Road & Track columnist Peter Egan once wrote, “Cars are considered to be an art form, yet the Mona Lisa, I’ve noticed, never needs a cooling system flush or new brake pads.” Automotive design has been an integral part of the car industry since the 1920s, when GM began to develop the first year-over-year changes to their cars’ visual appearance. As makes and models have evolved, so have the varying design languages associated with them—with varying degrees of success.
Happy Memorial Day! We’re now in the final stretch of a long weekend that marks the unofficial start of summer. This is also the weekend when we’re encouraged to take a break from work and remember the ancestors who paved the way for us to enjoy life in the United States.
This is also the time of year when people graduate from high schools and colleges across our great nation.
Sometimes these two annual rights of passage converge, and we see America-infused commencement speeches from high-profile celebrities and politicians. There were none bigger this month than the speech delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, who made a shocking claim about the superiority of America.
Hard work pays off. With luck, you’ll get out of a job what you put into it. If you’re a hardworking person, you’ll likely receive an opportunity to move up in the world. So maybe you’re moving on to something new, or you’re replacing someone who has left a position above you. Either way, moving up can be pretty awesome. So with your newly accepted promotion, you’ll want to spend your more generous new wages appropriately. So why not buy a new car, something that will really show the world your hard work has paid off (literally). People often say “you should dress for the job you want.” So why not drive a car for the job you want?
Do you know what Boston-area people are really sick of right now? Snow. There has been lots and lots of snow the past month. Too much snow—and this isn’t your everyday winter fatigue talking. We have a very good reason to be done with snow here in Boston. New England suburbs and cities are cramped enough without 7+ feet of snow. Snow currently occupies every parking space in city, traffic couldn’t be worse, and the MBTA (public transportation for the Greater Boston area) will not be able to operate at full capacity for close to a month. Bostonians are taking it on the chin, and there’s only so much more this we can take.
Tom Brady received a Chevrolet Colorado as his Super Bowl MVP prize, a vehicle a lot of people thought was an odd choice for such a prestigious award. This makes some sense when you consider how much of a marketing push has surrounded Chevrolet’s resurrected midsize pickup, and the resulting publicity around the choice will certainly move some Colorados off Chevy lots. Last year, General Motors gave Malcolm Smith a Silverado High Country, straying away from the trend of giving performance sports cars in the handful of years Chevy has had the contract with the NFL.
The auto press usually focuses on new cars this time of year, but another reason the midwinter months can be exciting is from the used car perspective. Around this time of year, some of the cars that were brand new last year are starting to appear on used car lots. 2014 models have had their time in the spotlight, and now’s your chance to try to find one for a bargain. There likely won’t be a hugely significant price change, mind you, but you can (we hope) expect a barely year-old vehicle to be in decent shape. Even if these cars are still on new lots, you can expect the dealerships to offer some great deals to move that inventory and make way for the plethora of ’15s and ’16s they’re receiving.
There are a couple of quotes we need to address today. The first is from Automotive News:
“The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be,” Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales, said in an interview at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Munich. “Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover.”
In Europe and North America, the car’s role as a status symbol has diminished, with SUVs and crossovers becoming ever more popular.
The second quote expands on the first, and comes to us by way of The Truth About Cars:
Increased congestion, urbanization and a demonization of speeding (backed by harsh, if not draconian penalties) has made the notion of a sports car an outmoded one for many people. Even the latest 991 Porsche 911 GT3 has abandoned the manual transmission.
Do we, the sports car fans of the world, have something to worry about?
Regarding the possibility of an entry level roadster, Porsche North America’s CEO Detlev von Platen recently said,
We’re not talking about entry models at Porsche. Our entry model is our pre-owned program.
Those words have dashed the dreams of many Porsche hopefuls who had hoped to get into a new Porsche for the price of a loaded Honda.
Sorry folks. If you want a new Porsche, you’re going to have to work a little harder; which is the way it should be.
Some people, though, disagree.
A Kia will never make you look rich. Nor will a Ford Focus.
I don’t care how shiny and sleek it looks on the showroom floor, once it’s out on dirty roads and covered in grime and leftover road salt, you’re going to look like any other guy or gal in a value econobox. There’s nothing wrong with having a cheap Ford or Kia, it’s even a bit admirable, but don’t think for a second that you’ll be perceived as having a lot of money.
If you want to look rich, you simply need to be seen in the brands that are perceived as “for the rich.”
Keep reading to find out how to really do it.
There’s a lot of anger in car design these days.
Back in my formative years, vehicles just looked like vehicles. Maybe a face could be perceived somewhere between the tungsten halogen headlamps and steel grilles, but generally car “faces” were nothing more than utilitarian methods of shining light and sucking air. I liked that.
Today’s cars are different, mostly because advancements in headlamp technology have allowed designers to get more creative and not only give their cars a face, but create an entire personality.
Typically the personality chosen is an angry one, intended to give the car a sinister look of intimidation.