I think it’s safe to say that our brains process the front ends of cars in the same way we process faces. This isn’t just me being a goofball, professional academic goofballs have done studies that seem to prove that this is how it works. Because our brains have such specialized hardware for facial recognition, that may be why many of us can sometimes identify a car so quickly and rapidly. It’s pretty amazing! It also means that when we see “faces” in cars, that recognition spectrum can take a lot of forms. Like how sometimes, instead of anthropomorphizing the front of a car, we anachropomorphize it, as in the case of this 1951 Lotus Mark III, which seems to have a spider’s face.
The Mark III was a really interesting car; it was the first car that Colin Chapman built that was actually called a “Lotus,” for one thing, and what’s also incredible is that this car, designed for racing under the Motor Club 750 formula, had to be Austin 7 based. That means it had to use an Austin 7 chassis and drivetrain. Remember, an Austin 7 looked like this:
Somehow, that spindly little economy-family car became that low, fast, sleek looking thing you see up there. The aluminum body only weighed 65 pounds! And look at that weird little half-dome for the carb!
The shocked-spider face is unusual, but has made a bit of a legacy. Remember the new Morgan Three-Wheeler that’s coming out?
That’s basically the same face! Close-set shocked eyes, open mouth. That’s it. Weirdly, it’s also this, too:
It’s a strange face, but I like it. It looks appropriate to the task of driving like a maniac on a track.