OK, to start things off, I’d like to go on record to say that the new Fiat they’re selling here is ugly. It’s lumpy and wrinkled, but lacking the charm of a shar pei. When the ads try to liken the lump of poo to an Italian supermodel, I just roll my eyes.
But the Fiat is a passive sort of ugly, the kind of ugly that mothers the world over look past.
When the Pontiac Aztec came out, I was stunned. My first encounter with one was in a parking lot; I walked a complete circle around the thing, laughing the whole time. I thought, naïvely, that I’d seen the pinnacle of ugly. Surely nothing could ever surpass it. I mean, come on. Presumably most auto designers want their cars to look good.
Except maybe the ones at Toyota. It started with the Prius, which is not an attractive vehicle. Aztec territory. Particularly offensive: the giant silvery tail light cluster. Two giant festering boils on the back end of every Prius.
The infection spread. More Toyotas inherited this horror, and then it caught on with Toyota’s other labels. Terrible designers at other companies picked it up, putting the awe in awful.
This isn’t to let the makers of big, angular red clusters off the hook. Still ugly, but easier to overlook.
All this in a time when technology allows designers to do just about anything with the tail lights of a car. If I were in charge of the VW, there’d be optional flower-shaped brake lights on the bug – and they’d sell. There is less need than ever before for giant plastic warts on the ass ends of cars. Yet on some vehicles these unsightly growths just keep getting bigger and uglier. I saw an SUV today, painted in a dark color, with giant silvery tumors on its ass so big I was tempted to chase it down to see who made the damn thing. But I had better things to do.