The Italian designhouse Pininfarina is responsible for some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic cars. Cars that adorned bedroom walls all across the world…most notably the supercar daddy of them all, the Ferrari F40. However, in amongst the glorious designs are some cars that look extremely out of place. So rather than celebrating the good, here at DriveDen we wanted to take a look at some of the incredibly bad cars that Pininfarina have had a hand in designing over the years.
Starting with the car that inspired this article, the Hyundai Matrix is one of the most commonly seen Pininfarina-designed cars on British roads…and that’s a shame because it’s one of the worst cars that the Italian design firm has ever been associated with. The strange angles on the rear 3/4 panels and the tiny caster-like wheels both contributed to the unusual looks of the Matrix, with most models in the range having a 0-60 time of around 12-13 seconds. Bearing in mind the super fast Ferrari models that Pininfarina had a hand in creating previously, the Matrix was a far cry from their absolute best.
On paper the Hafei Lobo should be a hit…it has a chassis sourced from Lotus and design by Pininfarina…but the small Chinese citycar is anything but. With two engines available, either 45bhp or 64bhp, the Lobo lumbers from 0-60 in a snail-paced 15 seconds, and the design language chosen by Pininfarina has us scratching our heads too. The major talking point is the large rear lights styled in the rear 3/4 panels (something that seems to be forming a pattern in this article already!), along with high level front indicators up near the bottom of the windscreen. It could be argued that it’s difficult to create a good looking small city car, but bearing in mind the Italians came up with the stylish and ever-popular Fiat 500, we think it’s best the Lobo stays in China!
Hafei HF Fantasy
Continuing with Hafei, this time looking at a concept car that Pininfarina were responsible for designing for the Chinese manufacturer. As Hafei gave the Italians a clean slate to create a new design language, Pininfarina were free to come up with a radical design…and the HF Fantasy shared the same unusual rear light and front indicator positions that made it onto the Lobo production model. Together with the huge gullwing doors and glass bubble roof, reminiscent of the awful people’s car designed by Homer Simpson, the HF Fantasy thankfully stayed as a concept.
Unveiled at the 1994 Turin Motorshow, the Pininfarina-designed Fiat Spunto may have actually been ahead of it’s time, as it took the idea of a regular hatchback and added off-road inspired touches, such as higher ground clearance and lower body protection panels. It’s all quite similar to the recent trend of ‘Allroad’ and ‘Active’ type models by manufacturers such as Audi and Ford…so perhaps Pininfarina’s ideas came too early. However, looking at the overall design of the ‘Spunto’ it really didn’t ever have a chance of being a popular car.
Mitsubishi Colt CZC
Another relatively popular model in the UK, at least in comparison to the other vehicles in this list, the Colt CZC was a coupe/convertible based on the Mitsubishi Colt hatchback, introduced in 2006. It featured a retractable hardtop that completely ruined the original design at the rear of the car. Athough it looked ok with the roof down, when the roof was up the car looked very front heavy and it quietly disappeared from sale less than 3 years after it’s release. As of 2017, it looks like only a few hundred cars are left in the UK – and with the weather the way it is, most will have the roof in the uglier ‘up’ position for the huge majority of the time.
Rolls Royce Camargue
When the Rolls Royce Camargue was released in 1975, it was the most expensive car on the road at a (then) staggering, £29,950! Although it wasn’t a terrible looking car at all, the Camargue fell short of what was expected of the stylish brand. With it being 50% more expensive than the next car down in Rolls Royce’s range, the Corniche, it was hard to see where the value for money was coming from, especially when you bear in mind that the Corniche and Camargue were almost identical mechanically. By the time production ended 10 years later in 1985, the Camargue had only sold 531 units, with the majority going to the US or oil-rich Middle East.
Did we miss out a particular Pininfarina designed car that was spectacularly poor? Or is one of the above cars a secret favourite of yours?
Article written by Rob W, originally posted on the DriveDen blog - www.driveden.com/blog