Home » More Evidence Headlights Are Eyes, Renault-Style: Cold Start

More Evidence Headlights Are Eyes, Renault-Style: Cold Start

Cs Eyes R5 1
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At the very beginning of my career as an automotive journalist, way back in 2011, I wrote something about how Pixar was wrong to make the cars in the movie Cars have their eyes in the windshield instead of the headlights, as car-god intended. The comments I got were largely from indignant people livid that I’d have the temerity to complain about something Pixar had done, and I was called an unimaginative troll dead-set on destroying the joy of children, and, in one case, was accused of doing it all as a hatchet job against Steve Jobs, for some reason. Good times! Anyway, this is still a concept I fiercely believe in, and I think providing you, the Automobile Peoples of Earth, with evidence of optoheadlightism as I encounter it is a good idea. So, today, please enjoy these examples of headlights as eyes, from Renault and, as a bonus, a late 1960s safety film!

First, let’s look at Renault, a longtime champion of the headlights-as-eyes concept. Up top you can see an actual Renault 5 with its headlights sporting some fun eye-covers; these were promotional cars Renault had based on old cartoon ads and brochures like these:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Cs Eyes R5 2

It’s remarkable how well even the rectangular lamps work as eyes, even with most mammalian eyes being very much un-squared, with most eyes having only maybe one or two corners, certainly not four. And yet it works, giving the R5 a cheeky little face.

Speaking of rectangular eyes, an earlier car, the last of the rear-engined Renaults, had a whole ad specifically about its square eyes:

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Cs Eyes R10 1

This is an ad from Renault Australia, and it seems the R10 was the only Australian-built car to have rectangular headlamps back then? Amazing. And, as you can see from the copy, Renault absolutely considers headlights to be the eyes of a car. And even in squareical form, they look like eyes on that R10’s grille-less face.

If you don’t want to take the word of the French, then consider this 1969 Alfred Higgins produced traffic safety film involving some idiot kid who runs into traffic and is rewarded by a fever dream where cars ranging from a Plymouth Fury to a 1908 Charron 15hp talk to him in some smokey, otherworldly no-space, about the dangers of being an idiot in traffic:

And, yes, all the cars have eyes. In their headlights.

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Because that’s what’s right.

 

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LongCoolLincoln
LongCoolLincoln
21 days ago

Absolutely crushing how disappointed the dad is at the beginning. Not sure I could have taken my dad giving me that intense arm grip, staring directly into my eyes, incredulously repeating, “You’re not responsible,” and then just kind of wandering away. Devastating.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
22 days ago

I’m pretty sure that Pixar only put the headlights in the windshield so that they could do the pop-up headlight flash gag with the Miata twins.

FleetwoodBro
FleetwoodBro
22 days ago

I’m with you on this and I’m fascinated how design elements on the front of a car can evoke an emotion. AI is a little silly and seems to hedge its bets, but here’s an AI interpretation of some cars — I asked it to describe men’s faces if they resembled the fronts of the cars in question.

“Sure, I can describe what such faces might look like:

  1. Volkswagen Thing: The Volkswagen Thing has a rugged and utilitarian design, so a male face resembling it might have a square jawline, slightly weathered features, and a friendly yet sturdy expression. Think of someone with a broad smile, maybe a few laugh lines, and a warm, approachable demeanor.
  2. Lamborghini Countach: The Countach is known for its sharp angles and aggressive styling, so a male face resembling it could have defined cheekbones, a chiseled jawline, and intense, piercing eyes. This person might have a confident and somewhat edgy appearance, with a hint of mystery or intensity in their expression.
  3. Renault 5: The Renault 5 has a more rounded and compact design, so a male face resembling it might have softer features, such as a rounder jawline and gentle curves. This person might have a friendly and approachable look, with a warm smile and maybe even a mischievous twinkle in their eyes.”

Then I asked what would make a car look angry. I think BMW asked must have asked the same question and just went hard with it.

“To create an angry or aggressive appearance when anthropomorphizing cars as human faces, several design elements could be utilized:

  1. Sharp and Angular Features: Just as a furrowed brow or sharp cheekbones can convey anger in a human face, cars with angular lines, sharp edges, and aggressive contours can evoke a similar emotion.
  2. Intense and Piercing “Eyes”: The headlights of a car can be likened to its eyes. Narrow, slanted headlights or LED designs with a fierce or intense appearance can give the impression of glaring eyes, contributing to the angry look.
  3. Dark or Bold Colors: Dark or bold colors, such as black, deep red, or matte finishes, can add to the menacing appearance of a car. These colors can enhance the sense of aggression and dominance.
  4. Low and Wide Stance: Cars with a low, wide, and muscular stance can appear more threatening and aggressive, similar to a person standing tall and imposing.
  5. Visible Air Intakes and Grilles: Large, gaping air intakes or grilles resembling a snarling mouth can add to the aggressive demeanor of a car’s front end.
  6. Raised Hood or Flared Fenders: Design elements like a raised hood or flared fenders can create a sense of tension and power, contributing to the overall angry expression.

