The Fall of Automotive Design

The Fall of Automotive Design

We like to talk about cars – and tools! Look for our new Talkin’ Tools series coming soon.

It’s that time of year, the leaves are changing, and the trees are all full of color. In a few weeks the leaves will fall, and who can resist picking up the occasional one that is particularly brilliant? The interesting thing about leaves is there are so many different, unique shapes. Most of us can identify at least a few common species, such as an oak, maple or walnut.

I wish I could say that cars are the same way, but I can only say they used to be. What happened to automotive design? By design, I don’t mean technology, which has brought many great advancements, but I mean, what happened to looks? The problem, at least from my viewpoint, is that they all just about look the same.

How many people have you known who could instantly identify any car on the road at a mere glance? I was one of those people. If it was made in the ’60s, ’70 or ’80s, there’s never any doubt. I’ll nail it every time. Anything older than that I’m usually pretty close, too.

On the way to work today, there was a 1968 Corvette Convertible on the road next to me. It’s great weather this time of year to drive a classic, and they’re out in full force right now before they get tucked away for the less-enjoyable winter months we get here in the Midwest. It was a beautiful car, and the year doesn’t really matter. The fact is, without looking at a nameplate, you knew it was a Corvette. There was no other car that looked like them, and they looked like no other car.

Then I thought about the exotics of the ’80s. Loved by some, not by all, but no matter your preference, the Lamborghini Countach was a styling masterpiece. It was sleek, wicked and gorgeous all at the same time. Every single exotic and supercar of the era was a work of art on its own. The Ferrari 308 and Testarossa, the Lotus Esprit, the DeTomaso Pantera and the Porsche 928, just to name a few. They were all distinct and unique.

Now, what do we have? Is that a Corvette or a Ferrari? Sure, there are details and styling aspects that give it away, like when you’re close enough to read the emblem, but the passionate styling that defined the marques is gone. I don’t doubt that manufacturers have a more difficult task due to collision standards, but what about the new Challenger, Mustang and Camaro? You know what they are. Let’s have more of that!

Yes, I like to talk about cars, and many of us do as technicians, but if there’s one thing we like to talk about just as much or even more, it’s the tools we need to do our job. As a matter of fact, we’ll be talking about tools a lot more than we do now. We’re kicking off a new video and podcast series called Talkin’ Tools. You could say we like to hear ourselves talk, but we’d like you to hear it too, so keep an eye — and an ear — out for some good stuff to come.

In the meantime, we’ll be out raking leaves and trying to identify all these new cars as they drive by. TS

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