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Design Flaws & Foibles

derrado1derrado1 Posts: 194
edited March 19 in Ford
Inspired by Karl's blog post on design features he hates, I thought I'd create a topic here where we could discuss what design elements we love or hate, and even what cars we think are hideous.

Some things that grind my gears...
-Cars being grossly under-tired, or at least appearing that way. Wheels that don't fill the wheel wells should be discarded.

-Brands having either a range full of lookalikes, or a range full of odd, discrete (not discreet) cars. Brands that have clear styling DNA across the range (Mazda, Cadillac) are good. Nissan has cars that look too similar; Chevrolet has cars that are far too disparate in their designs. When Chevy tries to join them all together, they end up incorporating a fugly design feature (big chrome bar, anyone?) that just detracts from any style the car has (in the case of the Malibu... none).

Another thing I can't stand? Cars with decent looking exteriors, but terrible, chintzy, cheap interiors. The domestics were and are often guilty of this.

By the way, your two cents are needed on another matter.... was the 1996 Ford Taurus _that_ bad? Even though it has some questionable elements and an over-reliance on one theme, I don't think it looks that terrible. But this comes from a guy who thinks the 2007 Camry is a 2007% improvement over the previous generation, and who actually likes the current Grand Prix.

Throw in your two cents. Let's get a bowl full of change. Ugliest cars? Things you hate? Pitch in the pennies.


  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    "Cars being grossly under-tired, or at least appearing that way. Wheels that don't fill the wheel wells should be discarded."

    I hate the opposite...tiny cars with gigantic wheels. They look like Hotwheels cars. :(

    On your other point, I'm sorta leary about Ford's new corporate chrome 3-bar grill (see the Edge ad to the left of the page). I thought the previous honeycomb setup was good looking, minimalist and would fit with pretty much every car/truck body. I wonder if this new grill concept will be looked back upon in the same way as Mercury's oddball lightbar grill theme of the early 1990s? :confuse:

    One of my own: I really dislike the trend toward fake dual exhausts. The Asian firms are esp. guilty of this. An Accord is not a peformance car...don't dress it up like one. No one is fooled.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    I don't think they were THAT bad, but they weren't the prettiest things in the world, either. I think the 2000 restyle brought a world of improvement to them.

    I hate oversized wheels, too. Oddly though, I think they look WORSE on bigger, older cars. You'd think that a bigger car would look better with a bigger wheel, but on something that's long and low slung, those oversized bling-bling wheels really give it a HotWheels look. Like this:

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    To me, the original generation Taurus still looks good, even after all these years. The SHO version still has a look of subtle power about it too.

    You're right about the modern bling wheels on the classics...seems so sad, esp. considering how beautiful some of the historic wheels from that era were...the Cragars, the Torque Thrust Ds.

    I can understand putting modern tires on those old monsters (it's mind-boggling to think that the old musclecars could do 14 second quarter miles even when handicapped by those skinny polyglas tires of the era), but please leave the wheels alone!
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Wheels are way too large these days. Regular cars and SUVs don't need anything bigger than 16" rims, and 18s with 35-series tires are plenty for track cars. Headlight and taillight assemblies are also ridiculously oversized. They should be abolished in favor of individual barrels containing the actual lighting element. Cars are also obscenely heavy these days. The entire industry needs to hire some good bridge engineers to teach them how to design lightweight, rigid structures using nonexotic materials.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    One of my own: I really dislike the trend toward fake dual exhausts.

    Part of that is for NVH: twice as much muffling for the same cfm.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    I can understand putting modern tires on those old monsters (it's mind-boggling to think that the old musclecars could do 14 second quarter miles even when handicapped by those skinny polyglas tires of the era), but please leave the wheels alone!

    I think one of the best things you can do with a lot of those older cars is go with a wider wheel and tire, but not necessarily a larger-diameter one. A lot of cars back then came with 14x5.5 or 14x6 wheels, and couple that with a bias-ply tire, it really makes them look skinny.

    My '67 Catalina has 215/75/R14 tires, and I think the wheel is 6" wide. I want to put some 15x7 Rally 2's on it, but I've heard that backspacing is a real issue with these cars. And looking up under it, as it is, there's not much clearance between the tire and the upper control arm!

