Europe's Ugliest Cars
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Europe's Ugliest Cars

Europe's ugliest cars. Britain's ugliest cars. The BMW Isetta. The Citroen Diyane. The Citroen 2CV. The Lada 1200. The Messerschmitt KR200. The Morris Minor. The Peel P50. The Robin Reliant. The Volkswagen Beetle.

Living in the 21st century we are all used to the sleek lines and high technology which comes from the modern automobile.

However, as man's quest to save fuel, save money and save the planet increases, so too has the design of many of the modern cars we are now seeing upon our streets.

The hybrid and electric cars now becoming popular are not exactly known for their good looks and aesthetics.

Often very small in size and short and squat in shape few will be winning any prizes for their eye catching designs.

But if you think some of these cars are bad, maybe you'd like to take a look at some of the things our parents and grandparents were driving.

Although non of the cars from that day and age were considered good looking in todays sense of the word, most of these cars were considered the ugliest cars of their day, so lets go and check out what was gracing our highways and byways half a century or so ago, most of which are still considered some of the ugliest cars ever produced. 


The Isetta or Bubble Car as it became lovingly known, was the most successful microcar ever produced in post war Europe.

Built between 1956 - 1962 the tiny car was originally built in Italy before going on to be manufactured all over Europe.

With a top speed of 50 miles an hour, this three wheeler, built to take over from the motorcycle, could do a mean 63 miles to one gallon of petrol. 


                  2CV.                                            DIYANE.


French company Citroen produced this brute of a car for over 42 years from 1948 - 1990.

From an original design by Pierre - Jules Boulanger in 1950, and a revised edition by designer Flaminio Berloni in 1970, Citroen went on to sell 8.7 million of these economy cars world wide.

Their model the Diyane was manufactured between 1967 - 1983 and was introduced to compete with their main rival Renault.

Classed as Citroen's Supermini, they would sell 1.4 million Diyanes before being outsold by the more stylish and economical Renault 4. leaving sales of both the Diyane and 2CV in decline. 


LADA 1200. 

Manufactured by the Russian company AutoVaz from 1970 for it's home market and from 1974 in Europe, the Lada was notorious for it's outdated technology, poor fuel economy and awful aesthetics, it became popular because of it's ruggedness - it was built like a tank - and it's low price.

The Lada went on to be one of Europe's most popular cars until it's decline in the mid 1980's when it's popularity was taken over by cheaper more aesthetically pleasing Japanese cars flooding the European market. 



This comical little car was designed by German aircraft designer Fritz Fend and manufactured at the aircraft factory of Messerscmitt in Regensburg, Germany between 1955 - 1964.

Based upon the design of an invalid carrige of all things, this economical little roadster sold over 40,000 models before it's decline in the mid 1960's and could be bought as standard or as a convertable model. 


         MORRIS 1000.                        MORRIS TRAVELLER.


Okay enough of what the rest of Europe was doing, now let's see what Britain was up to in the ugly car stakes.

Not wanting to be left out, the U.K manufactured the famous Morris Minor between 1948 - 1971.

Built from an original design by Sir Alec Issigonis, 1.6 million of these popular cars were manufactured at Morris's Cowley, Oxfordshire factory, which came in a saloon model, the iconic wooden trimmed traveller estate and a pickup.

The car gained world wide acclaim during it's 23 year lifespan, with it's last ever model rolling off the production line in Nelson, New Zealand. 



PEEL P50. 

An unusual car, designed and manufactured in an unusual place, the Peel P50 hailed from the Isle of Man and has the distinction of being the world's smallest ever car.Designed by Cyril Cannell and manufactured for just a year from 1963 - 1964, the car measured 54 inches long by 41 inches wide and weighed just 130 pounds.The car had no reverse gear, so had to be picked up and turned round, but you could get 100 miles from just one gallon of petrol. 

Only 50 of these models were sold at just £200.00.With about ten in existance today, they can now demand a price of upto £10.000.  

Built with only 1 door, 1 headlight and one windscreen wiper it's ironic to think that the slowest ever top speed of any car, 38mph, was manufactured in Europe's most imfamous region without a speed limit.  



Well no ugly car list would be complete without Britian's beloved three wheeled Robin Reliant.

Originally built both as a saloon and a van between 1973 - 1981 with a complete revamp between 1989 - 2001 complete with hi - tec fibreglass body, the Reliant Robin designed by Andy Plumb and manufactured in Tamwoth, Staffordshire, will go down in the annals of time as Britain's most joked about car. 

Classed as Britain's ultimate ' roller' and I don't mean that as a shortened version of the Rolls Royce, I mean it in the pure sense of the word that the car was reknowned for rolling if driven too fast and for it's front wheel coming off if driven over too much rough terrain. 

The butt of more jokes by the British people than any other single subject, the car would go on to be immortalised in the BBC's ' only fools and horses' series.



This cult classic, which is still being manufactured today - albeit as a much more hansome model - was originally designed by non other than Ferdinand Porsche, as his car for the people, in 1938.

Fondly known as the Bug, the car received a bad press when it first rolled off the production line, with car reveiwers hailing it a non starter.

Oh how wrong they were!

Averaging a million sales a year by the 1970's, the bug shaped car that could float on water, became the Hippie movement symbol of the 60's and saw over 21 million sales worldwide before this particular model's decline in 2003, hailing it one of the world's most popular cars.

Still in production by name, but no longer this design, the old version has been immortalised by way of the Walt Disney ' Herbie'  films.

                                                            OTHER AUTO ARTICLES BY THE SAME AUTHOR:



                                                                          © D.B.Bellamy.October, 2010.

Images courtesy of wikimedia commons, with special thanks to John Dalton ( Peel P50), Michael Tettinger ( Citroen 2CV), Lars - Goran Lingren ( Citroen Diyane) and Arpingstone ( Morris 1000).

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Comments (10)

Fantastic!!! But you've left out the one and only car I ever owned (I'm a non-driver today) the Austin Marina. It was imported to the US for two production years - 1974-75, and it was the ugliest and biggest lemon ever built. When I'd drive it downhill, cruising at 62 mph, the whole car would violently vibrate, then stall out. When it rained, the electrical system would shut down until the whole car dried off. Manual transmission, no air or heat, no radio, manual choke. I loved that car, if for no other reason than it had extraordinarily comfortable leather seats and was great for taking naps while the wires dried out. These others are nice, too. Voted - loved these.

Ranked #6 in Automobile History

Hi Ileen, ha, ha,the worst ones are always the best ones! Known as the Morris Marina here in the Uk I'm afraid to say that your lemon was considered one of the UK's better cars in it's day, but with the above as comparisons that's not saying much.

Ranked #8 in Automobile History

Great article. I think the worst one here is the half-timbered Morris Traveller.

Ranked #6 in Automobile History

I think the worst thing about this article is that I can remember seeing every one of these cars !

The Volkswagen Beetle is a classic car here, it is still running around the city and they have the "beetle association" here. Nice work Dee.

Very entertaining! These cars are ugly, but on the other hand so was my '85 tan Jimmy.

Ranked #6 in Automobile History

I don't know what a Jimmy is Kathleen, we,ve had a good laugh about that one this morning, you don't want to know what that means in English slang !

for me the beetle is cute, i have no plan of buying one though

Ha, ha, sorry about that, DeeBee! A Jimmy is a jeep, it's probably not what you're thinking!

V.W. Bush

Nooo, there are so many cute cars on this list!