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20 Ugliest Sports Cars That True Auto Fans Never Drive

Cameron EittreimDecember 13, 2021

The sports car segment is one of the most highly desired segments in the automotive industry. Drivers who enjoy a fun, speedy experience and personality in their rides have always sought these cars out from the pack. The sports car has evolved a lot over the past several decades from the early days of the muscle car era. However, that doesn’t mean that some automakers haven’t produced some of the ugliest sports cars around during that time.

Several sports cars missed the mark in many areas, including performance and styling. If a car ends up ranked among the ugliest sports cars, it’s usually an inclination of a deeper problem with the design. These cars end up universally panned and written off by true auto fans. We looked back at some of the ugliest sports cars to hit the road and why drivers avoid them.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

20: Pontiac Fiero

The venerable Fiero was a General Motors effort to reinvent the sports car. As a company that relied on big V8 engines in a previous life, the automotive industry was forcing them to adapt. High gas prices and tougher emissions regulations meant automakers had to get creative and squeeze more power and performance out of a smaller engine. The Fiero went with a mid-engined design much like the Toyota MR2 (via Auto Trends).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The result was a car that drove surprisingly well, but in reality, fell short in a few crucial departments. Styling of the original Fiero was questionable at best and overtly blocky, to say the least. The car was also minuscule compared to most other cars on the road. The interior was also a far cry from other sports cars on the market. The car came out during a period of cheap GM interior design that had flimsy plastic and cheap fabrics.

Toyota MR2 (SW20)
Photo Credit: Street Mag

19: Toyota MR2

The Fiero isn’t alone in the debacle of mid-engined cars that turned out ugly. The ’80s MR2 was also a travesty on wheels. The car bore a striking resemblance to the Fiero and it’s a hard question as to who copied who. The MR2 had the legendary reliability and driving reputation of Toyota behind it but that was about it. The car wasn’t particularly impressive when you took it out for a drive. The buzzing engine and lack of off-the-line performance made it more of a novelty car than anything (via Auto Evolution).

Toyota MR2
Photo Credit: Motor Trend

Cargo space was also limited. The car was a two-seater that threw practicality out the window. The MR2 did a lot of things right and the premise was great. But when it came to design, it wasn’t functional enough. The MR2 went through many generations and gained a solid fan base. But the original styling of the car was a travesty and the quintessential over-stylized look of the ’80s.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

18: Audi Quattro

Before Audi was the creator of exclusive luxury cars and SUVs that you’ll find at the country club, the brand focused on rally performance. Audi was a major force in the worldwide rally scene and their vehicles were notoriously well-rounded. One of the most well-respected rally cars in the world is the Audi Quattro. While the performance of this hatchback is excellent, its styling was downright ugly (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

A boxy shape is the first thing you’ll notice about the Quattro. The styling is about as boxy and bland as you can get. The Quattro can often be mistaken for many other hatchbacks sold during this era. Sure, the Quattro was a dominant force in the world rally scene of the 1980s, but it was downright ugly. Audi would tweak the styling as time went on, but it wasn’t enough to save the car from that awful boxy look.

Photo Credit: GM

17: Fourth Generation Chevrolet Camaro

The fourth-gen Camaro is generally considered the first “modern” muscle car. Yet that doesn’t mean the Camaro wasn’t ugly, because it was. The elongated body is the first thing you notice about this generation of the Camaro. A long swoop nose only adds to the weirdness of the exterior styling. The car was by far one of the widest sports cars on the market at the time, and much larger than the outgoing Camaro (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: GM

Critics also panned the interior for having cheap materials and overall flimsy build quality. What the fourth generation Camaro did have going for it was the Corvette engine under the hood. But when it comes to styling the fourth generation, Camaro is about as ugly as you can get. The style doesn’t get any better with age, as there are much better-looking sports cars from this era.

