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Feature Friday: The Ugliest Cars of the 1970s, Part 4 of 6

Posted by Jess Stoeckeler on

1974 Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar (Commuta-Car)

‘If you've ever wondered how electric cars got a reputation as glorified golf carts, well, here you go. The CitiCar, brainchild of a company called Sebring Vanguard, literally was a glorified golf cart, with a 2.5-horsepower motor (later upgraded to 6 hp) and a wheel-chock-shaped body that must have cost tens of dollars to design. It had a 40-mile range and could accelerate to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds… oh, sorry, that's how long it took to accelerate to twenty-five miles per hour, which is three mph shy of the original version's top speed. A company called Commuter Vehicles bought the design in the late 70s, renamed it the Commuta-Car, and added the ridiculous bumper extensions you see here.

1974 Ford Mustang II (Ghia)

We'll skip the debate about whether the downsized Mustang II was a stroke of genius or a national tragedy; that's a conversation for another time. Sure, the Mustang II looked silly, but the major visual offense was the luxury-themed Ghia model, a victim of Ford's notion that any car could be made better with the addition of opera windows. It was one thing to shrink the 'Stang, but attempting to give it a luxury vibe with a padded-vinyl "formal" roof and color-keyed bumpers was nothing less than a crime against humanity. And did they think we wouldn't notice that the hubcaps were lifted from the Granada? The Mustang II was a strong seller, but we think this was in spite of the Mustang Ghia rather than because of it.

1974 Vanden Plas 1500

The Detroit Three were rightly criticized throughout the 1970s and 80s for "badge engineering"—the process of taking a car and putting a fancy grille on it, thereby magically transforming it into something truly special—but British Leyland raised this to an art form, provided your definition of art involves spreading feces on canvas. Witness the Vanden Plas 1500: Based on the Austin Allegro, it featured a stand-up chrome grille, genuine leather seats, deep-pile carpet, and fold-down walnut tables for the back seats, presumably so that the owner had a comfortable place to enjoy lunch while waiting for the tow truck. And for this, BL charged nearly twice as much as the Allegro.’

- Automobilemag, 4/10/2020 & Photos from Automobilemag

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