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Love ‘em or hate ‘em? 5 controversial car designs

The old phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” wasn’t coined in reference to cars, but it might as well have been. Some cars, like the 1963-67 Corvette Sting Ray and Jaguar E-Type, are almost universally admired, while others are passionately loved by some and loathed by others. Here are five of the most polarizing:

1.1963-64 Studebaker Avanti: The Avanti was a Hail Mary play to save the ailing Studebaker Corporation with a stunning European-style GT car. Ardent Avanti fans point to its fairly timeless styling, which was supervised by the great Raymond Loewy, and the fact that the car remained in production in one form or another for five decades. Non-fans find the grill-less front end and porthole-like headlights to be a non-starter. A recent uptick in prices may indicate that Avanti lovers will have the last laugh on this one.
2.1971-73 Buick Riviera: The Boattail Riviera was one of the last truly audacious GM creations, and William Mitchell pulled out all of the stops with a huge, dramatic design including a pointed boattail reminiscent of some great 1930s cars. Haters just find it huge and over-the-top. 
3.1980-85 Cadillac Seville: The slant back or bustle trunk Seville was —like the Boattail Riviera — in some ways a throwback to the 1930s-1950s, cribbing a trunk from Bentleys and Daimlers of the era. Some people will come to blows over the merits of this version of the Seville, while some find it to be a caricature; it’s best if these two groups aren’t sharing the same air space. Regardless, nobody sits on the fence about this car.
4.1965-69 Chevrolet Corvair: The first-generation Corvair, introduced in 1959, was a pleasing and clean design. But the second-generation was drop-dead gorgeous. No less an authority than David E. Davis, Jr., writing forCar and Driver, called it one of the most beautiful cars America had produced during the post-war era. But many bow-tie fans — used to fins and lots of chrome or the long hood, short rear deck look of the Camaro and Chevelle — found nothing to like about the Corvair. We tend to agree with the fans here. It’s a beautiful little car.
5.1955-75 Citroën DS: In its native France, the DS can do no wrong. The letters “D-S” in French sound remarkably like the French word for “goddess.” But then the French also think that Jerry Lewis is a god. To most Americans, the sci-fi style of the DS just comes off as whale-like and weird | Jamie Lantzy
Posted in: Features

About the Author:

Rob has been involved in the classic car hobby since restoring a Triumph TR4 in his parents' garage at the age of 16. He has written for Car and Driver, AutoWeek, The New York Times and FoxNews.com. Rob is the author of the book Ran When Parked: Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting. He currently owns a Porsche 911SC, a Jensen Interceptor and a Triumph TR250.

5 Comments on "Love ‘em or hate ‘em? 5 controversial car designs"

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  1. J.R.Binkley says:

    I thought all auto’s,except the caddie ( yuck ) were beutiful in their own way! I would be proud to drive any one of the other’s,although it did take time for me to get used to the Citroen!

  2. Martin LeVan says:

    So much to add…The Riviera was indeed a breakthrough design – that didn’t quite make it (then). Not like the Stingray coupes of the 60′s. These are my prejudices.. But I too liked the 65-67 Corvairs.(Had a ride with john Fittch in one of his 65 corvair Sprints on the lovely back roads near Lime Rock. – However, I had a cool 64 Corvette that I loved, and then a 63 Volvo 1800S coupe – That I’d love to have back today.- Put a gazillion miles on it. Bought a totaled new (64) 1800 from Les Smalley’s garage in Watkins Glen. Had him swap the new engine, transmission and leather seats into my car, and then sold the wreck for almost what I paid for it. Never did care much for the Citroen SM much.. though I know there are many who worship them. The Cadillac Seville bustleback did not make sense then or now. ..Drove an Avant1 demo and passed on it. (Hard to believe that Loewy also designed the 53 Healey – beautiful valuable winner. So spoiled? yes. I’ve been fortunate to have owned 2 Jag XK 120 roadsters, and later built a Datsun 240 Z reproduction in small series. I also think that the Alfa Romeo Spyder in the 50′s was a timeless treasure..(had two).

    Thanks for this opportunity to rant. Martin LeVan (Certified Auto Appraisal).Somis, CA.

  3. Steve G says:

    So glad you didnt take the opportunity to beat up on the Bricklin, as usually done.

  4. MJ Swartz says:

    Funny but I’ve always assumed that the 1963-64 Studebaker Avanti was universally loved.

  5. Cookie Monster says:

    I own a 85 Seville and always get thumbs up when I drive it today.Probably because everything from Mercedes to Lexus to BMW to Impala to Focus all look alike. That Bustleback doesn’t look like anything else on the road !!!!!!!!!!

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