Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's not US for a change.

All through the '70s and '80s, American auto enthusiasts had to hang their heads in shame. After we had given the world the cheap and plentiful private auto, our government regulators were doing their best to screw it up for everyone. Starting in the late '60s, American laws began to demand cars be festooned with reflectors, side marker lights, gynormous bumpers worthy of a harbor tug, catalytic converters and all manner of other horsepower-sapping devices. Since the US market was the 800-lb gorilla of the global auto industry, this had a bit of a trickle-down effect on most every maker's cars, at least if they intended to offer them for sale in the 'States.

Fast forward to the present. Notice anything unusual happening to automotive styling? Maybe, oh, I don't know... like the "grille" making a comeback? What's up with that? I mean, for the last twenty years, engineers in search of aerodynamics had been smooshing the front end of cars down further and further until the last '90s iterations of the Ford Taurus and Dodge Intrepid had lower, snarkier front ends than a 1970's Ferrari; heck, even Hondas were sporting doorstop silhouettes, and now all of a sudden... bam! The radiator grille is back. Cars are rolling around sporting Cliffs-Of-Dover front end treatments, from the moderately exaggerated chrome bars on current Ford offerings to the almost cartoonish distortions of late-model Chrysler sedans. Ford even abandoned aerodynamics for the retro-60's look of a near-vertical front end in its latest Mustang .Why the sudden change?

It's not our fault. Not this time around. It's the Europeans this time 'round. That's right, the same people who carped and moaned when the Jaguar XKE was disfigured by 5 mph bumpers and the Countach's smooth flanks were tarted up with enough lights and reflectors to make it look like a disco ball are now responsible for BMW's that look like Toyotas and Ford 500s that look like bricks. All because the EU wants nerf cars that can hit a pedestrian and not kill them...

If they asked my advice, I'd say make the hoodlines low and sprinkle them liberally with spikes. That'd cut down on jaywalking; or at least the recidivism rate.

10 comments:

Oleg said...

Maybe they could just repeal Physics and be done with it. 1 ton car at 100km/h will do some damage, small meplat/low hood or not.

jrshirley said...

What? You're serious. Good god.

CGHill said...

It's worse than that. Activists for the blind are complaining about hybrids: the engines shut off when the cars are stopped, and don't crank up again until the car is well under way, which means that your blind pedestrian, who relies on sounds, isn't going to hear it.

Still, Oleg has the right idea. It's those damnable laws of physics that have to go. They're just as obnoxious as those economic priniciples which insist that poor people don't have as much money as rich folk.

TD said...

It's been all downhill for the automotive world since GM stopped making the 1971 Buick Riviera GS.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it already against some laws to cross against a light or jaywalk? Darwin must be a white, middle-aged male, because his opinion no longer matters.

jq said...

Regarding the last comment, if there are laws against jaywalking within the EU I don't know about them and they aren't enforced. In fact, just yesterday I commented to a friend that "I knew I'd been spending too much time in big towns when my version of crossing the road became somebody else's suicide attempt."

Doesn't make the laws any less stupid. Stupid people step out in front of cars and the ghost of Darwin smiles.

I also hate the current trend towards chasing 5 star Euro NCAP crash ratings, because it's doing a fine job of killing off that most nimble of car breeds, the small European hot hatch.

Desertrat said...

'Bout all I've noticed, driving past dealerships, is a general uglification. Hadn't paid attention to Eurostoopid.

My reflexes are all wrong for front wheel drive, so I pretty much have lost interest in modern street stuff. Were I gonna have fun, I'd find some model I like and then go to the back pages of Hot Rod magazine. Used to be, we had to build everything. Nowadays, you can buy it over the counter.

New cars? Hell's bells, just make the front end out of foam rubber in any shape you want. :D

Art

Alcibiades said...

We should just get some of those Australian "roo bars". That'll show those "pedestrians".

Merl said...

No, we should use bumbers like the one on my brother's half-ton Ford, it's a 8x4 c-channel about 3/8" thick with 1.5"od 1/8" wall tubing around the grill.

jordan said...

Arguably, the mustang changed because the fox body styling was a POS. A bunch of people wanted a mustang that was remeniscient of the 60's to early 70s look.