*Dodging pebbles* Please hear me out! A lot of you are very familiar with the "ugliest car ever made" lists, the usual suspects of a Chrysler PT cruiser, a Pontiac Aztek and the king of all the Fiat Multilip all being criticized for being ugly. But I wonder what's worse, if something can generate that much hatred, it must mean that people are passionate about it. Right?
Let me continue, most of the cars on these list have one thing in common, they're different. It could be that they tried something new and it didn't quite succeed (AMC Pacer), or because they were trying a new way on an pre existing idea (PT Cruiser) or simply because it looked different (Nissan Cube). But, that's exactly what gives them character, a recognisable love/hate issue that people tend to exaggerate so incredibly that it takes it to a whole other level. Take this square peg in a round hole for example.
The Nissan Cube was Nissan's attempt at making a practical family hatchback with a difference, they succeeded by taking the cube principle and implementing it as much as practically possible. This gave the car a unique look, even though it's just based on a standard Nissan Micra. This in itself is a huge achievement, but it also became the third best selling car of Japan in 2004. It's definitely not a commercial flop, so why do people tend to think back on it in a negative way? It's uniquely styled, it's very practical as an everyday car and you had something that, at the time at least was very popular. But because it looked different it was deemed an ugly car, and therefore a bad car.
Another example is the Aztek, the idea of a versatile young cool hip put you're marketing jargon here car from Pontiac. It came in bright colours, 185 hp and go anywhere four wheel drive, it even came with a freaking tent, I mean what more could you possibly ask for? Well, sometimes less is indeed more and The Aztek became a classic example of a good idea, executed horribly.
In 1999 Pontiac came with a cool edgy small-ish SUV with three spoke wheels and a go anywhere attitude. Unfortunately it bcame worse and worse as more people got a say in the final design, it had to be cheaper, more reliable, more practical and safer until we ended up with a mere shell of the concept car. But, that doesn't necessarily make it a bad car. Most of the features where indeed kept on the production model, so where the three spoke wheels and the final product still looked different from all it's competitors. In the last couple of years people tend to think of it as the Heisenberg car, so it became a bit more cool. But I am 100% convinced that without this cameo it would still have a cult following and that's exactly my point.
An "ugly"car most of the time is something that tried to be different and succeeded. A boring car is something that tried to be normal and succeeded, and what's fun about that? Take for example the Honda FRV, i'm sure it's a perfectly good vehicle and very practical but I'm very doubtfull that people will love it as much as someone who owns a Multipla. Same goes for most run of the mill hatchback's, MPV's, and people movers. They take you from point A to Point B in relative comfort and that's the most important thing going for them. They where bought for a purpose and not for enjoyment. I'm a firm believer that if you buy a car and it doesn't make you smile when you see it, you bought the wrong car. Which brings me back to...
The Fiat Multipla, as seen in this picture is the original concept car. Hasn't changed that much has it? It was designed to have as much room as possible in the smallest of package, something the Italians and especially Fiat have been masters in for years. It seated six, had storage spaces pretty much everywhere and was economical. Further more it came with a cleverly designed amrest/ middle seat and was designed to take the abuse of small children with among other things, humongous door handles. All of this in a car smaller then a current 3 door Fiesta!
All these amazing achievement where also recognized by Top Gear, being voted as Car of the year in 2000 and family car of the year 4 years in a row! It did something which it was designed to do in such a different and fresh way, that people either loved it or hated it. And that's the key point. It creates an emotion, good or bad you will have an opinion on it because it got stuck in your head. And to me a car that is memorable, will always be better then a car that's forgettable.