Home » You Have The Power To Erase Up To Three Styling Trends From The Car Universe, Past Or Present. Which Get The Axe?

You Have The Power To Erase Up To Three Styling Trends From The Car Universe, Past Or Present. Which Get The Axe?

2024 Mustang
ADVERTISEMENT

Here’s the thing about being in style: it never lasts. It doesn’t matter if it’s cars or clothes, furniture or footwear, music or mustaches (I had trouble thinking of an m-thing): as soon as everyone agrees on what’s totally cool, that’s a pretty good indicator those cool things are rapidly approaching their expiration date. One minute you’re the guy with his finger on the pulse, the next you’re throwing your parachute pants in the trash and crying in your room, face buried in a beanbag chair.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Now, for cars, styling trends can be particularly perilous. These are major purchases after all, so manufacturers are keen to make sure the new models look super fresh and modernly-styled, and naturally we consumers want our new cars to look all futuristic and rad and whatnot. But looking new and looking good don’t always go hand-in-hand, and time can be very unkind to what was once cutting edge. For example, remember when rectangular headlights were an absolute must-have? Round headlights were for squares, ironically. Heck, even motorcycles were wearing rectangular headlights. Gross.

Crosstrek Side

Today, car-styling trends are more diverse than ever. Some are tired but still innocuous (I can’t get mad at floating roofs), others were dubious when they first arrived and have only gotten dubiouser ever since. Plastic cladding, I’m looking at you. Literally, right now. I’m sorry, Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, you look like a frickin’ sneaker. And what is the deal with giant, hideous grilles on trucks and SUVs? Sorry if you read that in a Seinfeld voice. They’re like parodies of alpha-toughness. Don’t get me started on phony cheek-intakes so large that they would look at home on an A-7 Corsair. Especially when they’re fake, I mean come on. I could go on.

ADVERTISEMENT

And so, The Autopian Asks: what are three styling trends, past or present, that you would select erase from history? To the comments!

Top graphic image credits: Subaru Crosstrek/Subaru; 1959 Cadillac Coupe Deville by That Hartford Guy/Wikimedia Commons; Lexus LX600/Lexus; Cylon Warrior by Klapi/Wikimedia Commons

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
167 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
10001010
10001010
11 months ago

Giant grills, no question.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
11 months ago

Landau roofs.

Goof
Goof
11 months ago
Reply to  MAX FRESH OFF

There’s SEVERAL of these that have been added to things like… Cadillac CTSes, newer Toyota Camrys (in particular), etc. I don’t get it. I’m not in Florida either, I’m in Boston.

Can anyone explain why this has been an aftermarket thing on modern cars? Genuinely curious.

FloorMatt
FloorMatt
11 months ago
  1. Giant Grills and branded grills.
  2. Dull colors – like when you only have two colors (red, and blue, for instance), making sure they’re muddy and dull enough to not count. Grey. Gold. Especially gold.
  3. Rooftop tents (in North America). It’s North America. The ground is safe, and I don’t want to imagine you peeing on your car, or falling off and hurting yourself.
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  FloorMatt

Several manufacturers are offering a primer gray paint color that’s just hideous.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

I wouldn’t say it’s HIDEOUS per se, it’s just generic. I remember back in the early 2010s or whatever when Audi introduced Nardo Gray I thought it looked cool on some of their spicier models when combined with red and/or black trim pieces. But then for god knows what reason every single manufacturer was like “we NEED primer gray” and now it’s pretty much as common as any other color.

But normies eat that shit up. My dad custom ordered an X5 50e because the one thing he would not compromise on was color. He saw Brooklyn Gray Metallic in person and it was that or nothing. My wife wants her next car to be in that color too. I just don’t understand what’s so cool about it in 2023. It’s not even unique or interesting. I guess I’d rather have it then black, white, or silver, but that’s not saying much.

That being said I do think the grays that are combined with other colors can be pretty good. Cactus Gray with its light green hue looks great on the Broncos and a couple of companies like Genesis do a grayish light blue that I like. They also sold MK7.5 GTIs in that color and called it white silver metallic or something along those lines.

Last edited 11 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

I don’t mind the flat colors, some of them, some of the time. But like 80% of Broncos I see, and a lot of Mavericks, are the flat blue-gray, Area 51. Like, choose a different color!

