Daily Podcast: Ugly

daily podcast ugly

After I labelled the Volvo P1800 ES a hideous mutation, TTAC commentator beetlebug questioned my aesthetic sensibilities. The usual reply to such cavil: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My fellow pedants will have grasped the facile nature of this aphorism long ago. Hearing is also in the ear of the listener. And? Of course, this oft-repeated gem is nothing more that a rhetorical upraised middle finger to anyone who disagrees with its proponent's idea of beauty. In other words, your opinion of beauty is as subjective as mine. So if I think a Pontiac Aztec is a beautiful vehicle who the Hell do you think you are to tell me it isn't? Nonsense. I once read a study wherein an anarchic academic set out to prove the fallacy of this shibboleth. He schlepped a range of pictures of female beauty all over the world and asked representative of over a hundred different cultures to identify which photographed females were babes, and which ones were dogs. Some eighty percent of ALL respondents identified the same ten percent of subjects as the most comely amongst them. This is not a long-winded and unctuous way of saying I'm right and beetlebug's right. I mean, wrong. OK, it is a bit long-winded, but my main point is this: I'm satisfied with both our readers' initial Ten Worst nominations and the TTAC writers' final twenty. Just as humans have an innate ability to choose which women deserve a little genetic blending, pistonheads are a reliable indicator of automotive excellence or lack thereof. We may not be the ultimate arbiters of which cars suck and which cars soar– the commercial marketplace serves that role– but we are pretty damn good at identifying a pile of steaming crap when we see one. If someone then steps in it, well, disgust is on the foot of the easily offended.

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  • Ryan Knuckles Ryan Knuckles on Oct 25, 2007

    I tend to agree with you kansei. I was excited when the Dodge Magnum was introduced. It was the antithesis (atleast in concept) to most American wagons up to that point. The commercials really drove the point home - "The Dodge Magnum. It hauls." That is why I like the Caliber and the Mazda 3 5-door. That is not to say that I don't think sedans are asthetically more appealing, but I see your point.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Oct 25, 2007

    I must confess, I always liked the ES as well. While it may not be one of those obviously beautiful designs, I liked it. Think about what kinds of houses that you find attractive. Do you like houses from a certain period, ranch, modern, big, brick, victorian, etc. If we were to show you a bunch of houses that experts said were beautiful, you would likely agree with most of them (just like the study on faces that they did). You would agree mostly whether they were a style you liked or not, objecting only to the styles you really don't like. There are objective standards to architecture that will make a house stand out as well designed to both a panel of experts and most people. However, when it comes to the style of house you like best, you would find houses attractive that the experts would quickly find plain and common. OTOH, you will find plain houses, and even some nice ones unattractive if you dislike the style. Unfamiliar styles which are very foreign and unknown to us often register just like styles we hate. Gisele Bundchen would still look good to us if her earlobes were enlaged with big loops, but not many other women would. Bringing this back to cars - Americans tend to like sedans better than hatchbacks. The standard for a hatchback to be considered attractive is much higher. Even though by objective standards of design agreed upon by experts, both cars can be made attractive. In the US, the bar is higher for cars that are not sedans. Now, back to the ES. I think it has nice proportions, and I really like the glass hatch. However, it is so different that it's practically alien (especially in hot pink). It's harder to find attractive. Just a thought.

  • Islander800 That is the best 20-year-on update of the Honda Element that I've ever seen. Strip out the extraneous modern electronic crap that adds tens of thousands to the price and the completely unnecessary 400 pd/ft torque and horse power, and you have a 2022 Honda Element - right down to the neoprene interior "elements" of the Element - minus the very useful rear-hinged rear doors. The proportions and dimensions are identical.Call me biased, but I still drive my west coast 2004 Element, at 65K miles. Properly maintained, it will last another 20 years....Great job, Range Rover!
  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Corey. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.