OPINION — There’s an unsettling trend in automotive design these days that has me wondering. Forget about the fancy tech toys and the distracting gadgets that take your mind off your driving – this is about the way your car looks. Carmakers have discovered that the devil sells.
Surely you’ve noticed that most cars now look like either the gargoyle from hell or a storm trooper from Star Wars. Some even look disturbingly like a hearse. And, the designers’ imaginations continue to soar. Take a head-on look at the LF-SA concept car, introduced by Lexus at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, for example. How’d you like to come around the corner on a dark night and go nose-to-nose with that thing?
No, really. Watch the cars coming at you – especially at night. They’re a pack of hungry wolves ready to have you for lunch. Check your rearview mirror. You can almost hear the haunting howls, “Get out of my way or die!”
And, what about those TV commercials? The ad agencies do their creative best to make our cars look like fire-eating beasts with eyes ablaze, ready to tear the tires off their roadway competitors.
Wait. Competitors? What’s that all about? I’ve been trying to convince a whole lot of young people that, unless you’re on the track at Indy or in the pack at Daytona, good driving is not about competition, it’s about courtesy and cooperation. Oh well, so much for that.
Carmakers are in the business of selling cars and I’m all for that. One of the many ways they do that is to have their designers come up with new and different design ideas which they hope will be a turn-on for potential buyers. This is where I start having trouble with the current devilish design trends. The wicked look is obviously turning on a lot of people.
I’m no shrink but here’s my theory: Could the overkill (pun intended) of nasty faces on cars be helping to promote the aggressive side in those of us who are receptive to such things? And, could that in turn be encouraging more confrontation than we already have? In other words, might we be more inclined to do riskier things – like drive too fast and tailgate – in a car that has a face like The Terminator than in one that looks like, let’s say, a cuddly PT Cruiser? It worked for The Flying Tigers. Flying Tigers before your time? Look ‘em up.
Does what we drive help determine how we drive? Sure it does. The vehicle a person chooses says a lot about that person and the way he or she thinks and drives. Take the pickup truck for example. Once a plain-jane practical, unglamorous, hard-working utility vehicle, the pickup has morphed into the ultimate badass ego machine.
And, they keep getting further off the ground all the time, don’t they? Pretty soon you’re going to need oxygen to drive one of those things. I saw a guy drive right underneath one the other day and out the other side without a scratch – he didn’t even realize it until she gave him a blast on the air horn and the dreaded double-fisted one-finger salute. I lie. It didn’t really happen that way. Actually she pulled a rally-crush maneuver and flattened him.
And, they don’t come cheap. I hear you (not me) can sink as much as 70 grand or more into one of those things. With that much tied up in a set of wheels, it’s no wonder you want to be out there in front of the pack where everybody can see you. But, hey! What I want to know is this: Would anybody really dump a load of rebar or stack a bunch of cinder block in the back of one of those high-rise, high-priced beauties?
But, I’m getting off my point here which is attitude. Let’s have fun with our grumpy gremlins, but where is it written we always have to be the first and the fastest, the meanest and the baddest?
By the way, it’s rumored that all the really good American auto designers disappeared in 1965 and were never heard from again. Just kidding. But, I know one thing. When it comes to good looks, I’ll put my ’64 Coupe Deville – with her great big beautiful smile – up against one of those grim and grumpy little growling gremlins anytime.
Written and submitted by Robert Sears. Sears is a 25-year St. George resident, business owner, author and freelance writer.
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