Over the Transom: The Last Gasp of the Shutlines Theme

The Chrysler 300M front end needed serious revision. As it stood it was crudely executed. This diagram shows an alternative schematic break up of the front wing, headlamp and bumper.

It´s schematic. The actual refinement of this would take some considerable time.
It’s schematic. The actual refinement of this would take some considerable time.

In essence, the graphics asked questions the engineering department could not deal with and the actual solution defeated the graphics. It is tempting to say the graphics were not really feasible. Continue reading “Over the Transom: The Last Gasp of the Shutlines Theme”

Theme: Shutlines – A Review

We really went at this topic with gusto. Did we learn anything?

A shutline, yesterday.
A shutline, yesterday.

Editor Simon introduced the topic and noted that panel gaps or shutlines at their best become a positive part of the design and not are merely an interruption. And we spent the best part of the month demonstrating all the ways to get it wrong. Sean noted the problem of getting the wheel arch and door shutlines to relate properly. Should they follow the arch or should they form their own discrete shape on the side of the car as on the Renault Laguna or Passat?  The case is not proven.  I went over some old ground from another angle, looking at how the shutline between the bumper and the body has gained more and Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – A Review”

Theme: Shutlines – Nose Jobs

Some manufacturers today use a large plastic moulding as a front mask that includes bumper as well as radiator grille. A solution I appreciate for its simplicity and which can be pleasing to look at – but beware the pitfalls!

2016 Jaguar XF (Jaguar)
2016 Jaguar XF (Jaguar)

Not long ago, we discussed an odd triangle, trapped between shutlines, panel folds and functional elements. The object in question was the 2014 Lexus IS’s rear door. I was reminded of this discussion when I saw a short article in my local newspaper about the new Jaguar XF. There it was again – between headlight, bonnet shutline and radiator bulge. What the above Jaguar press photo (!) also shows: it’s not easy to align large plastic and metal pieces. There is a visible offset between the bonnet and the front mask above the left headlight (as seen in the picture), and the shutline itself varies in thickness. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Nose Jobs”

Theme : Shutlines – Care and Discretion

Audi once understood subtlety. I’m not so sure they do any more.

Audi A2 Side View

Once upon a time, whilst Mercedes and BMW were attracting critical scorn for their new styling directions (some deserved, some not) over at Audi they couldn’t put a foot wrong. See how they treated the rear side shutlines on the A2. The front wheelarch blister is defined by an inset crease. The rear blister appears the same but, so as not to spoil the balance, the rear door shutline is continued all the way round the arch – the blister is a separate panel. See also how the A pillar flows all the way round to the rear without any door cutouts in it. All the side glasses have the same size border trims.

Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Care and Discretion”

Theme : Shutlines – Beyond The Pale

Does Ford really think that this is acceptable? (Caution : Viewer Discretion Required).

Focus Light

Throughout the month I have been accumulating images with a view to presenting a rogue’s gallery of bad shutlines. Never one to run from the crude and obvious, I had intended giving the post the title of ‘Shitelines’.

However, when I look at my collection, one stands out in my view so much that it deserves its own post. That a major manufacturer who employs some of the best trained designers could have produced something as ugly and inept as the rear light treatment of the current Focus doesn’t just surprise me – it offends me. The left lamp treatment is bad enough, particularly where the rather wide shutline of the hatchback meets it. But the right hand lamp, with the half-arsed attempt to merge the shape of the fuel flap into the shape of the lens is ….. beyond any excuse.

The ubiquity of this car means that I have to see it every day, and time has not endeared it, quite the opposite. I can’t really say any more.

Theme : Shutlines – Another Way

Bristol Is A Foreign Country …

Bristol4

… They Do Things Differently There.

Here at DTW, we have always held Bristol in great respect. If we haven’t written about them that much over the past couple of years, that’s because neither have they. What, if anything, will come from this silence, who knows, but if and when they re-emerge, will they maintain any of their idiosyncratic past?

Bristol, of course, made much of their aviation heritage. I’ve always felt that should be put into perspective. The Bristol Car Company was always a separate entity from the plane business and, although there might have been some synergy, it doesn’t follow. In truth the aeronautical heritage was more of a marketing tool but, to consider Bristol’s post war aeronautical output, let’s look at two planes. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Another Way”

Theme: Shutlines – Volvo Goes One Better

Here is the C-pillar of the Volvo 240.

