By on December 28, 2018

2019 Toyota Avalon wind tunnel: Image: Toyota

Fred writes:

What is it with all these fake vents on the front and rear grilles and valances of new cars?

I admit, I recently bought one of the worst offenders, a 2019 Avalon (I bought it for the Audi-esque interior). But for crying out loud, why all the black plastic trying in vain to fool the eye that these are… what, exactly? (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2018

1992 Cadillac Brougham Front, Image: Sajeev MehtaCadillac suffered no dearth of cultural relevance back in ’92, but mercifully today’s tone deaf marketing digs make way for a move back to DetroitAnd while my heavily East Asian/European design influences at CCS were no harbinger of global platforms, inauthentic proportioning and ridiculous alphanumeric names, I secretly wish Kanye’s CCS mic-drop coulda done me a solid and went there instead. 

No matter. The “Without the Escalade, I don’t know where we would be” situation is proof that brand-relevant design must remain in modernization/globalization’s righteous quest. (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2018

1958 Continental Mark III Front End, Image: AutoEvolution

Mister Steve writes:

Sajeev:

There seems to be a trend, at least among the younger crop of auto writers, to anthropomorphize an automobile based on its looks. It seems like you can barely get through a review of a new car without mention of automotive anthropomorphism: “angry eyes” or “ugly mouth” to describe styling. Definitely not how I recall descriptions from the likes of David E. Davis, Jr. or Chubby Chedder.

My theory for this is that they’re the generation that grew up during the Cars movie franchise. Seeing as I’m one of the “olds” who grew up when this wasn’t a thing, I could be wrong.

(Read More…)

By on September 4, 2018

Trabant 601 front, © 2018 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

On a frigid Detroit winter morning in 1998, I foolishly argued with a CCS professor over the need for conventional sedans or hatchbacks for our India design projects. Almost a decade later, the Tata Nano’s hatchback design was the justification I needed for believing designers place far too much weight in their creativity. Even if the Nano isn’t a smashing success, it proved the point.

No such worries exist with the Trabant 601: the socioeconomic backdrop ensured the success of Dr. Werner Lang’s creation. (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2017

1940 Continental, Image: http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu

With reader feedback always on my mind, perhaps an overview of commonly used terms in the car design trade is needed.

Let’s discuss the dash-to-axle: a notion that’s (probably) been a car design staple since Edsel Ford’s vision for an European-inspired flagship — one which added 7 inches to the hood of a mere luxury car. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2017

Images: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta

Tell me something: how can one fault Lee Iacocca for suggesting this vehicle — this blend of architecture, curves and beveled jewelry — generated over a billion dollars annually for Ford?

And how could you resist? There wasn’t a Lexus yet!
(Read More…)

By on July 6, 2017

2017 Toyota Camry C Pillar DLO FAIL, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsThe common road-going distraction of DLO FAIL sometimes forces a discussion with my best friend from the car design world.  While the raison d’etre for the series sadly left us over a decade ago, some cars take me back to our time together, as if his spirit never left. 

If you’ve experienced a similar loss, just know your lingering sorrows are not a burden you must bear alone. Put your brand of Venom on your personal Vellum — there’s plenty of room on the Internet for you. (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2017

BMW Air Curtain, Image: BMW

Mike writes:

Sajeev,

I have noticed something on newer cars, and it’s been bothering me for awhile now. Perhaps you, with your deity-like omniscience (and access to inside information) will be able to provide some clarity.

As you can see from the picture below, a new Toyota has this vertical flat area around the wheels. And it’s not just this particular model of car — nearly every modern car I see on the road today has a similar design feature, though they vary in the width of the flat area around the wheel arch. Contrast this the Clinton-era Toyo at the bottom, where the body lines follow a graceful curve all the way to the fender opening.

