Can You Name These Ugly Cars From the '70s?

By: Deborah Beckwin
Estimated Completion Time
4 min
Can You Name These Ugly Cars From the '70s?
Image: Wiki Commons via Greg Gjerdingen

About This Quiz

Recognize the names of these cars? The Pacer. The Pinto. The Thing. They're from an era of carmaking that brings both cheers and jeers--the funky 1970s.

The backdrop for the 1970s was an exciting yet turbulent time of transition, with events such as the Vietnam War, Watergate, two energy crises (one in 1973 and another in 1979), and the advent of disco transforming culture.

The previous decades--the 1950s and the 1960s--focused more on sleek, aerodynamic designs, while the 1970s saw form following function. Styling was also a bit confused, with one foot in the past (hello wood paneling!) and one foot in the future: some cars either looked very angular or had some aerodynamic inspiration, but no real appeal or allure.

With car designs from the 1970s, one major shift which influenced styles was the implementation of American federal regulations requiring more fuel efficiency, lower emissions and increased safety in cars. This period of time, which spanned from the early '70s to the early '80s, has been called the "Malaise Era" of American automotive design.

There were definitely some stylish standouts from this time period, such as the Pontiac Firebird and the Chevy Camaro. But the focus on horsepower and souped-up engines shifted to features such as fuel injection and anti-lock brake systems. 

These horrendous designs didn't just plague American cars. Foreign carmakers also dabbled in the ugly, especially if they had to import to the U.S.

Overall, the 1970s had a lot of memorable and controversial styles, and we think you'll get a hoot out of going back in time to look at some of the ugliest cars of that decade.


1974 AMC Gremlin What American compact actually had terrible fuel efficiency?
AMC Gremlin
Built by the American Motors Corporation, the Gremlin had everything going wrong for it--poor handling, terrible gas mileage and a scary safety issue: the hatchback window could break when flipped up. It was retired in 1978.
Chevy Chevette
Ford Pinto
Chevy Vega

Advertisement

1971 Ford LTD Country Squire Wagon This American station wagon became famous in the movie "National Lampoon's Vacation".
Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon
AMC Matador Brougham
Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna
Ford LTD Country Squire
Created in the 1950s, the Ford LTD Country Squire was a family car with actual authentic wood paneling. Eventually, that was replaced with more economical laminate siding.

Advertisement

1973 Volkswagen Thing This German car was created more for function than for form.
Volkswagen Thing
Officially known as Volkswagen type 181, the Thing was created to be more utilitarian, borrowing its styling from military vehicles. So even though it was ugly, the Thing was tough and could be easily taken for off-road excursions.
Audi 100
BMW 2002
Mercedes-Benz 280SE

Advertisement

Renault Le Car What French compact car was sold in the U.S. through AMC dealerships?
Peugeot J7
Renault Le Car
Renault Le Car was marketed to the U.S. Everywhere else, this car was known as the Renault 5. The Le Car model also had a colorful, limited edition version called Le Car Van--complete with a carpeted interior.
Citroën DS
Peugeot 205

Advertisement

AMC Pacer This American hatchback was seen as a futuristic car and even had an electric version.
Chevrolet Vega
AMC Pacer
Nicknamed the fishbowl car, the oddly-shaped Pacer was a hot item during its debut in 1975, but quickly got the reputation of being a little too weird-looking to drive and was retired in 1980.
Oldsmobile Omega
Dodge Colt

Advertisement

1973 Chevy El Camino Which American crossover-type car was more of a muscle car until the oil crisis of 1973?
AMC Hornet Sportabout
Ford Pinto
Chevy El Camino
Known as "the path" in Spanish, the Chevy El Camino's transformation heralded a transition away from the muscle car and its robust engine. With the energy crisis came new American regulations, and the El Camino's horsepower and engine size was greatly reduced. It was retired in 1987.
Ford LTD Country Squire

Advertisement

Ford Pinto What popularly hated American subcompact car also had cruising wagon and hatchback models?
AMC Pacer
AMC Gremlin
Ford Pinto
The Ford Pinto was not only ugly, it was dangerous due to the placement of the gas tanks facing the rear of the car. It's no surprise that this model didn't make it past 1980.
Ford Country Squire