    Even in the 70's, when cars started really bulking up, I think many of them rode on narrow 5.5" rims. For example, I think the standard wheel on my '79 New Yorker was a 15x5.5". I have 15x7 copcar rims on it now, and they have a bit more offset than the regular 15x7 rims you can get on it. With 235/70/R15 tires, I think they fill out the car nicely. But these stupid 20 and 22" rims would really make it look goofy.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,822
    Here's the link for those that missed it:
    Your automotive annoyances

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
    Share your vehicle reviews

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    is right on with all his complaints. On his list, his number one is probably also my number one: compromised outward visibility. And he left the most glaring current example off his examples list: the Chrysler 300. This thing has no outward visibility at all! But in general, the beltlines and trunk heights of most new cars today have reached such atrocious heights that seeing out the back or rear 3/4 views on both sides is becoming completely impossible. I may have to shift to buying nothing but pick-up trucks just so I can compensate for this trend with my own cars. As it is, it is one of the things I look for most attentively when I test-drive a new car, and I am almost always disappointed.

    Another one of my biggest pet peeves these days was expressed perfectly by derrado:
    "Cars with decent looking exteriors, but terrible, chintzy, cheap interiors."
    IMO, by far the worst offender on this front these days is Chrysler, which has had a bunch of new models introduced recently with appallingly cheap garbagey interiors, including the Caliber, both of the new Jeep models (not the Wrangler, the Patriot and Compass, I think?), and now the Sebring. But the PT's interior was never anything to write home about, neither was the 300's nor any of the minivans.

    Of course, the whole industry in general spent WAY too much time cost-cutting the heck out of their interiors in the 90s, and I feel they are almost all subpar these days for the money you spend. I think they are aware of this common grumble out in consumerland, and we will see this turn around in the next decade or so.

    In terms of exteriors, I find it amusing that I really can't tell a Sentra from an Altima from a Maxima now - they are virtually identical. I don't THINK this is just me. Lexus has this problem with their cars too. And they will have it soon with the Toyota cars as well, depending on how the new Corolla looks. I think Honda does a good job of having common styling elements for the "family" without making them look too similar. Ford is also doing a decent job of uniting the family without making identical siblings, but I don't happen to like the new massive chrome mug (like on the Edge and the Lincolns). And of course, their line-up is a melange of very old and quite new models, so with the age disparities they never quite manage to get all the cars and trucks into the same styling family before they have moved on to something new.

    Oh, and as for the Taurus, I have always had a soft spot for that model - it is like the well-behaved family pet that is constantly abused by its owner, yet soldiers on. But yes, the '96-'00s really were that ugly - it would have been better for them to just keep the 1990 styling for 15 years. Its replacement, the Fusion, is IMO the best-looking Ford car available, except MAYBE the Mustang.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • bryanbryan Posts: 217
    1. Oversized spoilers. Some cars just don't look right with any size spoiler to me (Honda Accord, Civic, even that WRX by Suburu looks wrong to me, as the car is so boxy). A very small one came on my '04 Bonny GXP, and it seems okay on that car, but one on my '03 Aurora would not look right to me.

    2. Any car where the wheels are nicer than the car.

    3. Too many computer, flavor-of-the-week gadgets. I don't need all that stuff to turn on the climate control, radio, etc. Why do I need cup holders that cool/heat? Why do I need a navigation system? Use a map--that extra $2K doesn't seem worth it to me. I guess my age is showing here too. :shades:

    4. I also think there is too much look-a-like between brand siblings, like in the Toyota/Lexus lineup. I have to look closely to tell a new Camry from the Lexus version. And, I just can't get into the new Camry--I didn't particularly care for the style of the previous generation, but I like the '07 even less. GM was famous for that for years, and still does some of that, and Ford/Mercury/Lincoln seems to be doing way too much of that lately with their new four-door cars (I forget the names, alpha designations, whatever they are called). I agree on the Nissan point made by the first poster.

    5. Not making certain options available that should be IMO. For example, I like the headsup display on my '04 Bonny GXP. Not available on the Buick Lucerne. However, Buick has offered it in the past on the LeSabre. What gives here?

