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Top Five Cars Most Loathed by Me

As you probably know, the look of the Formula 1 Safety Car recently changed a bit, with a honking great new sponsor’s logo emblazoned on its hood (or, for the Brits, its “bonnet”).  Here’s what the Safety Car used to look like:

F1 logo, text reading “Safety Car” — fairly minimalist black on silver and, for that reason, very appealing to my mind.  Then again, I ADORE the looks of the Mercedes SLS AMG beyond all reason.  You could plaster a giant-sized photo of Flavio Briatore’s ass across the hood, and that car would still be a thing of sublime beauty.  Just my two cents (for the Brits: “tuppence”).

A week or so ago, after I’d contemplated the changes to the Safety Car’s aesthetics (here is a good shot of what it looks like now) and concluded, “Yep — still droolworthy,” my mind turned to cars that are the exact opposite.  Cars that I have to turn away from when I see them on the road, because they make my eyeballs hurt.  Cars that make me sneer and occasionally (fairly or unfairly) think less of the person driving them.  You might own one of these cars — I have friends who do!  Beloved relatives of mine have contemplated buying one or more of these cars.  So please understand that I’m not judging you, personally.  Well, not much, anyway.  ;-)  It’s all a matter of taste, isn’t it?  Anyway, here we go: to amuse myself, a countdown of my top five most loathed cars.

NUMBER 5: CHRYSLER PT CRUISER

Truly, I do think this is one of the worst cars I’ve ever seen — but it’s become so common that I’ve nearly come to terms with the fact that people actually like it. This tacky, gimmicky, fake retro look is something people are somehow willing to pay money for — a lot of people, actually, and not a small amount of money.  So I’ve put this horrible thing only at number 5 on my list.  I absolutely despise the looks of it, but, these days, the sight of it generally just elicits a sad shake of the head, rather than a full-on D: horrorface.

NUMBER 4: NISSAN CUBE

I knew I needed to include something from the box-on-wheels design genre, and I very nearly went with the Toyota Scion, which I think might have originated it (right?).  However, I was walking down the street the other day and was reminded of the existence of this ridiculous piece of crap, which takes the morphotype to a sort of head-turning extreme.  For the love of God, WHY?  Honestly, it reminds me of the Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust.  (If you’re not familiar with that beautiful piece of machinery, you can watch a YouTube video of Autocar testing it here.  Also, you probably need to be watching a lot more Top Gear.)

Number 3:  DODGE CHALLENGER

My problem with this car is similar to my problem with so many Dodge vehicles: it looks like a normal car that’s having an anaphylactic allergic reaction.  It’s been stung by a bee, and now it’s swollen to vaguely grotesque proportions and requires immediate medical attention.  These cars are a special kind of ugly.  I’m trying to think of a word stronger than unseemly, but it’s the one that keeps springing to mind.  Really, car — what the hell are you trying to prove?  If this car were a guy, I would probably have to tell him to stop standing in the mirror flexing his pecs, because it makes him look like a total douche.

NUMBER 2: CHEVROLET SSR

I know this car is no longer made and hasn’t been since 2006 — and I thank God for that every day — but it was so apocalyptically hideous, so unparalleled in its awfulness, that it still makes it to number 2 on my list.  The only reason it isn’t at number 1 is that I never see them anymore, so they pose far less a threat to my sanity than they used to.  I still remember the first time I saw one of these things driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.  The vision is branded in my brain for life.  It really represents the same approach to design as the godawful PT Cruiser, but somehow the application of this gaudy, fake retro aesthetic to the pickup truck makes it a hundred times worse.  Good riddance to this monstrosity, I say.

NUMBER 1: SMART CAR

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Your love of Jeremy Clarkson and hatred of the Smart Car means you DESPISE THE EARTH.”  Well, you’re mistaken, although I get why you’d think that.  On the contrary, I do care about the environment.  I just think people who care about the environment ought to be able to drive cars that don’t make them look like the biggest douchebags on the planet.

One day, I was having lunch with my adviser, and one of these “cars” was parked outside the restaurant, within my field of vision.  There might as well have been clowns having an orgy out there, for all my lack of ability to concentrate on anything but the undignified sight of it.  “Look at it,” I kept saying.  “People drive around in those things!  In public!”  Often (again, fairly or unfairly), I imagine the Smart Car driver to be incredibly smug.  For that reason, I feel compelled to go that extra mile and try to make them feel self-conscious about driving around town in a little toy car, by stopping in my tracks and gawking dramatically with an expression of extreme horror on my face.  I have a feeling it does not faze these people in the slightest.

Smart Cars are all over New York City these days.  Often, they’re driven by grown men.  I have to tell you, in all honesty, if a guy ever came to pick me up in one of those things . . .  Wow.  Once I was done laughing, I’d have to tell him, “Sorry.  This really just isn’t going to work out.”  I’m afraid this would be the case even if we had already been married for years.

This “car,” as different as it is in many ways from the other loathed cars on my list, does share one quality with them: “clownishness” might be the best word to describe it.  They all have a ridiculous, cartoony sort of look that I absolutely cannot stand.

But hey, that’s me.  Apparently that sort of thing works for a lot of people, or car designers wouldn’t keep coming up with this stuff.  And, for the record, if someone out there reading this actually owns one of these cars, I have no doubt you are an intelligent, generally upstanding person, and your taste in everything except cars is totally impeccable.  ;-)

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