Top 10 Ugliest Cars From the 1970s (Funny)

Updated on January 18, 2019

Top 10 Ugly Cars of the '70s

As a child of the '70s, I've both seen and been in in a fair amount of the abominations below. The 1970s had a whole different style of atrocious automobiles than, say, the ugly cars of the '80s. Although wood paneling was not as huge as it would be in the future, drab colors, vinyl roofs, teardrop windows and overall boxy builds dominated the auto industry. White walls were not yet a thing of the past, but moving in that direction. Luxury items in cars included 8-track cassettes, vinyl-coated roofing and maybe if you spent the big bucks, automatic windows. It was a time when ashtrays came standard. Simply put, a simpler time.

Car Commercials from the 1970s

That being said, the following is a collection of what I consider to be the ugliest car designs of the 1970s. I even included commercials for these vehicles from the years they were new. Soak up the '70s nostalgia, y'all. It's going to be one ugly ride.

What Are the Ugliest Cars From the 1970s?

  1. 1975 AMC Pacer
  2. 1974 Chevrolet Gremlin
  3. 1972 Ford Pinto
  4. 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger
  5. 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass
  6. 1978 Chyrsler Cordoba
  7. 1977 Chevrolet El Camino
  8. 1971 Volkswagen Thing
  9. 1976 Chevrolet Chevette
  10. 1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Coupe

1. 1975 AMC Pacer: Mork's First Car

1975 AMC Pacer
1975 AMC Pacer

The 1975 AMC Pacer came out the year I was born. Designed by what looks like residents from Ork, this egg-shaped vehicle at least looks more aerodynamic than a lot of the cars in this article. It would appear that the designers of the Pacer took some body design cues from an organically farmed squash that was on the south end of a week-long rot. This vehicle would fit in perfectly parked next to Fred's Mystery Machine. Shockingly, you don't see too many of these being restored these days.

1975 AMC Pacer: TV Commercial

2. 1974 Chevrolet Gremlin: Aptly Named

1974 Chevrolet Gremlin
1974 Chevrolet Gremlin

Bugs Bunny battled the Gremlin during World War II. It wasn't until years later that a car of the same name was born. The 1974 Gremlin looks like something you might see cruising the streets in the background of a horror movie from the Saturday Shocker. Almost as cartoon-looking as the Pacer above the 1974 Gremlin sports, the same uninspired faux Buck Rogers look as many vehicles from the '70s. The moniker is quite fitting, but you have to wonder how much marketing research went into the naming of the Gremlin. Hey 1970s-era Chevy auto designers, here's a free tip. Naming your new car after a make-believe monster is a horrible way to bring it to market. Need proof? See the Volkswagen Thing towards the bottom of this article.

1974 AMC Gremlin: TV Commercial

3. 1972 Ford Pinto: The Pacer's Doppleganger

1972 Ford Pinto
1972 Ford Pinto

I'm starting to see a very eggy pattern here. Aside from its legendary body design, the Ford Pinto was most famously known for its rear-mounted fuel tank, which was known to catch fire in the case of a rear collision. Aside from this horrible safety flaw, the Ford Pinto was available in a number of awesome '70s colors drawn from a palette of condiments: Mustard Yellow (as seen in the pic above) Expired Relish Green, Sunbaked Ketchup, and of course, Dijon Brown.

4. 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger: "Get Smart" Car on a Budget

1970 Dodge Dart Swinger
1970 Dodge Dart Swinger

The Dodge Dart Swinger is what wannabe gangsters of the '70s would drive on the way to meet that guy about the thing. It's reminiscent of a '70s spy car, if Maxwell Smart drove a go-cart. Again, I'm not sure what aerodynamic advantage lining the outside roof of a vehicle with vinyl has, but those designers were on to something. Why waste your time working on a more fuel-efficient engine or a way to just plain make the car run better when there's a dangerously un-upholstered roof to deal with. But what do I know? This year Dodge decided to resurrect the Dart sans the vinyl-lined top.

1970 Dodge Swinger: TV Commercial

Reach for the sky. Keep reaching. I'm stuck in the back seat.

