Ferociously Observant

It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not. -Anon.

Monsters of the Urban Jungle 24 January 2008

Filed under: Ponderings — ferociouskater @ 4:06 pm

Upon walking around the NAIAS yesterday with two very excited men (cars, hot women trying to sell the cars, intermittent fudge booths, want more can you ask for?) I became more and more frightened with what I was seeing. And what was I seeing? Teeth. Everywhere. Monsters of the Urban Jungle.

Cars used to be machines. They used to have the purpose to convey us from here to there safely and quickly. They were passive. They were boxy but not threatening in their boxiness. They were like this Model T Ford that Tom is pretending to drive.

Now I think very little when I look at a Model T. Other than maybe about the movie Cars. I think, “Oh, look, a car. It gets me from here to there, it takes me places. It is a inanimate piece of the landscape.”

I like cars that are an inanimate piece of the landscape. I mean yes, I drive a VW Beetle. They are pretty cute. They’re small, zippy, and easy to maneuver and park. Someday I will probably have to switch from it to a bigger car if I decide to have kids, but I doubt that I will go much past cute, zippy, and easy to maneuver.

That is probably why cars like this scare the crap out of me. This Nissan concept car is one of a few that I photographed because it looked like it was going to eat me. When did cars step out of the “inanimate piece of the landscape” category and become aggressive land beasts?

It struck me that designers have taken this turn when I was listening to one of the Ford presenters talk about the concept Explorer they were unveiling. It was a very cool car, no doubt about that, but it was when he got to the grill that I took notice. He said something like, “When people see this grill behind them they will get out of your way.” Or, in the case of this Mazda concept, scream and run for the hills.

It seems like a lot of Ford’s designs have gone the way of the beast. Explorer’s design used to be friendly and boxy, then got a little more sleek with rounded headlights but were still pretty unassuming with their mesh grills. Now they (along with the Edge and Fusion) have these grills that my husband calls “Chrome Mustaches.” They’re horizontal lines straight across that, I guess, do paint a pretty aggressive picture for a Sunday driver in front of one.

And it doesn’t stop with Ford. Certain Jeep models, too, have started looking less rugged and more street aggressive. Jeep and Land Rover have changed from looking at home in the Jungle Jungle to looking at home in the Urban Jungle.

I miss the Jungle Jungle. I miss the inanimate Explorers of the late nineties and early oughts. I miss those cool Land Rovers that looked like they could help you stalk a lion after picking your kids up from school. Now most of them look like they’re meant to plow over half the kids in your kid’s class just for looking at them funny.

I will leave my car design lamentations there for now, because I am still happy with my cute little Beetle, even though no one will ever get out of my way or think I am a tough chick for driving it. I do, however, think it looks a little more tough than this concept from Japan, which any of the above cars (even the Model T, even my Beetle) would either consider a midnight snack or an entertaining pet:

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