Cars are not created equally and some miss the mark entirely. But some cars are so weird and/or terrible that they should not have even existed. Period.
Throughout automotive history, there have been many cars that leave us wondering why some people would be crazy enough to drive them off dealership lots in the first place. It’s even weirder when these basketcase cars come from automakers that have an otherwise strong and desirable lineup.
AutoGuide.com decided to take a look at some of the most nonsensical cars ever created, some of which are still offered today. But these cars probably shouldn’t have existed because they were answers to questions that no one was asking.
10. BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
The BMW 5 Series isn’t as popular as the 3 Series, but the sedan sells relatively well for the German automaker. The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, however, is a weird variant that offers more interior space than the standard model, but turn people off with its awkward design. It’s like a crossover or a hatchback, but not really. It’s a car that no one ever asked for, and it turns out that not very many people want it, either. Strangely enough, BMW finds that its sales are good enough to warrant developing a next-generation model. It makes you wonder why a BMW 5 Series wagon wouldn’t do the trick.
9. Saturn Ion
The Saturn brand no longer exists, and for good reason. The Ion might have been a fairly good seller for the brand, moving more than 100,000 units per year between 2003-2006, but it’s such an atrocity — especially the Red Line model — we wonder why it ever sold so much. The Saturn Ion Red Line Edition was offered from the 2004 to 2007 model years and shared its powertrain with the Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged Edition. What makes it so weird is that Saturn was never marketed as a brand with high-performance vehicles and yet here was a Saturn with a gnarly rear spoiler and Recaro seats inside.
8. Coda EV
In the world of electric vehicles, you have the Tesla Model S reigning as the king and then you have the Coda EV playing the role of a court jester. Well, that is if you can even find one. Deliveries of the Coda EV began in March 2012 and a mere 117 units were delivered by April 2013. On May 1, 2013, Coda Automotive filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and the remaining vehicles were bought up by Mullen Technologies, Inc.
One would say the Coda EV was doomed from the beginning, adapting the body of a Chinese car that had a design originally unveiled in 2004. Sure, the design came from well-known Italian builder Pininfarina, but there’s nothing about the Coda EV that screams luxury or exotic. We’re not sure why they even tried.
7. Aston Martin Cygnet
We totally understand why the Aston Martin Cygnet had to exist (emissions regulations), but that doesn’t excuse it for actually being in existence. Aston Martin likely had alternative ways to bring its fleet carbon emissions down, but perhaps making the Cygnet a real thing was the cheapest way possible. The British automaker essentially bought up a bunch of Scion iQs, which wasn’t a successful car in the first place, and shoved on an Aston Martin front grille and added minor bits of luxury to the interior. The result was supposed to be a city car that Europeans would want, but it turned out to be a disaster, diluting the brand name.
The only thing the Aston Martin Cygnet has going for it is that it’s really rare, but that’s because no one really bought one.
6. Smart ForTwo
The Smart ForTwo is an aberration for Daimler, which is the same company that manufactures Mercedes-Benz cars. In the U.S., the Smart ForTwo has very little appeal in the marketplace. Its best year of sales was in 2008 when it launched, moving 24,622 units. But then those owners shared their driving and ownership experiences and sales plummeted to a dismal 5,208 units in 2011. It has rebounded a bit in recent years with 10,453 sold in 2014, but last year, only 7,484 moved. With gas prices continuing to drop, there’s very little reason to own a Smart ForTwo unless you like punishing yourself every time you step into a car — it was terrible to drive and it wasn’t even that cheap to buy.
5. Plymouth Prowler
As a retro-styled production car for the now-defunct Plymouth brand, the Prowler certainly appealed to some people. Produced for the 1997 and 1999-2000 model years under the Plymouth banner, Chrysler carried the torch from 2001-2002 after Plymouth was axed. In total, fewer than 12,000 units were ever produced and the niche market was filled with another strange car, the Chrysler Crossfire. Some would say the Prowler started a wave of retro-inspired vehicles including the PT Cruiser, SSR and HHR and, in a way, made Chevrolet and Ford rethink their designs on the Camaro and Mustang.
Maybe if we were able to directly link the Prowler to the Mustang and Camaro’s design, we’d say it belongs in the world, but just look at it! And it wasn’t even that great to drive, so it didn’t have many redeeming factors.
4. Pontiac Aztek
Many would say the Pontiac Aztek is the ugliest vehicle to have ever existed. We won’t be that harsh, although it is definitely a candidate for those honors. Throughout its existence, the Aztek appealed to some, with nearly 120,000 units sold from 2000-2007. In recent years though, it has risen to fame thanks to its association with the hit series Breaking Bad. It is widely considered a commercial failure and you won’t have to take our word for it, as Time magazine named the Aztek one of the 50 worst cars of all time in 2007 and followed it up in 2010 by saying it was one of the 50 worst inventions of all time.
3. Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
As weird as the Chrysler PT Cruiser is, it filled a niche for the American automaker and actually enjoyed a few years of successful sales. In fact, from 2001-2006, the PT Cruiser moved more than 100,000 units per year. But we’re not here to hate on the PT Cruiser itself — it’s the convertible variant that has us scratching our heads. The four-seat convertible was added for the 2005 model year, featuring an integrated “sport bar” for added rigidity and rollover protection. Production of the convertible ceased in late 2007, and the latest few to roll off the assembly line was sold as 2008 models.
Top Gear shares our sentiments about the PT Cruiser convertible, having named it the worst car of the last 20 years in 2013.
2. Lotus Concepts
Why would these awesome Lotus concepts be on our list? We really wish they never existed because they gave us false hope that Lotus would sweep the automotive world by storm. At the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the British automaker showed up with not one, not two, but five extremely attractive concepts. Each concept was stunning and showed off a gorgeous design direction. But most know what happened after: CEO Dany Bahar was dismissed in 2012 following allegations that he misused company funds for expenses. Following his dismissal, Proton Holdings scooped up the brand and new CEO Jean-Marc Gales has been righting the ship since. It’s just a shame it’s not with one of those stunning concepts.
1. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Saying a car should have never existed is harsh, we admit. But seriously, the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet feels like the Japanese automaker lost a bad bet. Killed off with the introduction of the new 2015 Nissan Murano, the CrossCabriolet variant managed to exist from 2011 to 2014, partly because of the costs required to re-engineer the Murano to be a convertible. Truth be told, Nissan likely greenlit the Murano CrossCabriolet on the strength of Juke sales. The quirky compact crossover surprised many on the market, and maybe Nissan thought it would really start a new trend with a convertible Murano.
But not all is dead in the world of convertible crossovers and SUVs, with the Range Rover Evoque convertible now available. The big question is whether the Evoque convertible will do better in the marketplace than the Murano. Or maybe it will just end up on a future list of cars that should have never existed.