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Ugly ducklings… or future classics? Experts pick 18 cars they dub ‘howlers’ from the past 50 years – and they’re becoming a far rarer sight on UK roads

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But some cars are so ugly that the vast majority of us can see it.

And there have been some abominations on four wheels in the last half a century.

Experts from the motor industry have handpicked 18 howlers dating back to the seventies and up to the noughties – then asked the DVLA how many of them remain on the road.

While in some cases there is just a handful of examples still in use in Britain, others remain in far greater numbers.

And there are ever some models in the list where there are more registered today than there were five years ago as collectors recondition them and return them to the road in the hope they become appreciating classics… 

The list of 18 ugly cars has been chosen by LeaseLoco - here's how many remain on the road today compared to 5 years ago. Data supplied by the DVLA The list of 18 ugly cars has been chosen by LeaseLoco - here's how many remain on the road today compared to 5 years ago. Data supplied by the DVLA

The list of 18 ugly cars has been chosen by LeaseLoco – here’s how many remain on the road today compared to 5 years ago. Data supplied by the DVLA

Among the awful-looking motors in the list is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. This hot-rod-styled family car has depleted in numbers by 44% in the last five years...thankfully Among the awful-looking motors in the list is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. This hot-rod-styled family car has depleted in numbers by 44% in the last five years...thankfully

Among the awful-looking motors in the list is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. This hot-rod-styled family car has depleted in numbers by 44% in the last five years…thankfully

The list of unsightly cars has been compiled by leasing comparison website, LeaseLoco.

While some might not agree with all the entries, you are guaranteed to identify at least one or two models where you’ll agree that they absolutely zero change of winning any beauty pageants.

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How to save on car insurance: Ten top tips to cut the cost in just a few minutes The Ssangyong Rodius was the model of choice for those wanting a family wagon with hearse styling. Just over 3,000 remain on Britain's roads today The Ssangyong Rodius was the model of choice for those wanting a family wagon with hearse styling. Just over 3,000 remain on Britain's roads today

The Ssangyong Rodius was the model of choice for those wanting a family wagon with hearse styling. Just over 3,000 remain on Britain’s roads today

When looking up unimaginative car design, there's a very high chance the Vauxhall Frontera will make an appearance. Boxy, boring and totally uninspiring - just 1,336 are still in use in the UK today When looking up unimaginative car design, there's a very high chance the Vauxhall Frontera will make an appearance. Boxy, boring and totally uninspiring - just 1,336 are still in use in the UK today

When looking up unimaginative car design, there’s a very high chance the Vauxhall Frontera will make an appearance. Boxy, boring and totally uninspiring – just 1,336 are still in use in the UK today 

If the Frontera above is considering boxy, this Nissan's name suggests it is even squarer than the Vauxhall. The Cube was a popular Japanese import, but Nissan's decision to introduce it to the UK market backfired as demand was exceptionally low If the Frontera above is considering boxy, this Nissan's name suggests it is even squarer than the Vauxhall. The Cube was a popular Japanese import, but Nissan's decision to introduce it to the UK market backfired as demand was exceptionally low

If the Frontera above is considering boxy, this Nissan’s name suggests it is even squarer than the Vauxhall. The Cube was a popular Japanese import, but Nissan’s decision to introduce it to the UK market backfired as demand was exceptionally low

Fortunately, most are starting to dwindle in numbers.

In fact, there are far fewer of them on the road in 2023 than there were just five years ago. 

Almost 20,500 examples of the ugly ducklings featured were in use back in 2018. But today, just 13,463 survive, according to official DVLA records.

That means numbers have dropped by a third (34 per cent) in half a decade.