Photo Credit: Jay Leno’s Garage

16: Pontiac Firebird

Another sports car that suffered from the lackluster design of the fourth generation F-Bodies was the Firebird. In some ways, the Firebird was uglier than the Camaro with which it shared a platform. The Firebird had an unorthodox design, to say the least. The curvaceous exterior didn’t mesh with everyone. Many automotive critics thought the exterior styling of the Firebird was a bit too extreme (via Classic).

Photo Credit: Jay Leno’s Garage

Particularly when you got up to the WS6 or Formula packages, there would be added ground effects and even a wing. On most cars, this would add a sense of style, but on the Firebird it was way over the top. GM didn’t do enough to give the Firebird a unique look, instead, the car was cartoonish mixed with a boy racer. The final generation of the Pontiac Firebird is by far one of the ugliest sports cars around.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

15: Chrysler Crossfire

On paper, the Crossfire seems like a great idea. Take Mercedes Benz engineering and give it a blue-collar appeal with a Chrysler badge. The Crossfire could have been a hit, as it shares a platform with the ever-popular SLK-320 roadster from Mercedes. But the design of the car was questionable at best, with some wondering what Chrysler was thinking. Take one look at the Crossfire, and you know that you aren’t looking at a normal sports car. The humpback design of the Crossfire was controversial at best (via Motor Biscuit).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

Take the convertible version of the car, and you are just asking for trouble. The styling was by far one of the worst aspects of the Crossfire. Heck, the spoiler wasn’t even visible unless you were driving 40 MPH, at which point it would rise. These questionable design decisions made most drivers steer clear of the Crossfire. The sales were minuscule at best, and the car has become a flop in automotive history.

Photo Credit: Hot Rod

14: Plymouth Prowler

The infamous Prowler was not only a letdown mechanically, but also style-wise. The concept of the Prowler appeared years before in the auto show circuit. Consumer response was promising, so Chrysler greenlit its production. Unfortunately, the Prowler was lacking just about everything you’d expect from a hot rod-style roadster. There was no V8 engine under the hood; instead, the engine was pulled from the Dodge Intrepid sedan. The styling is about as confusing as can be with arching wheel wells and a bubble back (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

In the interior of the Prowler, the parts bin continues, as you’ll find more parts out of the Chrysler passenger cars. The Prowler was supposed to usher in a new era for the Plymouth brand, but Chrysler pulled the plug by 2001. The Prowler was more of a halo car than anything and sales never amounted to much. Yet the car has become popular in recent years with a solid and dedicated following.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

13: Chevrolet SSR

If there is one thing that GM is good at, it’s taking a good idea and ruining it. The SSR had a simple premise, bring back the El Camino as a modern muscle car. The idea should have worked flawlessly until the SSR came to fruition. Let’s talk about the hideous styling of the car first. The front fascia is rounded off and looks more like a VW New Beetle than anything. The back portion of the car is shaped like a truck bed, but a tonneau cover prevents the driver from hauling any serious cargo (via Motorious).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

The interior is borrowed from the other GM vehicles of this same period. The engine is shared with the Corvette and offered some decent power. But for the high asking price of the SSR, consumers couldn’t justify the cost. The SSR would soldier on for a few years but never achieved sales success. GM signed the death knell for the SSR after the 2008 recession, where people were looking for economy cars.

Photo Credit: Scion

12: Scion TC Second Generation

By the time the revamped TC was released, the Scion brand had lost the unique reputation it developed in the early 2000s. What was once a groundbreaking automotive brand was just another corner of the Toyota dealership. The TC didn’t have anything unique to make it stand out from the crowd (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Scion

The performance of the TC wasn’t amazing, in many ways it was just a lesser Honda Civic SI. By this point in time, the Scion brand had lost the originality that originally made it unique. Toyota didn’t keep the momentum of the brand going, and the cars became unimaginative and bland. This generation of the TC might be a fun commuter car, but that’s about it. As a sports car, the next incarnation of the TC just didn’t cut the mustard.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

