TOP TEN cars that look like animals
1) 1958 AUSTIN-HEALEY SPRITE_
It nearly didn't look like this. Designed to be a sports car young people could afford, Austin needed to keep costs down. And so when the planned flip-up headlights were looking more and more complex and expensive, they thought "Blow this", and decided at the last minute to just fix conventional ones on the top.
Together with the happy little grille and small, rounded shape, it became known overnight as the "Frogeye". Though the Americans had to be different. They called it the "Bugeye".
It was all in love of course. You can't really mock a face that smiles so earnestly.
2) 2014 TOYOTA FJ CRUISER_
The bulldog is my favourite dog. Because everyone shuns it and calls it ugly, and yet it still looks up with those eyes and says, "Please love me."
It's a bit the same with the FJ Cruiser. You might know that Toyota is discontinuing it, and I feel that part of this is because no sooner was it out, that the hate began. Yes, I know it's chunky and it might have that look, but underneath is a heart of gold.
In actual fact, Toyota's design team claims they were inspired by a bull terrier. Which is a bulldog, I'm pretty sure.
3) 1999 AUDI A2_
Audi wanted to create a clever, common-sense car that would be immensely practical, roomy, and able to "transport four people from Stuttgart to Milan on a single tank."
The A2 resulted, and even though it was all of those things - and more - nobody wanted it.
4) 1953 PANHARD DYNA Z_
I have a secret admission to make. I once killed a goldfish.
It was all an accident. When I was about four, I was told to feed the fishies in the pond. I perceived that as they were enjoying the food I was giving them so much, I'd keep giving it to them. So one overate and died.
I felt terrible. And the memory of that silly little mouth has stayed with me since. Which is why I was more than a little bit surprised to see it on a classic French car.
5) 2006 SUBARU TRIBECA_
In the early noughties, Subaru was suddenly taken by this idea of round lights and snouty grilles. Giving the WRX the treatment gave many fans a knot in their BONDS and got it called "Bugeye" in derision - but it was a sedan so it looked reasonable.
Okay, yes, if you must know - I secretly liked it.
But doing it to a big fat SUV was just a bad idea. Subaru quickly realised this because a year later it was all changed.
6) 1938 PHANTOM CORSAIR_
The Corsair was a one-off commissioned by a millionaire and based on a Cord. Obviously aerodynamics were a fascination.
Which is why it looks like a cockroach, and this isn't a bad thing. I've always thought car makers should draw inspiration from the cockroach. It's low, streamlined, and if you've ever chased one with a thong, you'll know it's too fast for its own good. Death on your thong being its own good.
Why else did POWs hold cockroach races and bet on them? And don't say because they had nothing better to do.
7) 2015 MERCEDES-BENZ F 015 CONCEPT_
The lamprey is a fascinating thing. Parasitic lampreys don't have jaws but instead have wide mouths full of little teeth. With these they latch onto prey and suck merrily of their blood.
The Mercedes F 015 has the same mouth, obviously. And if a vacant petextrian strolls out right in front of it, a similar kind of effect.
8) 2007 TRAMONTANA_
You've heard it all before. Ultimate supercar, exclusive, money-no-issue, hand-built by a visionary with a unpronounceable name someplace exotic. In this case Spain.
The Tramontana is a bit different from the rest, though. Based on a carbon-fibre honeycomb monocoque, with a Mercedes V12, each one is supposed to be different in its way. Bespoke.
For example, each customer chooses the interior they want and once they've got it, it can't be replicated. You can even have the gear-knob made of gold, like the badge, which is solid white gold.
Where was I? Ah, and it looks like a dauber wasp.
9) 2017 MASERATI LEVANTE_
All the way back in 2011, Maserati unveiled the Kubang SUV concept. Kubang quickly became Ku-bang! so the name wasn't staying obviously, but Maserati kept fiddling with the design for five long years before finally, we had the Levante.
Somewhere along the process a design executive fell off his yacht and, in one of the most impressible moments of his life, was inspired.
Don't worry, the basking shark has a bask worse than its bite.
10) 2005 ALFA ROMEO BRERA_
I give people a strange look when they call these Alfas (Brera, Spider, 159) ugly. They're not vaguely ugly.
In fact, they've got that same look of aggressive determination that Americans decorate their many seals with. A look of hawkish power.
Though sometimes the Brera just looks foul-tempered for being on a tow-truck.
AND THE BONUS 11TH...1910 BROOKE 25/30HP SWAN_
It could be one of the most beautiful cars ever made, in fact.
British engineer Robert Mattheson designed the Swan for wealthy Calcutta customers. The idea was that hot water could be sprayed out the beak to clear a path through the noisy, dirty, crowded streets there.
It's a bit like walking through a crowd with the ironing spray, set to jet.