One car to make the LeaseLoco list of ugly motors is the Triumph TR7. We can't say we fully agree with this selection, and classic car experts say it has been rising in value of late One car to make the LeaseLoco list of ugly motors is the Triumph TR7. We can't say we fully agree with this selection, and classic car experts say it has been rising in value of late

One car to make the LeaseLoco list of ugly motors is the Triumph TR7. We can’t say we fully agree with this selection, and classic car experts say it has been rising in value of late

No list of unsightly motors would be complete without a Reliant, and the Robin is arguably the most recognisable of all. The three-wheeler still remains popular today, though, with almost 1,000 examples still on the road No list of unsightly motors would be complete without a Reliant, and the Robin is arguably the most recognisable of all. The three-wheeler still remains popular today, though, with almost 1,000 examples still on the road

No list of unsightly motors would be complete without a Reliant, and the Robin is arguably the most recognisable of all. The three-wheeler still remains popular today, though, with almost 1,000 examples still on the road

The Morris Marina is the epitome of bland. However, it is one of the examples in the list of ugly motors where numbers have increased in the last 5 years as collectors restore the ageing cars The Morris Marina is the epitome of bland. However, it is one of the examples in the list of ugly motors where numbers have increased in the last 5 years as collectors restore the ageing cars

The Morris Marina is the epitome of bland. However, it is one of the examples in the list of ugly motors where numbers have increased in the last 5 years as collectors restore the ageing cars

'Kei' cars are hugely popular in South and East Asian markets, combining compact and boxy shapes to provide practical vehicles for inner-city living. Malaysian maker Perodua decided to offer the Kenari to UK customers in the noughties, with little success. Just 352 remain today 'Kei' cars are hugely popular in South and East Asian markets, combining compact and boxy shapes to provide practical vehicles for inner-city living. Malaysian maker Perodua decided to offer the Kenari to UK customers in the noughties, with little success. Just 352 remain today

‘Kei’ cars are hugely popular in South and East Asian markets, combining compact and boxy shapes to provide practical vehicles for inner-city living. Malaysian maker Perodua decided to offer the Kenari to UK customers in the noughties, with little success. Just 352 remain today

READ MORE: The unlikely cars becoming classics in 2023 

Unlikely classics of 2023: We’ve listed 10 motors that turn 40 this year and therefore begin to qualify for ‘historical vehicle’ benefits, such as VED and MOT test exemption – including the Austin Maestro, Ford Orion and Vauxhall Nova. But does this automatically make them ‘classic’ cars?

We take a closer look at 10 models that turn 40 this year and therefore begin to qualify for historical vehicle benefits, such as exemption from MOTs and car tax.

The list includes a few motors you wouldn’t expect to classify as a classic, including the Austin Maestro, Ford Orion and Vauxhall Nova.

> READ THE FULL REPORT 

John Wilmot, chief executive at LeaseLoco, said that while few will commiserate at the loss of some of these models from our roads, existing owners might benefit from their rarity and see values rise.

‘Britons have always loved an underdog, and we’ll miss these runts of the litter when they’ve gone,’ he said.

‘They might not be pleasing on the eye, but as fewer remain on UK roads they are taking on iconic status. And the owners may have the last laugh.

‘These motors were widely trashed by reviewers, but as the years have passed, the notoriety and rarity of such cars may well have increased their value and collectibility.’

According to DVLA records, some of these howlers are making a comeback in terms of volumes, either a result of imports, owners returning them to the road after they have been declared SORN or even potential cases of drivers finding dilapidated examples and fixing them up to get them back on the road.

There's been a 35% increase in Austin Allegros on the road in the last 5 years as many are being returned to the road by collectors and enthusiasts There's been a 35% increase in Austin Allegros on the road in the last 5 years as many are being returned to the road by collectors and enthusiasts

There’s been a 35% increase in Austin Allegros on the road in the last 5 years as many are being returned to the road by collectors and enthusiasts 

Rover launched the CityRover in 2003 in a bid to save the crumbling brand. Unfortunately, this Indian-made supermini drove almost as badly as it looks. Just 217 are still in use in the UK Rover launched the CityRover in 2003 in a bid to save the crumbling brand. Unfortunately, this Indian-made supermini drove almost as badly as it looks. Just 217 are still in use in the UK

Rover launched the CityRover in 2003 in a bid to save the crumbling brand. Unfortunately, this Indian-made supermini drove almost as badly as it looks. Just 217 are still in use in the UK

If you’ve wandered around London anytime in the last 20 years, you’ve likely seen a G-Wiz. Of all the cars to be sold in the UK in the last two decades, it offers possibly the lowest level of protection for occupants in a crash

‘Our figures show that owners may be recognising the value of ugliness and bringing some of these cars back to roadworthiness,’ John says.

‘Jeremy Clarkson called the FSO Polonez a ‘truly awful car’. But there are actually twice as many registered to drive on UK roads compared to five years ago.

