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Why are so many inferior vehicles considered status symbols?



  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Posts: 5,675
    a Pontiac Firebird.

    A most natural thought, indeed! ;)

    2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS

  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    Yeah, I was talking about carriage/landau tops though, not fins. Fins are cool compared to vinyl tops.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    cars had enough creases to them, and other intricate details, that they could wear a vinyl roof with some dignity. Now a carriage roof is a whole 'nother story. IMO there are only three designs that I've ever seen that could pull off a carriage roof...

    1) 1980-85 Cadillac Seville
    2) 1979-85 Eldo/Toro/Riv
    3) 1980-83 Cordoba/Mirada

    One thing these cars all have in common is frameless door windows. Their styling is also very crisp and angular. And except for the Seville, none of them have a B-pillar. In the case of the coupes, it actually does a semi-reasonable job of making them look like a convertible with the top up. And on the Seville, which is a neoclassic design anyway, it somehow seems to work.

    Still, I'd prefer any of these cars WITHOUT the carriage roof!

    However, once cars started getting more rounded and aero, and especially with the advent of limousine-style doors that cut up into the roof and do away with those traditional rain gutters, the vinyl roof just doesn't work. I think another factor is the beltline and C-pillar area. On many modern cars, the sheetmetal flows, relatively unobstructed, down the C-pillar and into the quarter panel, and the beltline basically stops right at the rear side window. However, on many older designs, the beltline would carry on out to the back of the car, creating a bit of a "hip" at the base of the C-pillar. On cars like this, a vinyl roof and especially a carriage roof look really out of place. I think that with older cars, the raingutters, "hips" at the base of the C-pillar, and other various chrome trim helped provide a sort of visual frame that could effectively be filled with vinyl.

    It just doesn't work with newer cars, though. Although with something like a Chrysler 300, it could wear a vinyl roof much better than, say, an Intrepid or Concorde!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    The carriage roof is the thicker version, right?

    I still remember seeing a Sable and even a Topaz (!) with a thick vinyl top.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    a carriage roof as a treatment that simulates a convertible with the top up. Kinda like this Mark V or this Cordoba LS

    In contrast, a vinyl roof often came in many styles, with varying degrees of padding. There were styles that covered the whole roof of the car, or landau styles, which just covered the roof from the B-pillar back, or in the case of many hardtops, from the C-pillar back. Landaus were usually used on coupes, but Chrysler found a way to force them onto sedans starting with the 1979 New Yorker, and culminating with perhaps the 1993 Imperial, or maybe the last (1995?) LeBaron sedan. Then there was kind of a reverse landau style, where the rear part was metal and the vinyl just covered the area in front of the C-pillar or B-pillar.

    Here's an example of an aftermarket roof on a car that simply does not need it. I guess I'd classify it as a thickly padded landau roof. There are also a few other things I'd classify it as, but I don't think they're printable. :P
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    Aaah OK. I mix the terms.

    I remember when I was a kid someone in town had a current (mid 80s) Mustang with a carriage roof. Even then, I would call it the "fake convertible".

    It seems most modern cars to get vinyl get it padded pretty thick. Maybe it would be less revolting if it was thinner, as I think was more common on 70s mainstream cars. Less revolting, but not tolerable.

    I just can't see how this stuff can exist today.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    like that Grand Marquis I posted, it seems like the vinyl portions are too thick and too squared-off, and just don't flow with the rest of the car.

    I agree, that if they just made it thinner, it would help alot. Not as much as just going with a plain steel roof, but still better than that thick stuff!
  • ubbermotorubbermotor Posts: 307
    How about "pop art" paint, red-line tires, under dash record players, continental kits. Would that be a sweet xB? :D
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,680
    a sweet xB

    a sweet xB? isn't that an oxymoron? I mean when I see one I expect it to say "when I grow up I want to be a Brinks truck". Ok I will admit that everyone has the right to make a ugly car, but Toyota is abusing the privilege

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I think one of the things that separates "insipired ugly" from just plain ugly is intent. The xB was designed to be purposely outrageous, and as such, it kinda works (it's not my thing, but I can kinda see it...)

    But take something like the Aztec, which Pontiac earnestly thought was going to be the next big thing in SUVs, and it's just terrible.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,680
    I think one of the things that separates "insipired ugly" from just plain ugly is intent.

    That may be true but the unifying thing between the two is the term 'ugly'. In other words inspired or not ugly is ugly.

    Actually I think the Aztec is better looking than the xB, but then again thats not saying much.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    between varying degrees of ugliness. For example, I once owned a 1969 Bonneville, one of the beaky styles. That sucker was kinda ugly, but I still thought it was way cool. It was big and had a hunkered-down, menacing look to it.

