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Why Cars Got Angry
The Wall Street Journal Online ^ | Jonathan Welsh

Posted on 03/18/2006 7:35:35 AM PST by BenLurkin

Seeing Demonic Grins, Glaring Eyes? Auto Makers Add Edge to Car 'Faces'; Say Goodbye to the Wide-Eyed Neon

Kirk Perry wanted a vehicle that would haul his family and tow a bass boat. He discovered an SUV with all that plus another feature he likes -- a really mean expression.

"I like the wide, snarling look," the 50-year-old small-business owner in Lake Owassa, N.J., says of the Audi Q7, which he plans to buy when it comes out this spring. "It reminds me of the movie 'The Mummy' -- when the monster comes out of the ground and starts swallowing everything."

Car makers have long talked about the "face" of a car -- headlights for eyes, grille for a mouth and the bumper as jaws -- and auto designers say the difference between a hit and a flop may come down to a vehicle's visage. Car makers used to strive for an inviting face, but lately they're pushing an edgier look: Car faces that look meaner, angrier and, at times, even downright evil.

For its new 3-Series sedan, BMW gave the headlights a slanted effect, like downturned eyebrows. Some concept cars are more extreme, with Hyundai's HCD9 Talus featuring a gaping grille and headlights divided by a horizontal, goat's-eye-style slit. The Dodge Charger, which came out last summer, has headlight pods shaped like a tiger's eyes. "The Charger's eyes are definitely its greatest assets. The headlights seem to make eye contact the same way people do on the street," says Dodge and Chrysler designer Ralph Gilles. "A mean face is what we're going for."

Why all the anger? Menacing front ends may appeal to drivers threatened by oversized SUVs and intimidated by the dangers of the highway, some designers say. "I'm not saying we promote rudeness on the road," says Eric Stoddard, senior creative designer for Hyundai. But he adds that a mean-looking car may make drivers feel they can keep others at bay. "It projects a message that a driver may be too shy or afraid to express," he says. "An aggressively styled car says, 'Get out of my way.' "

All of this represents a big mood swing from the designs of recent decades. When Dodge introduced its 1995 Neon compact, its ad campaign featured the car's face -- round headlights like wide, friendly eyes -- and the slogan "Hi." This spring Dodge is releasing the Neon's replacement, the Caliber, which has big, square headlight pods and a grille that resembles a gun-sight's cross hairs. The Caliber's slogan: "It's Anything But Cute."

The strategy seems to be working. Chrysler's 300 sedan, whose face features a gaping grille and headlights that seem to scowl, has outsold the more rounded-looking Ford Five Hundred by 33%. (Ford, in fact, says it is redesigning the sedan to give it a more aggressive look.) Cadillac's sales have risen 57% since 2002, when it began to introduce a wholesale redesign that features chiseled, angular front ends. Meanwhile, parent company General Motors' Buick and Saturn divisions, which tend toward softer and more rounded front ends, have seen falling or flat sales. Even Volkswagen's iconic Beetle, with its rounded headlight-eyes and a hood that forms a smile, saw sales fall last year to 36,000 units, from 42,000 in 2004.

{snip}


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Chit/Chat; Miscellaneous; Science; Society; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: angrycars; cars; evilsuvs; suvs

1 posted on 03/18/2006 7:35:38 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin
"Chrysler's 300 sedan, whose face features a gaping grille and headlights that seem to scowl, has outsold the more rounded-looking Ford Five Hundred by 33%."

Could be because . . . oh, I dunno . . because . . . Fords suck?

2 posted on 03/18/2006 7:37:35 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin
Image hosting by TinyPic
3 posted on 03/18/2006 7:39:11 AM PST by cripplecreek (Never a minigun handy when you need one.)
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To: BenLurkin; Tijeras_Slim; IowaHawk
"I like the wide, snarling look," the 50-year-old small-business owner in Lake Owassa, N.J., says of the Audi Q7, which he plans to buy when it comes out this spring. "It reminds me of the movie 'The Mummy' -- when the monster comes out of the ground and starts swallowing everything."

Dude. Lay off the 'shrooms.

4 posted on 03/18/2006 7:41:25 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

5 posted on 03/18/2006 7:43:57 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: BenLurkin

I got big plans for my New Beetle.

6 posted on 03/18/2006 7:44:15 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

The Batmobug....


7 posted on 03/18/2006 7:45:18 AM PST by freebilly
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To: JoeSixPack1
Dude.


8 posted on 03/18/2006 7:46:02 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro
Image hosting by TinyPicImage hosting by TinyPic
9 posted on 03/18/2006 7:46:58 AM PST by cripplecreek (Never a minigun handy when you need one.)
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To: martin_fierro
Man I miss those tail fins!


10 posted on 03/18/2006 7:47:10 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin; All
Could be because . . . oh, I dunno . . because . . . Fords suck?

Even their trucks?

11 posted on 03/18/2006 7:47:38 AM PST by apackof2 (You can stand me up at the gates of hell, I'll stand my ground and I won't back down)
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To: martin_fierro
Dude...Surfs up!!


