What is it with those slightly sagging window lines of the late 1970s?
A few days ago we posted an article about the 1978 Colt 1400. I noticed the window line sags slightly. The Opel Manta did this along with a few other cars of the era. What effect would it have had if the window line was dead straight? I did a simple edit on the original photo and found the difference between a dead straight line and the actual line is small. Does it look better?
8 thoughts on “Small Details”
The two that stick in my mind most are the original Fiesta and the Opel Rekord D (and its Vauxhall Victor cousin). I always found this detail irritating, as if designers felt that their perceived public could not hang on to the idea of a straight line for more than 30 centimetres. On the other hand it increases the glass area which, in today’s daylight impoverished interiors, would be a good thing.
I quite like the sag. In the case of the Opel, when the pillars are blacked out and the shape of the DLO picked out in chrome, it works well indeed. When every edge is picked out in chrome, as per the Princess, it doesn’t work at all. The opposite of this would be the Nissan Cherry picked out in these pages earlier in the week. Lord, the designer of that car cried out for a French Curve.
The sag on the Princess makes more sense. You can see the line is supposed to be from the side glass and around the A-pillar to the base of the windscreen. On the Opel I don´t see that same side to front continuity. Instead I see the line of the bonnet bulgig upwards and the line of the side glass sagging down and they meet at the A-pillar. I still like the Opel, mind. The Austin would have been better with a straight line though – same goes for the Princess.
I have added a revised Manta to the article. I think it looks much stronger.
In the Princess, the sag makes sense not only for the reason of continuity you mentioned, Richard, but it effectively seems to lower the window baseline by quite a bit. An intention that has to be appreciated. On the other hand, the lowering effect seems to minimal on the Manta and the Colt. What I think is that their design looks less strict and friendlier with the curved lines. This was probably intended, although on a sporty car like the Manta, this effect is debatable.
And here is someone who obviously felt the Fiesta needed improvement and tried to disguise the sag,
I subtle amount of sag makes the design so much more dynamic, it makes for a certain spring or vigorous stance. It makes the car come alive like it was a resting cat waiting for the right moment to leap on the mouse. There’s some sort of resting and restrained energy built into it. Take it away, and the car loses its youtfulness and just becomes a collection of dead pieces of metal and glas. But the sag has to be subtle, like the Mitsubishi or the W140. It can be overdone, like the Fiesta and the Manta. Done subtle it can be done right.
Eventually I decided that sag related to a wish to visually connect the base of the side glass to the base of the winscreen. Take a look at Tom Tjaarda’s sketch of the Fiesta. Done badly it doesn’t relate those two elements; at its worst it is a line that is lowest at its midpoint and doesn’t allign with the base of the windscreen.