Monkey302
Monkey302
11 months ago

Couple points on A51 paint choice: 1) It took 509 days for me to get my Maverick, I didn’t know A51 was going to be so popular. 2) A51 was also one of the only unique colors offered. Truly unique not a generic blue or red. I didn’t want cactus gray, because that seemed like the popular color on the forum. 3) I won’t do orange because I’m partially colorblind and I really don’t like it. 4) Same for red.

Just be happy people ordered real colors on the Maverick.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
11 months ago

Lift Kits on vehicles that never go off road. Yes, that’s a style.
Fake (like really fake stick on crap) Portholes, hood scoops, and such. Just terrible.
Plastic Cladding, especially the early stuff that dried out in about 3 years in the sun. Just lazy.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
11 months ago
  1. Touchscreens as the only way to control everything. Some people have never had to adjust the A/C while driving through torrential rain (or other conditions where you absolutely can’t take your eyes off the road), and it really shows.
  2. So much plastic cladding, mainly because it doesn’t age very well.
  3. This one is probably more of a function thing, but automatic seatbelts should never have made it to market. After the car tried to (slowly) strangle you with the shoulder belt, you still had to manually connect the lap belt.
Jblues
Jblues
11 months ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

I liked the automatic shoulder harnesses. Back in the 80s they were doing anything they could to drive adoption of wearing seat belts. The automatic shoulder belt was safer than nothing, and it reminded people to fasten the lap belt when they might not have done it otherwise.

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
11 months ago

Forget the past, it’s already gone. We need to get rid of:

1) Tablets as dashes. I don’t care if it’s got a screen, I’m not gonna buy one anyway, but if it has to have one at least integrate the damn thing.

2) Floating C pillars. They’re just stupid to me, I don’t have a better reason.

3) Overly complicated design. This is almost universal it seems, not quite, but close. Everything these days just seems to look busy and I don’t really know why thats what people want.

All personal preferences obviously.. maybe I’m just getting old now. Get off my lawn etc…

Steve Lee
Steve Lee
11 months ago

Sloped rear ends on wagons that basically cut the cargo space down by 1/3-1/2.
brake lights separate from tail lights
plastic cladding

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

1). Massive grilles

2). Faux off roading appearance packages/unnecessary cladding

3). Coupe SUVs. The absolute dumbest styling trend in the history of the automobile. DURRRR WHAT IF SUV BUT UGLIER AND LESS PRACTICAL?

Last edited 11 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Philip B
Philip B
11 months ago

1) Overly curvy/bubbly design of circa 2005-2015
2) Oversized grills of ~2020+
3) Big rims with low profile tyres. I’m convinced this styling trend is actually what lead to the rise of crossovers and death of sedans and hatches due to terrible ride quality. Now crossovers are being subjected to the same huge wheels and low profile tyres, and people are moving go larger 4WDs and pickups as a result.

Pancakeman!
Pancakeman!
11 months ago

The Lexus grill…specifically on the LX. That grill alone can house 6 cats and 4 opossums… 15 spiders from Australia auto projects… and probably a sleeping Jason Torchinsky.

Deathspeed
Deathspeed
11 months ago

Oversize grills, especially as seen on recent BMWs and trucks, but also on 1st gen Sebring coupes and some Audis (I’m looking at you, R8)

Brake lights entirely separated from taillights

Bulbous rear ends. I cannot stand bubble butt C5s or Pop-The Pig 10th gen Civics.

Because I have become a cranky old man I have more (touchscreens replacing buttons, non-functional vents and scoops, blinding headlights on trucks that my Stratus coupe could ride under Bandit-style, bustle-back Sevilles, CUVs in general, fake engine noises inside a vehicle), but that’s my top 3.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
11 months ago

If I could turn back ti-ohm …

>>Continental kits and their inspiration, the fake tire “hump” on Continental Marks going back to the Mark III (the Mark II gets a pass because its spare was directly under the hump in the decklid). Every winga-dinga ’50s car with a giant porch on the back end just looks silly. And more recently, imagine how much better the Mark VII (a modern classic otherwise; fight me) would look without that silly hump.

>>Wire wheel covers. Has anyone ever in history seen a car with simulated wire wheel covers and been fooled into thinking they were Borranis?

>>Headlights, rear indicators and brake lights in bumpers. It’s confusing and potentially much less safe. We all know the worst offenders.

MAX FRESH OFF
MAX FRESH OFF
11 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

Combine the Continental kit with the Landau roof and you get peak malaise-era big three fake luxury crapmobiles.