‘The same goes for the Morris Marina and Austin Allegro,’ the LeaseLoco boss adds.

‘There are 22 per cent more Marinas and 35 per cent more Allegros on UK roads compared to 2018.

‘It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that some of these ugly ducklings, rather than being consigned to the scrapheap, will become classics in the years to come, if they’re not already.’

Another disputable choice in the list is the Lancia Beta. However, DLVA records show there aren't many of these left on UK roads Another disputable choice in the list is the Lancia Beta. However, DLVA records show there aren't many of these left on UK roads

Another disputable choice in the list is the Lancia Beta. However, DLVA records show there aren’t many of these left on UK roads

The Renault Avantime is one of those cars that scored huge praise from the motoring press but consumers disliked its looks and three-door body. As a result, it was bought in very small numbers The Renault Avantime is one of those cars that scored huge praise from the motoring press but consumers disliked its looks and three-door body. As a result, it was bought in very small numbers

The Renault Avantime is one of those cars that scored huge praise from the motoring press but consumers disliked its looks and three-door body. As a result, it was bought in very small numbers

Two-door convertible and SUV are words that should never really be used together to describe a car. Suzuki's X-90 definitely looked different to anything else on the road. You can decide if that's a good or a bad thing Two-door convertible and SUV are words that should never really be used together to describe a car. Suzuki's X-90 definitely looked different to anything else on the road. You can decide if that's a good or a bad thing

Two-door convertible and SUV are words that should never really be used together to describe a car. Suzuki’s X-90 definitely looked different to anything else on the road. You can decide if that’s a good or a bad thing

The most common of all these unsightly models in existence is the Chrysler PT Cruiser, though the number of registered examples has depleted dramatically in the last five years, falling from 7,064 to 3,977 – a decline of 44 per cent.

Other models where more than 1,000 are still on the road are the SsangYong Rodius, Vauxhall Frontera and Nissan Cube, all of which are unattractive in their own ways.

Ladas have been the butt of jokes for decades. And the Riva is one of the cars sold in the UK that would score owners zero cool points. Only a few handfuls still remain in Britain now Ladas have been the butt of jokes for decades. And the Riva is one of the cars sold in the UK that would score owners zero cool points. Only a few handfuls still remain in Britain now

Ladas have been the butt of jokes for decades. And the Riva is one of the cars sold in the UK that would score owners zero cool points. Only a few handfuls still remain in Britain now

Back in the day, Jeremy Clarkson called the FSO Polonez a "truly awful car" - and he wasn't far wrong Back in the day, Jeremy Clarkson called the FSO Polonez a "truly awful car" - and he wasn't far wrong

Back in the day, Jeremy Clarkson called the FSO Polonez a ‘truly awful car’ – and he wasn’t far wrong

The Zastava Yugo was a shortened version of the Fiat 128 that was sold in the UK in the eighties. Only 9 are said to remain on the road today The Zastava Yugo was a shortened version of the Fiat 128 that was sold in the UK in the eighties. Only 9 are said to remain on the road today

The Zastava Yugo was a shortened version of the Fiat 128 that was sold in the UK in the eighties. Only 9 are said to remain on the road today

Before Skoda became a VW Group brand, the Czech firm sold some very unattractive cars to UK customers - including the Estelle pictured. The DVLA told LeaseLoco that there's only one still registered on Britain's roads Before Skoda became a VW Group brand, the Czech firm sold some very unattractive cars to UK customers - including the Estelle pictured. The DVLA told LeaseLoco that there's only one still registered on Britain's roads

Before Skoda became a VW Group brand, the Czech firm sold some very unattractive cars to UK customers – including the Estelle pictured. The DVLA told LeaseLoco that there’s only one still registered on Britain’s roads

One model featured by LeaseLoco that we don’t entirely agree with is the seventies wedged-shaped icon, Triumph TR7.

It’s another example where there’s been an increase in registrations in the last five years, rising from 1,001 to 1,037. And for good reason, because this is a classic car that’s clearing increasing in value.

In 2021, experts at Hagerty UK said the average price for one of these angular Triumph two-seaters had risen by almost £1,000 in 12 months, such is the demand for the British classic.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree – or disagree – with any particular of the 18 nominations highlighted in the list of ugly motors. 

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