Question of the Week: What is the ugliest Japanese car?

Without even reading the title, you can probably guess what this week’s QotW is just by photo alone.

What is the ugliest Japanese car?

Sorry Kev, but I’m going to have to make an executive decision on this one. The 1988 Autech Stelvio is both proof that the Italians were not infallible when it came to good design, and that there was once a time when Nissan was indeed crazy enough to green-light something like this. One of the automotive world’s great tragedies is that a road as incredible as the Stelvio Pass must now share a name with this abomination. Underneath, it’s an ¥18 million F31 Leopard/Infiniti M30, albeit one with 320hp, but as Kev has noted you could buy two NSX-Rs for that price.

As usual, the best (not the most-correct, but the most entertaining/well-written/inspiring) comment will receive a random JDM toy in the mail. Click through to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What is the most beautiful Japanese car?”  

By sheer number of votes cast, it would appear that the FD3S Mazda RX-7 is Japan’s most beautiful car. We at JNC approve of this message. We have long thought that it and the Toyota 2000GT (which, incidentally, came in second) were two of the most beautiful machines in auto-dom (though we will remain mum on which one comes out on top).

Nevertheless, the best comment of the week made us want to go out and buy a Datsun Fairlady Roadster right away, thanks to Kevin T and the following ode:

I’d say the Fairlady Roadster 1600/2000. It’s small, lightweight, gives you that awesome feeling top down and banks turns like it’s on rails. Allows you to take out a lady, watch the damn sunset and bang her til the sun comes up. It’s really an awesome little car. If modded right with some Mikuni/Solex carbs, and tuned with some nice headers, it sings wonderful tunes shifting through the gears. With almost no heavy interior pieces, you can just friggin hear those throttles wop wop woping! This little beauty was also raced in everything Datsun was able to throw it into like the Z. If this beautiful car can’t make you feel young and free, I don’t know what else…

Congrats, Kevin! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a micro Choro-Q MS75 Toyota Crown coupe!

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38 Responses to Question of the Week: What is the ugliest Japanese car?

  1. Eljay says:

    Ugly Japanese car? An oxymoron if I ever heard one.

  2. TE72_Sunny says:

    I would say either the S10 Silvia from the 70’s with the big US spec bumpers, or the Pulsar Sportback with it’s boxy self. Nissan really did a terrible job with the design of those two particular models, imo, which explains why they can’t be found anywhere. No offense to the owners of these vehicles, but these cars are super ugly! I wouldn’t want to be caught driving one of those without limo dark tints.

  3. Louis F says:

    To me I would probably choose the Subaru Casa Blanca. The retro treatment on the Impreza wagon just doesn’t look right.

  4. banpei says:

    I once made a bold statement that the Skyline ER33 was (one of) the ugliest creation(s) ever and received a lot of bad replies from whining owners on my blog. Not going to repeat that again. 😉

    I think it is a matter of taste. Some people already think every Japanese car is ugly. Some others shudder at the thought of the Japanese cars from the 80s and if you are lucky they only name one specific car that they find ugly.

    But if you would put a gun against my head I’d probably nowadays pick the Alfa Romeo Arna as the ugliest Japanese creation ever: a Nissan Cherry with badly implemented Alfa Romeo looks and the worst reliability from both sides. 🙁

  5. dankan says:

    The original Toyota Echo sedan. A car of outrageously bad design on all levels. The proportions were so far out of whack, it looks like one of the novelty keychains dished out as a prize for this contest. The actual design details were equally horrific, with large, amorphous blobs for head and tail lights, a pinched grille which matched nothing else in the entire exterior design, ugly body cladding creating a two-tone playskool impression and the complete absence of joy.

    It is instructive that Toyota was so ashamed of this monument to crapulence that they not only replaced the car, but also the nameplate, going from a good name (Echo) to the awkward Yaris. This car was that ugly.

