How rehashing old designs is detrimental to the auto industry.
For the past 15 years or so, Retro design has unfortunately become an epidemic in the auto industry. Now, practically every manufacturer has toyed with the idea of producing a car that will harken its customers to the past, and many have gone so far as to produce these design studies gone awry. Luckily one of the most influential retro-styled cars, the Ford Mustang, is turning away from the styles of the past and focusing on a more forward-looking design in keeping with the original philosophy of the car. Here's 5 reasons why other automakers should follow Ford's example and let the retro designs die.
If you grew up going to weekend car shows or cruise nights, chances are you've come across one of these. Known as the Excalibur, it was built by Brooks Stevens to be a knock-off Mercedes SSK for the car markets of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Recently, these cars have been sitting on the auction block more than being driven, and the reason is quite simple. In fact, no one wants a 70s car that looks like a 30s car. Anyone who wants a car that looks like it's from the 30s would rather have a car from the 30s. The same reasoning can be applied to today's retro crop. In the future, do we really want the cars from our generation to seem like rehashed versions of former classics?
4: It Doesn't Look Good
There are a few exceptions to this, but on the whole, retro design is just destined to fail on modern cars. Nowadays, cars have to meet various standards of safety and comfort that severely affect the design. Try to design a new car to look like a classic and what you'll find is that the sharp angles will be too round, the round curves will be too flat, the small cars will be too big, and the big cars will be too small. Logically this is just a recipe for disaster. On the off chance that you do design something worth looking at, it will still always pale in comparison to the car it was designed after.
3: It Doesn't Work
Back in the day, designers didn't have the option to throw their design into a Computer Fluid Dynamics program, nor did the manufacturers have access to impossibly accurate robotic production lines. As a result, the cars had simple edges and curves, and were rarely efficient with airflow. Now, we've got both and we're still designing performance cars no more aerodynamic than a toaster.
2: It Invites Stupid Comparisons
No magazine would seriously compare a 7th generation Corvette with a first or second generation, nor would they compare the new 991 to the 964, but retro cars face these exact comparisons merely because they look similar to the cars of yore. And what information do we glean from these pointless reviews? The new cars are heavier, more comfortable, more powerful, and handle better, while the old ones are lighter, simpler, and have more character. Who would have thought...
1: It Ruins the Spirit of the Car
Bob Segar wrote a song recounting his work in a Ford factory titled "Makin' Thunderbirds." In the chorus he sings "Back in '55 we were making Thunderbirds. They were long, and low, and sleek, and fast. They were all you ever heard." 47 years later, when Ford unveiled their "new" Thunderbird based almost entirely on the 55's bodywork, it's doubtful "long, and low, and sleek, and fast" were the first words anyone thought about. Similarly, when Fiat and Volkswagen decided to reintroduce their bare-bones economy offerings, they chose to make expensive, trendy, retro cars rather than creating better cheap cars. The Mustang as well,was never designed to be a heavy, expensive "pony car," but rather a cheap, light, coupe. At the end of the day, whenever a manufacturer designs a car to be retro, they invariably do it at the cost of the original creator's intentions. Unless the car in question is an Excalibur, it was never designed to look old.