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. 1963-1964 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. 1971-1973 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. 1980-1985 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. 1965-1969 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 for Car 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. 1955-1975 Citroen 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.