Advertisement

1978 Volvo 262C What European coupe was one of the first to have an audible alert to fasten one's seatbelt?
Audi 100
Volvo 262C
Swedish carmaker Volvo already had a reputation for prioritizing safety in its cars. So when more American safety requirements were enacted, Volvo was ready. This two-door coupe was popular in the U.S., with customers buying more than 75 percent of the more than 6,000 cars produced.
Volkswagen Beetle
Mercedes-Benz 280 S

Advertisement

Dodge Charger An earlier version of this car is what the main characters in the TV show, "The Dukes of Hazzard," drove.
Dodge Charger
What you see pictured is not the General Lee, what Bo and Luke drove. It's the 1977 model of the Dodge Charger. This car went through quite a makeover during the 1970s.
Ford Mustang II
Chevy Camaro
Pontiac Firebird

Advertisement

Dodge Dart What American car came with the model names "Demon" and "Swinger"?
AMC Gremlin
Ford Fiesta
Dodge Dart
The Dodge Dart went through significant changes in the late 1960s, transforming from a family car to a compact car with a lot of muscle, including a V8 engine. The Demon model was dropped after just two years because some religiously conservative people in the Deep South were offended by the name.
Chevy Celebrity

Advertisement

Chevrolet Vega What American car was plagued by major engineering and manufacturing issues?
Chevrolet Vega
The Chevrolet Vega is an example of what happens when a car is made with only corporate oversight. The car became quickly popular and then was quickly reviled and retired in 1977.
AMC Matador
Ford Gran Torino Elite
Jeep Cherokee

Advertisement

1976 AMC Hornet Sportabout What American compact car was one of the first to have a designer trim?
AMC Hornet
The AMC Hornet Sportabout (a station wagon) had a luxury trim designed by Gucci. The interior had Gucci detailing designed by Aldo Gucci.
Ford Pinto
Ford Mustang
Chevy Chevette

Advertisement

1975 AMC Matador What American car did a James Bond villain fly around in during the movie "The Man with the Golden Gun?"
Ford Pinto
Ford Mustang II
Chevy Corvette
AMC Matador
The AMC Matador Coupe was used as a getaway vehicle for James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga. The car transformed into a plane and Scaramanga flew away.

Advertisement

1978 Chevrolet Chevette What popular American compact car wasn't the fastest but got excellent gas mileage?
Ford Pinto
Dodge Colt
Chevy Chevette
The Chevy Chevette's gas mileage is still rivaled by modern cars today, with up to 40 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city. Although its styling wasn't the greatest, it was a popular car in the late '70s and early '80s before its departure in 1987.
AMC Pacer

Advertisement

Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser What American station wagon had a domed glass roof on top?
Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser
What this car lacked in looks, it made up for with sheer power. The Vista Cruiser 455 model had a 370 hp, 455 CID V8 engine.
Ford Pinto
AMC Pacer
Ford Taurus

Advertisement

Oldsmobile Cutlass In 1976, this was America's best-selling car.
Ford Country Sedan
Oldsmobile Cutlass
The Oldsmobile Cutlass introduced a model with a V8 engine in 1975. That boost in engine power helped gain appeal with younger drivers.
Honda Civic
Chevrolet Vega

Advertisement

Chrysler Cordoba What American sedan had Ricardo Montalban as its spokesperson in a car commercial?
Cadillac Calais
Ford Fiesta
Pontiac Astre
Chrysler Cordoba
The Cordoba was Chrysler's entry into the personal luxury car market. The car was known for its "rich Corinthian leather."

