It isn’t the ugliest in automotive history but the Ami 6, launched in 1961, sure comes close.
How the French brand came up with such a peculiar design when only six years earlier it was dazzling the world with the gorgeous DS will remain one of life’s mysteries.
Based on the 2CV, it looked like its nose had melted. Worse was the reverse-rake rear window; this styling feature, used very sparingly in the industry (the Reliant Regal, Ford Anglia and Consul Classic can go stand in the corner and think about what they’ve done...) really veered the car off into weird territory, like the mullet or MC Hammer Pants... Theoretically, it allowed for more rear seat head room but it doesn’t bare thinking what happened to passengers when the aesthetically challenged Ami — which translated means ‘friend’ — was rear-ended. Still, designer Flaminio Bertoni said, with a straight face, that it was his favourite car... I suppose every child looks beautiful to his/her parents. To be fair, Citroën was arguably the most adventurous company at the time when it came to design — sometimes the quirkiness worked, and other times you got the Ami 6.
It didn’t just stand out like a sore thumb, it was as bad to drive as it looked. You wouldn’t have expected much from its flat-two air-cooled motor and not much is exactly what you got; it produced 22bhp and had a maximum speed of 105kph.
Ah but it was cheap and cheerful, right? No. It was 35 per cent more expensive than the 2CV and as a result of the eccentric looks, woeful performance and the pricey window sticker, just 80,000 units sold in its first year. In comparison, almost twice as many 2CVs found happy homes during its debut year.
France might be the fashion capital of the world but as the Ami 6 proves, when it gets it wrong, it sets a new high in low...
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