As Loyal Readers know, I’m always banging on about how uniform all modern cars’ designs are — “The Wind-Tunnel School of Design” — and all that.


Take a look at this picture of old Los Angeles (I think, from the bus’s color), and see what you notice about the cars (right-click to embiggen):

And this before wind tunnels…

I stand corrected.


  1. I used to think the same thing, but read or watched a car guy talk about how it’s just styling and styling tends to be monolithic. Look at any decade of cars and you’ll see tons of similarities across the brands from the fins of the 1950s to the muscle cars of the 1960s.

    My biggest peeve now is color. I look out my office building window across the parking lot and it’s a sea of neutral colors with the odd blue, red, green standing out from the rest. It is why I’ll never own a black, white, gray, silver, or gold car.

    1. Maroon….god I HATE maroon cars.

      Maroon is NOT red, damn it.

      Those motherfuckers have become almost as ubiquitous as the neutral colored ones. PUKE.

    2. Those two tone paint jobs do look much better than the monotone jobs on today’s cars and the range of color options was MUCH wider.

      I’d agree with Gunnuts dislike of maroon but its virtue is that it is the least bland color available on many cars, hence its popularity.

      Why are there so few options? Has the technology of delivering many colors, like the technology of Greek fire, been lost?

    3. I don’t really care what someone else chooses for the color of their own car. It’s their money, after all, and free American citizens are allowed to have different tastes and preferences than mine.

      However, for me, I tend to avoid certain colors. For example, silver or grey. Why? because under less than ideal conditions, silver and grey become “the invisible car”. After all, there is a reason the Navy paints their ships grey.

      I also avoid very dark colors such as black, dark blue, or dark brown because Summer is a thing around here.
      The car I drive now is red, but now that I have a red car, I’ve been noticing that quite a lot of the cars on the road today seem to be some shade of red.

  2. Late 40’s early 50’s the design and engineering operated by ability to press smooth curved steel which was more mechanically driven with the secondary important issue that paint process of the day did not do well on sharp corners or creases in metal. It was all about speed of production and ease of production, with “adjustments” by mallet and shims on the production lines. A quarter inch gap was acceptable.

    The chrome and fins era did follow, so there is that.

    Being as old as I am, my youth was more dominated by European vehicles which were the bulk of what was imported into the southern cone of Latin America. You could easily identify country of origin and marque back then as they were so bloody different from one another.

    U.S. did not make much of a dent down south until Ford and GM started making cars in Argentina and Brazil in the mid 60’s. Yes there was a lot of group think by designers, since you could not allow your competitor to come up with something stunningly different from what you had, otherwise the fickle buyers might jump brands 😉 but then I found out that U.S. buyers in the 70’s seemed to be fiercely brand loyal for some reason.

  3. The melted jelly bean design ascetic of most domestic cars isn’t really that aerodynamically efficient. The needed internal air flow for cooling is big contributor to drag. As noted above, the 50’s and 60’s car design had more to do with what was possible to do with a sheet metal press and Harly Earls taste in Zaftig women than anything else.

    Current electric car design with less need for internal air cooling design have much lower drag and better wind tunnel and CAD design have resulted in areo that actually works ( instead of the previous wild assed Guesses )

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