Car Buffs Should Be Able to Name These Ugly Cars From the ’80s. Can You?


By: Ian Fortey

7 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons by Sjoerd95

About This Quiz

Not every car is going to be a beauty pageant winner, that's a given. Some people are going to love the look of the PT Cruiser and others are going to despise it. The era a car is built in really changes the style and design elements used in it, but you have to admit, the style and design of the 1980s was particularly atrocious. It's not a matter of judging the past either, because we can look at cars of the '50s and '60s and really be impressed with the way they looked. But there's just something about that decade of the '80s that lent itself to boxy, bulging, lumpy little cars. Whether it's the Chevette or the Cavalier from Chevy, the EXP and the Durango from Ford, or the endless train of weird European imports like the Renault Fuego, the Lada Riva, and the forever infamous Yugo, it was a decade marked by visual mayhem. 

Sure, some of the ugliest cars in history were still good cars. They handled well; they lasted a long time; they got the job done. And we like to think looks aren't everything. But when it comes to cars they have to account for something, right? Let's see how many of these horrendous '80s cars you remember.

Which model gets its name from a 1920s coachbuilder?

Chrysler has been making LeBarons for years with some pretty classy models in the '40s. They started going downhill, however, and the second generation LeBarons made in 1982 were clunky, front-wheel drive K cars that were unappealing and often came with wood side panels.


Which car was accused of being prone to rollovers by the Consumers Union in 1988?

Though they were first made in the 1970s, the North America Suzuki Samurai came out in the 1986 model year. The Consumers Union wrote that they were dangerous and could roll over, for which Suzuki sued them. The case ended in an inconclusive settlement that saw both sides standing by their position.


Do you know which of these cars had designer versions by Givenchy, Cartier and others?

The Lincoln Mark VI was a shrunken down version of other Lincoln Continentals that threw the car's proportions off and made it less appealing to some buyers than previous editions. Even the more upscale designer editions had issues like the Bill Blass version that was two-tone black and cream.


Do you know which car was basically a Ford Escort?

The Mercury Lynx was released in 1981 and was based on the Ford Escort but somewhat more expensive. Boxy and squat and front-wheel drive as well, it was an all-around less attractive Escort, which already wasn't a good-looking car. The Lynx was ended three years before the Escort.


The second generation of which vehicle debuted in 1980?

Sevilles started life as a trim package on the Cadillac Eldorado in the '50s. By the '70s, it was its own model, and then in 1980, they debuted generation two, and it was a doozy. A luxury-branded K-car, it was small and had a very weird, sloped rear that made it look almost saggy.


In Japan, which of these cars was the Suzuki Cultus?

The Geo Metro was introduced in 1989 as a subcompact, fuel-efficient car. It quickly became the butt of jokes due to its poor power and performance. Even "The Simpsons" has poked fun at the Geo Metro for being Ned Flanders' car. In one episode, he tries to escape Homer, and when his wife tells him to go faster, he says, "I can't! It's a Geo!"


Stretching a LeBaron will give you which of these cars?

In 1983 Chrysler introduced the Executive Limousine, a stretched K Car. It proved to be immensely unpopular, and only 1,700 of them were ever made. The difference between this car and a normal LeBaron seemed to be a center console that controlled heat and air for the back seats, plus a higher price tag.


Brake problems caused many of which of these cars to be recalled?

Oldsmobile had been making the Omega since the 1970s, but it was the third generation introduced in 1980 when things went a little wonky. Aside from serious government-mandated recalls due to faulty brakes, it was also uninspired and drab with a split-looking front end and a poor-performing engine.


Even though it was never called one at the time, which of these was arguably one of the first crossover vehicles ever?

The AMC Eagle 4x4 was a four-wheel-drive station wagon, which is weird, right? But even though it handled well and was a comfortable ride, not to mention the only four-wheel-drive passenger car in the U.S. at the time, it looked atrocious, and most models came with faux-wood trim to round out the experience.


Which of these was the slowest car sold in the United States?

With a max speed of 86 miles per hour, the Yugo 55 was actually an improvement on the Yugo 45, and it was still the slowest car in the country. That gave people plenty of time to appreciate how awful it looked as it struggled to drive by.


