Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cars as Art

Today we honor two artistic giants! On this day in 1838 Georges Bizet was born.  He composed the opera Carmen.   He died in 1875.  Six years later, Pablo Picasso was born!    Neither one of them was ever accorded the respect and pomposity of a Concours d'Elegance!  Sometimes, life needs an irony coordinator.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seen but not photographed: Big Audi Sedan

Most car companies are hopelessly adrift.  They have elaborate, dissonant design languages that couldn't be explained in a semester of lectures and exams.  Some have been making their emblems bigger and bigger.  Still others try to build synergy with other brands*.

Audi stands alone, and Volkswagen is a close second.  This Audi sedan needed no explanation.  From a distance, it was a beautiful Audi.  As it got closer, there were no disparate elements that were the result of trying too hard or an approval process with too many stages. Audi is the essence of good design.  While there is a lot of hard work, the result looks easy and obvious.

*Achieving such a goal is impossible.  If you need synergy, you don't have anything to begin with.  Both brands will look worse.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mercedes Coupe

Although cars are faster and quicker than ever, they're becoming appliances.  Is Mercedes ahead of their time, or are they giving up?  Here they are in an appliance colored two-tone:  Stainless steel and black.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Did you ever wonder why cars have labels like V8, Hybrid, AWD and so on? It's because nobody would know the difference otherwise.

Unless you have extraordinary needs on a regular basis, such things will not be apparent to anyone. You might as well buy the cheap variation.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cadillac Ciel

What are the internal politics like for car design?  It's hard to tell from the outside.  We know that GM has a long history of making a splash at auto shows with designs that will never happen.  

I wonder if this is good or bad for designers.  Is an auto show at least an achievement, or is it a hanging out to dry?  Did it used to be different?  Auto show prototypes used to fool everyone into thinking that car companies weren't anachronisms.  They made headlines.  Now, few people bother to look at them.

Even at Pebble Beach, the Ciel didn't attract much attention.  Getting a clear shot was very easy. 

I wonder if any industry people watched the crowd movement.  People went down the middle of the walkways, glancing at the cars.  Occasionally, some would turn left or right to pick up a free water bottle before moving on.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Seen but not photographed: The Giant Kia Spectra

 It looks like it could be the next Dodge Charger*.  The D3 (Formerly the Big 3) is prone to making bold statements without learning the language. Chrysler tends to be the worst. Also, it looks like a riff on the Charger they have now.  It's an outsized, bulbous thing, that looks most like a Spectra Coupe.  I believe all the Spectras sold here had 4 doors.  Anyway, the tailfins of the 80s are poised for a comeback!  Yes, this car doesn't just have a spoiler, but a giant table on the trunk raised high, waiting for a matching set of barstools!  I would have noticed it, even without the disguise job from the Here-Comes-A-Prototype!® car camouflage company.  This time, it was a wrap of swirling black and white lines, which can only be described as a techniblackandwhite yawn.  Painting it in a real color will help, but not very much.

*Of course, at the rate car companies copy each other, it could be a car from anyone.  By going into the SUV business, Porsche spectacularly forgot their language.  Volkswagen parodies theirs and chases Ford with the Amarok. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti have all made the same disturbing transition from sought after to vulgarity.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Why font geeks don't have bigger meetings.

They post signs, but no one can read them.

Does anyone know what this is?  I could tell it was a modified Kia, but nothing beyond that.  I suspect it might be a disability conversion.  The others I have seen clearly mark their vehicles, but they don't change the original emblems.  I tried searching for whatever the letters on the back might be, but I came up with nothing.  If you know what it is, please comment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Seen but not photographed: Small Audi Wagon

Right now, Audi is the car for style.  This one got everything right.  I'm not sure if it's a new body style or not.  Sometimes, you can't tell when a subtle update happens.  It could happen with Audi, which is on a roll.

There was no name on the car.  It was obviously an A something.  I wonder if their A car names will run into the worst named products of all time* in the same way that Peugeot will eventually run into Boeing by making a 707.

*Airbus.  If aviation was ever glamorous, that was ended by this company.  "Well, it's a bus with wings and..."