    6. Another big peeve is color. Why are so many of the exterior colors so bland? I don't want a black, silver or white car. I'd like a lot more color choices. And, why are interior colors so limited? Some manufacturers are doing more interior colors now, but it seemed you could get neutral or ebony as the only two choices for the longest time on lots of cars. How boring.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    It's refreshing that the spoiler craze of the late 1990s-early 2000s seems to be somewhat subsiding. I'm seeing more and more sport models of cars that no longer have them as standard equipment, including the new Mustang... :shades:

    They were cool when only a few cars had them, but familiarity certain bred comtempt. I think the nadir was when Toyota made them available on the Corolla... :(
  • derrado1derrado1 Posts: 194
    Colour seems to be coming back in interiors, fortunately. Check out the terracotta leather available in some Volvos and Saturns.

    On the other hand, did anybody see the ghastly Cadillac DTS Premium they had on display recently? The exterior was in old-man-beige, and the interior had a light dash and dark brown seats. It looked absolutely terrible.

    I guess, though, we can be thankful that bright red interiors have gone the way of the dinosaur. No, not red accented interiors like in Mustangs, but full, retina-searing red "velour". I guess it suits a lot of 70's cars, but when you see it fitted in an '86 Skylark or a '92 Century, it's just ghastly.

    You're right, Bryan. Some cars just should not have spoilers. I can think of a few off my head, like the Aurora you mentioned and especially the Acura TSX. I've seen some around with spoilers and it just throws off the whole look. It's weird though how subjective it is... they look nice on Mazda6s, but not on Mazda3s. Go figure.

    Before I hush up again, I must make another guilty admission... I thought the old Mercury light bars were cool :blush: :D
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    echo one of bryan's points here: lack of exterior color choice nowadays. With many models now you get four shades of gray/silver (all with creative names of course, like "desert storm" and "molten titanium", so you don't figure out they are just "gray"), white, black, and sometimes red. And that's it.

    I applaud VW Group for bucking this trend, especially with the Audis, which come in about 50 interesting shades in some cases. But at the same time, I castigate many of the German companies (including Audi) for STILL, in the year 2006, charging extra for metallic paint. Unbelievable.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • bryanbryan Posts: 217
    I feel the same way about these creative names. The color doesn't appeal to me based on the name. Sometimes I laugh out loud when I see some of the names these usual colors receive. And please, I'm not that dumb--silver is silver, gray is gray, black is black, no matter what fancy name you put on it.

    Marketing is amazing these days, especially when I see how clever marketing can sell a ho-hum product, kinda like that Head On headache reliever; I saw a report by one of the local consumer reporters that said it basically is all hype--but it sure has sold based on that annoying commericial. The placebo effect?

    And I also get really irked about having to pay for a decent color, usually a metallic color. It's strictly a money maker IMO. I mean, that GM color White flash tricoat I think it's called? While I don't necessarily want the color, is it really worth $995 more than "plain" white? Not to me. And, when you peruse the on-line inventories of certain GM vehicles, they seem to have a huge number of cars in that color. Um, no thanks.

    What got me thinking about exterior colors was a recent visit to Hemmings on-line looking at classic cars for sale. It got me thinking about the myriad of colors available on cars from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I remember seeing a copy of the 57 Chevy brochure which had 40 or so colors to choose from, not to mention the two tone colors also available. I seem to recall EPA/air quality issues that changed the way auto paint was made?

    When I bought my '91 Camaro convertible, I would not settle for any color except that Teal color with gray leather. My dealer had to locate the car and have it shipped in. It was an eye catcher, and then I started noticing that color on more and more Camaros, so I think it was a very popular seller, because it was fresh and different?

    When I bought my '04 Bonny GXP, I ended up with graystone metallic exterior (no extra charge!) with the two-tone gray interior. It's the right color for that car IMO. When I bought my '03 Olds Aurora, I ended up with the Red Bordeaux (not quite dark cherry) with the neutral interior--only color combination I was willing to take on that car. The rest of the colors available to choose from on both those cars were sooooo boring! At least to my eye.