1982 Volvo 240GL
1982 Volvo 240GL

I imagine all that welding and pressing made it unimaginably strong at the very least. There is a sharp groove at the base of the C-pillar and furthermore another join up at the top of the C-pillar. This triangular patch is held on with a screw. Note the window has four rounded corners and is not bonded into place.

Theme: Shutlines – The Difficult C-Pillar Junction

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at shutlines this past month…

How it used to be done. Original image via carsbase
How it used to be done. Original image: carsbase

… and one thing inevitably leads to another, so today we’re taking a (not particularly comprehensive) look at how manufacturers used to deal with another, often tricky junction. The one at the base of the C-pillar.

Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Difficult C-Pillar Junction”

Theme: Shutlines – The Fake Frameless Window Shutline

Isn’t it interesting how a design feature sometimes pops up in unexpected places, or in cars that are totally unrelated?

lexus_is_2006
2006 Lexus IS (wikipedia.org)

I lately crossed the way of a 2006 Lexus IS, and especially its rear door shutline (basically, that’s what I looked at on all cars this month). It has an interesting treatment with its horizontal top part joining the curve of the rear window. Haven’t I seen that before? Right, it was there on the early Imprezas. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Fake Frameless Window Shutline”

Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper

The Alfa 166 had a nine year run. The unfortunate front had a redesign in 2003 but the rear stayed much the same for almost a decade.

1998 Alfa Romeo 166 rear view: Wikipedia.org
1998 Alfa Romeo 166 rear view: Wikipedia.org

I can’t visualise how Alfa Romeo got around to signing-off on the rear bumper of this car. The rest of it has some very eccentric detailing too. But I will concentrate on the bootlid and rear bumper. As the photos show, the bumper seems to mate with the body-in-white in an rather odd way. At the sides the upper and lower edges meet along a horizontal plane. But in the middle of the car, the bumper is tucked behind the bodywork. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The 1998 Alfa Romeo 166 Boot and Bumper”

Theme: Shutlines – The Vanishing A-Pillar

Yesterday, Driven to Write gave you an overview of the A-pillar. Today however, we’re going a little deeper.

Mercedes W201. Image via carsguide.au
The mighty Mercedes W201. Image: carsguide.au

Since we started this month’s theme I’ve spent more time looking at shutlines and panel gaps than is either healthy or rational. Nevertheless, it’s been an absorbing study, giving rise to a number of observations about the manner in which manufacturers have managed these transitions over recent years. From a purely scientific perspective of course, we should really be limiting ourselves to those junctions where at least one of the abutting panels opens, but I’m trusting our editor will let this pass – and lets face it, we’re not about to get into all this again any time soon.

Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Vanishing A-Pillar”

Theme: Shutlines – A-pillars

There are a number of ways to skin this particular cat. Do many people notice this? BMW thought so and ran an ad just showing the A-pillar of their 1988 5-series, or it might have been the 1995 version. 

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The little photo gallery shows a wide variety of ways to deal with the base of the A-pillar. It’s very complex since the glasshouse has to blend to the lower body; the doors need to close with a proper seal (are the doors inset, flush or to they cover the A-pillar?); the windscreen needs to Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – A-pillars”

Theme : Shutlines – Now You See It …

… Now You Don’t. We look at the GINA, BMW’s attempt to produce a literal shutline

Gina 03

However much he might have railed, an engineer of Dr Piech’s standing knew that, even by calling it a shut line, it would always be, in reality, a shut gap. Expansion, engineering tolerances, sag and the possibility of damage means that the shutlines of a solid bodied car will always be measured in millimetres, not microns. Even those uniformly narrow gaps on modern VAG products must have been an irritation to him until the end. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Now You See It …”

Theme: Shutlines – The Tab

Audi evidently didn’t want to give anything to the Mercedes E-class in the shutline and craftsmanship battle.

1994-1997 Audi A6. This is the V8.
1994-1997 Audi A6. This is the V8.

The W-126 had a visible weld crease under its rear lamp. So Audi spent a bit extra to avoid it. 20 years later the C4 Audi A6 is still an object lesson in the pursuit of orderly detailing. The only line visible is one related to the boot aperture.

[Editor’s note: Text altered to correct the A6’s model designation – see comments below]

Theme: Shutlines – The One Good Thing About the 1995 E-class

It’s taken me two decades to find the one worthwhile detail on the W210: the rear wing of the Estate model is assembled properly.

