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Story by Lois Grace

OK, now, I don't want to hear any excuses. We all have our moments of weakness, and they don't bear justification here. Simply put, there really ARE no excuses for what is to follow: I think of these as car manufacturers mistakes, their moments of weakness. If you have been unlucky enough to be the owner of one or more of these cars, then find a nice bag for your head, or lie about it. I appeared in a newsletter with a bag over MY head, perched on the hood of an 85 Golf. The bag on my head was not to hide my shame at having been associated with - and actually LIKING - said Golf, it was to spare the Golf the humiliation of being associated with ME. With my clever Mr. Bubblehead disguise, I'm sure no one even remotely suspected that it was me on that hood, till now. And, that is why you won't find the Golf on the list that follows: it's too fine an automobile to be included. Besides, it's a VW (although there is one Volkswagen listed, for what should be obvious reasons) and we all know VWs don't embarrass their owners.

You will find one key component linking all the cars listed below: they are all cheap. The VolksWoman Theory of Cost-Effectiveness dictates that the more expensive a vehicle is, the better looking it is. This does not hold true for a few examples, one of which springs instantly to mind when you think about ugly cars. The Chevrolet Caprice is this car. I'm sure the Caprice costs a goodly sum, and the design engineers for this car gave no thought whatsoever to how appealing it should look. But, by and large, The VolksWoman List of No Excuse Vehicles consists of nothing but cheap, questionably built, boring little vehicles. In the interest of good public relations, let me add right here that I am a big fan of saving money. I am also a big fan of small cars. You can save money and have a small car though, without resorting to driving boxy little commuter pods. A nicely maintained (or restored) Bug will give you the same service as any of those listed below, plus you won't have to apologize for driving it. So, without further ado, let us begin.� My list, in no particular order, starts with:

I have nothing against Korea. I'm sure they manufacture some fine stuff there. Budget-priced eyeglass frames come to mind. I don't want my car looking or feeling like it was built from the same material as my eyeglasses, though. And, I don't care if it DOES get 72mpg, its still a HYUNDAI. I refuse to drive something with a name that sounds like my cat trying to clear a hairball from her throat. Sorry, its just a little THING I have.

This was another car for which there simply cannot be any excuse. I can't imagine, for the life of me, why this car was built (although it got a bit less ugly as time went on). Impossible to tell front from rear, I wonder how you know which end steers? I make an exception in this list, for the GEO METRO CONVERTIBLE from years ago, which was so hideous that it qualifies as totally, utterly cool. Coming in gross neon colors, with a soft top that looked as if it were sewn by a 4-year-old, it was really nifty. Reminds me a lot of the Nash Metropolitan, high on my list of Wantables.

Made before Datsun decided it was really Nissan, the ghastly B-210 looked as if its rear end had been caught in the machinery on the way out of the assembly line. Smashed flat on top, and sticking out in the rear, it was a car that even Datsun apparently couldn't love: they quit making it soon after it came out.

Oh, the poor little Kadett. I put it in the list in this spot because it reminds me so much of the B210. Does anyone remember any other kind of Opel (besides the GT)? I had a boyfriend once with a Kadett - it was green and looked like a pickle. Do I need to explain further?

Any VolksWoman list of gross vehicles includes at least one Ford. The Granada was the white-bread version of the boring sedan: boxy and utterly unremarkable. The Tempo, when it first came out, was bad enough, but now it has mutated into something looking a lot like a chrysalis - I'm horrified to think what might hatch out of this thing. The Fairmont? Anybody remember these? Yeah, I thought not.

Poor Chrysler, they thought they had to do the Ford Fairmont one better and came up with something they called the K-Car. It was probably named after Iacocca's favorite dog or something. BLECCCHHH.

Now, these two epitomize cheap cars. Any high schooler could easily afford to go right out and buy either of these, brand new. Of course, they don't - their parents buy them Camaros and Mustangs and Dad drives the Omni. The measly doors on these remind me of a ride at Disneyland.

It was every students dream, and one of my recurring nightmares. Hondas aren't cheap any more, so why did they make them LOOK that way in 1973? BORRRRRRING. Not to be confused with that really cool and sporty CRX, which Honda cleverly decided to eliminate in favor of that ever-so-popular Civic del Sol. YEAH RIGHT. So popular that they quit making it two years into production.

Long staples of Toyota's ultra-frugal line, I continue to wonder why they are so popular. Their owners will say its because they run flawlessly, forever. That is precisely my point: I'd hate this car so much I would take it out and shoot it, just to get rid of the thing. Like nearly all Toyotas everywhere, they are impossible to kill. Now there's a scary thought.

Body built by the design-impaired team at American Motors. Enough said.

I thought the rotary engine Mazda's were pretty unique. That's another word for odd. And, being odd, they were cool. But the Protege and the 323 are merely more metal on wheels. Nothing remarkable about them except the fact that they are foreign and get good gas mileage. If you can stand to be seen in them.

See previous comments about Pacer and Gremlin, except disregard the part about who designed it.

I gave these two their own category, instead of including them with former Chevy and Ford nominees, because they are so closely linked. I don't know which came first, but let's say it was the Pinto. Chevy saw this and must have thought they wanted a piece of that ugly, useless, cheap little car market and came out with the Vega. I've heard the Cosworth Cam Vega engine is pretty hot. But I ask you: would you buy a car because it had a hot cam in it??

Don't remind me this was supposed to be the biggest-selling small car in the US. I don't care. It's GROSS. I will reluctantly admit that its design has slowly crept upwards in recent years, becoming slightly more tolerable but it doesn't excuse what it is: CHEAP. Every newlywed couple with a baby on the way buys an Escort. The poor kid.

I have to list this as quite possibly, the premier example of cheap, embarrassing cars. Not only is it a Toyota-wannabe, its boring and ugly too. It's the automotive equivalent to the Home Shopping Network. YAWN.

You have probably noticed that I have not listed pickups here. I did that on purpose, because trucks are never cheap or cheesy, unless you are talking about the Brat. This wasn't a REAL truck, just half a cheap car, with two plastic seats in the open bed (can you believe that one??). I'm sure it would have struggled to carry a 50-pound bag of dog food home, it was so useless.

I am ending my list with the mention of the Fox because I hate to put ANY VW on here and thought it best to hide it at the bottom. But, to be true to my sense of duty in supplying you with honest information, I must. The Fox was Volkswagen's stroke. It wasn’t a stroke of genius, just a stroke. I think VW felt left out of the ugly useless car market and decided to build one of their own. The Fox was about as boxy as it got, with the wagon looking much like a Dasher, except without the style.

I surely hope I have not offended anyone with this list - my intention was only to enlighten and open some eyes. I also understand that, with limited finances, sometimes it becomes necessary to close the eyes in order to buy the ugly car. The first Bug owners probably felt this way - wasn't the Bug touted as one of the ugliest cars ever built when it first came out? But the difference between the Bug and all my dubious nominees is that the Bug is now a classic, and destined for great things merely by virtue of its VW heritage. I doubt you could say that about any of those on my list. Still, if you own, drive, and enjoy an Omni, then who I am to take your fun away from you? Just make the roads safer for the rest of us and cut EYE HOLES in that bag you wear over your head if you still drive one, OK?

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