It’s to do with bumper to body shutlines which leads to what might be the only semi-scholarly study of the evolution of the rear car bumper on the whole of continental Europe.
This has been at the back of my mind for ages before finally leading me to go on a binge of iPhone photography. That means the images are hasty, murky and not nicely composed. The thing to look out for is the evolution of the rear bumper from a separate item to a fully integrated item. It’s the intervening stage that captures my interest. During the middle period the designers aimed to have the body-to-bumper join horizontal as it had been ever since bumpers were a bar of chromed steel wrapped around the ends of the car.
Some points emerged from my study.
- On a large car there is more scope to keep the bumper to body panel gap horizontal which means it is more harmonious with the flow of the surface.
- The more of the car that is plastic the lighter it is. This explains the tendency to push that bumper-to-body line as far forward as possible.
- With this in mind, a huge bumper and a diagonal line cutting across the body implies cheapness.
- If you want to design an expensive-looking large car, having a big bumper with an ugly diagonal line (see above, see also Insignia “A”) is not the way to go about it.
The Citroen C6 is another early example of the unwelcome huge bumper to body cutline. Irregularity across the gap ruined the flow of the highlights.
It is clear that production engineers have made huge strides in getting tighter and tighter panel gaps. However, on pale coloured cars the black line of the gap is still all too evident. On a small car a 10 cm line is not a very big deal. On C-D class cars such cuts are quite unsightly. I’d suggest that the impression of quality is not aided if there is a 60 cm diagonal line cutting across the front-to-back flow of the surface.
And this is the job done well. The S90 (above) gets it right. Here it is up close:
What we learn to notice in today’s sermon is that the diagonal cut says cost-cut.
(Note: the 2000 Opel Corsa “C” has a second piece of plastic around the wheel arch. It’s silver coloured in the photo above. And the Meriva’s arch and rear bumper is inspired by the Audi A2.)