Which model was built to race in Nascar?

The 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 had a massive rear window, a tiny spoiler, and sported the nickname "The Whale" for its large rear end. Looks aside, it also wasn't making a great impression on the racing circuit.


Which car had a long run from 1982 until 2005?

There was something indefinably awkward about an early '80s Chevy Cavalier. The front end looked like it belonged on a bigger car, and the fact they were notoriously unreliable didn't help their image, either. Despite all that, they sure made them for a long time.


Which of these was its manufacturer's first front-wheel-drive vehicle?

The Chevy Citation was introduced for the 1980 production year, built on Chevy's compact X-platform. Though it sold reasonably well at first, there was never much appreciation for its squat and unappealing form with a lumpy rear end.


Do you know which car was made from 1985 until 2000?

The Hyundai Excel was about as forgettable as a car could get. It was plain and formless and functional, but little else. There was no style put into it, the result of which was just a drab and dismal car. That said, thanks to a remarkably low price, it became immensely popular and sold over 162,000 units in the US in its first year.


Do you know which of these cars started life in the '60s as a muscle car?

Once upon a time, the Dodge Charger was a big, bold automobile. It was even the car the Dukes of Hazzard used to drive. Then came the '80s and the 5th generation of the Charger, especially the final model year in 1987. The '87 Shelby Edition was a two-tone hatchback mistake of a car.


Do you know which car is also called an Estelle?

The Skoda Estelle was marketed from the late 1970s until 1990. In 1984 they introduced the Skoda 130, and it was widely sold across Europe. Despite numerous jokes about its poor handling and reliability, it was still quite popular for a time though its 1960s technology made it fade to irrelevance by the late '80s.


Which of these cars was designed to compete with BMW and Audi?

Cadillac has long been known for luxury, so the Cimmaron, their bare-bones car, was a surprise. More surprising was the fact this was almost exactly the same as a Chevy Cavalier, just vastly more expensive. To this day, it's considered by many to be the worst Cadillac ever made.


Do you know which car was renowned for its terrible emissions?

East Germany had been making Trabants since the 1950s, and they all became essentially useless in 1989. Coincidentally, 1989 was the year the Trabant P1100 was released. As the Berlin Wall fell, many citizens of East Germany needed government permission to drive their Tarabants into countries like Hungary and Germany because they produced four times as much pollution as the European average.


Which of these was the best-selling coupe in Europe in 1980?

Even the hubcaps that came standard with the Renault Fuego were ugly. Sold in Europe and North America, the Fuego was positioned as a sports car and seemed like a poor man's Mustang with only half the effort put into the design.


Magnum P.I. drove a version of which of these cars?

Magnum drove a Ferrari 308 GTB, which showed up in the mid-'70s. The quattrovalvole arrived in the early '80s, and for a Ferrari, this wasn't a good looking car. Some people liked it just like some people liked the Yugo. A wedge front, many louvered sections, and an ugly rear made this the bottom of the Ferrari heap.


This was not a Chevy El Camino even if it looked like one. What is it?

The Ford Ranchero was a competitor for the El Camino, but it ended production in 1979 and was then followed by the Durango. The Durango was made with a flatbed in the back but a scaled-back frame compared to the Ranchero. It's believed less than 300 of them were ever produced, which is for the best.


Do you know which of these is a modified Pontiac Fiero?

If the Pontiac Fero was an ugly car, and it was, then the Zimmer Quicksilver had no chance for success. Made by Zimmer Motorcars Corporation, the Quicksilver was a Fiero that looked like it had dental work with a pointy front grille applied to it.


Which of these was also known as the Plymouth Scamp?

The Dodge Rampage was the Dodge version of the equally divisive Chevy El Camino and Ford Durango. A cross between a car and a pick-up truck, it was just a station wagon with the rear roof removed. It was only available from 1982 until 1984.


Which of these was the first mid-engine sports car designed by a US manufacturer?

The Pontiac Fiero was a really good car that performed well, but man, just look at it. Like a Mazda that got thrown down the stairs with side-scoops that looked like they came off an aftermarket "Transformers" model, it made all the wrong design choices.


