Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

When I was but a wee lad, I dreamed that one day I would grow up to be a great automotive designer. Posters of Lotus Elises, Chevrolet Corvettes and Lamborghini Countaches didn't just litter my walls because I wanted to someday own one — I wanted to be the guy responsible for penning the next one.

My nine year-old self even went so far once as to draw up the billion ideas I had for what GM should do with the next Corvette and mail them off to the Corvette Museum. Unfortunately, no one explained to me the Corvette Museum wasn't directly affiliated with GM, nor did anyone mention GM probably wouldn't hire a nine year-old to begin with. So I can only assume my package of a billion drawings wound up in a Warren County landfill. (For the record, if you worked at the Corvette museum around the turn of the millenium and are reading this: a simple return letter with a polite "fuck off, kid" would've been nice.)

Although I'm told the jury's still out on being "grown up," I'm sadly no longer nine years-old. I am, in fact, an adult and that means at some point I abandoned my childhood dream of designing cars in pursuit of... well, whatever it is I'm trying to do now. Something with writing, I think.

But, underneath my tall frame, deep voice and full beard, that nine year-old kid is still hanging around somewhere, yearning to design Corvettes and Lotuses. So I decided I would let my inner child take over for today and share with you five terrible and very fake styling trends that makes him pout and scowl. (Don't worry, I'll still be writing and editing this.)


5.) The "single frame" grille

Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

Now, before I start ripping into these stupid looking grilles, let me say this first: I like the VW Group. I like Audi. I like Volkswagen. I have a secret fetish for SEATs and your occasional Skoda (the support group meetings aren't going well, though). If I could buy a SEAT Leon 1.8 TSi here in Freedomland, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

With that said, I also hate the VW Group for kicking this stupid design trend off. The fifth-generation Golf GTi and third-generation A6 (both introduced in 2004) were some of the first cars to feature the barren wasteland of black plastic known as a "single frame grille."

Now Dodge, Toyota, Mini and even Ford (I'm also sure I'm forgetting someone here) are all guilty of ripping off VW/Audi's stupid looking design. Newsflash, guys: It doesn't look good, it doesn't look cool. Please just stop already.

Photo credit: Toyota


4.) Fake hood scoops

Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

Some cars have huge engines powerful enough to move entire mountain ranges and slay ancient gods. And with such great internally combustible power comes the basic need to breathe in massive amounts of air. By blistering, punching and shaping domes and holes in a car's hood to form a sort of inlet or scoop, that titanic beast of a motor is granted additional fresh cold oxygen to feed upon.

Some cars, however, do not wield power capable of moving mountains. In fact, some cars can barely manage to move their own weight around. But, in order for you believe the contrary, designers will sometimes tack on a set imitation hood scoops in the same way Kandi from "The Club" will stitch in a set of falsies in order to make empty promises to lonely forty-something businessmen.

Photo credit: Car and Driver


3.) Fake fender vents

Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

Like the hood scoop, many serious performance cars and supercars over the years have had fender vents cut and gouged into their front quarter panels in order to help expel any excess heat generated by the front brakes as the car slows down from the speed of sound.

Somewhere along the way, a brilliant (that's sarcasm, if you couldn't tell) designer had the brilliant idea of using them as "bling" on nondescript sedans (not looking at you, 2005 Buick Park Avenue Ultra) and giant five million ton four-wheel drive land whales. Then JC Whitney and even Walmart exacerbated the problem by selling them individually wrapped for the price of a six pack of good beer.

I vote we all keep spatulas under our seats and start peeling them off of every car, truck and SUV we see, first starting with the Infiniti Q-Whofuckinknows? pictured above.

Photo credit: Autoblog


2.) Fake rear diffusers

Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

What is a rear diffuser? Basically, because of witchcraft science or physics or something, a rear diffuser generates downforce by using the air moving underneath the car to create a sort of vacuum that makes the car stick better to the tarmac when it's traveling at higher rates of speed.

Supercars, such as the Porsche 918 and Ferrari TheFerrari, have them for obvious reasons. Enterprise-spec six-cylinder Chevrolet Camaros have something that looks like one because... well, you tell me. Contrary to what your eyes might tell you, most rear diffusers you see on average production cars are about as functional as most of Stephen Hawking.

Photo credit: Motor Trend


1.) Plastic rear quarter "windows"

Here Are Some Of The Worst Styling Trends In Automotive Design

What? Did you expect to see something else at the top of this list? I'm sorry, but it's a universal truth: If you want to completely ruin the styling of a car, just slap on a piece of plastic behind the rear doors.

Every car that has plastic rear quarter windows looks cheap, undercooked, half-assed. It's one reason why the old Chrysler Sebring (and outgoing 200) looked like shit. It's the one feature everyone is earnestly waiting for Chevrolet to dispose of on the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze (whenever that's supposed to debut, anyway). It's what drags down the new Camry.

Here's another newsflash, automakers: You aren't fooling anyone with these petroleum-based comb overs. Properly design your rooflines in the future.

Photo credit: Toyota