Saturday, November 15, 2014

2012 Smart Car

Why didn't this car succeed?  Sure, it gets so so mileage on premium gas, but it's fun to drive!  As they say in England, it's nippy!  U-turns are no problem.  Parking is a breeze.  I can think of a few places and situations where this would have been the only choice at the time.  Tiny cars can be a blast.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Seen but not photographed: Nissan's Silver Brick of Haplessness

The GT-R exudes despair. Obese and overpowered, it just sits there.  Once it has gone by, one feels relief at not having to see it again.  The GT-R is trapped in its own body.  It is more than capable of getting out of its own way, but what's the point?  Steroid users are capable of lifting great weights while they rot away inside.

The black cloud hanging over this car is standard.  Deep, painful discontent at Nissan is obvious right away.  The design and engineering teams are on a treadmill, and the inevitable addition of another 100 horsepower will not change the situation.  The buyers are similarly boxed in.  In some circles, success means an obligatory supercar.  Shopping for such a thing is a job for a buying service.  It will impress those who have a duty to be impressed, and that's enough.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Seen but not photographed: Volvo SUV

Volvo used to be known for practical station wagons.  Now, their cars are known to be unreliable.  By raising their wagon, they lowered its carrying capacity.  It's hard to tell why anyone would want it.  The one I saw was red.  The future isn't worth looking at.  Now, you have wasted too much time reading about it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Big nothing from Mercedes

This is the automotive future. Does this company have any engineers?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Infiniti Q50S, Q60, Q60S

Car companies often think like semi-literate people.  Instead of writing whole words, they fixate on certain letters, writing them over and over again in ever more elaborate styles.  The letters most often found on cars are R, S, X and Z.  Nissan is staking out the letter Q.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Seen but not photographed: Bentley convertible

It was just a bulbous, outsized Hyundai  until I saw the manufacturer plate. Zzzzzzz...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cadillac El Miraj, with drawings!

Ciel, we hardly knew ye!

 Another GM prototype appears to have reached the end of the line.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Seen but not photographed: Audi supercar

Now it has a stainless steel landau thing. Like all supercars nowadays, it suffers because no one dreams about it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Porsche Cayenne

Some artists in industry do more than inspire.  They create orthodoxies, filled with irritating purists arguing about arcana longer than most people can stay awake.  For an example, take a tour of Taliesin West and listen to the reverence accorded to, "Mr. Wright." Still, Porsche is about the vision of one man, and it is hard to believe that his vision included elevated station wagons.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What happens when you haven't seen a prototype in a while.

You lower your standards, and you photograph a dull, white car like this Volvo.  Yes, it's a prototype.  Aren't you sorry?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hyundai HCO-14

Is Hyundai smart enough to build this?  Were this from an American company, no one would look at it.  Prototypes are how Detroit tells their designers, "Nice try, but no."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Range Rover

I don't remember what specific model this is.  If you know, please comment.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2013 LAAS: The lonely spokesmodel.

This is how it looks on the last day of an auto show.  They're still paid to give the spiel, but those who were paid to hear it left after the first day.  Most of the time, the models stand at their counters and talk to each other. They take their turns standing alone on the dais and looking out at the crowds leaving.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Jaguar XJ L

For whatever reason, this one does a much better job than the F-Type of bringing Jaguar where it needs to be.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2013 LAAS: Why Mercedes Gets Half a Star

Mercedes used to be synonymous with expense.  It was the type of expense where you could see where the money went.  Although their prices are higher than ever, their quality is risible. Their hood ornaments and emblems used to be substantial.  This one is a disposable plastic dinner plate with a little chrome on it. If the plastic masks a camera or other sensors, it is still a wonder that they made the package look so bad. All of the elements work together to make a very cheap looking front end.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Bunch of Range Rovers

This was what started the SUV boom in the US.  Sure, there were others.  You can go all the way back to the first cars, when there were very few paved roads.  As roads got paved, there were dedicated SUV's, such as the Dodge Power Wagon, the Jeepster and the Wagoneer. Their owners, however, were too rich or too weird or too outdoorsy to start a trend. In the early 1980's, Range Rovers were aspirational, hard to get, but not quite out of reach. Their wow factor changed everything.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Suddenly it's 1990!

Seen but not photographed:  Nissan Pathfinder.  It's an old red box with too many accents stamped into the sheetmetal.  They had to draw something to make the meetings look productive.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Suzuki Forenza

While other companies often have the same models for years, GM cars, especially small ones, come from nowhere, then disappear. There are no successors. Had they built them well, the Corvair would exist as a long running world car.

 This car has had many make and model designations. In China, it was the Buick Excelle. It was usually a Chevy or a Daewoo. Model names include Lacetti, Optra, Estate, Nubira, Gentra and Reno. In Australia it was the Holden Viva.

It's rare in the US. Why did the owners pick it? How did they find it? And how did they manage to get it in a wagon??

Saturday, February 1, 2014

What's Wrong with the Auto Industry

Car designers and engineers waste their best work on fantasies that occur to very few people.  That's why there are so many options for drag racing, off-roading and ski trips. 

Similarly, car testing is wildly unrealistic.  Prototypes with manufacturer or distributor plates are always driven to their limits on public roads. They are painfully easy to spot.  If you can't find them, they will tailgate you and do other stupid things to make sure you remember them. Often, they chase their tails around cones in rented parking lots, gathering data on situations that never happen.

What's the best car for Chicago? Beijing? Paris?  Don't ask anyone in the auto industry.  The only people who think of such things are stuck in traffic.

Monday, January 20, 2014

LAAS 2013: GM Becomes Honda

Well, almost. Notice how everything in the Chevy Aveo (Sonic in the American market) is accessible and easy to spot. This is a big departure for GM.  Had they been smart enough to get rid of the Chevy emblem, it would have been nearly perfect. As busy as things still are, it is an incredible contrast to the wretched, overwrought interior of the Honda Accord.  Honda put in three sets of screens, along with myriad dials and buttons.  It has been decades since anyone has thought such a thing, but Honda needs to take a lesson from GM and simplify.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ugly Jeeps

Somehow I missed the debut. Have their designers ever seen a jeep?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

LAAS 2013: Honda becomes GM


Here's a wild prototype from Honda. It looks great.  It runs on fuel cells. You can walk right up to it, and you will never see it again.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I copy you, and you copy me.

Ford and Kia are at it again. Here is the Optima GDI and the Fusion hybrid.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Indian Painted Ponies

Horses came before cars, which is a good excuse to show these two.  Note the zebra markings on one of them.  They are a mother-daughter pair.  Happy 2014!