A blog devoted to RANTS ON AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN, car reviews, and - above all - fugly autos. whether looking for vehicular plagiarism or rides of extreme tastelessness, you've come to the right place.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tale of Two Many Designers

Behold Toyota's first purpose built, hydrogen powered production car.  Yes, even you can walk down to your local Toyota dealership and buy one of these alien looking transportation devices and drive it home.  Well - if you live in California.

The Mirai has a tough act to follow.  In 1997, Toyota was at the automotive forefront of the alternative fuel movement with the Prius. The Prius quickly rose in popularity to become a household name, and it's aero-formed shape became iconic - eventually copied far and wide as consumers began equating it's shape to that of efficiency.  Witness how the Civic, and to and even greater extent, the Elantra, adopted similar "wedge-teardrop" profiles for their more mainstream, economy minded cars.  The Elantra is also proof that although you can make a slippery shape to drive sales, that alone will not guarantee spectacular mileage figures.

And then comes thes stylistic mess that is the Mirai. I think this may be Toyota's attempt at maintaining the lessons learned from the Prius's proven excellent aerodynamics, yet visually blinding you to the fact that the shape is a Prius copycat by hacking at the clay design models with a machete and stuffing some lights and vents that look like they belong on a refrigerator truck in the gaping wounds.  Out back you'll find odd, stacked taillights, seemingly borrowed from a very sad Bangle-butt 7-Series. Squint and you'll see a fuzzy, Prius-like outline.  Open your eyes and you'll see something that looks like a Star Trek prop.

Inside isn't much better.  Toyota seems insistent on continuing to use it's oft-maligned central stacked gauges.  In the Mirai, the infuriating setup centres an otherwise featureless expanse of dashboard broken by swooshes of plastic of contrasting colour and texture.  It looks futuristic, as if it was lifted from one of the space shuttles on the U.S.S. Enterprise.  But not necessary attractive, and there seems to be a lot of wasted space sitting directly in front of the front seats passengers.


Perhaps the most dramatic and off-putting aspect of the design are the exaggerated swooping fender lines, which are oddly amplified in the press photos; the setting sun on the horizon zig-zags across the body like a funhouse mirror.  I assume to it's wavy, undulating side are meant to emulate the Mirai powerplant's only waste product - water. Unlike water, the Mirai isn't very refreshing.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Leonardo DaFugly

This was at SEMA this year.  And yes, that's an airbrushing of Megan Fox on the hood, posing as Mona Lisa.  With a mustache. I cannot begin to fathom exactly why it exists.

Back to the Future

Almost fooled me into thinking this was a 1969 Charger.

Ford X2000

I kinda feel bad posting this, as it's an impressive achievement for one man to create.  However, that doesn't stop it from being ugly.

Back in 1958, Ford teased the public with a series of wildy futuristic cars with wildy futuristic powertrains. Problem was, the majority were just small models.  I'm not sure if it was for cost reasons, or because the logistics and risks of building a nuclear powered car were too overwhelming.  Regardless, it's probably good thing the roads were never populated by bad drivers strapped to atom bombs.

The original model from 1958.

One of these cars, called the X2000, inspired a British gentleman named Andy Saunders to build a full size version out of a 1962 Mercury.  What you see here is the result.  While quite close, things get a bit wonky when forced to adhere to the constrains of your typical front-engine production car.

Andy Saunder's full-size replica.

Fake Plastic Windows

The Toyota Camry is as much of an appliance as it is a car. People buy them because they're dependable, put together well and get you from point A to point B. They have about as much style and emotion as a refrigerator.

 The "sporty" Camry SE gets an aggresive new maw.

For 2015, Toyota hopes to at least change the its style to be something more than a generic transportation device. The changes are most obvious up front, where squinty headlights and a gaping grille lend a more sinister appearance that aligns more with the new gaping mouths on the Corolla and Avalon, as well as the recently facelifted X-nosed Yaris.

 Your run-of-the-mill 2015 Camry, soon to be seen clogging Wal-Mart parking lots.

However, as you move toward the back of the car, it's more obvious that this is just a facelift as the rest of the car shares much with the last generation model. And then you get to the D pillar.