    • Ben says:

      Yes! I know I just wrote about how the Stelvio is the ugliest but as a Toyotaku my personal most hated is indeed the Echo, for all the reasons you describe. Plus, it proved that Toyota cared more about scraping a few bucks from the very bottom end, sub-Walmart car shoppers than sullying its good name with a bargain-basement product that looks like a Dollar Store knockoff of a real car…. all while raking in record profits on its way to becoming the world’s biggest automaker. Thus it is to me not only physically, but morally, repugnant.

      Also, its JDM name is the Platz, which is the sound one makes when failing to hold in a burp in a public place.

  6. goki says:

    ugliest Japanese car…..basically anything Mitsuoka makes!

    pick one…
    ….all gross looking! 🙁

  7. yisoo says:

    Toyota Verossa. The short production lifespan from 2001 to 2003 says it all. A decent (but BEIGE) looking car, ruined by a poorly integrated front grille.

  8. Steve says:

    I used to think the Datsun F10 was the ugliest but the current lineup of post-Renault Nissan/Infiniti are even worse.

  9. Corey B says:

    I have always maintained that the Italians have the greatest amount of style; Just not all of it is good.Ugliest Japanese cars? Almost every car MR Bean has okay’d with the exception of the g35/37, 350/370 and the GTR. Seriously thanks for Renaultifying Nissan!. As for the ugliest nostalgic I’ll stay in the family and say Datsun F-10. Ps I am a Nissan fan so I hold them to a higher standard hence my disgust at the choices of the current leadership.

  10. Corey B says:

    AgH! Steve beat me to it

  11. john m says:

    Datsun F10. Makes the B210 look positively enticing

    • Ben says:

      While that is indeed quite grotesque, for the purposes of this contest we’re talking about cars that were actually sold “as-ugly” by the automakers themselves. No use in racking up a collection of questionable mods!

    • Steve says:

      Huh! An IMSA B210. I dunno; with a little work, it wouldn’t be so bad. Lowered, bigger wing (to balance the flares), bigger wheels/ties, and tidy up the front end (sticks out too much). Reminds me of the IMSA Monzas….

  12. tcmartin says:

    This is the ugliest car I saw when I was in Japan.

  13. Dutch 1960 says:

    The Nissan Juke always looked to me like a genetic experiment gone bad, the type where the frog has one eye on it’s belly and a leg sticking out of the top of his head. I can see it now when the proud new owner comes home, and family members and friends try to find the most tactful way to speak approvingly (“Looks like a lot of thought went into the functionality of your purchase, eh, uh, the color is really nice, yeah, that’s it! Great color choice!”). Sometimes unusual looking cars make a statement, and sometimes that statement is “design and product approval processes at this firm positively s**k!” Or maybe someone put LSD in the bong water. OK that was fun.

  14. Danny says:

    Have you all forgotten about the Subaru Baja? If there is an uglier car than this it could only be a Pontiac Aztec… I don’t know what Subaru was thinking, the Baja is like an equally plastic-laden but smaller version of the Chevy Avalanche. Additionally, it could only seat 4 due to a goofy center console between the rear seats, and the bed wasn’t big enough for a bicycle if I remember correctly.

  15. Kevin T says:

    Thanks Ben.

    As for me, the ugliest car that I’ve seen growing up is the Nissan Pulsar. WTF is that? It’s like the designers looked through their portfolios, looked at other competitors cars coming out at that time, did a quick cut-and-paste and called it the Pulsar. It’s like going to school and you know that class you didn’t like? You’d save the homework for last and you just mickey mouse it just to get it over with? That’s what happened to this car. Straight looks like a piece of shit. I would not even attempt to modify or heck, even buy or drive this leftover of a design failure piece of crap. They may say that if you stance, slam and deep dish any car it can look good, I don’t think so. Check the definition of a “pulsar”: a noun.
    Any of several celestial radio sources emitting short intense bursts of radio waves, x-rays, or visible electromagnetic radiation at regular intervals, generally believed to be rotating neutron stars. It’s an electromagnetic radioactive POS to me; more mutated than anything. I’m sure there may be more ugly cars that came out of Japan, but this one is like the pieces of dog poop or human boogers left on the pavement to rot for a thousand days and stuck on the bottom between the tiny cracks and crevices of my shoe. That’s how disgusting this car is. If Nissan makes any more of these POS, I’d rather take the bus or walk. The Nissan Pulsar is the definition of: Failure.

