Saturday, November 9, 2013

Parsing The Un-parsable (Car Styling)

"The Giugairo Look" as applied to a sedan, with special reference to the fender flares.  Which are called, I'm told,
box flares.  Ugh.  And lose the BBS-style wheels.  Hotshoe (and for that matter, Killlboy) could not disagree more.
It was this picture of this car that got our discussion rolling.

This post is just for fun.  Weigh in with comments if you like, or grab a gearhead pal and run the experiment yourself.  The title of the post comes from that cliche about not knowing art, but knowing what you like.  If not exactly why.

Hotshoe and I have been fooling with a "10 Best Looking Cars Of All Time" list.  We haven't agreed on a firm set of rules.  It's a work in progress.  One rule is that a car makes our lists on looks only.  "All show and no go" is fine.  Another rule is No Race Cars, Concept Cars, or Radical Customs.  It has to be a real, functional, road car, made in quantity for sale to the general public.

A rule that "just worked out that way" was that the car has to be Postwar.  Doubtless this reflects our Baby Boomer demographic.  Hotshoe snuck the '40 Ford onto his list as an Honorable Mention.  When he did, I threatened to put the 1932 Ford 3-window coupe on my list.  Or the 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport (which happens to be my favorite prewar car).  As the saying goes, "this way lies madness," so we stuck to 1945-2013. This eliminates half the history of the automobile, but so be it.

We got onto this subject because our taste in styling is different.  Which surprised us, because we are interested in cars in the same ways (principally sports cars and road racing).  Our buttons are pushed in many of the same ways, and we generally like the same kinds of cars.  It took us a long time to discover our differences.  We might not have discovered them except that we happened to dissect the styling of the Ford Focus ST together, point-by-point.  Features of the ST that annoy Hotshoe, or that he finds downright ugly, bother me not--and vice versa.  When we started talking about other cars, and got deep into the catalog (and the weeds), we discovered that our tastes are way different.  We had no trouble establishing categories, but sometimes disagreed about which car belonged in what category.  I hold that the Audi Quattro is a sedan.  But let it pass, let it pass...   ;-)

The late, and mostly unlamented, Chevy Cobalt: a non-starter with Hotshoe but a winner with Pilote--even with its
bustle-butt rear end.

Although we're both inclined to deny it, one of our differences is that I generally prefer rounded shapes and Hotshoe generally prefers "the Giugairo [folded paper] look."  But that distinction can't be pushed too far: the XK-E was a no-brainer for both of us and the Mini (both old and new) is rounded only at the corners.  Our lists share only two cars, although the Lotus Elan and the Mazda Miata look similar. Some of our personal faves didn't make the cut.  For example, I think the Porsche 911 is one of the most beautiful cars of the past 50 years--but not as beautiful as the Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

Anway.  Here are our lists so far.  (A problem with this exercise is that it's subject to whim and revision. Or, as Hotshoe puts it, "emotional ties and mental defects.")  What have we overlooked?  Where do you agree/disagree?  Hotshoe even nominated some alternates.  (I was too exhausted from paring my list down to ten to do so.)  Here are his "almost made the cut" cars: '81 Scirocco, '72 Vega, '40 Ford, '88 Maserati BiTurbo, early Miata, '63 Corvette, Ford GT.

                                                      Pilote                                              Hotshoe
subcompact sedan                        New Mini                                       Old Mini (Cooper)
compact sedan                              Gen. 8 Honda Civic                       2003 Ford Focus ZX5
mid-sized sedan                            1986 Ford Taurus                          1993 BMW 525i
luxury sedan                                 1968-73 Jaguar XJ-6                     1991 BMW 850i                          

small open sports                          early Mazda Miatas                        1962 Lotus Elan
mid-size open sports                     Jaguar XK-E (Series I)                   same              
sports coupe                                  Acura Integra RSX ('01-'06)          1983 Audi Quattro
pony car                                        Gen. 2 Camaro ('70-'73)                 1967 Shelby GT 500

grand touring                                Ferrari 250 GT SWB                      same
supercar                                         Lamborghini Miura                       1972 DeTomaso Pantera

No disagreement here: we both think the Ferrari 250 GT SWB is the best-looking GT in the past 60+ years.  (The GTO
was a race car.)  Consider the GT's that didn't make our lists: Mercedes-Benz 300SL, any number of other Ferraris,
any Corvette coupe, and more recent/modern classics.  Poker Tell: we like long hoods and short decks.


Watchtower said...

This is hard.

I can only throw out some cars that I like but I'm really not sure exactly where they fit in;

240 Z (smallish sports car, although not a vert, does it still qualify?)

6th gen Z06 Vettes (supercar? Well it would be super to me at least, lol)

65/66 fastback Mustangs (pony car)

Classic BMW M3s, or just about any classic BMW for that matter. However I don't care for the newer ones with the rounded butt parts. (just chunk these in the sedan section for me)

1962 Impala bubble top (full size sedan?)

04 - 07 Aston Martin Vanquish S (grand touring?)

Shelby Cobra (mid size open sports?)

Current gen Focus ST (compact sedan)

Can't truly say that I like any sub compact sedan, including the Mini, that thing is just a little off to me.

Pilote Ancien said...

Yeah, it is. And these are some examples of how we can get tangled up in our definitions.

The '62 Chevy (Biscayne) bubble-top is one of my all-time faves. So maybe we should have had a category for "full sized sedan, not luxury." It didn't occur to us (or at least me) because those old
6-passenger American cars with front bench seats are long gone.

I would call the 240Z a GT because it has a tin top.

I would argue that the Z06 is not a supercar because it is not rare and expensive and exotic enough. And my Euro-snob is showing: it has a pushrod engine. When I open the engine cover of my exotic, I want viewers to go "Ooooooh, ahhhhhh" over all those camshafts covered with finned aluminum.

The new Focus ST seems bigger to me than a compact, but not full-sized either (I mean the outside,
not the inside). But this is a common problem. Many manufacturers take their nameplates "upmarket" over time, and the cars get bigger. The new Taurus is another good example. BIG car (or so it seems to me), but not much more interior space (if any) than the old Taurus. Some of this phenomenon is probably "crashworthyness" too.

Pilote Ancien said...

P.S.: And in the matter of supercars, I didn't even question Hotshoe's nomination of the Pantera. It has a pushrod engine too. But in the rear, which makes it an exotic to Pilote. The Porsche 914-6 has an overhead cam engine in the rear. Is it exotic? Nope. So maybe price is part of it for me. Except that I would willingly admit the Nissan GT-R to supercar status--and it's a bargain, comparatively speaking.
(And ugly--which disqualifies it from the list--even though I'd own one in a heartbeat if I could afford it.)

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