Vortex was the name for which of these cars in Australia?

If you can believe it, the Subaru XT was considered a stylish Subaru in 1985 when it arrived. Now we can look back and wonder why it appears to be a doorstop with a dramatic, wedge-shaped front end and a blocky rear.


"Time" called which of these the worst car of 1984?

It wasn't just that the Maserati Biturbo was an ugly car; it was also a really bad car. It was notorious for overheating in catastrophic ways, had awful problems with corrosion, and many internal components had very short lifespans.


Do you know which of these had a bubbleback hatch?

The Ford EXP was designed like a European sport coupe, or it was at least inspired by them. Some models had a giant bubbleback hatch and blackout taillights as well as curiously rased headlights. It was also the first two-seat Ford developed since the 1957 Thunderbird.


Only 221 of which of these cars were ever sold?

Like the Biturbo, the Maserati Karif was plagued with engine issues because it used the same awful engine that didn't work in the other model. Also, like the Biturbo, the design of the Karif was just awkward to look at with weird angles and a squashed grille.


Which of these was the last car produced by its manufacturer in Europe?

The Morris Ital was made from 1981 to 1984, after which Morris' name wasn't found on any cars again. In 2008 the Ital was ranked the second-worst British car ever made by a poll in "The Sun" paper thanks to inferior technology, its dated look even by 1980s standards, and all-around unreliability.


Do you know which car is still in production having started its run in 1984?

The Subaru Justy today looks weird but very little like the Subaru Justy of 1984. "The Washington Post" described the '84 Justy as a drop-nosed, hump-back vehicle and just straight up called it ugly in the headline for their review. But they went on to sing the praises of what a good car it was, aside from the appearance.


Rust was a serious problem for which of these cars?

Chevy actually introduced the Chevette in the mid-1970s, but by 1982, they were becoming legendary for their awfulness. In that year, they offered the lower cost Scooter version hatchback, and you can still find stories online to this day of people peeling up the floor mats to watch the road through the rust holes in the bottom.


Delivery vans inspired the look of which of these?

The Nissan S-Cargo has been described as post-modern by some, and it's easy to see why. The name is an intentional "escargot" joke since it does look something like a snail. Only 8,000 were made between 1989 and 1992.


Even though it didn't use the name, which of these cars was basically a Honda?

The Acclaim was the final car made by Triumph and was almost entirely a Honda that was assembled in the UK. Triumph had been known for sleeker, wedge-shaped European styling, so a squared-off Honda clone was a great departure for the company.


Two car companies collaborated to make which of these vehicles?

Arna stands for "Alfa Romeo Nissan Autoveicoli" and was a joint venture between Nissan and Alfa Romeo. Unfortunately, Nissan was known for making ugly cars in 1983, and Alfa Romeo made unreliable cars, so they just merged those two terrible qualities into this one.


One hundred-five of these cars were made between 1987 and 1990. What is it?

People had been making fun of the Aston Martin Lagonda since the '70s, but the 4th series in 1987 redesigned the wedge-shaped front end to be somehow tiny and boxy with triple headlights at the end of a massive hood. Not a good look, overall.


Three wheels were the defining characteristic of which of these cars?

The Reliant Robin looked like a joke of a car and was actually well-known by the nickname of "plastic pig" for the fiberglass frame that does, in fact, look like a pig from the front. Word is the car was popular not for style or function but because you could drive it with just a motorcycle license.


Once upon a time, which of these was a Porsche?

Tuning company Gemballa takes Porsches and adds aftermarket parts to modify them into new-ish cars. The mid-'80s Gemballa Avalanche was a Porsche 911 that looks like someone decked it out in anime armor. The performance may have been top-notch, but the bulky snap-on parts looked 100% like extras that someone just added to a regular car.


Over 13 million of which of these have been sold?

The Lada Riva was a Russian-made car at a time when there weren't many vehicles coming out of the Soviet Union. The result was a very intense lack of choice. The Riva was, therefore, amazingly popular and also renowned for being rather poor quality and ugly as sin.


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