  16. Brian says:

    I liked the baja, still had a boxer powerplant, turbocharged option, and awd. The new impreza on the otherhand was really confusing. It looked like they had started to improve on their previous sti sedan with wider body and more grunt, and then they just decided “oh the korean car companies are doing well, let’s copy their past failures and make an undistinguishable kia”. what were they thinking? Was all their design crew making the BRZ so they just picked a random car to name the new impreza?


    I’d say the later toyota corollas are the ugliest (Late 90’s, early 2000’s). For some reason people still try to spruce them up, and they still look horrible. Almost every other car has it’s charm, quirky, unique, or just outright rare, but the 2000 corollas were plenty available, atrociously proportioned, and just downright unpleasant to look at.

    Just last month I went to a show, where someone had a supercharged early 2000 corolla that they rallied with a brush guard up front and rally lights, and it still wasn’t remotely interesting. Heck someone once informed me they had the “S” spec corolla, when I asked what that entailed, they said, some red stitching, alloys, and the decal…after which he just looked down and walked away.

    • Tyler says:

      Atrociously proportioned? I think the proportions are pretty good, especially compared to some of the styling disasters Japan has put out. Think 70’s Subaru. 360 Custom, FF1 and Leone. All terrible proportions.
      Cheese and crackers, that looks terrible. (But I like it)

      Hino Contessa is another one with terrible proportions. If you think the Corolla has bad proportions you must be very picky.

  17. Duke says:

    Any S30 2+2. They just look so wrong.

  18. benji says:

    hands down the mitsuoka orochi, its the most grotesque creation in history

    reminds me of those mutants from total recall

  19. Tom Westmacott says:

    I hesitate to slate any JNC. There have been many misproportioned Kei cars, such as the Mitsubishi Minica Toppo, but these have a certain ‘kawaii’ charm of their own. Many of the late-70s Datsuns like the F10, widely slated as ugly, are at least interesting, and suffer more from safety bumpers and aching wheel gaps than any inherent failure of the underlying body styling – strip the oversized bumpers, lower the suspension, and suddenly they look quite respectable.

    My nomination, however, is a car whose design is as relentlessly boring as I have ever seen. The body is completely square-cut and anonymous, without a single concession to the pleasure of the onlooker. Constructed locally and sold in huge numbers in my home country of the UK, this unfortunately durable cardboard-cutout car blighted the streetscapes of my youth, finally withdrawing it’s offensively inoffensive absence of styling only after two decades of nondescriptness. Its huge, square bonnet is utterly pointless, covering a small, underpowered engine arranged to offer dull FWD dynamics without even the packaging compensations this layout should provide. At the other end, the bizzare vents on the rear wing are the only distinguishing feature of the otherwise totally generic shape – that, and a superfluous stick-on spoiler on ‘top spec’ models. This car’s deathly dullness singlehandedly killed off the longstanding and respected ‘Bluebird’ name in export markets, forcing Nissan to invent the new ‘Primera’ tag for it’s far better replacement. This is ironic, given as the car wasn’t really a Bluebird at all originally, but an Auster. Nissan Bluebird
    T12/T72, you are the dreariest link – goodbye.

  20. erwin says:

    I think mazda 626 ’80. Or around. Seem can’t see the good point of view on that car.

  21. kari says:

    my vote goes to Mitsuoka

  22. Dave says:

    The 1st generation Mitsubishi Chariot was pretty darn fugly. I tend to like these small MPV type cars, especially the older ones from Japan. But this one just looks awful. The face looks like an ugly old grandmother. The rebadged Dodge version, the Colt Vista, looked even worse. Ugh!

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