(Read More…)

By on January 23, 2017

1

Car shows take Vellum Venom down a psychotropic styling journey: elaborate displays with brilliant interior design elements, dazzling lighting, stunning product specialists (if you’re into that gawking thing), free top-shelf crap everywhere and perfect machinery refreshed by an army of detailers. Many years passed since my last auto show, but I had to come back to get the latest bits of car design. And interior design. And architecture.

Those three in mind, the Hyundai section was a remarkable letdown: the architecture brilliantly absorbed Cobo Center’s impressive amounts of negative area, marred by the mediocrity of a bland-toned Accent occupying prime real estate. Why ruin my Architectural-Digest worthy photograph?

(Read More…)

By on December 28, 2016

1985 Lamborghini Countach, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I stood face-to-fascia with a childhood dream, thanks to a tangential connection to Houston’s 2016 Lamborghini Festival. And yet, like all designs born pure and modified to remain relevant, the original Lamborghini LP400’s purity of form is sometimes absent in this time capsule, all-original LP5000. 

But please believe that, LP400 or no, it took every fiber of my being to avoid the typical auto journo blather on this sheet of vellum. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2016

2017 Honda Civic Hatchback - Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

As I exited the grocery store this past Sunday night thronged by late night shoppers, the expressions on the faces of those who walked past the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback LX, parked right in front of the store, were not difficult to discern.

Then, as it became obvious I was the “owner” of said Civic, previously repulsed glances shifted toward me, now full of pity. Can’t say I was surprised. The exterior design Honda foisted upon an otherwise excellent car is downright horrifying.

I wanted to shout across the grocery store parking lot, “It’s not mine.”
(Read More…)

By on October 25, 2016

ND Mazda MX-5 Miata Closeup, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I had the distinct non-privilege of sampling an ND Miata at a Mazda event for the general public, which was also covered by one of TTAC’s sister publications. A gaze at the hood bulges at (slow) auto journo track speeds netted a surprise: there was an urgency to get this cab-backward profile on the Vellum.

It’s no different than being a design student; visions quickly sketched on vellum (lower case) were crucial. Today’s urgency isn’t for my GPA, but for Vellum Venom’s readers (all 51 of you) and for my soul. It’s been too long.

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo white frontThe 2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo I’m driving this week is not a great car. Ride quality is abysmal. The dual-clutch transmission chronically delays the actual act of transmitting. Present are a number of negative symptoms with which we associate “sportiness,” but few and far between are the dividends we expect to be paid in exchange for those negative symptoms.

Yet more than five years into its run, the Hyundai Veloster continues to produce healthy volume for Hyundai USA while also providing the market with something it lacks: unique, interesting, “sporty” proposals for the small car buyer who doesn’t want a ho-hum everyday sedan.

Remember when other automakers used to do the same? The Mazda MX-3, Nissan NX, Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse and Toyota Paseo, for example — cars with humble foundations that reached higher with unique bodywork. We need more of that. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2017-2014 BMW 5-Series profile_128

The new 2017 BMW 5 Series, BMW’s seventh in a long line of revered midsize sedans, looks exactly like the outgoing BMW 5 Series.

Chip off the proverbial old block. Spitting image. Germany’s vehicular Dolly The Sheep.

If the new 5 Series, codename G30 in Bimmerphile parlance, were nothing more than a facelift of the departing F10 5 Series that will shortly end its 2011-2016 run, we would all surely consider the facelift to be an insufficient attempt at spicing things up.

But the new 5 Series isn’t just a mid-cycle refresh, it’s not merely a freshening of a tired old dog, it’s not the standard Munich riposte to a Stuttgart incursion.

This is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Or rather, one of these cars is the all-new BMW 5 Series. Can you say for sure which one it is? (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2016

7072

Jeremy writes:

I’d love to know your thoughts on the proliferation of plastic cladding on pretty much every CUV/SUV on sale today. I’ve noticed that pretty much everyone does it now – Toyota, Mazda, Ford, Jeep, BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, the list goes on.

(Read More…)

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