5. 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass: The Car That Just Screams "Meh"

1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass
1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass

Looking at this car just makes me feel depressed. I'd like to pinpoint just when people stopped using colors like candy apple red or jet blue and segued into what this horrible, drunken fall color palette. Just when did the auto industry decide that we as a culture wanted to drive more burnt umber, brown and moss-colored vehicles? I digress, however; this car has it all. Boxy design, 2 toned brown-and-cream color pattern (notice more vinyl roofing) and gas guzzle-ability. I'd continue, but I feel like I need to go shotgun some Prozac.

Olds Cutlass Supreme: TV Commercial From 1978

6. 1978 Chyrsler Cordoba: If Ricardo Montalbán Endorses It, It Must Be Good. NO!

1978 Chyrsler Cordoba
1978 Chyrsler Cordoba

Only a spokesperson like Ricardo Montalbán could deliver a sales pitch like this. It's his delivery. His silky smooth Latin accent could sell a pomegranate Popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves. It makes me wonder if he ever tooled around Fantasy Island in this gaudy mass of steel. The combination of his swarthy Latin charm, his overall demeanor and his pint-size counterpart Hervé Villechaize are something no woman could resist. Oh wait, I was supposed to be writing about the Chrysler Cordoba. Eh—it kind of speaks for itself.

7. 1977 Chevrolet El Camino: Super Sh**ty 1977 Chevrolet El Camino

1977 Chevrolet El Camino
1977 Chevrolet El Camino

Never before had the usability of a pick-up truck been combined with the luxury of a sedan to create the super roomy bed with an extremely small driver's area. It was an idea whose time came and went. You don't see cars like this nowadays because we grew some brains, people. Who exactly was this car designed for? The '70s go-go contractor with parallel parking issues, or a mother of unruly children that quite literally took the back seat? The SS should stand for super sh**ty and should preface the fine El Camino name. 'Nuff said.

Chevy El Camino 1977 TV Commercial

8. 1971 Volkswagen Thing: It's a Turd, It's Quite Plain, Oh, It's a Thing

1971 Volkswagen Thing
1971 Volkswagen Thing

I'm not sure if this vehicle is ugly or just really ugly. The aptly named Thing had the ca-shay and stay-ability of the Pet Rock. Aside from the overall look of the vehicle, it was known to be very reliable, comfortable and rugged. This is an example of Volkswagen seeing what affect ugly design had on '70s culture. I found nothing but high praise from Thing owners, but it is ugly as sin and has a place here in this article.

Vintage Cheez-It's Commercial Featuring the VW Thing

9. 1976 Chevrolet Chevette: The Possible Genesis of '80s Wood-Paneled Vehicles

1976 Chevrolet Chevette
1976 Chevrolet Chevette

It seemed like every other person on the road in the late '70s and early '80s drove a Chevette. I think they were trying to get some momentum from the Corvette's good name. Sight unseen, it does sound like a sister vehicle to the muscle car. This car screams, "you could bother, but why?" Again, what can I say about this vehicle that it isn't already saying about itself? It's fairly boxy, it came in a variety of horrible colors from the same dead-leaf palette I described above, it was fairly unreliable, and it was prone to rusting. Yep, a real package.

10. 1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Coupe: The Car That Says "I'm Old. Now, Where Are My Keys?"

1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Coupe
1977 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Coupe

This vehicle looks like it was created for crotchety old men (and possibly was). Like so many other cars of its kind from the '70s, the geniuses at Oldsmobile decided to line the roof with vinyl. OK, WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? Did the vinyl industry have some sort of in with the auto manufacturers of the '70s? I digress: the 1977 Oldsmobile Regency is a good example of '70s ingenuity and design that will leave you saying, "What a huge waste of steel." In fact, that's one thing the 77 Regency has going for it: it's actually made out of metal.

Which Car From the 70's is the Ugliest—What's Your Pick?

Which Car is the Ugliest
Which Car is the Ugliest

These are arguably the ugliest cars from the 1970s. Which one do you think is the ugliest? Am I way off base? Do you have a car that should be on this list? Comments are open. Let me know what you think.

Photo Courtesy of my-retrospace.blogspot.com

Which 70's vehicle is the ugliest?

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        You dont need to make car articles unless you actually research the cars. 

        6 weeks ago

        The gremlin is made by AMC and the corvette is a sports car not muscle

      • profile image

        Honest Abe 

        8 weeks ago

        Disagree on the Dart. Change the stance and it looks much better.

