Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Bubble Cars

Not to shit on the VW “New Bug” or anything. At least it knows it’s ugly. Its bland, edgeless silliness is its main selling point. But did the rest of the auto industry have to follow VW’s lead?

To be fair, this process has been at least a decade in the making. But is there a single car currently in production that doesn’t look like an even more gleaming version of those demo “Cars of Tomorrow” from corporate-info industrial films from the early sixties? I’m sure there is some excuse for all this, most likely a scientific reason having to do with physics and aerodynamism (-icism?) or engineering that I wouldn’t understand even if you bothered to explain it to me. But since when did pure physics determine how cars should look? What happened to cars that don’t look like a robot’s turd? It’s not like these things fly—why bother pretending they do by making them look like highly functional hovercars? The SUV boom of the late 90’s had one redeeming feature: the return of some angularity and discernable shape. But now the SUVS look like spaceships too, including the too loathsome to discuss Pt Cruiser.

Even the frame of the Rolls-Royce, which I thought relied for its whole cachet on the combination of its expense and its vaguely antiquarian, unassimilated boxiness, has begun to swallow up its grillwork, its headlights, and its tires into its now predictably ovoid form.

You can’t even tell the difference between a luxury and an economy car anymore, at least not from the outside. The true sign of a car’s expense has, along with any discernible line or edge, retreated into the car’s interior: the best way to tell the difference now is to check the sound-system, the degree of sound-proofing, and whether or not the car phone comes with a voice-activated speed-dial.

Soon enough, the rich won’t even be able to tell that they’re rich.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever I spot a PT Cruiser, my blood boils and I become extremely pissed off. PT Cruisers make me violent... not unlike people that wear Patchouli.

August 19, 2004 at 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the reason that old people love the pt cruiser (and, come to think of it, the new bug) is that it is Olde Tyme meets the Future. Personally, I think that if baby boomers (subjects of Tom Brokaw's next book, "The Retardedest Generation") insist on being nostalgic, they should at least just be nostalgic about the actual past. They also seem to be nostalgic about the fancy future promised by the Jetsons. This is a terrible combination. I remember having a stoned conversation with Jordan about this phenomenon... Jordan, are you out there to elucidate?

anyway, next i would like to see a bubble space car patterned after a horse-drawn carriage-- or a chariot!


August 19, 2004 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the rise of the blobject. Ever since CAD technology started making fancy pants smooth objects easier to model and draft and sculpt, car designers have been making cars that are increasingly curvy. There was a great article about this years ago by Bruce Sterling, if you can find it...


December 13, 2004 at 11:42 PM  

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