Beauty and speed are two qualities that sit together very well indeed when it comes to cars. But it doesn't always work out that way.
Back in the days before aerodynamics stylists were free to let their imaginations run riot and pen gorgeous shapes.
This resulted in some truly beautiful cars but ones whose handling didn't always measure up. These days all sorts of functional considerations have to be taken into account too, like downforce, meeting crash regulations and cooling brakes and mega powerful turbo engines. Which means vents, wings and all sorts of aesthetic challenges.
Just look at the latest crop of F1 cars if you were in any doubt of where putting function before form can get you. The same is true of road going performance cars too, modern supercars often lacking the elegance of their forebears. Here are 10 examples of where style and speed don't quite match up successfully.
1. Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary: Gandini and Bertone’s original 70s vision for the Countach was a vision of hard-edged futurism and a true supercar pin-up. Sharp, wedge-like lines and taut detailing – not to mention those famous scissor doors – set the Countach apart. But by retirement in 1989 middle-age spread hit the Countach hard.
3.MG Maestro Turbo: the Maestro never was a looker but the addition of a chunky bodykit, cross-spoke alloys and big air intakes on the bumper did it no favours whatsoever. So, ugly? Yes. But boy was it rapid. And those who looked beyond the dumpy looks got to enjoy one of the fastest cars of its era.
4. Ferrari 612 Scaglietti: a Ferrari? Ugly? Well, yes, actually. In fact, we had a job narrowing it down. Can you even remember the last time Ferrari made a pretty car? No wonder that jealous geezer in the Italian Job shoved the Aston off the cliff. Evidence? Consider the Enzo, the F50, the 80s Testarossa...
5. IFR Aspid: IFR boss Ignacio Fernandez hates it when people compare his wild-looking Aspid with the familiar Lotus Seven/Caterham shape but there’s no escaping the fundamental resemblance. But whereas the old Seven has an elegant simplicity the Aspid is bristling, angry and more than a bit mad looking. Neatly, this more or less sums up the driving experience too.
6. Aston Martin Virage/Vantage: modern Aston Martins like the DB9 and Vantage are among the most beautiful performance cars on the planet, more than living up to the cheesy ‘Power, Beauty, Soul’ company motto. And old classics like the Bond-spec DB5 were real lookers too. But in the late 80s and early 90s Astons were somewhat more brutish in appearance.
7. Nissan GT-R: it’s one of the most talked about sports cars of recent years, Porsche-baiting lap records at the Nürburgring and a dazzling application of high technology ensuring cast iron high performance credibility. Believe the hype too because the 485hp twin turbo V6 and ultra sophisticated four-wheel drive drivetrain are every bit as potent as the breathless reviews suggest.
8.Alfa Romeo SZ (ES-30): is “Il Monstro” ugly? Or is it merely a form of Italian style that the unsophisticated just haven’t gotten yet? Few cars turn heads quite like this incredible late-80s Alfa Romeo. Designed by Zagato and sold between 1989 and 1991, it still looks fresh right now. If not exactly beautiful.
9. Porsche Cayenne Turbo S: no line up titled ‘ugly but fast’ could fail to include the monstrous Porsche. In fact, the Cayenne – here in its full £90K, 550hp Turbo S hideousness – is so bluff and so ugly it’s hard to believe it wasn’t intended that way from the start with the express aim of irritating as broad a range of people as possible.
10.Subaru Impreza STI: it’s probably a little unfair to single out Subaru in this instance. After all, its arch rival the Mitsubishi Evo hasn’t exactly been blessed with good looks in any of its 10 – sorry, X - iterations. But over the years and across its range of cars Subaru’s eccentric approach to styling has varyingly enthralled and horrified.