Window?  Windon't.

It's as if the stylists at Toyota thought the car from the A-pillar back was too recognizably "old", so they stuck a black and chrome applique on the D-pillar to badly simulate an elongated greenhouse. It looks fake, and messes up the car's lines - it's basically change for the sake of change. Were it not for that sad piece of plastic, the refreshed Camry would not be featured on this blog.

The Navigator is Lost

 The 2015 Navigator is a bit of an automotive Coelacanth. Fresh from a recent facelift, its basic bones date back to its previous redesign in 2007, and that redesign looked like a mild evolution the one that proceeded it, which was introduced in 2003. 8 years is a lifetime in automotive evolution, where most cars would have been completely redesigned at least a couple times.

Improving on the 2007 Navigator shouldn't have been too difficult. 2007 was a time of uncertainty at Lincoln, as the brand didn't seem to know where it was going in terms of style. The 2003 Navigator was filled with outdated Lincoln cues - the vertical waterfall grille and taillights looked like your Grandfather's Town Car. In the mid-2000s, Lincoln released a series of concepts using the 1963 Continental as inspiration. The Navigator was one of the first Lincoln production cars to adopt a similar style, consisting mainly of a new glizty horizontal grille and wide rectangular taillights.

Where the 1963 Continental was understated and elegant, the same cues on the 2007 Navigator were awkward and garish. In my eyes it looks more like the tacky Lincoln luxo-barges of the 70s than it's stylish precedessors.

Which brings us to 2015. Lincoln must have realized translating the new "Continental" look into production cars that were basically warmed over Fords would be difficult. The only other Lincoln to share a similar face was the Lincoln MKX, and after which Lincoln began to phase in it's dual waterfall grille (another heritage based design that looks back to the Lincoln Zephur of the 1940s, and equally as polarizing).

Being the only holdover to the "1963" look, Lincoln designers decided to hack up the front end to add in a dual waterfall grille to match the rest of Lincoln's lineup. If you've seen the rest of Lincoln's lineup, you'll understand that making this front end treatment look good can be rather difficult. Especially when you're trying to splice it onto a boxy SUV that's basically a decade old.

Out back things look even worse, as Ford has obviously tried to keep sheetmetal changes to a minimum. The taillights are still huge, now full width but slightly narrower. The turn signal placement on the bottom of the outer pieces line up with cutlines in the tailgate, but the piece in the tailgate is painted body colour and will clash with the turn signals in any colour other than silver. I can only assume this is a stop-gap model until Ford develops a new Expedition and Navigator from the F-150's new aluminum intensive body. Let's hope the next Navigator corrects it's course.

Cadillac Seville Opera Coupe

I've posted the Seville Opera Coupe before, but one just came up for sale on eBay.  It's in beautiful condition, yet still quite ugly.  The perfect car to overcompensate for your manhood or lack thereof.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Lamborghini Sogna

No, this isn't some cobbled-together set piece from Bladerunner - what you're looking at is a reskinned Lamborghini Countach that was intended for sale to the public.

It was created in 1991 by Japanese tuner Ryoji Yamazaki, as a showpiece for that years Geneva Auto Show. He originally had plans to build a series of them, but possibly decided against it due to public reaction to the green monster. Looking somewhat like a Counch, Diablo and a frog thrown into a blender, it doesn't really have even one good angle.

It was for sale late last year for the low, low price of $3.1M USD, although I haven't seen any reports that it's sold yet. Remarkable, I know.

Mitsuoka Oronchi Evangelion Edition

I've posted this strange McLaren F1/Swamp Thing/Ford Taurus "supercar" before, but I'm posting it again.  Mainly because its production is ending, and as a final farewell they're selling the last remaining few as this Mitsuoka Oronchi Evangelion Edition. Its paint job is influenced (and named after) the Japanese anime TV show Evangelion, for some reason.  I guess maybe the demographic for buyers of supercars that look like a mutated fish also watch cartoons about a child-piloted giant cyborg that fights angels.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Singa-Poor Taste, Part II

Another from my friend in Singapore, this one seems to draw inspiration from Barbie's Power Wheels Jeep. The two spoke wheels are a nice touch...