
The Allegro is regularly referred to, possibly unfairly, as the worst car ever built. It is certainly not a pretty thing, which is a shame because Harris Mann’s original design was a sleek handsome coupe. Compromises and cost pressures at British Leyland put paid to those plans and left us with the now infamous Allegro.

Renault Avantime

Still on the road: 196
One of Renault’s “bold” designs from the early 2000s, the Avantime was based on the Espace people carrier and supposed to be a grand tourer combining the space of an estate with the styling of a 2+2 coupe. Thierry Metroz, design project manager, said, “We wanted someone walking around the car to be continually astonished.” Job done!

Lancia Beta

Still on the road: 124
The Beta was built in various bodystyles from four-door saloon to two-door targa-topped coupe and even a three-door estate. Some, like the early coupes, were better looking than others but at its worst the Beta was an angular, miserable looking rust-magnet.

Lada Riva

Still on the road: 49
The Riva was based on the Fiat 124 which was actually quite a pretty car. Being modified and built under licence in Soviet Russian did its looks and reputation no favours and the car was a running joke throughout the 1990s.

Zastava Yugo

Still on the road: 19
The Yugo, like the Riva, was the product of the Soviet Union taking a half-decent Fiat (the 127 in this case) and dragging it ever downwards. Cheap, nasty and with a face only a mother could love the Yugo somehow saw nearly 800,000 models sold and was still being built until 2008.

Rover 800

Still on the road: 18
In our opinion the 800 is an unfair entry on this list. The later high-spec fastbacks in particular have a certain barge-like charm to them but there’s no denying the early saloons, developed as a joint project with Honda were the ugly side of plain.

FSO Polonez

Still on the road: 5
Grand Tour motormouth Jeremy Clarkson described the FSO Polonez as “a truly awful car”, adding that: “It wasn’t a car at all; it was a box under which the car buyer would find a 1940s tractor”. Not surprisingly, with such a withering review, there are only five still registered with the DVLA.

Skoda Estelle

Still on the road: 3
A model from the days before Skoda was rescued by VW and became a motoring powerhouse. The rear-engine, rear-drive Estelle started life in the 1970s and went through various facelifts in its 15-year life. Whether or not they were an improvement is a matter of personal taste.

Renault Alliance

(Picture: By RenaultJim – Wikipedia)

Still on the road: 1
Not actually sold in the UK, at least one model of Renualt’s small saloons has made its way here. Sold only in the United States, the Alliance was a reworked Renault 9, itself hardly a looker. Despite positive reviews it failed to engage the American public, possibly partly due to its miserable appearance.

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