It's obviously ugly, except sometimes it's not. You wouldn't call it beautiful, but from some points in time and space it definitely is. It never quite resolves.
After last Tuesday's Fête Française (or should that be gallopalooza?) on Jalopnik, I went back to the one car that's been bugging me for most of my life: the original Citroën Ami 6 berline.
It was designed by Flaminio Bertoni, arguably the greatest car designer of the 20th Century. He started out as an acclaimed sculptor, but once the art market dried up in the depression of the early '30s, he took up a job with Citroën, and was asked to style the Traction Avant as his first job. He did well.
Then, after World War 2, he was asked to style two rigorously functional implements, and managed to turn them into much loved icons: the minimalist 2CV (hello Chris Harris!)
and the H-van:
Neither were what you could call beautiful, but their well-proportioned form-follows-function worked incredibly well.
Then, Flaminio was asked to style a goddess. He did a good job: many consider the DS to be the most beautiful car ever made.
So, with a portfolio like that, how on earth did he end up designing the Ami 6, and, what's more, to declare that it was the one he liked best of all of his own creations.
For most of my life, I wouldn't have had an answer, but I'm beginning to get it now. The thing to understand about the Ami is that it is the Goldilocks of classic Citroëns: a lot of the comfort and airiness and styling of the D series, but with the practicality and low running costs of the 2CV. It was Citroën's mid-range family car of the '60s.
However, unlike – say – a Corolla, it is resolutely not boring. And that's the key: every time you look at it, you have to decide whether it is a stroke of genius or a mutant tadpole.
I want one!
Hell, no, I don't!