10 Cars So Weird They Could Have Only Come From The ’90s
90s Cars Were Weird…Really Weird
Updated September 29, 2018
In the ’90s, especially the early ’90s, car designers apparently lost their heads. Out of that era came some strange looking cars – here are 10 of the worst.
There are cars that look like the front was styled by one group of designers and the rear by another – neither group apparently ever talking to one another. Another tried to live in the past while others tried to push too far into the future – a future that never really came. Check these out:
1992- 1996 Subaru SVX
Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesigns developed a concept car for the 1989 Tokyo Auto Show, Subaru received sufficient interest in the display car that it decided to put it into production, Subaru’s first entry into the luxury sport coupe market. Though they claim Giugiaro’s design was exactly transferred to the production model, clearly certain proportions changed and the car looks a great deal more lumpy than the show car. Add to that the weird tiny power window, the only access to the outside world short of opening the door, which made paying tolls and ordering at the drive-through a chore.
1996 – 1997 Suzuki X-90
The Suzuki X-90 is almost the poster child for weird car designs. Perhaps they were trying to separate themselves from the Suzuki Samurai by taking a version of its replacement (the Sidekick) and turning it into a not-quite-sports-car, not-quite-SUV vehicle that failed to connect with the marketplace because 1. no one needed it, and 2. it was pretty ugly. Suzuki took it off the market with 18 months.
1991 – 1993 Nissan NX2000
The Nissan NX2000 was the replacement to the Nissan Pulsar (remember the car you could swap the rear hatch for a station wagon back?). It was an OK looking little coupe, except for the front, which not only didn’t match the rest of the car, but it looked as though the car was being punished for something and the punishment was the front end design.
1990 – 1992 Isuzu Impulse
The Isuzu Impulse was also sold as the GM Storm, and oddly enough the Storm ended up looking better than the car from which it originated. For whatever reason the Impulse ended looking like a different car from every angle: its front end not sharing a common design theme with the rear or the sides. The good thing about these cars was they were built during the period when GM owned Lotus and Lotus engineers were brought in to tune the suspension of the Impulse.
1992 – 1994 Acura Vigor
Acura had the Integra and the Legend, but needed a car in-between. So they took the Integra sedan body (not the Accord, as some sources claim – the Accord had a much larger interior), stuffed a five-cylinder engine under the hood and then stretched out the fenders to accommodate a wider track. The net result was a car of strange proportions, looking like 11 lbs stuffed into a 10 lb sack. The Vigor lasted two years before being replaced by the much better TL.
1990 – 1994 Chrysler LeBaron Sedan
It was like the no one had bothered to tell Chrysler the 1980s were over. Looking like a car much better suited to 1984 than 1990, Chrysler offered up a very square-cornered LeBaron Sedan, complete with vinyl roof and a smaller “formal” rear window (still based on a version of the original K car platform) , as other car makers were starting to pay attention to aerodynamics.
1991 – 1993 Chevrolet Lumina APV
While Chrysler was ignoring aerodynamics, Chevrolet jumped in with both feet with its new minivan design. As is sometimes the case, GM took things to the extreme and attempted to make the Lumina APV so aerodynamic that ergonomics suffered. For example, the angle of the front windshield was so steep that drivers had problems seeing through it due to internal reflections. GM ended up covering the dash with carpet to eliminate the problem. In 1994 when the minivan was restyled, Chevy pulled things way back and made the Lumina APV much more conventional looking, realizing the first design was a steep too far.
1996 VW Golf Harlequin
Volkswagen created a multi-colored Golf for car shows in 1995 and received enough positive feedback that they produced 246 of them for sale, in 1986 only. Each of the attached panels were of one of four different colors. It was referred to as Harlequin, even though that’s not an accurate description of the pattern. A more accurate description would be that it looked like the car had been in several small accidents and that each time a replacement panel of a different color had been acquired from a wrecking yard.
1991 – 1994 Mercury Capri
Even before the Mazda Miata broke cover Ford had been playing with the concept of a two-seat sports cars. In 1983 it showed the Ghia Barchetta concept car to universal acclaim. Over the next few years there was a tug of war back and forth between whether it would be FWD or RWD, and eventually the bean counters won. Called the Capri (at least the fourth incarnation of that name by my count), it was to built in Australia on a FWD Mazda 323 platform. Introduced in 1991 not only did it not look like the Barchetta, it lacked the cohesiveness of the Miata’s much more holistic design. By 1994 the Capri was gone (again).
1996 – 1999 Ford Taurus
The third generation of Ford Taurus was completely redesigned from the ground up, and used a rounded, oval-derived design that was very controversial at the time, considered to be the main reason for this model’s massive drop in sales. The most controversial feature of the design was the front fascia which was composed of separate circular headlights and circular turn signals. Another element criticized was the oval shaped rear window. Ford lost its sales lead due to the awkward design and replaced it with a more conventional look after a very brief three-year run.
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