Advertisement

Datsun F10 What Japanese import was better known by the model name Cherry?
Datsun F10
In the U.S., the bug-eyed Datsun F10 came in two models, a coupe and a wagon. It had great fuel economy (29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined), but the design definitely was a victim of the Malaise Era.
Honda Civic
Honda Z600
Mazda RX-510

Advertisement

1978 Subaru GL Wagon What Japanese car was known to have mechanical problems and rust issues?
Nissan 200SX
Subaru GL Wagon
Subaru as a carmaker is now known for its reliable cars. But the Subaru GL Wagon was not one of them. Back in the '70s, these cars were made with metal that was rather thin, making it more susceptible to rust.
Mazda GLC
Honda N600

Advertisement

1978 Subaru BRAT Known as the 284 in the U.S., what Japanese import pickup truck added seats in the back to avoid U.S. tariffs?
Mazda REPU
Toyota Hilux
Datsun 320
Subaru BRAT
BRAT stands for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter. The two seats in the back avoided steep tariffs colloquially known as the "Chicken Tax."

Advertisement

Fiat X1_9 This tiny Italian roadster's wedge-like styling couldn't quite capture American hearts.
Ferrari Boxer
Alfa Romeo Montreal
De Tomaso Pantera
Fiat X1/9
Like the AMC Pacer, the Fiat X1/9 had a futuristic look that didn't quite belong in the present or the future. The modest 128 hp engine left a lot to be desired for American drivers looking for a sportier ride. The car was discontinued in the U.S. in 1982 but continued to be sold under the Bertone name in Europe until 1987.

Advertisement

Reliant Robin Which British compact was known for its steering wheel detaching from the car?
Mini Cooper
Reliant Robin
The Reliant Robin was created in response to the fuel crisis of the 1970s and to be parked on city streets. Its unique 3-wheel construction allowed it to be classified as a motorcycle. It had the nickname the "plastic pig."
Bond Bug
Austin Allegro

Advertisement

1974 Ford Maverick What American car initially was marketed as a compact car but became an economical muscle car?
Ford Maverick
Still beloved by muscle car enthusiasts, the Ford Maverick was also manufactured as the Mercury Comet. The model was retired in 1977.
Ford Mustang II
AMC Matador
Chevy Chevelle

Advertisement

Mercury Cougar In the early 1970s, this car transformed from a sporty car to a personal luxury car.
Mercury Cougar
The early 1970s was the last period of time where the Mercury Cougar was built more like a Mustang. In the mid-'70s, it was pitted to compete against cars such as the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and the Chrysler Cordoba.
Lincoln Versailles
Chevy Vega
Plymouth Duster

Advertisement

Datsun 200SX This Japanese car was created as a competitor of the Toyota Celica.
Mazda Grand Familia
Datsun 200SX
The Datsun 200SX was meant to be a more affordable kind of sports car. It was sold in the U.S. during the late '70s.
Datsun Laurel
Datsun Skyline

Advertisement

Bond Bug What British car isn't actually named after a fictional spy character?
Bond Bug
Another three-wheeled car, the Bond Bug was made by the Bond Motor Company shortly after Reliant had purchased the company. Slow sales eventually bankrupted the Bug's manufacturer.
Mini Clubman
Austin Maxi
Triumph Herald

Advertisement

1977 Ford Granada Coupe In a TV commercial, what American car claimed it was an economical version of a Mercedes-Benz 450SLC?
Cadillac Fleetwood
Ford Granada
The Ford Granada was around $4000 in 1979. In comparison, the Mercedes-Benz 450SLC was approximately $23,000.
Lincoln Continental Mark V
Oldsmobile 88

Advertisement

Bricklin SV1 What infamous Canadian import sports car was known for its major design flaws?
Manic GT
Bricklin SV1
The Bricklin SV1 was designed by Malcolm Bricklin and funded by the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Issues like poor brake placement and doors that couldn't fully close doomed the car to infamy.
Mercury Meteor
Pontiac Beaumont Cheetah

Advertisement

Trabant P601S Sedan You could call this compact car the flagship car of communism.
Yugo
Trabant
Dubbed as "the car of the people," the Trabant was East Germany's boxy answer to West Germany's Volkswagen Beetle--but it took on average 12 years for East Germans to get their hands on one. One unique feature of the car was that due to a shortage of metals, the Trabant was fabricated out of recycled remnants of the dye and cotton industries. A relic of the Eastern Bloc, you can still see some Trabants in Germany today.
Volkswagen
Audi

Advertisement

Aston Martin Lagonda Which British luxury car had two fuel doors and two different horns?
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
Jaguar XJ6
Triumph Herald
Aston Martin Lagonda
With its slender and elongated design, along with many other styling quirks, the Aston Martin Lagonda is one of the most uniquely styled luxury cars.