      • profile image

        Mike 

        7 months ago

        The Gremlin is not a Chevy, it's an AMC like the Pacer

      • profile image

        carnut1978 

        10 months ago

        When writing articles, you need to know what you are talking about. There are many errors in this article. First of all, Chevrolet did not make the Gremlin, AMC did, it says so right there in the video you posted. The picture of the Cutlass is a 1978, it is captioned 1977. The 1978 was downsized from 1977 and was not a gas guzzler. Says so right there in the video. Spell Chrysler correctly, please. And that is not a 1978 Cordoba as captioned, it's a 1976. The El Camino video is a 1978, but you talk about the 1977 in the article. The VW Thing was not imported to the US until 1972. The picture of the Oldsmobile 98 is a 1976, it is captioned 1977, also downsized from the year before.

      • profile image

        jericho60 

        12 months ago

        What's the problem with the Dart Swinger? I kinda like it. Plus you left off the mid-70s Matador coupe...long hood, weird fastback design, four big round taillights, bulging headlights. That thing was just hideous.

      • profile image

        Garry 

        2 years ago

        The Olds 98 Regency pictured is not a 1977. GM downsized their large bodies in that year. This is either a 1975 or a 1976. But as you say, it is not pretty!

      • JimmyBee profile image

        JimmyBee 

        4 years ago from southern Indiana

        Ha! Funny, man. My sister drove a Chevette when she was in high school. She told people she drove a 'Vette. She also called it a Shitvette.

      • profile image

        Chris1970 

        6 years ago

        The only one I don't agree with is the Cordoba.To me,that car is pretty.The others are spot on.

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @vineliner57: I can't argue that.

      • vineliner57 profile image

        Hal Gall 

        7 years ago from Bloomington, IN

        At least the music was good in the 70's!

      • profile image

        miaponzo 

        7 years ago

        OK.... I actually had two different Chevy Chevettes and they sure didn't look anything like that monstrosity!!!!!! Blessed!

      • JuneNash profile image

        June Nash 

        7 years ago

        I enjoyed looking at the pictures of the old cars. I always liked the Pacer. I don't think it is ugly.

      • sunny saib profile image

        sunny saib 

        7 years ago

        I love this lens.. Great research! :P

      • profile image

        fullofshoes 

        7 years ago

        oh dear. I remember every single one of these cars. In fact...even though I hate to admit it..I've ridden in every single model at least once...at one time ore another. Great trip down memory lane. ~blessed~

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @bushaex: Thanks for blessing my humble little lens.

      • bushaex profile image

        Stephen Bush 

        7 years ago from Ohio

        SquidAngel blessings.

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @sherioz: I agree. Ugly cute. I wouldn't want any to be my every day ride though.

      • profile image

        sherioz 

        7 years ago

        They aren't ALL ugly!!! Some are cute.

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @JohnTannahill: Yeah but see the UK cars are still kinda cool. I just got done checking the Triumph TR7 out. I did see some real stinkers and I could see how it could be done wrong. I just have 1 word for you. Chevette.

      • JohnTannahill profile image

        John Tannahill 

        7 years ago from Somewhere in England

        What were they thinking in the 70s? We had the TR7 in the UK.

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @LisaDH: Solid point. I have a neighbor who has that same pinto above parked outside. It inspired this lens. Thanks for the like.

      • LisaDH profile image

        LisaDH 

        7 years ago

        I think the ugliest 70s car award goes to the Ford Pinto. I never understood why poor Kate Jackson had to drive one on "Charlie's Angels" while the other angels had cool cars.

      • WerewolfCustoms1 profile image

        WerewolfCustoms1 

        7 years ago

        I enjoyed watching those old commercials :) Great lens!

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @sudokunut: It is aptly named. Still I wouldn't mind taking one for a drive.

      • sudokunut profile image

        Mark Falco 

        7 years ago from Reno, Nevada

        Never heard of a Volkswagen Thing before...that certainly is an ugly looking vehicle.

      • GoAceNate LM profile imageAUTHOR

        GoAceNate LM 

        7 years ago

        @NC Shepherd: I do feel nostalgic when I see some of these cars, but I can't say I miss them. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Tell a friend.

      • profile image

        NC Shepherd 

        7 years ago

        Yep, these were pretty ugly. But I still miss them.

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