12 posted on 03/18/2006 7:48:52 AM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: apackof2
Oh no . . . I'm not getting dragged into that discussion . . . 8^)
13 posted on 03/18/2006 7:49:19 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: martin_fierro

LOLOLOL


14 posted on 03/18/2006 7:49:43 AM PST by patton (Lochiel MacEdward na sliabh dunn na Cloinn MacEdward)
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To: BenLurkin

15 posted on 03/18/2006 7:50:52 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

I don't know if that really looks so much like a face as it does a . . . . no no no no no.


16 posted on 03/18/2006 7:55:53 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: cripplecreek

LMAO @ #9!!!


17 posted on 03/18/2006 8:03:02 AM PST by Blzbba (Sub sole nihil novi est)
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To: BenLurkin


18 posted on 03/18/2006 8:33:20 AM PST by Professional Engineer ( Happy patron saint of Engineers day! Beertender, green pocket protectors for everyone.)
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To: BenLurkin
Oh, well, if you want mean...


19 posted on 03/18/2006 8:44:38 AM PST by Grut
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To: BenLurkin



20 posted on 03/19/2006 12:47:52 AM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: BenLurkin

21 posted on 03/19/2006 12:58:59 AM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: BenLurkin
Here's the one I own.

INSIDE

OUTSIDE
22 posted on 03/19/2006 1:06:05 AM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: sully777

Nice.

Is that a digital speedometer?


23 posted on 03/19/2006 7:42:04 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin

If you look at the inside, there are two separate dashboards: One holds the tach/altometer and the other holds the speedometer. Yes, the speedometer is digital. The tachometer is digital as well but with an analog look when the car starts.

I think Honda was working on a dashboard similar to Saturn's ION where your eyes see the indicators better. It took a day to get used to it. Now I'm adjusted except that I'm always aware of my speed (great for avoiding tickets).

The dash sweeps forward at an angle. The plastics are high quality. The air ducts for heat A/C are 100% improved. You feel like you're in a racer.

Stock engine is 140 hp iVTEC (tach maxes at 6000 before redline--Si redlines at 7000) that could be tuned for over 200 hp EASY. The standard transmission is 5 speed automatic. A shift into the sport mode will make your car more responsive. Normal driving requires the factory setting for better gas mileage. My gas mileage in the early driving is about 36mpg. This number will go up over time. My old Civics usually started at 32mpg and went up after about 10-20K. At 255K my old Civic gets 39-41mpg.

The suspension is top-of-the-line. I took an exit at 80 mph with little roll. My older Civic takes the same exit at 65 mph without roll.

The car has been greatly improved with sounddeadening materials and the body is as rigid as any German car I've driven. All for retail of $18,500 for the LX.

I really wanted the Si coupe but couldn't justify it to my wife. The Si comes standard with 195 hp engine, 6 speed manual, bigger brakes, better sound, but I understand tuners have already tweaked it up to a screamer. The Si is a sweet ride. And they priced the Si better than the EX coupe with options.

All of this built on the tried and true Accord frame from a series previous. Thing should last at least 300K miles without a major overhaul.



Maybe too much information?? Sorry, I get carried away.


24 posted on 03/19/2006 10:56:52 AM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: martin_fierro

25 posted on 03/19/2006 1:20:30 PM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: BenLurkin

I like Chryslers, and drive 'em, but the larger sedans look like Third Reich staff cars.


26 posted on 03/20/2006 10:11:25 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Yes indeed, Civ updated his profile and links pages again, on Monday, March 6, 2006.)
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To: BenLurkin; martin_fierro
New Anger-Powered Cars May Revolutionize The Way We Drive
27 posted on 03/20/2006 10:13:58 AM PST by Constitution Day (Comicalness Don't Win No Medals)
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To: Constitution Day

L O L

whattayawannabet they can't sell *that* either.


28 posted on 03/20/2006 10:16:29 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro
whattayawannabet they can't sell *that* either.

They couldn't find their collective asses with both hands and a roadmap.

29 posted on 03/20/2006 10:20:59 AM PST by Constitution Day (Comicalness Don't Win No Medals)
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To: sully777

LOL!


30 posted on 03/20/2006 11:32:10 AM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: SunkenCiv
"I like Chryslers, and drive 'em, but the larger sedans look like Third Reich staff cars."


Welcome to the new Daimler-Chrysler showroom

31 posted on 03/20/2006 12:41:11 PM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: BenLurkin; Constitution Day; SunkenCiv; martin_fierro; Professional Engineer
This thread needs more cowbell

And more pictures of beautiful cars
32 posted on 03/20/2006 12:50:02 PM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: BenLurkin

33 posted on 03/20/2006 12:58:25 PM PST by NCC-1701 (RADICAL ISLAM IS A CULT. IT MUST BE ELIMINATED FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH.)
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To: NCC-1701

ROTFLOL


34 posted on 03/20/2006 1:01:25 PM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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To: sully777
Same as my first car except for the color. Bought mine used for $1,0000
35 posted on 03/20/2006 1:15:10 PM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: sully777; BenLurkin
And more pictures of beautiful cars


36 posted on 03/20/2006 1:59:35 PM PST by Professional Engineer ( Happy patron saint of Engineers day! Beertender, green pocket protectors for everyone.)
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To: Professional Engineer; sully777

37 posted on 03/20/2006 2:25:39 PM PST by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin

$1ooo--Was it in the same cond. as the pictured car's condition?


38 posted on 03/21/2006 1:49:27 AM PST by sully777 (wWBBD: What would Brian Boitano do?)
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