Advertisement

Ford Thunderbird In 1970, Neiman Marcus offered a pair of these cars as a "His and Hers" set.
Mercedes-Benz 280SE
Chevy Corvette
Ford Thunderbird
Priced at $25,000, this pair of cars came loaded with luxurious amenities such as a tape center and a sun roof. For him, the Thunderbird had extras such as an electric razor. For her, the car had a complete sewing kit with an 14-karat gold thimble.
Cadillac Eldorado

Advertisement

Honda N600 What tiny import was one of the first cars available in America from Honda?
Honda Z600
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Honda N600
Honda's N600 was a souped up version of the N360, both of which came to the U.S. around 1969. Due to its higher gas consumption, the Z600 coupe wasn't a good fit for the 1970s energy crisis.

Advertisement

1972 Triumph Stag Which rare touring car from the UK had less than 3,000 cars made for the U.S. market?
Aston Martin Lagonda
Triumph Stag
The Triumph Stag was created in 1970 by British Leyland, with the last model made in 1977. Only about 25,000 models of this car were created, and it's a collector's item in the U.S.
Mini Clubman
Austin Allegro

Advertisement

1977 Chrysler LeBaron This popular American car of the '80s and '90s had a much longer length in the '70s.
Chrysler LeBaron
The Chrysler LeBaron has gone through many changes since its introduction in 1931. This car was another victim of the energy crisis, with its longer shape shortened. As a result, the Imperial edition was retired in 1975 with a newer, smaller model reintroduced in 1977.
Oldsmobile Omega
Lincoln Continental
Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Advertisement

Citroën CX This French car had an innovative curved windshield.
Renault 12
Peugeot 305
Citroën CX
Another car seemingly from the future, the Citroën CX was aiming for an aerodynamic look. French carmaker Peugeot bought Citroën in 1976, so the Citroën CX is considered to be the last true car made by the company.
Peugeot 404

Advertisement

Citroën Méhari This French car's body is primarily made of plastic and had no seatbelts.
Peugeot 205
Citroën Méhari
The Citroën Méhari looks more like an SUV to take on the beach or a glorified golf cart. In the U.S., the car was only sold between 1969 and 1970. Back then, U.S. safety regulations for trucks were far more lax, so that's why the Méhari had no seatbelts.
Renault CX Diesel
Peugeot 504

Advertisement

Renault 12 What car was considered to be a "world car" because it was built in 12 countries?
Renault 12
Despite its odd shape, the Renault 12 was considered a great commercial success during the 1970s. The goal was to make the car easy to produce so it could be produced worldwide. There were 2.5 million cars sold on four different continents.
Peugeot 205
Triumph Dolemite
Volkswagen Golf

Advertisement

Plymouth Sapporo What car was the first to be created by both Mitsubishi and Plymouth?
Plymouth Cricket
Plymouth Sapporo
The Plymouth Sapporo was another answer to the energy crisis of the 1970s. This car also allowed Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi to enter the U.S. market. This car was also known as the Dodge Challenger.
Plymouth Barracuda
Plymouth Belvedere

Advertisement

Plymouth Cricket What American compact car was a reconfiguration of a UK car, the Hillman Avenger?
AMC Spirit
AMC Hornet
Plymouth Arrow
Plymouth Cricket
The Plymouth Cricket was a reborn Hillman Avenger and did not sell well in the U.S. Like the Chevrolet Vega, it had terrible issues with rust and was poorly constructed.

Advertisement

Mazda GLC What Japanese hatchback made its debut in America in 1977?
Toyota Starlet GL
Datsun 210
Honda Civic
Mazda GLC
GLC stands for Great Little Car, as it was known in North America. It was also known as Mazda Familia. Now, it's known as the 323 or Protegé.

Advertisement

You Got:
/40
Featured