Hooniverse Asks- What's the Most Egregious Function-Demanded Styling Add-on?


When Marcello Gandini first put pen to paper and let inspiration guide his hand in the creation of what would eventually become the Countach – a car that would be named for the emotive expression called to mind upon first seeing it – the design looked a lot more like its precedent Miura than did the final production cars. That original, which was all clean flowing lines dominated by a steep rise leading to the front wheel arch and a longer, more gentle one describing the rear, was a visceral expression of both beauty and the beast. It also was woefully inadequate in providing sufficient ventilation for the big V12 that sat amidships.

Because of the need to be both visually arresting and capable of traveling more than a mile before suffering a seized engine due to overheating, Lamborghini added a number of ducts and, most prominently, a pair of air catchers that looked industrial in their inspiration, and expedient in their execution. These haunch-capping scoops fundamentally changed the look of the car, causing it to shed its sinuous sixties persona for what would become perhaps the most emblematic icon of seventies angularity.

That’s just one example of an automotive styling element made necessary by either function or convenience, and that sticks out like a sore thumb. Others include the strange Weber-clearing hood bulge on the Aston Martin V8 Zagato, or the weird front bumper whiskers that Nissan claims provides fractional improvement to the GT-R’s aerodynamics. So many cars have had to carry such styling blemishes, some awkwardly, while others like a badge of honor. What do you think has been the most egregious example? 

Image source: sucksqueezebangblow


  1. I will likely get hate mail and death threats for suggesting it, because it has become so iconic, but the wing on the Charger Daytona/Superbird is pretty egregious. It wasn’t even its function as a spoiler that drove its stratospheric height. Legend has it that tests of shorter wings were just as effective at preventing lift, but they impeded opening the trunk.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/75/ChargerDaytona.jpg/800px-ChargerDaytona.jpg"width=500&gt;

    1. I love the thought process.
      Engineer 1: Well, we could mount the wing to the trunk…
      Egineer 2: NO! Make it seven feet tall if you have to!
      Still one of my top 5 cars.

    2. As a person who just added a giant Superbird-style wooden wing to his LeMons car, I can attest that the trunk opening factor is an important one. Thankfully we got it right, and the trunk does indeed open.

    3. Don't forget the "vents" over the front wheel arches. They were there so that in full NASCAR trim the big tires over lowered body could have a smidgen more clearance above the stock B-body sheet metal height.

    4. HotRod Mag has a QA with Richard Petty- he said those acted as vertical stabilizers and made the car want to go straight… even through the corners. I'm sure the reason given was trunk utilization, but really they didn't want everyone else to know the secret.

    5. When I wrote my article on this thing, I read that the engineers played around with the wing and kept increasing the height until they reached 3 feet, and that's where it stayed permanently. Wasn't it also adjustable on Daytonas (but not Superbirds) and the fender vents were also functional on the Daytona but not on the Superbird.

    1. That's what I would've posted – put the cart before the horse, design the car with no thought to aerodynamic stability, and then toss that wart on to save VAG's posterior from lawsuits.

    1. While a big 'ole shnoz is functional in its own way, it's there to meet a paper requirement, not a real functional need on the car.
      …luckily this isn't TTAC, so I know this thread isn't going to degrade into old man tirades about guvmint regulators.

      1. You can take my overridder bumpers when you pull them from my cold dead hands you damn dirty ape!

    1. So, if importing of foreign cars can't be banned, they must be made unattractive by regulations. I see.

    1. It goes back to the 1st Gen Imp. Because the WRX wasn't sold in the US, the "closest thing" was the 2.5RS. Got pretty much the WRX kit without the WRX goodies. The scoops and vents were blocked off but could be removed in 2 minutes. The airbox was where the intercooler was in the WRX so zip tie the filter to the bottom half of the airbox and you'll have CAI.
      <img src="http://images.automotive.com/stock/300/SUBARU/IMPREZA/2000/4SA-4.JPG"&gt;
      I did install the WRX 4 pot brakes and brake ducts… About $800 worth of hardware.

