The Ugliest, Most Questionable Concept Cars Ever

Just a few of the ugliest concept cars ever

Updated June 19, 2017

Car companies build concept cars to test new ideas with the public. The best are displayed in . The worst, now hidden away or crushed, are recalled here.

There have been plenty of crazy one-off car designs over the years, like the Dymaxion and the Aurora  Safety Car. But the definition of a concept car used here is one that’s been designed, built, and displayed by an established automaker. The reason for this specific definition is that for a car manufacturer (rather than an individual or small group) to display a horrendous concept meant that an entire design department had to approve the concept, then various other departments provided their okay before being signed-off by some executives at a very high level. We’re talking dozens of individuals with collective decades of experience in auto industry approving what any 8 year old could see was a hideous mistake. Let’s take a look at how millions of dollars have been  squandered.

1998 Buick Signia

If this was the winner in the  internal design contest, can you image what the losers looked like? General Motors’ press release at the (sorry, NAIAS) describes it as “Based on the architecture of the Park Avenue, the Signia is an upscale family sedan with SUV attributes designed for modern families on the go. Features include a high roof and seats for easy entry, inset rocker panels that prevent slush or mud from dripping on your pants, a removable hatchback for hauling large items, infrared sensors that detect objects in your blind spot and flexible cargo space, including a powered floor that extends 15 inches out the back. While the concept car showcases a number of new technologies, Buick executives say the Signia will not be built as it is.”  Thank goodness.

2008 Scion Hako Coupe

Universally disliked by everyone who viewed the car on it’s debut at 2008 , the Hako Coupe blended all the charms of its rectangular xB with one of the fiberglass kits you can add to the front of your Chevy S-10 to make it look like a mini 18-wheeler.  Normally automakers carefully store their very expensive hand-built concept cars for some future use. The Hako Coupe was chopped up and turned into an altogether different concept car, so the Hako you see in this photo no longer exists.

1994 Plymouth Expresso

The mid 1990s must have been heady days for the folks a Chrysler. The company that descended to bankruptcy and required a government bail-out to survive had dug themselves out of debt, repaid the feds, and were suddenly the talk of the industry with their new models. The Neon was viewed as a genuine import fighter at the time and the new Ram, with its big-rig good looks, had made Dodge a player in the light truck segment again. So perhaps they were just a little too giddy when the Expresso was approved, a car that would have received better reviews had Chrysler debuted it in Tokyo rather than the Windy City, as they did.

2007 Nissan Pivo 2

The Pivo 2 is a high mobility urban vehicle concept. The platform consists of a frame containing the battery pack with wheels at each corner, in each hub. For maneuverability the cabin spins 360 degrees. So there’s never any backing up. OK so far. The cabin though is an Isetta that’s spent too much time in a Sanrio store.  And like the Isetta, both provide access to the interior via a single front-facing door (which, like in the Isetta, means your feet are the crumple zone). But the real weirdness is in the interior, where  control functions are interfaced through the voice of a little robot imbedded in the dash, sort of like a creepy R2 unit.

1989 Plymouth Voyager 3

In 1989 American was minivan happy. All domestic and nearly ever Asian import automaker had one, if not more, model of in their line-up. And Chrysler was the king, as they’d invented the segment – out of necessity as they were trying to squeeze as many model types from one platform as possible. So what could be a better move than to up the minivan stakes? The designers at Chrysler created a three-seat mini car for around town errands that could be mated to a larger, self-powered unit that carried five more passengers. Unfortunately it offered all the charm of an airport car rental bus. No one followed Chrysler on this one.

Toyota PM

If you suffer from Paraphilic Infantilism (PI), which is also known as autonepiophilia and adult baby syndrome, have I got a car for you. If you’re not familiar with PI, it’s a fetish for some that involves role-playing a regression to an infant-like state (at least that’s what Wikipedia says). The car is the PM and its well-meaning designers created an EV to transport a single individual using a very sophisticated control interface. The problem is, when the lid to the PM is open, it looks exactly like an adult-sized baby stroller. Maybe they should have named it the Toyota PM/PI.



Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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