Vellum Venom Vignette: Styling the Shark Jump?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
vellum venom vignette styling the shark jump

Bob writes:

Hi Sajeev. I’m annoyed by styling that makes the trim height look wrong. Most cars today look like the front is sagging or the rear is too high. The stylists even slant side creases and trim strips down toward the front (Man, I hate that. – SM) to create this look even though a close look at the rocker panel shows that the car is level.

Why are they doing it? Does the public really like it?

Sajeev answers:

The delicate balance of physical + visual trim height adjustment is standard practice, proving itself over decades for both aerodynamic and stylistic enhancement. The problem? Jumping the shark.

But uber radical trim height adjustment must be awesome, because people love the new super-slashy-buffalo-butted Corvette. Even if it gives me violent diarrhea faster than poorly cooked, low-grade beef.

FWIW, the Corvette’s hyper-slashed profile makes sense if the front wheels were 16″ tall. Because that slash, starting subtle and (too) low in the fender and going up to a critical element of the quarter panel, is a mouth writing checks that the body can’t cash.

Here are two insurance vans inspecting my leaky roof, clearly showing the sadness of over-styled side profiles. (They weren’t parked close enough for a side shot with my phone, sorry.) It’s clear that [s]Chevrolet[/s] Nissan over-styled their vanlet while the older Ford retains the logical, rational, and wholly boring contouring of another era.

So, remember: “side styling that looks faster” is a necessary ingredient to car styling. While my professors at CCS demanded rocker panels perfectly parallel to the ground, adding anything (short of a sine wave) along the side profile was fair game, because creativity shouldn’t be hindered by stamped sheets of metal (or plastic). As long as the rockers do not appear pre-bent (that’s less than reassuring to shoppers) from an accident, it’s all good.

Even if we hate the look, others will love it. Or they won’t care enough to stop a new vehicle purchase to replace their clunker!

And opinions are like assholes, hence why this asshole takes forever to justify/publish his Vellum Venom critiques: first complain, then show specific problems and offer “better” alternatives. Half-ass the assholery and prepare to face even more wrath than an end of semester critique at CCS. And I ain’t going through that again.

Thank you for reading.

[Lead image: Chevrolet]

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3 of 61 comments
  • 300zx_guy 300zx_guy on May 29, 2015

    I can always find details to nitpick, but I mostly like the look of the new Vette. However, the rear fascia is trying way too hard - it looks cool and menacing at a glance, but is way too busy, I don't think it will age well. The other odd thing about the design is that the profile looks very odd on cars with the black roof, easy enough to fix - don't get the black roof.

  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on May 30, 2015

    I always thought that today's high beltlines and small side windows were a result of side-impact standards (and the popularity of SUVs). When that Escalade hits your driver's side, better it hit metal than glass.

    • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on May 31, 2015

      Jacked up pickup trucks also might be a driver of the trend. But the main thing is that not only would you want to avoid impact with glass, and to have the impact point instead by harder to penetrate steel, but also with the higher beltline, it makes it easier to package more contact area for side impact air bags. No way to hide an airbag inside of a piece of glass.

  • SCE to AUX The diesel isn't that compelling compared to the 2.7T, when you consider the 50% fuel cost premium and the need for DEF.But regularly towing 9500 lbs with a 4-cylinder (even a low-stress one like this) seems to be overdoing it. I'd get the 4 for lighter duty, the diesel for medium duty, and one of the 8s for heavy duty.
  • Analoggrotto Over the years GM has shown a keen interest in focusing their attention and development money on large, expensive or specialized vehicles and little to no progress in developing something excellent to complete with such class leaders as : Camry, Telluride, Civic, CR-V, Highlander, Accord, or even ho hum Corolla. And this is the way class division works in the heartland/rustbelt: pretend to care for the common man but cater the public resources to additional security and comfort for the upper echelons of society. GM is Elitist American Communism.
  • Art Vandelay Current Fiesta ST
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