Thursday, 6 March 2014

Car designers

When I was a lad and you learned to draw a saloon car, it looked something like this:
There is one horizontal line which forms the top of the bonnet and boot and the bottom edge of the windows. That gives you nice big windows all round.

For some reason, a few years ago, car designers decided that a horizontal line isn't good enough any more and they make it a little bit steeper every year.

This is what saloon cars look like now:.
It's even worse with hatchbacks:

Now this may look awfully cutting edge and cool etc, but it's still shit design because the people sitting in the back can hardly see out and rear vision is down to about a tenth of what it should be.

So please stop it, car designers. It's shit.


The Stigler said...

It's also crap for headroom. I'm 6'3 and it means that I'm cramped in the front of lots of cars now (and sunroofs make it worse). Smaller cars like Micras are actually better because they're too small to make smooth so have to keep them as boxy.

Lola said...

Me? I just wish'd they'd make beautiful cars...

Francis said...

Is it not better for aerodynamics?
The "Kamm tail".

Lola said...

F - good point. But it'd really need a Gurney Flap to be really clever...

Bayard said...

TS, my father has an eccentric friend who is 6'6". Despairing of finding a rental car in Italy he could fit into, he went the other way and hired a Quinqecento with a sun roof, put a cushion on the driver's seat and drove with his head out of the sun roof like a tank commander. The Italians loved it.

The Stigler said...



One big car that's fine for me is the Mondeo.

James Higham said...

Good to see support for the humble Zhigoulie, :)

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, I'm not sure if the window line affects headroom. The sloping down roof at the back is a separate crime.

L, and your favourite car would be..?

F, no it isn't.

B, or he could have torn out the front seats and sat in the back, like in Police Academy.

JH, styling by Fiat, built by Lada. My dad had a Lada estate, it was a great car.

DBC Reed said...

I read in some arty farty design magazine that modern cars were built in the shape of training shoes because this is what men obsessed over.Should n't be surprised: this is what they look like.
In my subconscious ,cars should have running boards (for LVT insurgents to ride on with machine guns); one of those windscreens that my Dad could crank open in case of fog; a lamp covered with a chromed wire grille mounted near the windscreen that you could turn to inspect lonely sign posts in the middle of the night (best in black and white).Also a dicky seat which I will claim here to be the last person in England to have ridden in. Possibly a column shift gear stick allowing a bench front seat plus the legendary (in my mind) car record (45's)player.
I have deigned several cars in idle moments : one, a three wheeler, had an outboard motor at the back and could be converted to amphibian use like the wondrous Amphicar ,one of which I saw parked on a ramp on the Seine in Paris. That's motoring: along the Seine in your amphicar!
The above are just some of the reasons while I remain alienated from contemporary consumer capitalism.

Bayard said...

"B, or he could have torn out the front seats and sat in the back, like in Police Academy."

He must have been thinking too much of his deposit.

DBCR, I think you need to qualify your claim to include "in daily use" to exclude people out for a jolly in a restored antique. The aforementioned friend of my father has a 1928 Humber tourer that remained, unrestored, in regular use until the 1990s, but it didn't have a dicky.

DBC Reed said...

@B Although I am wary of your constantly questioning my opinions (aka facts artfully presented) and narratives, you may be right about the dicky seat claim. But this one was not in daily use. In fact being in the boot it was quite smelly and full of normal boot detritus.(Also you could n't see anything forward).Would settle for "in normal use".

The Stigler said...


"I read in some arty farty design magazine that modern cars were built in the shape of training shoes because this is what men obsessed over."

I'd have thought they'd try and make them the shape of boobs.

The answer is duller than that - it's about aerodynamics and that it looks a bit space age. And that's resulted in cars looking similar because aerodynamics are common.

There's certainly cars with more personality than others, like the Fiat 500 or the new Beetle. It's a pity that there aren't many interesting large cars. I'd love a modern designed version of the Citroen DS, only with more modern internals, and preferably made by someone other than Citroen.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking out at my environmentally unfriendly turbo-charged Volvo 940S Estate as I write this. As box shaped as a box of Cuban cigars. As comfy as it is to sit in I have to admit that it is starting to make me feel like I'm stuck in a time warp.

Kj said...

TS: I have a Mondeo, and I´m not tall, which makes me look rather small... But it´s a very roomy car, which was why I bought it.
PaulC: That´s a brilliant car, boxiness that looks very good, but your gasoline bill must hurt?

The Stigler said...


I hired a Mondeo last year for a weekend and I was really impressed with it for headroom and legroom and my mum was in the back and said it was good with that.

It's my first choice for when I finally get round to dumping my old Renault. One of the hire car companies sells them off after 3 years - not sure if that's a good idea or not, though.

Kj said...

TS: My taller friends and family have the same experience :) I can fit three child-seats in the back, and two strollers in the back, which only Avensis could do in that class when I bought it. Mine is a mid noughties version, and the post 2007 ones are slightly less roomy, but better leg-room. Heavy downside is fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

Lola said...

MW. Do you know what, I do not have a 'favourite' car. The one that does it for me as far as shape goes is this;

..but that isn't strictly a road car (although there are road going versions).

No modern supercar excites me. The only one I vaguely like is this one:

Of cars that are useable on the road the nicest is this

...which I have been privilidged to drive and race.

Of modern cars I drove one of these for 16 years and miss it still

...I had a 110 station wagon. Absolutely brilliant.

But I also like this..

especially the second generation 4WD one.

As to currently 'beautiful cars, hmmmm?

How about this:

But I actually prefer this:

But for fun, one of these:

In my garage I am re-engineering a Dutton Malaga B+ that I fist built from a kit in 1978.

But, at the moment, money no object, for a road car I'd have one of these:

And this is what I have been racing for the last X years.

It looks like this:

make sure you click on images and the blue one No 74 is us.

It is an absolutely wonderful car.

Does that help?

Lola said...

Here you go...

"Ecstacy, Brian, ecstacy"

And that's me in it...

(and that's probably enough showing off)

DBC Reed said...

What no Amphicar? (Current price for a good one circa £45,000.Not bad for what is, basically, a 1960's Triumph Herald.)

Derek said...

The Amphicar is all very nice and that but I'm still holding out for the Helicar. One day.

DBC Reed said...

The Airphibian and the Aerocar both literally got off the ground in the 40's/50s, so its strange that the Helicar never made it. An Aerocar turned up, still flying, on the telly recently. Looked alright.

Lola said...

You can get one of these new now:

DBC Reed said...

I don't know whether I should thank you for this lead. I can feel the first twinges of an obsession.You don't know a supplier for a modernised Aerocar do you?
If I were divided between two obsessions I might become conflicted and give up.