    I also had a 1967 Newport hardtop coupe, the style with a Barracuda-ish roofline. It was more creased and stuffed-shirt, and had a lot of Lincoln-Mercury influence in its style (stylist Elwood Engle penned most of the 60's crisp, angular Fords before jumping ship to Chrysler) It was ugly too, but I just didn't consider it to be quite as cool. If anything, it was kinda stodgy looking, and old fogey-ish, whereas the Bonneville had more of a youthful, sporty flair to it.
  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Rumor has it the xB was meant to look like the Chevy Astro, which has a cult following in Japan as a gray-market car. Also has to do with current Japanese life (congestion, insane home prices) - the ideal car in Japan is a small mobile room so you can get away from your family. It wasn't designed with the same intent that Scion had when it brought it over. Here, I think it's a status symbol that says "I am proud to shock and offend people with no imaginations." But it's not really an inferior vehicle in its class, is it?

    Audi hasn't been competitive in reliability, resale, or even ride quality. Mercedes Benz in build quality (but kept alive by perception lag). Land Rover ergonomics are known to be inferior to much of the competition. Lexus, inferior in dynamics. Infiniti, in interiors. Everyone has a weakness. If they're not priorities for the buyer (like if you don't mind the G35's interior) then great!

    But some people buy BMWs and then complain that the steering's too sensitive and the cabin too small. Or they get a full sized SUV and complain about the mileage. That's buying an inferior vehicle because it's a status symbol. By inferior I mean by the buyer's actual preferences, which he or she didn't think about before falling in love with a car and buying it.

    I saw it a lot in high school. The internet was just picking up, maybe they didn't have easy access to research. I mean, who would've known that a Z3 isn't a great car for driving from SF to LA and back every weekend, or that an Integra type-R is expensive to insure?
  • odie6lodie6l Hershey, PaPosts: 1,078
    "But it's not really an inferior vehicle in its class, is it?"

    See, that's the thing. The "Brick on Wheels" (as my wife calls them) gets a mind blowing 32 mpg city and (have heard from a few owners) upwards of 40 mpg Hwy. For only having a 1.8ltr 103hp motor, that's pretty impressive (with gas hitting $3.05 at local gas station today).

    But would you overlook the looks to get MPG's in the 32-40 range for under 20k Loaded and consider it a status symbol vehicle?

    My neighbor just got a leftover'05 for $16,800 loaded. She had an '00 Accors Wagon that got totaled by local trash company and they gave her an allowance of $12,000 for a new vehicle (settlement). Anyway, she says that she gets asked everywhere she goes what she thinks of the vehicle and why she would ever consider buying one. Needless to say, she says the thing is solid as a rock and has put 22k in miles on it in 6 months.

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    "But would you overlook the looks to get MPG's in the 32-40 range for under 20k Loaded and consider it a status symbol vehicle? "

    I wouldn't overlook the looks. It's ALL ABOUT the looks; otherwise you go get an xA. Funkiness is a status that you don't have to be rich to buy, just a little crazy =].
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Interesting point re different types of status and what it takes to achieve them I think.

    The last-gen Camaros were absolute rocket sleds, esp. considering the price. Basically de-tuned Corvettes in queen-sized dresses. At any run-of-the-mill stoplight drag race, an owner of one could be reasonably sure he'd 1) win or 2) intimidate the other guy into not racing.

    A definite measure of status to some, and as long as you worked for a living, you could acquire it. You just had to be willing to be a "Camaro guy" and deal with all that comes with it... ;)
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,120
    ...a lot of guys would love to have a Camaro but are too self-concious about the "Joe Dirt" image. I say, "So what?" I think I'd rather be considered a Joe Dirt than a Steven Rhodes, (Al Bundy's old neighbor).
  • b3nutb3nut Posts: 83
    My wife found the xA and xB both to be hideous, I thought the xA was sharp (considered buying until I got vetoed) and the xB was ugly in a cute, outside-the-box way. You really have to sit in an xB and open the doors and look at the space-efficiency to "get" it. If I could have gotten away with it I would have considered the xB, it's a genius vehicle from a functionality standpoint. But Kia's new Rio5 scratched my hatchback itch well enough, and the looks were wife-approved, so that's what followed me home in the end (and I love the car, it's wonderful).

    But I remain a fan of the Scions, and would heartily recommend them to anyone...can't go wrong with a Toyota product, after all.

    Todd in Beerbratistan
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    Along with the MR2, the XA is the only Toyota whose appearance I like.

    I don't really like the XB. It does have a lot of interior room for a small car, however.
  • sp01sp01 Posts: 81
    The last F-Bod Camaros had the go and the track capability, decent styling more or less, but still came off as repulsively unrefined; an image the Corvette has about finally shed.

    My complaint was that they were too big overall, and typical of GM (I hate to say) remarkably space-inefficient. Awful lot of body there for the actual usable space created, IMO. Front and rear overhangs too long, door cavities deeper than needed for the structure and componentry, etc., etc. Seems to me the car could've shed about 18 inches (and not a few pounds) overall and should have had more shoulder room for it width.
This discussion has been closed.