Concept cars are some of the most impressive creations you'll ever see. They're made to impress critics, gain buzz, and of course, have people drooling over the future of automotive design. Concept cars are a perfect marketing vehicle because of that "wow" element they have. (Pun intended!)
Most of the time, car designers use concept cars to impress audiences with high-tech features or work to create some of the most futuristic concept cars possible. Gearheads often can name one or two concept cars they'd like to see in production simply because they are so unique, beautiful, and awesome to look at.
As great as most are, some just miss the target for one reason or another and never get put into development. Others end up being impressively ugly and flop so badly, they even make a dent in the car manufacturer's brand.
If you've ever thought that you have seen an ugly car, think again. The ones on the road are beauty queens compared to the bad concept makes that have shown up at shows in the past. Seriously.
Some concept vehicles are so ugly, it's kind of shocking. Here are some of the ugliest concept cars to hit car shows—and why they were such eyesores.
The Packard 12
Most gearheads may recognize the Packard name pretty easily. This is one of the few car brands that car fans wish would come back. Believe it or not, in the late 90s, Packard did try to make a comeback.
The Packard 12 was the first car design that Packard released in almost 40 years. It's also one of the ugliest concept cars of the 90s for obvious reason.
The damned thing literally looks like it's leering at you. If cars could look like the sleazy pervert in a Hawaiian shirt trying to pick up girls, it'd look like a Packard 12.
The Honda Fuya-Jo
Ah, the Honda Fuya-Jo. This is a car design that's proof that car manufacturers don't always know their target demographic. The Fuya-Jo was so off-point, it's literally infamous for being a complete disaster of a concept.
"Fuya-Jo" loosely translates into "Sleepless City," and this concept was designed for people who enjoyed Tokyo's nightlife. The reason it was designed like this was that they wanted people to be able to get up and dance inside the car.
Honda did not take into account that clubkids wouldn't want to dance in a car, nor be caught dead in something that looks like an overgrown vacuum cleaner. All things considered, this was a laughably bad pitch at looking young and hip and remains one of the ugliest concept cars in history.
The Honda Unibox
Yes, that's a car.
Honda was not at its best place in car design during the late 90s and they even got a bit of a bad rap for making some of the ugliest concept cars during this time. The Honda Unibox was a prime example of how poor design can be.
First off, this car looks like a fucking toaster. Second of all, it's made of transparent plastic—so if you like having sex in your car or are trying to avoid having people see that you have an iPad in your car while you're shopping, you will hate this car.
Yep, form and function, all done in epic fail mode.
The Tang Hua Detroit Fish
Tang Hua is an obscure car brand that never really made it, primarily because they made these kinds of design disasters. Of all their car debacles, this one had to be one of the ugliest concept cars they made—or at least, one of the most ugly-cute.
Awkwardly named as the "Detroit Fish," this car-boat hybrid was one of the crappiest designs of last decade. There's really no way to salvage this mess.
This car looks like it belongs in Whoville, and kinda resembles Kuchi Kopi from Bob's Burgers. Assuming that drivers don't want to be caught dead in a lumpy creature with wheels, Tang Hua is going to remain pretty obscure.
The Chrysler Voyager III Concept
If you thought that minivans and SUVs couldn't get any bigger, let me introduce you to one of the ugliest concept cars of the early 1990s. The Chrysler Voyager III was a six-wheeled monstrosity that was basically a bus trying to pretend it's small enough to be an SUV.
Its awkward design made it look like someone glued together two large family vans from a very cheap manufacturer. The worst part isn't even the fact that it's so large and unwieldy. The absolute worst part of this design is that it looks ready to snap in half at any moment.
The Pontiac GTO Revival Concept
As most people know, Pontiac was a great muscle car brand in the 80s but later evolved into one of the most terrible car brands that no longer exists. For a while, executives were thinking of trying to get more young drivers behind the Pontiac brand by reviving the Pontiac GTO name.
Old school Pontiac GTOs were some of the most powerful muscle cars of the 80s. The revived concept tried to add a more futuristic touch to the classic muscle car look, but failed miserably.
Instead of adding a futuristic look to a classic design, they turned this prototype into one of the ugliest concept cars in Pontiac history. The designers were trying harder than a 40-year-old man with a toupee in a nightclub.
The GTO was not revived. Hm. Wonder why...
The Nissan XIX
Did the guys at Nissan eat something bad that morning? We don't know. It's hard to imagine that one of the nicest luxury car brands out there could develop one of the ugliest concept cars ever seen.
This truck-sedan Franken-car is just painful to look at. There are no words necessary, right? Had this gone to manufacturing, the Nissan XIX would have easily ranked among the ugliest cars ever produced.
The Scion Haku
Scion, when the brand first came out, was all about the boxy car look. It made sense, since they were trying to separate out their design with something that could be a bit counter to the car culture at the time.
The Scion Haku, though, is obnoxiously boxy with a front profile that makes you want to punch it. It's literally sneering at you, taunting you with its ugly "cheeky" wheel covers, short grille, and flat top.
We're sure the Detroit Auto Show wasn't amused, if it even got to that point.
The Honda PUYO
If you've ever seen those tiny little bottom feeders people use to keep fishbowls clean, you probably saw the inspiration for this mess. The Honda PUYO was supposed to show how far tech has come in cars when it was first introduced in 2007.
What it ended up showing people is what happens when designers get inspiration from deep sea creatures. The design was so bizarre and off-putting, it overshadowed the PUYO's tech advances and unique soft body built for a better crumple zone in case of an accident.
The PUYO ended up getting totally shelved as a result of its downright hideous, blob-like exterior. To date, this remains one of the ugliest concept cars of all time.
The Aurora Safety Car
You know how most people make a joke about a person being so ugly, you can't tell whether they're coming or going? Or how people call others a "butt face?"
The 1957 Aurora Safety Car concept was the real-life version of that. You know how we can say that so assuredly? The picture you're looking at is the front of the car. It was so hideous, it was universally panned by critics.
The Safety Car looks like it's laughing at whoever has to ride in it, and has an exposed grille that makes the entire car look like it's already been in an accident. Truth be told, the Safety Car isn't that safe. You could probably die of humiliation just standing next to it.
The Nissan Pivo
So far, there have been three Pivo concepts unveiled at auto shows, with the latest of them being in 2011. All three have ranked among the ugliest concept cars ever made because it literally looks like a fishbowl that's been glued onto a cushion.
Nissan, you gotta consider firing your designers.
The Assystem City Car
Yes, this is a real car by a real brand called Assystem. It's probably pronounced Ass-system, since their name choice rivals their car design in poor taste.
It's really hard to tell what this was supposed to be. It's a half-car that has a weird, pointy-curved front and a strange diamond-shaped build. What made this potentially interesting is that the windshield can turn into an LCD screen.
Unfortunately, that just means this car got an "E" for Effort. At least they tried. Sorta.
The Toyota Pod
Inserting personality into cars was popular ever since we first had the VW Beetle steal the hearts of millions across the globe with its cute, smiling design. It's easy to see why people would want to mimic its breakout success.
Toyota tried to bring personality into cars by having the car change colors "according to its mood." To make sure people knew that their cars had personality, they also added an antenna tail that "wags" when it's happy.
We wish we were joking but we're not. So, not only was it one of the ugliest concept cars Toyota ever made, but it also was the only car that wagged its tail.
Because, you know, tail-wagging and moodiness are two things we *really* want to see in cars.