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

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80 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What's the Most Egregious Function-Demanded Styling Add-on?”

  1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    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. pj134 Avatar

      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.

      1. DemonXanth Avatar

        The wing actually goes through the fenders and down to the frame rails.

    2. LTDScott Avatar

      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. GDS Avatar

      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. JayP2112 Avatar

      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. plecostomus Avatar

      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.

  2. don fehlio Avatar
    don fehlio

    The token answer. Spoiler-less TT's just look neater.
    <img src="http://bin3aiah.net/cars/makes/a/audi/tt/Audi-TT-Quattro_20003.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. Maymar Avatar

      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.

    2. Devin Avatar

      Speaking of the Audi TT, due to bumper regulations Canadian versions sported a bit of a growth on the front.
      <img src="http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NzY4WDEwMjQ=/$(KGrHqNHJEIFGv3URz74BRvqGgbQhw~~48_20.JPG&quot; width="500">

  3. LTDScott Avatar

    Huh, when I saw this question and the lead image, I thought there'd be talk of the horrible USDOT required bumpers that the Countach had.
    <img src="http://img237.imageshack.us/img237/6108/img7898db2.jpg&quot; width=650>
    Between bumpers and sealed beam headlights, I think most USDOT regulated parts are a good answer for this question, and could likely spawn its own question.

    1. Vavon Avatar

      Mother of god! That's really disgusting!

    2. Bryce Womeldurf Avatar

      You'd think the owner would have deleted that bumper by now. Some things should not be kept all original.

    3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I swear your post wasn't there when I was writing the next one…

    4. DemonXanth Avatar

      <img src="http://img218.imageshack.us/img218/9645/countach4kb.jpg&quot; width=500>
      Early importers added this front bumper to get the DOT mandated bumper height. That's not a wing. That's a bumper.

      1. TrueBlue315 Avatar

        Amazing that it did not conflict with the lighting pattern, another DOT concern!

    5. BobWellington Avatar

      That is highly unfortunate.

    6. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      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. vwminispeedster Avatar

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

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        This isn't BaT, either, so we can also rule out any extraneous comments about the inferiority of drum brakes.

    1. HSA Avatar

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

  4. Baron Von Danger Avatar
    Baron Von Danger

    That hood scoop in the second gen post-bugeye STi
    <img src="http://www.theonecar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/subaru-wrx-1.jpg&quot; width="500/">

    1. JayP2112 Avatar

      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.

    1. lbreevesii Avatar

      damn it, you beat me to it Jay.

  5. JayP2112 Avatar

    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. mike Avatar


  6. Alff Avatar

    As we "admired" an example, Tanshanomi and I were discussing the egregious moves that Studebaker took to modify the '57 body to accomodate quad headlamps in 1958. Urk.
    <img src="http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/1958-studebaker-president-commander-starlight-1.jpg"&gt;

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Definitely a high point in low points.

      1. Kris_01 Avatar

        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. hubba Avatar

          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.

    2. Vairship Avatar

      It makes it look upscale, like a Packard almost…
      /runs and hides

      1. hubba Avatar

        The 1958 Packard used the same body.
        [youtube UU7olMaYWKo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UU7olMaYWKo youtube]

  7. mike Avatar

    The hood on the Abarth-tuned Fiat 500/600 have to be opened to cool down the engine, but also acted as an early spoiler.
    <img src="http://abarthcarsuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/1000TC.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/3/2941/3821/32351910001_large.jpg&quot; width="600">

  8. Irishzombieman☆ Avatar

    The Lexus LFA. The entire car.
    It's taken me a long time to warm up to this car, and while I've come to appreciate the thing now, I was really put off at first by all the physics-justified over-explanation the designers spouted about every single detail of the car.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Lexus_LFA_001.JPG&quot; width="400/">

    1. FreeMan Avatar

      Still haven't warmed to it…

    2. Scandinavian Flick ★ Avatar
      Scandinavian Flick ★

      Likewise for the Veyron…
      <img src="http://i.imgur.com/a7XooBX.jpg&quot; width="550">

  9. stigshift Avatar

    The Pontiac Aztek Camper package. Sadly, it does not cover the entire vehicle. http://www.pontiacforum.com/pontiac/showthread.ph

    1. Vairship Avatar

      It brings the front end and rear end styling into better harmony with each other…

      1. stigshift Avatar

        Made me laugh out loud, thanks!

  10. vroomsocko Avatar

    Sledgehammer! I remember reading about it "only" hitting 200mph. Creative duct tape deployment was utilized to tweak the airflow resulting it the 254mph record. Absolutely badass.
    <img src="http://bin3aiah.net/cars/makes/c/callaway/sledgehammer/Callaway_Sledgehammer_Corvette_1988.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. Mohammed Khan Avatar
      Mohammed Khan

      It hit 254 mph with John Lingenfelter doing the driving.

