QOTD: Can We Have Something Truly Unique?
With the gradual disappearance of regular, affordable coupes now almost complete, and with sedans soon to follow, a time will come when the light truck realm makes up nearly the entirety of our automotive selection.
It’s not looking good. There’s only so many ways to package a crossover or SUV in an interesting manner before practicality and cargo capacity suffers, thus leaving the model off many buyers’ shopping lists. Automakers wouldn’t want that. It seems that, in terms of daring design and packaging, we’ve gone backwards, not forwards.
A small-town car show helped make this clear.
Gassing up on my way to meet a friend last night, I noticed the glint of vintage iron across the road, all congregated in a corner of a grocery store parking lot. Fantastic, I thought — I’ve got a few minutes to kill. Amid the legions of retirees in their C6 and C7 Vettes were numerous rarities you don’t often see, and one stood out among all others: A 1952 Studebaker Champion Starlight. Yes, the one with acres of rear glass.
In my dad’s youth, his father drove a Champion, only his was the staid suicide-door model. This Champion, however, was an altogether new way of packaging a two-door. By eliminating the C-pillar and installing a panoramic, wraparound rear window, the boys in South Bend created a mass-produced family automobile that was unmistakable when viewed on the road or in a parking lot. A design and style all its own. Love it or hate it, the vehicle was undoubtedly a Studebaker.
(Honestly, I’d rather discuss Studebaker than Porsche, which might explain why I never fit in anywhere.)
Anyway, my brain churned as my eyes finished feasting on this pristine Stude. Why can’t we have something like this, I thought. Something daring but accessible, and more-or-less practical. As we move towards a landscape composed solely of crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, it seems we’ve lost much of our bodystyle diversity. Even in the utility vehicle realm, past diversity fades even as models multiply. Where there was once the Isuzu VehiCross and drop-top Amigo, the pint-sized Geo Tracker and Suzuki Samurai (and its Vitara replacement), the less-appealing-but-thanks-for-trying GMC Envoy XUV, the Subaru Baja, Honda Element, Toyota FJ Cruiser, hell, even the Suzuki X-90, there’s now a bottomless ocean of bland four-doors and the Jeep Wrangler.
If small, affordable coupes and sedans have no purpose in today’s world, what do we replace them with in the high-riding vehicle realm? Funky styling (a la Toyota C-HR and outgoing Nissan Juke) only goes so far. Where is the diversity in door count, or even door hinge location? Is it worth holding out hope that automakers ditch the current one-meal recipe book and come up with an actual interesting way of packaging our future grocery getters?
What say you, B&B? And what would you like to see offered in the crossover/SUV space?
[Images: Steph Willems/TTAC]
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No we can't have unique things because even when we do dealers actually have no idea how to sell them. https://jalopnik.com/buick-has-no-idea-how-to-actually-sell-the-regal-tourx-1826984906 I would argue the product is unique as far as "American" brands are concerned but dealers have no interest in selling anything that's not a truck or a crossover. FYI my local Buick dealer still has had NO TourX or Regal GS for the current model year and only ONE SportBack in a fairly low trim level.
Gearheads moan that there's nothing new or distinct on the market, but when something new and distinct appears on the market, they complain en masse that it's objectively hideous, horribly designed, and not half as good as what THEY would have made...and they don't buy them, so they go away. I'm reminded of this watching people drool over one shiny CGI VW Microbus concept after another, and point out to people that the next generation Microbus, the Honda Element, came and went and hardly anyone bought them despite their well-executed high concept. The market gets the SUVs and dullmobiles that the fear-addled design conservativism of the buying public deserves. God forbid Uncle Harry or the neighbors make fun of you for buying a Juke...maybe we should just go with the Explorer...again.