  2. Dunno if Abarth or Zagato started the double bubble trend, but now every low slung car has it… Corvette, Camaro, Viper. Even the Prius.

      1. It's absolutely incredible that the body structure underneath those tacked on fins, bloated bumpers and questionable quad headlights is essentially a '53 Starliner – or a '59 Lark.

        1. Actually, not a Starliner. That hardtop roof is a one year only item for the basic 53 sedan/59 Lark body. The 53 Starliner morphed into the 56–64 Hawks.

        1. Similar. IIRC, Bricklins don't have amber signal lights. Also similar to Alfa GTV and Pantera.

      1. Well that's what I get for trusting wherever I got that picture from!
        It still could have been slightly wider for symmetry, but wasn't.

        1. They took the wider-for-symmetry approach with the engine access panel on the Sonett III, but I always figured they left the Sonett V4 bulge narrow in a clumsy attempt to cash in on the asymmetric fashion of the day, along the lines of the TR-4. It doesn't come close to impinging upon visibility from either seat (although I was seldom a passenger in mine).

    1. It doesn't look like something from a horror movie, more like a yeti in a snow storm…

    1. I like em! I don't louver them though. I prefer the aussie method of keeping your blinds on the inside.

    2. Oddly, I always wanted a set, but could never justify the cost – they weren't common here. They don't make 'em for my current vehicle (NG900), either, just the old 900 and the 9000.

        1. True, they work far better on late-'70s and '80s designs than on newer, rounded cars.

    1. Wow, I have never seen that one before. I just hope someone got smacked for forgetting something that important.

      1. By "forgetting something that important" were you referring to rear vision? Because I'm pretty sure that spare tire will fill the entire inside mirror… 😉

  3. I can't confirm this is the reason, but considering I have to duck to clear the Land Rover Discovery's roofline to get in the back seat, I think it's a safe guess that Land Rover, working with a short wheelbase, mounted the second row over the rear axle, and then created the stepped roof so adults could fit in the back (and I suppose the way back, with the third row jumpseats).
    <img src="http://www.landroversonly.com/forums/images/lrsale2.jpg&quot; width=500 /img>

    1. You may well have the reasoning right, but by the time the LR4 was launched they were selling it as a feature; advertising that it gave a much better forward view for rear-seat passengers.

      1. And anyway; are you really calling the Discovery roofline out as egregious?
        It has helped each generation of Disco stand out from the ever growing crowd of lookalike SUVs and integrates the alpine windows (a much loved Land Rover styling cue) really well.
        To me it is a strong feature, not a weakness.
        (The same again with the rear screen; asymmetrically shaped to integrate the spare tyre.)

        1. Maybe not to much the stepped roof and safari windows (I love those too), as the concession that there's not enough headroom over the second row with the bump in the roof, but sticking with the shorter doors.
          I'll fully admit, I should look up "Egregrious"

          1. Don't worry: 60-something comments in and you are the first to admit to being unsure of the definition of 'egregious'. You get a thumbs up for honesty.

  4. I know that many round these parts seem to love the style of this car, but I've always found the integration of the centre high mounted stoplight to be really uncomfortable:
    <img src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_FJwoY0WBqX8/SxUYzUPmRHI/AAAAAAAABhc/hS4ehLdjkFs/2011%20Cadillac%20CTS%20Coupe%20%5BSpoiler-CHMSL%5D.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Just where you expect a strong crease in the metal, forming a hard edge at the angle change and expressing the subtle fold that runs along the car's centreline, instead you get a piece of red acrylic. It looks cheap and insubstantial compared to the metal surfaces around and weakens the close-up rear 3/4 view of the car.
    I'm sure that there are much worse examples of poorly integrated CHMSL (especially on convertibles), but this one pains me each time I see it.

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