      1. vroomsocko Avatar

        Forgot about that, pretty neat.

  11. DemonXanth Avatar

    European Masrati Khamsin:
    <img src="http://www.thecarnut.com/khamsin/km5.jpg&quot; width=400>
    US Maserati Khamsin:
    <img src="http://www.thecarnut.com/KhamsinrearendUSA.JPG&quot; width=400>
    …because someone at the USDOT decided that taillights can't be mounted on plexiglass.

    1. humblejanitor Avatar

      That's a travesty! That DOT employee hopefully was fired afterward!

      1. Kris_01 Avatar

        Are those Bricklin taillights?

        1. hubba Avatar

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

  12. Devin Avatar

    The Saab Sonett needed a hood bulge to clear the new V4. Then they decided to have it slightly offset to give the driver a clear view, but not offset it so much that it looks like a deliberate design choice. That, or they wanted to make people with really distracted when they noticed that the hood doesn't line up.
    <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/plugins/PostviaEmail/images/1969_SAAB_Sonett_V4_For_Sale_Side_resize.jpg"&gt;

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      The location of the bulge has nothing to do with visibility. The engine itself is offset to the right:
      <img src="http://www.vsaab.com/images/enginecomp/74sonettfin.jpg&quot; width="300">
      This is a carryover from the offset of the slant-three two-stroke engine.

      1. Devin Avatar

        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. mdharrell Avatar

          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).

  13. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Apparently they got a few more horsepower by making the front of this car look like something from a horror movie.
    <img src="http://www.motorstown.com/images/pontiac-trans-am-ws6-05.jpg"&gt;

    1. Vairship Avatar

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

  14. Sjalabais Avatar

    Here is an "automotive styling element made necessary by either function or convenience" that we just call "salmon stairs" (some say "cucumber plow").
    <img src="http://i61.photobucket.com/albums/h54/Zeppelin240/resize5.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Convenient not to have the sun burn your rear passengers, but it comes at a cost.

    1. Alcology Avatar

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

    2. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

      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. Sjalabais Avatar

        Sometimes, outer circumstances will safe you from making bad decisions.

        1. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar

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

  15. Tomsk Avatar

    The MGC says "Yo dawg, I heard you like hood bulges!"
    <img src="http://www.mgabingdon.co.uk/files/8813/2087/0641/Thomas-MGC-1.jpg&quot; width="600" />

  16. mdharrell Avatar

    Acoma added casters at the front corners of the Mini-Comtesse after the early ones displayed an alarming tendency to tip:
    <img src="http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2733/4474496280_c437f6d6ed.jpg&quot; width="500">
    Still, I'm prepared to cut a car quite a bit of slack when it's a single-seater with a conventional door on one side and a folding gullwing door on the other.

    1. HTWHLS Avatar

      ..and yet only one small mirror with the equivalent of a 747's landing gear to support it.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        To keep things in proper perspective, one of those is actually the wiper.

    2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

      If it had a good A/C system it could be marketed as an EZ-Roll Kelvinator.

    3. Vairship Avatar

      But of course! Why fix the root problem when you can just battle the symptoms?

  17. FuzzyPlushroom Avatar
  18. JayP2112 Avatar

    The first gen Mitsu GT3000 VR4 had lumps, pasties, er, whatever on the hood over the strut towers. The electronics on top of the struts didn't clear the hood, so here was the solution.
    <img src="http://www.fronty.plus.com/20000604/P0000125.jpg&quot; width="600">
    The facelift GT3k was a little lumpy but more cohesive.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/3000gtlev.jpg/800px-3000gtlev.jpg&quot; width="600">

  19. Rover1 Avatar

    Rover P6s didn't have enough boot space, so the bootlid mounted spare became an option
    <img src="http://www.forum-auto.com/uploads/200509/alka_setzer_1125955239_dscf0218.jpg"width="600"&gt;

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

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

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        It hadn't been forgotten. There was room for the spare; the exterior mount was merely an option for anyone wanting even more room.
        <img src="http://www.aronline.co.uk/images/p6_07.jpg&quot; width="450">

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Ah, that's smarter. Still ugly. Thanks for enlightening me!

      2. Vairship Avatar

        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… 😉

  20. Maymar Avatar

    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. monkey_tennis Avatar

      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. monkey_tennis Avatar

        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. Maymar Avatar

          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. monkey_tennis Avatar

            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.

  21. monkey_tennis Avatar

    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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