1995 Mercedes E-class rear quarter. Note the way there is no visible line under the rear lamp.
1995 Mercedes E-class rear quarter. Note the way there is no visible line under the rear lamp.

Recently I was regurgitating some of my thoughts on plastic bumpers. I showed some examples of how manufacturers typically had a visible weld on the extra bit of metal under the rear lamp.   Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The One Good Thing About the 1995 E-class”

Theme: Shutlines – Look, No Sills.

We don’t really think much about sills. On some cars they were not even visible, as in the 1978-1993 Saab 900. It’s a case of the missing shutline.

1986 Saab 900 automatic. The door extends down and fold inward, out of site.
1986 Saab 900 automatic. The door extends down and fold inward, out of sight.

Admittedly this example is rather dented. Looking past that, notice that the door comes all the way down to where the sill or rocker panel is normally visible. There is a sill there, but it is about ten centimetres in-board, with a thick rubber seal to Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Look, No Sills.”

Theme: Shutlines – Mind The Gap

Some collected, if slightly disconnected thoughts on this month’s theme gives us an opportunity for a little gratuitous Mercedes-bashing. 

Stand clear of the doors - image via The Telegraph
Stand clear of the doors – image: The Telegraph

So much is known and quantified, be it politics, cuisine, architecture or indeed recognising a decent pasodoble when we see one. It’s all out there to be discovered, downloaded and co-opted into our lives and dinner party conversations: we’re all experts now. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – Mind The Gap”

Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions

Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. Logic suggests these two cars would have identical constructions, but apparently not.

Toyota & Citroen

The previous generation small car from Toyota and PSA, though basically the same vehicle, differed quite markedly in its rear treatment, particularly in 5 door form.

The Toyota is more conventional and looks, maybe, the slightly more substantial, grown-up car with a full body panel, seamlessly integrated with the body structure from sill to roof. All the normal joins are present – bumper to wing/wing to door/door to wheelarch/tailgate to rear wing, etc. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions”

Theme: Shutlines – The Body In White Recedes

A look at some rear bumpers illustrates changes in the way cars are constructed

classics.honestjohn.co.uk
classics.honestjohn.co.uk

Around the mid 1980s the bumpers of most cars were quite separate items added to the front and rear of the car’s metal structure or “body in white” as it is sometimes known. If you look at a Volvo 340 in its first iteration, for example, the bumper is a plastic coated metal item wrapped around the wings and front valence. The same goes at the back. Clearly the bumper is not an integrated element of the car and you can see the painted metal all around it. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – The Body In White Recedes”

Theme : Shutlines – The Incongruous Rear Door / Wheelarch Relationship

I look at a personal irritation and wonder if I share it with anyone else.

Passat Wheelarches

At school, my Technical Drawing teacher once counselled us against mixing straight lines and curved lines in a design. Even at an impressionable age, I could tell that was a crude and general rule, made to be broken. But his words have come back to me now and then over the past decade or more, when I view the shape of the trailing edge of the rear doors of an increasing number of cars.

The old way was that the door would tend to follow the shape of the rear wheelarch. Sometimes it would describe a circle, just 2 or 3 cm greater in radius than that of the wheelarch. Sometimes it would be the wheelarch itself. In other cases it would be a gentle curve, but relating in some way to the arch’s shape. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – The Incongruous Rear Door / Wheelarch Relationship”

Theme: Shutlines – 1998 Mitsubishi Colt 3-door

A nice conceit with shutlines is to try to unite them inside a larger frame.

1998 Mitsubishi Colt 3-door.
1998 Mitsubishi Colt 3-door.

The 1998 Mitsubishi Colt (or Mirage) is not otherwise a very interesting vehicle. However, students of design might like to look again at the tail gate treatment. The lamps, screen and metal panel are enclosed inside one line which can be traced from the top of the rear glass all the way around to the bottom of the liftgate and back. It could have been done in a nicer fashion though. Continue reading “Theme: Shutlines – 1998 Mitsubishi Colt 3-door”

Theme : Shutlines – Introduction

The Editor Peers Into The Void

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Once they were called Panel Gaps. These were negatives, they were just places where metal didn’t exist. Cars were assembled from a lot of different bits, leaving gaps between them, especially where one bit might need to be removed again, or where it hinged. These gaps varied in size and it was generally safer to make them a bit bigger in case of mistakes, and maybe to allow for better ventilation. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – Introduction”