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The World's Ugliest Cars

A recent survey selects the worst designed cars of all time. The top pick? The AMC Pacer

Car geeks are generally an outspoken group. But they really put the pedal to the metal when Hagerty Insurance, a specialist in collector cars, surveyed its policyholders for their picks of the worst car designs of all time.

Here's what one connoisseur had to say the about the top pick, American Motors' Pacer: "0 to 60 in four-and-a-half hours. AMC's only conceivable excuse for this stylistic horror would be if their design crew was tripping on massive quantities of acid...and even then...it wouldn't be a good excuse."

McKeel Hagerty, CEO of the company, ordered up the survey after noticing that several of what he calls "nerd cars" were increasing in value. He says he was surprised when the Pacer-a notorious dud from the days of disco-topped the list. Hagerty bought himself a dark green 1976 Pacer three years ago for $2,300. "If anyone thinks I'm picking on Pacer owners, guess what-I am one," he says.

Here are the top 10 worst design picks, with comments, from the nearly 2,500 Hagerty customers who participated.

10. Chevrolet Chevette

"When the car went into any type of water puddle it would suck water into the engine. They fell apart after 40,000 miles. Piece of junk."

"Absolute garbage BEFORE it was built."

"It was junk like this that opened the door for Toyota and Honda. Sad but true."

"I'm sure there are worse, but in my days with Chevrolet I saw many problems and many unhappy customers with these throwaway cars."

"It was so underpowered, you had to shift down with the AC on to climb the slightest hill. Everything was too small inside, and the dash looked like a 12-year-old designed it. Owned it a year and laughed when I sold it!"

9. Ford Edsel

"Has got to be the ugliest car ever to roll out of Detroit."

"Talk about the wrong car at the wrong time!"

"The '58 was schizophrenic! The front motif is vertical (especially that hideous grille), while the rear motif is horizontal."

"One of the worst designs and poorly manufactured cars of all time."

"Gas-guzzling, three-ton behemoth with a toilet seat grill and inexplicably tacky push-button transmission shifting. The standard by which all other automotive brand failures have been judged (and ridiculed) for 50 years."

"Poor styling, poor workmanship, wrong car at the wrong time, and it was made to compete against its own sister brand, Mercury, not differentiating whether it was a step above or below the brand."

8. AMC Matador

"Looks like a spaceship."

"Has to be just a hair uglier than the Gremlin...and it doesn't matter what year."

"The Matador coupe had those bug-ugly front lights and the strange rear-end design treatment. It's hard to imagine a car that large having so little interior space. A total waste of steel (and glass, and plastic, and rubber...)."

7. Chevrolet Corvair

"Underpowered and unsafe. I had a chance to ride in one and it was more horrifying than all the rides at Disneyland."

"They were all death traps. If you got rear-ended, they burst into flames. If you got into a sideways slide, the tires blew off the rims and they rolled over."

"Ugly, underpowered, not safe, not safe, not safe. A very bad imitation of the VW Bug. I hardly ever see one, not even at old car shows, probably due to a corrosion problem."

6. AMC Gremlin

"The most hideously ill-proportioned car of all time."

"This car was the epitome of ugly. The first subcompact was introduced Apr. 1, 1970 (April Fools' Day). Need we say more?"

"So much window that even in the winter you could fry eggs inside! Speaking of which, it sort of looked like an upside-down egg!"

"The car voted best as a hot tub!"

"Whatever happened to the back half of this car? It seems as if 40% of the vehicle's body was perhaps unintentionally cropped off on the drafting table. The introduction of the Gremlin rang the final death knell for the already mortally wounded AMC."

5. Chevrolet Vega

"Cheaply built, rough running, harsh ride, rust prone. It was without a doubt the worst vehicle I ever owned."

"So bad it turned off subsequent generations to GM and created the beginning of the downfall of the world's greatest automaker."

"A car that began to rust on the showroom floor brought a whole new meaning to the term 'Planned Obsolescence.'"

"An alleged four-seater that required a pry bar and 'the jaws of life' (both optional) for passenger extrication from the zero-legroom back seat. Sieve-like leaking aluminum-block four-cylinder engine (guaranteed to crack at no more than 30,000 miles), generating perhaps 70 hp (downhill only, with a good tailwind), while still managing to get less than 20 mpg on the highway! A truly masterful feat of reverse engineering by the guys from Flint."

4. Pontiac Aztek

"There must have been a front-end design team and a rear-end design team. And the two teams NEVER spoke to each other!"

"The only car that can make a Pacer wagon look good."

"It looks like a mini-trash truck."

3. Ford Pinto

"If the vehicle was rear-ended, it made the accident worse than it should've been because the gas tank exploded."

"Junk from the day they built it! Do you see any around anywhere? Not even close to a collectible car."

"My neighbor had a vanity plate that read 'IXPLODE' on his Ford Pinto. I was a kid and understood the significance and humor."

"Underpowered, cheap plastic, bodies prone to rust...oh, yeah, they blow up, too."

2. Yugo

"You couldn't get scrap-metal money even if it was running."

"The Yugo was a car that fell apart while you drove."

"I used to work for a dealer and the last one on the lot was an '88 model that never got sold. It was there until 1991, when it was given away as a promotional gift on a radio show."

1. AMC Pacer

"Looked like a fishbowl and those windows leaked. Add a leaky sunroof to it and the car rusted from the inside out!"

"It is a pregnant roller skate."

"It is a pregnant roller skate."

"Not only UGLY but two different-sized front doors!"

"Human terrarium."

"It had seats designed like blue jeans, including the brass buttons, which burned the crap out of you on a hot day."

"Six feet long, eight feet wide, bicycle tires all around, and 0 to 60 in four-and-a-half hours. What a prize! AMC's only conceivable excuse for this engineering and stylistic horror would be if their 1970s design crew was tripping on massive quantities of acid...and even then...it wouldn't be a good excuse."

By Chris Palmeri for Bussiness Week

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