These days, car commercials tend to focus on technology and looks more than reliability and performance. And nowhere do technology and design get more radical than on concept cars. As future-facing displays, concept cars help to pave a new road forward for an entire industry. The results can be stellar or completely over-the-top.
Successful automobile manufacturing requires a combination of design, engineering, and construction ability. No one wants an ugly car, to be sure—but at the same time, no one wants a car that is going to break down all the time. Oftentimes, for better or worse, form comes before function.
Influencing an industry is difficult, so manufacturers often try to make their concept cars as eye-catching as possible. Not every concept car deserves to be made, though. Keep scrolling for 15 ugly concept cars we'll never be able to unsee.
15 GeT Out
This early GTO concept preceded the disappointing release of the mid-2000s GTO reboot. But as bad as the final product was, this design was just scary. It clearly shares some details with the 1990s Pontiac Firebird and maybe even the rear end of the late-2000s Camaro. But the overall package combines terribly.
14 Not My Friend
This tiny concept car looks pretty futuristic, which is the entire point. But the future is going to be no fun at all if Citroen has their way. This is the Ami One, coined an "urban mobility project" by the automaker from France. Somewhere between a Smart car and a lego, the Ami One completely forgot how much aerodynamics plays into efficient automobile design.
13 Helmet Hair
General Motors brought the EV-1 to the market in 1996, though that was an experiment that didn't end particularly well. In the 21st century, GM has consistently updated their EN-V concept, seen here with Chevrolet badging. It looks more like a helmet from Halo than anything else, though a rolling alien egg also comes to mind.
12 Plain As Day
This is a one-off concept car built as an "idea car" back in 1956. Named the Plymouth Plainsman, the station wagon was essentially an amalgamation of all the absurd styling that land barges during were bedecked with. From the headlights and intakes up front to the strange canopy at the middle and, of course, fins at the rear, no design cue was left untouched.
11 The Simple Life
Concept cars are supposed to be radical ideas that push the world of automotive design forward; it's expected that they be too wild to actually make into a production vehicle without serious changes. And yet, this sports car, the Ferrari Conciso Concept by Michalak, makes even less sense than the average concept. Nowhere does it retain any sense of Ferrari's legendary design ethos.
10 Muscle Mania
The escalating power wars currently dominating Detroit headlines have managed to result in some awesome cars. With the Challenger, Mustang, Camaro, and Corvette all getting increasingly potent engines and options packages, it would almost make sense that Ford would revive the Torino nameplate. But this bulbous beast doesn't fit into today's automotive landscape.
This strange concept car looks like BMW took their Z3 and turned it into a convertible SUV. As divisive as the Z3 already was for BMW fans—not to mention its coupe counterpart, known as the "Clown Shoe" affectionately—the Z18 concept is a stranger thing. If it looks like it could be related to the famous Amphicar, that's because it utilized boat-like construction and could drive through water, as well.
8 Hard Edges Galore
Mitsubishi is not quite as popular in the US as it is across the globe, where rally success and simple SUV designs have earned the brand a great reputation. But this concept SUV, designed to succeed the Pajero—in an aggressively futuristic skin—is the Concept GC-PHEV. Hopefully, nothing that looks anything like this ever leaves Japan alive.
7 Luxury Without Class
If this concept looks like a fan of Mercedes-Benz and Maybach designed a faux-SUV on their home rendering software, the reality that it could actually reach production must seem shocking. But Mercedes is apparently actually releasing a real-world version of their "Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury" and it has been widely reported that it will be built in Alabama. Exactly why a sedan needs to be lifted, however, remains a mystery.
The history of the automobile has always jumped forward in leaps and bounds. Lately, with technological advancements like hybrid and electric powertrains making news, manufacturers are hard-pressed to stay ahead of the pack. But this over-the-top concept from Mercedes-Benz isn't going to earn them any good coverage, sadly, even if it performs better than anything else on the market.
5 An Idea
Just because an idea pops into thought doesn't mean it's a good one. Recently, fan art has depicted cars like the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro as crossover SUVs. But this raised coupe, the Italdesign Giugiaro Parcour, is little more than a coupe that's got four-wheel drive and a few more inches of ground clearance than a sports car. No, it won't perform well on the tarmac nor on gravel roads.
The Kia Soul is a boxy little city car that was clearly intended to reach a younger demographic. As ugly as the production car is, the concept was even worse. The fact that any manufacturer would look at the car above and think that it could be a great first step is ridiculous. At the very least, Kia deserves credit for having made lots of changes before the Soul left the factory.
3 Bring Back The Diesels
Volkswagen has remained dedicated to reminding everyone that they bungled one of the world's greatest emissions cheating scandals. Their current ad campaigns just reinforce the idea that the company can't be trusted, even if they are truly trying to pave the way towards a brighter future in the form of efficient, clean, futuristic cars.
2 A Concept
The Volkswagen Concept-A looks like a combination between Nissan's Juke and an Audi crossover SUV. The result is a car that just looks cartoonishly proportioned. Rear-hinging doors on anything this size just reveals how cramped the interior is going to be. Thankfully, this is another example of a concept that didn't get much traction, even if it was supposed to be an off-roader.
1 So Rugged
The Pontiac Aztek is widely regarded as the worst car ever made. Not only was it extremely ugly on the outside, but it also performed little better than a minivan—which, after all, it basically was. It's hard to imagine that the Aztek could possibly have been even uglier, though this early concept accomplishes just that.
Sources: Hemmings, Road & Track, and Wikipedia.