    Not to belabor the point, but one final thing I remember from the 70s was reading an article about how popular Cadillac was becoming with a younger crowd due to their interesting paint colors. Now some of those colors were not to my taste, but they boosted car sales according to that article.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I have been rather amused to see GM get into the "premium paint surcharge" game. I am not sure a Chevy can support such added costs, and Chevy's website is the first place I saw it. They will just have to discount it even more deeply at the end to get it off the lot.

    One thing I used to really like, but have now accepted (sigh) to be viewed as outmoded and "so 80s", was two-tone paint jobs. Many of them really spruced up a car's appearance, not to mention with really tall-sided cars it reduced the tall effect.

    But please automakers! Bring back real colors to your cars! And let's kill the popularity of silver like we killed white in the 90s, and let's nip the trend towards gunmetal gray in the bud while we're at it!!

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    One thing I used to really like, but have now accepted (sigh) to be viewed as outmoded and "so 80s", was two-tone paint jobs. Many of them really spruced up a car's appearance, not to mention with really tall-sided cars it reduced the tall effect.

    I think two-tone paintjobs work on cars that are angular and have creases that can serve as break points for the paint colors. Like what was common in the 70's and 80's.

    And two-toning worked fine on cars of the 50's and early 60's, where there was enough chrome to serve as a break point, and the roof was a separate enough entity, style-wise, from the rest of the car, that a different color worked well. Some of the two-toning (and three-toning) got a little garish, but if done right, it could be very attractive.

    And even with the more aerodynamic cars of the later 80's and 90's, where it was common to have a separate front fascia and rear fascia that carried all the way to the wheel openings, and then some ribbing on the lower door panels, that two-toning effect wasn't bad. But nowadays, most car designs are relatively "bumperless", with the fascias blending smoothly into the overall shape of the car, and being painted body color. I just don't think two-toning would lend itself very well to today's cars.

    I hear ya on the silver thing, too! When I bought my silver Intrepid, I thought the color was kinda classy. But once they started putting silver on ever cheaper cars, it just lost all intrigue for me. Plus, I'm probably getting tired of silver, as I've had that car over 7 years now. And my Gran Fury before that was silver. And the Monte Carlo before that was a 2-tone gray-over-silver.

    I'm not really a fan of the 2007 Camry, but I swear I'm seeing them in some of the most beautiful colors! There's a light blue metallic that I really like, as well as kind of a silvery green metallic, and just the other day I saw one in kind of a dark greenish blue metallic. Sure beats the hell out of the typical whites, silvers, grays, sands, etc.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,501
    I think I saw the same light blue Camry color you mention. Almost looks like something that would be at home on a late 50s/early 60s car.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,847
    Here's a pic of an '07 Camry in that shade of blue:

    I have an old Chrysler history book put out by Consumer Guide, and it has a picture of a 1957 Chrysler New Yorker 2-door hardtop in a similar color, but non-metallic. Kinda like this:

    It also makes me think of that baby blue that seems like ended up on every other 1975 LeSabre convertible:
  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    I'm partial to blue myself, especially light to medium blue. Lighter greens and blue-greens are nice too.

    That light blue Camry color came out in 2005; in 2002-2004, Toyota offered a nice medium blue metallic, which I have on my 2004:

    imageSee more Car Pictures at
  • derrado1derrado1 Posts: 194
    The signature colour of the Toyota Sportivo range (Australian suspension tuning and modifications - the closest thing you have is the Camry SE) is "Cyber Green" and I must admit, it's refreshingly different.


    Their Camry colour range is pretty good, too. They've got a very yellowy-gold, exclusive to Sportivos, plus a bright turquoise (always on base-model Camrys... much better than the millions of white previous generations' Camrys I've seen on the streets) and a nice, bright blue.

    I'm not a huge fan of Toyota, but now that they're taking a few risks and going different design directions, I respect them more and would actually consider getting one. I'm actually swaying my mother towards a Camry for her next car (lord knows she needs something better, she drives a Daewoo Nubira at the moment)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,501
    That's the color, yeah.

    I wish MB offered a nice lightish blue or silver blue on AMG cars.
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