Revolutionary concepts sometimes go over people's heads. The legendary 20th Century Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck said in 1946 that television "won't be able to hold on to any market it captures." And Decca Records rejected the then-unknown Beatles in 1962, saying, "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
Though history vindicated those concepts, such examples are the exception rather than the rule. That's especially true with new car designs, where the line between "trailblazing innovation" and "hideous eyesore" is both exceedingly fine and frequently crossed.
With that in mind, CNBC.com presents 10 ugly cars whose designers would have been better off if they had they been shamed back to the drafting table. They were selected by Karl Brauer, CEO and editor-in-chief of TotalCarScore.com, an online review aggregator for autos currently on the market.
"Each one of these models made it through a design process, focus groups and executive review before seeing the light of dealer showrooms," Brauer said in an email, adding that the manufacturers often paid the ultimate price for producing them. "Not only did most of these models have a limited lifespan, but eight of the 10 brands that produced them are also dead and buried."
1978 Mercury Zephyr
The word "zephyr" derives from Zephyrus, a character in Greek mythology who brought the soft summer breeze. In the real world, it was an ugly car that blighted U.S. freeways during four decades ago.
"The 1970s were a disappointing decade for U.S. cars in general, and the Mercury Zephyr is a perfect example why," Brauer said. "The bizarre roofline, upright grille and slanted taillights comprised a mishmash of bad styling cues."
1958 Edsel Corsair
The Edsel was the "Waterworld" of cars, a boondoggle so notorious that, to this day, its name is invoked to end pitch meetings. Named after Henry Ford's son, Ford Motor spent millions of dollars developing it, but consumers found it hideous.
The Corsair represented the second-highest trim level of the Edsel brand, but it didn't matter how Ford tried to dress it up. "It was poorly received from day one because of the brand's bizarre styling," Brauer said. "By 1961 the Edsel division was gone."