Why are cars from the 90s so ugly

Back in the 90s, the automotive industry was greeted by many new manufacturing methods which enabled them to make more thorough design decisions. This resulted in many stunningly designed cars like the Ferrari F50 or the Aston Martin DB7, but not all 90s cars were great lookers.

In fact, most of them were quite displeasing looking, and some of them were even plain hideous. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that’s true. However, some of these cars offer design decisions that only a mother could love, a very, very good and caring mother.

The reason why cars looked so bad is that the entire ethos of car design changed in a matter of a few years. Aerodynamics became a very important factor to consider, and automakers kind of adopted the idea that function should follow form in most cases.

More emphasis was directed towards efficiency and things kind of rolled from there. It’s worth saying that 70s cars are widely regarded as the ugliest of them all. However, different generations perceive older cars differently, and who knows what we might think about 2020 cars after a few decades.

90s car design – Best looking cars, worst looking cars

Choosing a single car and calling it beautiful or ugly is rather subjective, but if we take a wider approach, and we consider many online charts and 90s cars beauty contests, we should get an overall understanding of what the general public deems ugly, or as pretty as a picture.

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It’s almost impossible to think that the Ferrari F50 is not a good-looking car. Even though the design was questionable at best when it first came out, it seems like the F50 aged strong. The Aston Martin DB7, BMW 8-series, Lamborghini Diablo GT, BMW Z3 M Coupe, Mazda RX-7, and the Porsche 911 993 GT2 were some of the best looking 90s cars.

However, if we were to compile a list of ‘’the ugliest 90s cars out there’’ we ought to consider adding the Subaru SVX, 4th gen Mustang, Lancia Ypsilon, Suzuki X-90, Buick Skylark, and the good old Fiat Multipla.

The automotive design language of the 1990s

Back in the 70s, and 80s especially, cars were rather plain-looking. It’s not to say that 80s cars looked bad, they were just a bit boring. Wedge-shaped cars were as common as milk, and sometimes it seemed like the automotive industry is kind of lacking motivation or infrastructure to offer more futuristic design choices.

However, the 90s seemed to have changed that to a certain degree. Even though many 90s cars were unpleasant, to say the least, they were at least a bit more daring. 90s car design embraced a decade-old concept of curvature and sports design which invigorated many 90s cars and made them look stunning.

This was the era when cars like the Mazda Miata were born, they were so pleasantly curved that Mazda decided not to change the way the Miata looks for decades. Supercars became more ‘’super’’ with more power, way better mechanics, and ergonomics backed by clever design decisions.

Simplicity – The best thing about 90s car design

As mentioned previously, some 90s cars certainly are beautiful, and it’s only right to know why. What cars like the Mazda RX-7, BMW 7-Series, Lamborghini Diablo GT, the BMW 8-Series, Acura NS-X, Toyota Supra, and the Nissan Skyline GT-R have in common is simplicity in design.

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Simplicity is easy on the eyes, no matter how good or not so good-looking that might be. This means that these types of cars almost always age better, especially when compared to overstyled cars like the Fiat Multipla or the Lancia Ypsilon which look like they were styled by someone who had no idea when to stop designing.

Lack of visual cluster makes the shapes more memorable, it enables the artist to perfect the essentials which almost always translates through generations in time. Even though the 90s were predominantly packed with ugly cars, some 90s cars were, and still are mesmerizingly beautiful.

FAQ Section

What defined 90s cars?

90s cars were way more advanced when compared to 80s cars that it sometimes seems like the 80s to 90s transition was the greatest leap in automotive history. Factors that defined the 90s were modern curvature design and simplicity, more power, better proportions, more safety kit, efficiency, and overall technological superiority.

Supercars from the 90s were often twice as powerful as flagship 80s cars which pushed the entire supercar industry towards sportier cars. This is obvious the moment you take a look at the legendary McLaren F1 as this stunning supercar is still one of the fastest cars in existence, and is likely to remain so indefinitely.

What era offered the best-looking cars of all time?

It’s extremely difficult to isolate just a single decade in automotive design history and crown it as superior, but it seems like 1960s cars are as the youth might say it – built different. Cars like the Aston Martin DB5 and the Ferrari 250 GTO are way above the clouds when it comes to value, and that’s primarily because of how they look.

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Every decade had highlights and frankly preposterously ugly cars, but it seems like the 1960s were a bit more cohesive and confident-looking. Given the fact that car design technology improved leaps and bounds in the following decades, but they still hardly managed to come close to the 60s further reiterates why the 60s are often regarded as the very peak of car design.

What is the future like for car design?

It seems that now is the time when the automotive industry is going through what can only be described as a revolution. Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular, and car design emphasizes aerodynamics more than ever in order to improve efficiency and quietness.

As such, we are bound to expect sleek-looking cars with lots of curves as these are the forefronts of efficient car design. Some brands are adopting an entirely new design language, so it’s hard to gauge what will come in the future. All we know for certain is that technology paves the way for a more exciting design, in theory at least.

Marko Mikulic

Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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