11: Dodge Daytona

To say the Chrysler portfolio of cars was large in the 1990s would be an understatement. Each brand had dozens of badge-engineered cars sold under each marquee during this period. If you saw a Dodge Shadow, you could easily mistake it for a Plymouth Sundance, etc. The folks at Chrysler felt that flooding the market with similar models was a smart business choice. The Daytona was one of these car models that fell in between a plethora of other choices at the Dodge dealership (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Dodge

It was on the heels of the Dodge Stealth being released and slotted above the Plymouth Laser. The styling of the Daytona was not like the name implies and sedate if anything. The boxy styling of the Daytona was stuck somewhere in the 1980s. Cars were moving onto an evolved style, and this sports car was stuck in the past. The performance was also very lethargic as there were better performing models at the time.

Photo Credit: Ford

10: Ford Probe

They say if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Ford decided to try and “fix” the Mustang in the 1980s. The answer was to release the Ford Probe as a lighter and more fuel efficient sports car. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well with consumers, and the Probe was quickly sold alongside the Mustang. The styling of the first generation probe was questionable at best with a boxy rear end and flip up headlights on the front of the car (via Car and Driver).

Photo Credit: Car Domain

To think the Probe was going to replace the Mustang is an absurd thought. But Ford figured consumer tastes were changing. The original Probe is downright ugly, and the styling just doesn’t get better with age. These cars seemingly sold decently at first, but by the mid-1990s, the Probe was worn out and eventually production ceased. The Probe will definitely go down in history as one of the ugliest Ford sports cars ever.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

9: Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais

General Motors invested over a billion dollars in the N-Platform cars of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The problem is that the investment didn’t pan out, and the N-Platform was one of the slowest selling vehicle lines for GM. The Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais Quad 442 is perhaps one of the most notoriously bad cars to come out of this platform. Released to try and take advantage of the historic 442 nameplate, the end result wasn’t pretty (via GM Authority).

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The engine lacked real horsepower and the driving characteristics of the car were lackluster. Coupled with the cheap interior and exterior, you had a myriad of problems that ensued. The Cutlass Calais will undoubtedly be one of the worst GM cars of the 1990s. But even worse was when the company tried to market this terrible car as a sports car. Surprisingly enough, the Cutlass Calais has seemingly peaked in value lately.

Lotus Elan (M100)
Photo Credit: Lotus

8: Lotus Elan

Sold in the same ranks as the elite British sports cars that came before it, there was a lot of potential for the Elan. The main problem laid with the styling of the car. It was bland and awkward simultaneously, sort of like the designers didn’t know what direction to go in. The 1.6L turbocharged engine pushed 162hp, which isn’t considerable by performance standards (via Motor Trend).

Lotus Elan (M100)
Photo Credit: Lotus

The styling of the Elan was the worst part of the car and it turned a lot of drivers off. It was during this period that Lotus had trouble gaining market share. With a car that looked like the Elan, it’s easy to see why. The unimaginative design had to go up against cars that were much cheaper and offered more personality. Why go out and sport an Elan when you could get a Miata that is twice as fun?

Photo Credit: Mazda

7: Mazda MX-3

Mazda had a string of unique sports cars that at least went the half mile. The MX-3 is one of these cars that was unique for its time but fell flat. The styling was a mixture of unique and ugly simultaneously. Mazda was attempting to make hatchbacks fun again, and the MX-3 was part of this philosophy. This would also be one of the first cars to move away from the traditionally boxy design of the 1980s (via Honest John).

Photo Credit: Mazda

The performance of the MX-3 wasn’t anything amazing, and the dimensions of the car were downright cramped, to say the least. But at least Mazda tried to bring something different to the table. The Mazda MX-3 will definitely be one of the ugliest and unique sports cars to come out of this decade. You’ll seldom see one rolling down the street anymore nowadays.

