… every car looked as good when launched as it does two decades later.
For this small meditation the kick-off is the 1994 Renault Laguna I saw today. It helps if the car is shiny and in good order, of course.
Two weeks ago I saw the 1995 Vectra in the same flattering light.What seemed uninspiring 20 years ago seems clean, fresh and straightforward. This morning a Fusion caught my eye:
Slowly a car goes from unfamiliar to uninteresting and then emerges as something all of its own. This process might take less than two decades. It depends on the car. What does it mean?
My theory is that a car’s visual appeal over time begins high (above zero, ideally) and falls as familiarity breeds indifference. Then as the car goes out of production it becomes rarer. When you eventually see an example you see it partly afresh. It gains from being seen in the context of newer cars going through the indifference phase and by having a contrasting form-language. I can see more clearly now what Renault’s designers saw in 1990/1991. I can see it isolated from the trends of the year it came out: I see difference. The same goes for the Fusion which seems fresh and refreshingly unadorned.
The RX-8 managed to be a rarity from 2003 onward so it always seems like 2003 for this car. Those vents kicked off the reappearance of that flourish, I suppose.
The designers must loathe it when their lovingly-crafted work emerges into a crowd of similar cars and ages in a few years. Parents might have a similar form of regret if they get to see their wonder-children wrinkle and distort in middle-age. Though more so.