Vellum Venom Vignette: Dated Design, Timeless Upgrade?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom vignette dated design timeless upgrade

We all wish some things could last forever: a sports team’s winning streak, the love of a soul mate, or perhaps the still-kinda-futuristic look of the Lincoln Mark VIII. Aside from showing how every post-Mark VIII Lincoln’s style has been a step in the wrong direction, this car helped “mainstream” design elements (tiny HID headlights, super curvy side contours, etc) while keeping the basic, timeless goodness of American car proportioning. If I didn’t already drink my own design Kool-Aid, the regular stream of compliments from by-standers certainly didn’t help.

The good? A Mark VIII’s bi-plane dashboard made of a blizzard of decadently padded vinyl and rubber coated (like an Audi) hard plastics. The bad? That dated, cheap looking driver’s side airbag.

There’s no flashy emblem, no invisible seam that breaks open when the airbag needs to do its business…it’s all very late 1980s in design. Cutting edge technology means that Form follows Function FTL. Well…19 years later, that is.

Which is fine for a car made in 1993, but my Mark VIII lives in the year 2012. I want to keep that late-model flair alive, so I looked to the not aggressively designed, less futuristic GEN II (second generation, 1997-98) Mark VIII with one significant upgrade: an airbag that looks at home in a late-model car.

That’s better! Agreeing with me isn’t necessary, the thought process behind the madness is what we need to understand. And appreciate. And share. I am sure many among TTAC’s B&B considered a similar upgrade, coming directly from the redesigned version of your whip. What about a new tail light design, like that of a 2004 Sentra? A better door panel, like the 2008 Dodge Magnum? This is the time to share it.

More importantly, tell us how difficult it was to make your design upgrade a reality. Because, for me, the GEN II Mark airbag wasn’t the easiest find, if you wanted it in black. The new airbag didn’t arrive until mid-year 1997, and by 1998 they changed the color to dark charcoal. So when I found a black late-1997 airbag on eBay, I made it happen. Quickly.

Have a great Sunday, thank you for reading.

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  • Pdog Pdog on Sep 11, 2012

    Ugh. A relative drives a 98 LSC with mouse grey interior, and seeing these pictures just fills me with dread because, yet again, I have to disassemble and partially remove the dashboard (for the 3rd time!) in order to replace the underengineered heater blend door mechanism. This time I'm going to try the epoxy/nail/wire trick to shore up the replacement part. Maybe that experience has left me biased, but I have trouble seeing the charms of these things. It's been relatively reliable, other than the air suspension and this recurrent heater issue, but I just don't view the interiors as particularly luxurious compared to contemporaneous luxury cars. Did they cheapen the interiors by the end of the run? The 98 I'm too familiar with is on par with a friend's Avalon from the same era: functional, but not luxurious. But definitely less luxurious than the Audi A6 of that era, to give one example.

  • DubTee1480 DubTee1480 on Sep 11, 2012

    On my 2004 Impala SS I absolutely loathed the color matched steering wheel that came from the factory, at the first opportunity I swapped it for a black Monte Carlo steering wheel of the same year. My 1993 GMC Sonoma has wheels and suspension components from the next generation trucks with ZQ8 suspension. Coming soon, dual piston calipers from the newer trucks.

  • Dusterdude @SCE to AUX , agree CEO pay would equate to a nominal amount if split amongst all UAW members . My point was optics are bad , both total compensation and % increases . IE for example if Mary Barra was paid $10 million including merit bonuses , is that really underpaid ?
  • ToolGuy "At risk of oversimplification, a heat pump takes ambient air, compresses it, and then uses the condenser’s heat to warm up the air it just grabbed from outside."• This description seems fairly dramatically wrong to me.
  • SCE to AUX The UAW may win the battle, but it will lose the war.The mfrs will never agree to job protections, and production outsourcing will match any pay increases won by the union.With most US market cars not produced by Detroit, how many people really care about this strike?
  • El scotto My iPhone gets too hot while using the wireless charging in my BMW. One more line on why someone is a dumbazz list?
  • Buickman yeah, get Ron Fellows each time I get a Vette. screw Caddy.