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7 Worst and Strange Cup Holders

If you like to read about cars on the Internet, then you have come across a slideshow or a video featuring a list of trivia. Top 10 strange production engines, 20 cars which are dying, and even 10 gym exercises utilizing a car are a few of the more interesting of these lists. Despite there being so many out there, one that I have been curiously waiting for is one compiling awful and strange cup holder designs. Sick of waiting, I have compiled just such a top X below, in no particular ranked order.

1. BMW E9X 3-Series

The cup holders in the BMW E9X generation of 3-series featured retractable dashboard cup holders. While fully functional, and actually pretty neat, such a set-up not only means the passenger cup holder is distressingly distant, but passengers can very easily break either one with their knee upon entry (speaking from expensive experience).

2. Saab 9-3

Continuing the trend of dashboard deploy-able cup holders, Saab (may they rest in peace) was known for their odd cup holders. The Saab 9-3 is pictured, and while functional, and less prone to breakage than the BMW’s, they are still overly complicated in my opinion. Just another thing to break.

3. Focus SVT Focus

The Focus SVT is an underrated gem. While I may be a bit biased due to owning one, I will freely admit that there are things wrong with it: Primarily the cup holders. The SVT Focus is given a unique center console, which not only deletes the armrest for both front seats (Shown on left transplanted into SVT Focus), but replaces them with two shallow cup holders. While it may sound useful, the 170hp hot Zetec motor will almost immediately tip over any drinks placed within them. In the end, I have personally taken to using them as storage. I can’t help but wishing I had a center console instead.

4. Pre-2014 Fiat 500 

Fiat took the ‘small-car’ idea of the 500 city car a step too far for their cup holder design in the 500 before MY2015. While the picture on the left certainly looks like the cup holders might be functional, and even feature neat extra cubbies, the small-size of the car messes with the perspective. Trying to put an average American beverage in it shows the flaws. In fact, beyond small water bottles and cans of soda, the cup holders are fairly useless.

5. Scion FRS/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86

This is a case of a fairly neat design, executed poorly. The Scion/Toyota/Subaru triplets feature modular cup holders placed behind the shifter between the seats. While this allows for cool custom stuff, it means every time you go for a spirited drive, and try to grab 4th gear, your drink gets propelled into the backseat. Less than ideal, although you can always drink bottled drinks. The real insult comes from the tacked on look of the cup holders. If they were going to plop them anywhere, why there?

6. Lexus LFA/Other Sports Cars

The Lexus LFA is one of the cars that got me started on this train of thought. Top Gear (U.K.) raced across the South-Western United States, in a Viper, an Aston-Martin, and an LFA. During the customary ribbing between the hosts, the fact that the LFA didn’t have a cup holder came up. Not only did all three hosts think this was ridiculous in a modern car, so did I. While there certainly appears to be room for a cup holder in the interior, it turns out many limited-edition, track-focused cars come so unequipped.

7. Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky

This might be the worst cup holder on this list. It almost appears that Pontiac tried to blur the line between no cup holder like the LFA–perhaps for sporting pretensions–and a deploy-able, fancy one like the more European offerings. What results is a small cup holder, placed behind the driver. Not only does the driver have to reach behind themselves, in most instances they would be using their left hands to reach across themselves. And speaking of knocking drinks with elbows…

Honorable Mention: First Usable Cup Holder

While it may seem odd, the first ‘car of the people’ to feature cup holders did not come to market until 1983, with the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager twins. While luxury cars before them often featured full bars, they were often deployed, or hidden in a compartment. The mini-van craze started the public on their desire for the useful convenience of a cup holder.

I am sure I missed some so please comment with anything you have had to live with and hated.


Stephen Hyden View All

I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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