QOTD: Trucking Awful Nineties Design From Europe?

<img data-attachment-id="1632332" data-permalink data-orig-file="https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/images.jpg" data-orig-size="1200,630" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="2000 Mercedes-Benz ML320" data-image-description="

Image: Mercedes-Benz

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Last week, in our Wednesday QOTD post, we switched over to the darker side of truck and SUV design from the Nineties. It seemed many of our dear readers were less than fans of the so-called “jellybean” Ford F-150. This week, attention shifts to east — to Europe. Which trucks and SUVs from that most stylish of continents have aged the worst in terms of styling?

Just like a few weeks ago when we considered the good Euro designs from the Nineties, we’ll be picking from a thinner field of contenders than either America or Asia. Our rules stand the test of time, as always:

  1. All selections must be model years 1990 to 1999.
  2. Picks must be from a domestic manufacturer, even if sourced from an import (eg. Vauxhall Rascal).
  3. The only eligible body styles are trucks and SUVs.

Unlike the fantastic Land Rover Discovery II which won Your Author’s Nineties Design Award, a different Land Rover vehicle from the same time period didn’t fare so well.

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The golden egg seen here is the Freelander. As the Land Rover brand reached downward to the masses with the Discovery and Discovery II, parent Rover considered how it might move even further downmarket.

Their research from the Eighties suggested that a compact SUV offering would do well. With a limited budget for development (or anything, really), Rover hunted for someone with whom a partnership might occur. Naturally given their history, Honda was number one on the speed dial. But Rover’s Japanese friend was already in development of their own SUV (the CR-V) and declined. Rover had to go it alone.

Not an issue, as Land Rover turned to the parts bin like they’d done many times before. The donor platform was a modified version of the one on a Rover 200. Whether they wanted to or not, Honda ended up helping Land Rover develop the Freelander: The modified 200 platform was sourced from the prior generation. Said prior generation 200 was developed jointly by Honda and Rover — based on the previous generation Civic — and was also sold as the Honda Concerto. One could not simply drop Rover so easily.

The Freelander entered production in 1997, and was built at the factory which used to make the Rover SD1. Its rounded shape and excessive cladding didn’t share much with the rest of the Land Rover lineup, which is fortunate for those other models. Engines in North American examples incorporated the largest V6 available, a Rover-developed 2.5-liter KV6. Those motors usually killed themselves off around 60,000 miles, so it’s not likely you’ll come across many first generation Freelanders today. For the best, as it looks cheap and terrible in any context outside of London in 1999.

Let’s hear your selections for bad European design.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover]

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