I have been thinking a lot over the years over one big design flaw. When you grow up in the era of muscle cars and the head turning hot designs of the cars of those years well, there has been nothing since then that compares. The current commercials give you blaze and blitz and clever smokin’ camera angles along with music that pulses but……..that’s it. When they finally show you the car in the two minute commercial that all the hype is leading to well, my opinion of it sinks quite a bit. They make it seem like there is this dream car that has a personality of its own that can send a message to whoever sees it or rides in it. It exudes all you have ever wanted. They give it a life of its own but in reality it is quite a disappointment.
Who is designing these lame excuses for a car?
When I think of a car that catches my eye there are many things that have to happen. As an artist I have a critical eye for design. When you chose a car first and foremost the design has to speak to you. There are way too many bland cars with neutral, boring details that cast a very poor reflection on the industry. Good design is always in the details. Anything can be made better if thought is given to the details. I am shocked as I look in a line of traffic, specifically to see which car catches my attention. I’m afraid it’s not many. It is a long line of boring, boring, yawn, boring vehicles. What has happened along the way?
New technologies and designs arrived as the jet age came into full swing in the 1950’s. The cars became longer, lower and wider. Designers took their cues from the transportation industry of Europe in trains and airplanes. Chrome was added as a feature part of the design. The 1950’s saw the U.S. auto production profits increase dramatically and exceed that of Great Britain, France, Japan, and Sweden. Demand for cars after the Depression and World War 11 created an excess of the ‘50’s with tail pins (or fins) and chrome was in. The jet set lifestyle was here and car manufacturers aimed to capitalize on the new rage. The “fabulous fifties” saw some of the most beautiful and outlandish cars ever made. Plain looking family cars were outfitted with wings, turbines, and after burner tail lights. How cool was that?
The Cadillac proved that America was coming out of the war unscathed and demonstrated a new found prosperity in expanding this vision to suburban neighborhoods. The Jet Age was here.
Tailfins, V-8, MUSCLE BOOM and hot rods. Smaller companies were feeling the pressure of competition. By the ‘60’s ten car companies became four. The end came for Studebaker, Nash, Kaiser-Frazer, Hudson, Packard, Willys and Crosley.
1960’s muscle cars and part of the Classic Car era appeared when Detroit (Motor city or Mo Town) was trying to stop the invasion of (no, not the Beatles) but imported cars from Volkswagen, Datsun, Corvair, Fiat and the Valiant.
Then came the big guns of muscle; Pontiac GTO (or “goat”) led the way followed with the Barracuda, Superbird, Cyclone, Camaro, Firebird, Super Sport, Road Runner, Mustang and Toronado. Then we have the Ford Torino and Chevy Chevelle.
Pony cars came and went. The 70’s were bad for the automobile and they began to face more challenges. Regulations such as safety issues, the Clean Air Act, and the OPEC oil embargo leading to the gas shortage began to affect the industry. Consumers now looked to foreign cars and the smaller more affordable and efficient models were now in demand. The Volkswagen Beetle or “Bug” was the counterculture rave with 15 million sold in 1973. This hippy car never changed its look year after year.
In the 80’s the Japanese had watched and learned how to create a better car to entice the disillusioned Americans. They began to lead with their Honda Accord a top rated and best- selling car in America by 1989. Toyota, Datsun, Mitsubishi followed as popular new cars trends. Saab, BMW, Mercedes and Volvo also kept up their share of the demand of the market with trend setting European styles.
Then the 90’s came and there you see the evidence in the downward spiral of design in my opinion. Round is the new out of shape style I see. The new lines of LH cars are streamlined, cabin-forward styling maximizing interior space. Gone is anything unique in the design or style of the automobile. The colors are for the most part, bland with ho-hum details and interiors. Where is the excitement in that? I want something that speaks to me from the other side of the parking lot and I don’t mean with a chirp or other stupid sound. And as with any successful design, it’s always in the details such as some of the current cool wheels out there. Real nice. All it takes is adjusting or adding something to bring the notch of the product up from okay to outstanding. It’s not hard. It just takes vision. I don’t see that. I mostly see dull. Take the challenge and the next time you’re in a parking lot see which vehicles make you take a second look, nod your head and say, “oh yeah”.
Who are these automobile designers of today’s blahmobiles?
I miss the chrome and the classic edge to the overall look and the muscle cars for their sharp looks and the ‘take it with no nonsense’ style it evoked with wicked class. All guts and glory.
We all remember our first car. There’s always a story with it. Here’s mine.
It was the summer of ’73. I needed a car to get me to college as I was commuting starting in September. Our local newspaper had a listing for sale that I could afford with my saved up summer job money. It was a black, 4 speed, dual exhaust, hardtop convertible Mustang. I mean, I just needed a car to get me there and back, right? It did seem pretty cool and I hadn’t learned yet how to drive a standard but I inquired to the phone number listed. Turns out it belonged to a guy a few years ahead of me in high school and he did NOT want to sell it to me. I mean after all I was a girl and he had a cool car. What would he tell his friends? But the $250 cash I presented to him made him hand over the keys and I went on my merry way learning how to drive it in time for college.
Cadillac, Chrysler, Chevrolet were competing for a wide open market after World War 11 and consumer spending money was available.
Debbie Curtin writes stories about people, places, events and other topics of interest that engage the reader. As a member of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Debbie keeps ‘in the game’ with other like minded people. She has been an artist and creative person all her life and uses the unlimited sources of inspiration that abound everywhere in her writing as another art form.