Photo Credit: Ford

6: Ford Mustang

The SN95 Mustang was released after the Fox body too much fanfare. The styling of the Mustang was not orthodox in any shape or form. The model included a 5.0 variant early on, but it was discontinued toward the mid-1990s. Criticism panned the styling for not being muscular enough or fitting in line with the general Mustang profile. But Ford was experimenting with oval designs during this period (via LMR).

Photo Credit: Ford

That’s not to say the SN-95 wasn’t a popular version of the Mustang as it sold well. But the traditionalists didn’t like the bland styling of this Mustang generation. Even with the Cobra package, the SN95 wasn’t particularly aggressive looking. Sports cars have advanced a lot over the past few decades, but the SN95 was perhaps the slowest succession.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

5: Hyundai Scoupe

Hyundai is now one of the most popular automakers in the world. But there was a time when the brand was still a novelty in America. The automaker had a notorious failure with the Excel compact car in the early 1990s, but that didn’t stop the company from launching a sports car. The Scoupe was a boxy early 1990s sports car that didn’t offer much in terms of performance (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Hyundai

Hyundai enthusiasts are quick to point out that this was an early attempt from the company. The Scoupe was refreshed later in its life cycle, but at that point the sales had been minuscule. At this point in time, the market for sport coupes was dwindling. Toyota was on the verge of discontinuing a few models, as were other automakers.

Hyundai Tiburon
Photo Credit: Hyundai

4: Hyundai Tiburon

The first generation of the Tiburon was a vast improvement over the Scoupe it replaced. A new design and a more performance were the two notable things that separated the Tiburon from the outgoing model. The styling was another story altogether, and it had a bit of an extremity. The Tiburon had an extremely curvaceous exterior design, which was ahead of its time in many ways (via Motor Trend).

Photo Credit: Hyundai

The car was certainly more than just a cheap-looking Hyundai two-door from the outward appearance. But the styling was sadly ugly, especially the bug-eyed headlights. There’ve been many opinions about the Tiburon over the years, but the general consensus is that the car was downright ugly.

Photo Credit: Subaru

3: Subaru SVX

The Subaru SVX is one of the most forgotten and legendary sports cars that came out of Subaru. The performance of the SVX was surprisingly fast for the time, and the design of the car was ahead of the curve. But when it came to the styling of the SVX, it was downright hideous. The sloped window design along the sides of the SVX made it look strange for the time period (via Hagerty).

Photo Credit: Subaru

You had competition from Lexus and Nissan but the SVX was in a league of its own. If it wasn’t for the styling, the SVX would have been much more popular during this time. Subaru would release a sports car years later with the BRZ. But it’s the SVX, the original sports car with a Subaru badge.

Photo Credit: Car Domain

2: Nissan 200SX

Nissan made history with the Z sports car, but there were a few other models that the company released. The 200SX was also another sports car released by Nissan in the 1980s. The boxy shape of the 200SX was the first thing to make it one of the ugliest sports cars of this time period. The performance wasn’t that impressive either, although the car did have decent off-the-line times (via Auto Review).

Photo Credit: Nissan

The interior was extremely boxy, with Nissan going a bit overboard on the square factor. The 200SX is fondly remembered for its boxy styling and radical interior shape. But when it comes down to it, although the 200SX was an ugly car, it did perform decently. Sadly, though, most automotive fans try to steer clear of this ugly two-door.

Photo Credit: Nintendo

1: Nissan NX2000

Much like Mazda had attempted with the MX-3, Nissan was trying to make the hatchback segment sporty. The automotive press lauded the NX2000 for its notable performance at the time. The exterior styling of the NX2000 was similar to the Mazda MX-3, in that it was a hatchback with rounded styling. But that’s where the similarities ended, because the Nissan had a horrific looking front fascia (via Car Gurus).

Photo Credit: Nintendo

The NX2000 could have been so much more if Nissan had put more effort into the exterior of the car. Between the similarities with the Mazda and the hideous front styling, the NX2000 just didn’t catch on with consumers. Not to mention that hatchback models were unpopular at this point in time as consumer tastes had switched.

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