By incorporating these design elements, a car’s front end can be made to resemble an angry or aggressive human face, eliciting a strong emotional response from viewers.”

So if I’m Henry Ford II in 1967, I’m saying to the design team, “I want our lineup to be a Sophia Loren, a Bob Mitchum, a Paul Newman, and an Aunt Bea. Oh and a Mickey Rooney because we need something cheap and cheerful. Do not come back to me with an Ernest Borgnine.” Then I’d go play golf.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
22 days ago

I made it 4 minutes into that video. That’s all I could stand.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
22 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

You need to see the RiffTrax version. https://www.rifftrax.com/the-talking-car

DONALD FOLEY
DONALD FOLEY
21 days ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

2 minutes.

AssMatt
AssMatt
22 days ago

“Squareical” is a great word.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
22 days ago

I’ll take square eyes over squinty eyes any day. Even more so over stacked misshapen eyes and a huge mouth, as current trends follow.

Electronika
Electronika
22 days ago
Collegiate Autodidact
Collegiate Autodidact
22 days ago

Yeah, that safety film was pretty trippy in more than one way, like with the plethora of air-cooled VW buses (especially the one serving as a school bus!) It was produced just three or four years after the 1965-’66 TV sitcom My Mother the Car starring Jerry Van Dyke as a lawyer whose mother had been reincarnated as a “1928 Porter” so there was already precedent for talking cars. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Mother_the_Car
http://imcdb.org/vehicle_39539-Made-for-Movie-1928-Porter-Stanhope.html
Yeah, the film was kinda creepy but for creepiness I see your The Talking Car and raise the 1963 bicycle safety film One Got Fat featuring kids wearing papier-mache monkey masks and tails while riding bicycles and getting picked off one by one in various mishaps: https://youtu.be/VZzQDhYE2c0?si=1dOiHA7ttM6SrTQH
That film was narrated by Edward Everett Horton who voiced the Fractured Fairy Tales on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Last edited 22 days ago by Collegiate Autodidact
DysLexus
DysLexus
22 days ago

Check out film at 6:29. It’s a VW bus School Bus driven by a crazed 17 year old boy. I didn’t know anything existed like that in 1969 AND why did everyone t-a-l-k s-o s-l-o-w-l-y back then.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
22 days ago

I’ll give you headlights as eyes, so long as you concede outside mirrors as ears.

Chronometric
Chronometric
22 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

so what are trafficators?

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
22 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

People who masturbate while driving?

James Carson
James Carson
22 days ago

Gotta agree with your thesis torch, the eyes have it.

Uncle Cholmondeley
Uncle Cholmondeley
22 days ago

My late father also criticized Cars for the windshield-as-eyes thing.

Also, if headlights aren’t eyes, then why are CarLashes a thing?

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
22 days ago

The last time a Plymouth came to life, her name was Christine….

WR250R
WR250R
22 days ago

Eh, can’t say I agree with the Cars eyes take. You see through the windshield

Hangover Grenade
Hangover Grenade
22 days ago
Reply to  WR250R

If the headlights are eyes, why is there a windshield?

I think of the headlights like the lantern on one of those creepy deep-sea fish.

WR250R
WR250R
21 days ago

Yeah there ya go. The headlights are the lantern and the eyes are on the body of the fish

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
22 days ago

But your belief in headlight eyes is in conflict with your humoculous theory.

A. Barth
A. Barth
22 days ago

I love love love that the square-eyes advertisement refers to the headlights as “assymetric”.

Obviously it was supposed to be “asymmetric” but I think they were on to something with “assy metric”.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
22 days ago

I would like to submit further evidence, if it pleases the court.

  • In the 1987 film The Brave Little Toaster, the junkyard cars had eyes in their headlights (a scene and song which freak me out to this day).
  • The Chevron Cars featured in mid-90’s advertising also had eyes in their headlights.

I’m just a humble country lawyer trying to do the best I can but I believe, NAY DEMAND that henceforth eyes must be represented in the headlights and not the windshield.

FURTHERMORE, I believe that ALL public indecency charges related to this case against Mr. Torchinsky be dropped.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
22 days ago

The Brave Little Toaster was a pretty unsettling kids movie. I remember it scaring the crap out of me for whatever reason.

Also a pretty strange premise that obviously worked a lot better with toys in Toy Story.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
22 days ago

I still mildly freak out ever time I run over my vacuum’s cord.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
22 days ago

I’m not really convinced the Brave Little Toaster is actually a kids movie, but take your COTD nom! 🙂

10001010
10001010
22 days ago

Holy crap this video is creepy.

Robert M. Graham
Robert M. Graham
22 days ago
Reply to  10001010

I didn’t want to watch the whole thing, so I skipped around. One small bit I saw (the last one) was the car saying, “Don’t be frightened.” Too late for that!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
22 days ago
Reply to  10001010

The cars in the street scenes were kinda worth it, though.
Plus, they showed us filmstrips rather like this when I was young, so I’m inured to it

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
22 days ago
Reply to  10001010

Yeah. Don’t trust that creep in the “school bus” kids.

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