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
11 months ago
  1. Tablets slapped on the center console
  2. Brake lights/turn signals in odd locations (and give us amber turn signals!)
  3. Excessive heightening of all vehicles
Cam.man67
Cam.man67
11 months ago

Crossovers. I’ll forego my other two choices.

William Eby
William Eby
11 months ago
Reply to  Cam.man67

Wagon > Minivan > SUVs > Crossovers

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
11 months ago

Plastic cladding
Giant grilles
Not strictly *on* the car, but really shitty EPC diagrams with umpteen supercessions. LOOKING AT YOU, PORSCHE

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago

My three would be,

  • The ‘I’m coming to eat you!’ grills
  • massively over-sized wheels
  • too many/overly complex creases in side-view

-I understand that the creases started partially as a way to keep weight down yet not have badly panels flex too much, but I just think things have gone way too far on some vehicles

Goof
Goof
11 months ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Yo, but dawg, my Corolla really *is* going to eat you.

In all seriousness, the final Toyota Avalon and the current Toyota Corolla are the ones that really have me scratching my head. The Avalon is likely to be driven by someone’s grandma. She’s going to give you brownies and a glass of milk, not eviscerate you like the Predator. The Corolla just seems like a way to unnecessarily increase the repair costs of a fender bender.

—–

Let’s not forget exhaust tips in silly numbers either. “But the perfo“– a 700HP 911 GT2 RS has two and it’s fine. You’re telling me your 180HP four-cylinder economy car needs four?

Wagen Volk
Wagen Volk
11 months ago

1.Double eyed faces. Nissan Juke. Citroën C3, Skoda Kamiq, Bentley Continental looks cross eyed.
2.oversculpted body sides Mercedes A-Class W176, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Toyota C-HR
3.Large grilles Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago

Lots of you already hit on the ones I’m interested in deleting (big grilles, big wheels, small tires), but I’ll add one more: the floating roof. You could probably include non-functional C pillar windows on wagons or wagon-adjacent vehicles.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
11 months ago

pointless modules, needless modules, and modules in general… how is it better to have a window switch control module that then talks to the body module, that then sends a signal to the window motor module right beside the window switch, rather than just run a 2′ long wire from the switch to the motor.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
11 months ago

… I guess that’s not a styling trend, but more a casualty of styling TBH, that was then taken too far

Robn
Robn
11 months ago

This “intro to modules” type of video popped up in my feed a few months back and thought it might be interesting. https://youtu.be/oYps7vT708E?t=146

Last edited 11 months ago by Robn
thejewosh
thejewosh
11 months ago

Crossovers.

There are other things that are annoying, but the crossover takeover is destroying good cars.

Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
Paint-Drinking Thundercock Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  thejewosh

Bad take. There’s no wagons left. What is a wagon buyer supposed to do?

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
11 months ago

Without crossovers there would be wagons.

Box Rocket
Box Rocket
11 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Ehhhhhhh some crossovers are wagons (albeit tall ones), but without crossovers we’d probably have more minivans/people carriers or big SUVs.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
11 months ago

Black wheels, massive grilles, pillbox greenhouses, four-door coupes, touchscreen controls, angry, slit-eye headlights, and overlanding chic plastic cladding. Sorry, that’s more than three.

Goof
Goof
11 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

“Black wheels, massive grilles, … angry, slit-eye headlights”

Yet how will people take me seriously if my entry-level crossover isn’t “murdered out?”

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

1) Oversized grilles. A grille should be no larger than it needs to be for the amount of engine cooling needed, and if it can be replaced with NACA ducts, that would be preferred
2) Oversized wheels with low profile tires. Go back to smaller wheels with thick, meaty sidewalls on the tires.
3) Non-functional add-ons, such as fake vents and ornamental plastic cladding. I don’t want anything fake on my cars.

There is a lot more I’d wipe away, but I was given only three items.

Last edited 11 months ago by Toecutter
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
11 months ago
  1. Big grille (hi, BMW).
  2. Blinkers on the bumper.
  3. Too many controls on a stupid screen or smooth haptic pad.

(#3 if interiors don’t count: Ugly cladding.)

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
11 months ago

Tiny-ass windows you can’t fucking see out of

all-touchscreen interiors with no real buttons or knobs and just look like a giant ipad

huge-ass dubs with no-profile tires

Last edited 11 months ago by Dogisbadob
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

Fake Vents, Fake Vents, and Fake Vents! Just no.

Last edited 11 months ago by Crank Shaft
Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
11 months ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Fake exhaust.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
11 months ago

Agreed. It’s a very close second.

1 2 3 5
167
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x