Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Edition

What makes a car beautiful?
Restoration World Review #13
The Ferrari California is 
undeniably gorgeous....but why?

This article isn't a list of ugly cars or beautiful ones. That's been done to death. 

No, what I want to know is why our brains universally think that some cars are drop-dead drool-worthy in their design....while others make us throw up a little bit when we see them.

Where does that come from?

Above is Karen Gillan, a young British actress from the Doctor Who TV series. 

Karen, I think, is unbelievably cute. And no offense to her, but she isn't utterly gorgeous, like the girl pictured below. But why?

What part of my brain decides the difference? And how does that decision get made?

More importantly, how did my mind become conditioned to find one automobile fantastically good-looking, while another is puke-inducing?

Meet the Fiat Multipla

This family sedan is very well-made, economical and seats a family of five in comfort and safety. 

Why then, do I - and most people - hate its looks? 

What did the poor Multipla ever do to us?

Pictured above is the Fiat Multi-Air. A nearly identical car with a nearly identical name. Why then, do I love the Multi-Air, but not the Multipla?

The Multi-Air isn't even particularly handsome, but I still want one, dammit. Why is that?

The BMW 3-series (pictured above) performs the exact same functions as the maligned Fiat Multipla, except all of us would rather have the German car, because it is much more handsome. 

Well, what makes it more handsome? 

And I don't think marketing or cool advertising gimmicks have anything to do with the BMW's desirability. 

No, there is more to it than that.

Joy Osmanski, taking a break from studying the path integration of quantum physics, decided to chime in.

"I think that we, as humans, feel car design in our very souls. A scientist or engineer may view an automobile in a completely different way than...say, a soccer mom. So when a car is beautiful, it must be something we feel inside. Because, when you think about, most people agree on what is attractive and what is ugly in car design - and who you are and how you were educated really doesn't seem to make a difference. As a general rule of thumb, I like a muscle car that oozes testosterone...the kind of car Satan would drive when he wasn't busy eating babies or whatever it is he does in his spare time."

Gee, thanks, Joy. 

As a side note, Joy has been very busy lately attempting to perfect the art of re-animating cadavers. Unfortunately for humanity, she's getting pretty good at it.


I was never taught what works in car design. I had a poster of the Lamborghini Countach on my wall when I was ten-years-old. I knew, even at that early age, what was gorgeous, and what wasn't.

Pictured above is the Aztec, a vehicle from GM where it seems the front-end design team never communicated with the rear-end design team.

Everyone loves to hate the Pontiac Aztec. 

Well....why exactly? 

As American cars go, it was pretty darn good at what it did, besides being a rather useful suburban grocery-getter. 

During the 5-year production run, there were no major issues with the Aztec, yet some people despise the vehicle...I believe these feelings are based solely on how it looks.

The Volkswagen Toureg (pictured below) performs precisely the same service as the Aztec, but is considered to be downright hot. 

I certainly like it, much more than the Aztec....but why?

To answer, "Because the Toureg is better looking" doesn't cut it with me. What is in our heads that classify the Toureg as a better looking SUV than the Aztec? 

The Toureg is basically a four-door truck....what is it that makes it a beautifully designed vehicle?

Above and below are photos of the Citroen Ami, a best-selling car in France for years. 

Many, many car lovers consider the Ami to be the ugliest car ever made. 

Personally, I think its adorable, but that's just me. I can certainly understand why people think this car is ugly, but why exactly? 

I'm not here to argue which cars are most beautiful and which ones are the ugliest. I want to know why we decide what pleases us in car design and what makes us sick to our stomach.

It isn't wheel size or the rake of the windscreen or spoilers on the trunk lid. No, there is something much deeper than that when it comes to a beautiful car. Something undefined. 

The Ferrari California doesn't have the impressive lines of the Aston Martin Vantage (pictured below) but, in my eyes at least, is better looking than the Vantage. 

Don't get me wrong, Aston Martin, for the most part, has always built extraordinarily beautiful cars. And to compare the Vantage with the Ferrari California isn't really fair. They come from completely different eras.

But then, why is the California still gorgeous today? And what is it about the Vantage that tickles my brain into knowing without a doubt that its an awesomely handsome car?

An aesthetically pleasing vehicle has always been something of a mystery to me. 

Some cars are 'love 'em or hate 'em. Some are high-tech. Some are low-tech. Some were designed using a CAD computer program, while others were laid out in clay long before computers.

I want to know what exactly - from the time my eyes see a gorgeous car, and my brain registers that car as handsome - is going on in my head. 

Are certain car designs releasing chemicals in my brain? Do those chemicals determine when a roof-line and a B-pillar looks just right?

If you are a scientisty type, please feel free to write in and tell me.

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