You Thought Malaise Era I Was Bad…

It's like it's wearing a big pink condom.
It's like it's wearing a big pink condom.

Those of you who lived through the first Malaise Era of the 1970s are old will remember the design tricks the domestic automakers used to try and spark some interest in their lackluster and uninspiring offerings. Tricks like, say, the infamous “Landau roof”.

I think they're actually proud of it...
I think they're actually proud of it…

So what was the Landau roof, pray? Simply put, the regular old metal roof was wrapped in vinyl and chrome trim, to make it look like your two-door coupe was actually a convertible. Why on earth would anyone want a vehicle that gets all the awkward lines and unfinished curves of a convertible without the benefits of an actual lowering roof? Well, we imagine for the same reasons people buy a simulated sunroof: people are idiots.
Well, if you thought the Landau roof trend was horrible, just pray this doesn’t catch on. I’m referring to this as a Landau minivan. Our good friend Jim Brennan (aka UDMan) over at CarDomain was kind enough to share some of his photos from his recent adventures at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. Most of his photos were quite beautiful, and I’ll be sharing those later. This project, however, was not so beautiful. Yes, it is a minivan entirely wrapped in vinyl. I gotta admit, I’m stumped. If the vinyl-wrapped roof was meant to look like a convertible, what is a vinyl-wrapped minivan supposed to look like? A tent?
I have nothing further to add to this, except that when I think of all the things in Las Vegas that I would appreciate seeing wrapped in extremely tight form-fitting vinyl, a minivan is not even on the list.

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  1. Alff Avatar

    How much did the other participants pay to keep their names off the fender?

  2. CptSevere Avatar

    It's all great and wonderful until you hit a steep gas station apron or a big speedbump. I can't fathom this new trend toward no tires and dirt-scraping air dams.
    Waitaminnit! Different wheels on the other side of the thing! Even stupider than the pink plastic! There just so much Wrong with this insult that my gut's literally rumbling. Yuk.

    1. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

      GOOD CATCH! I didn't even notice the different wheels on the different sides of the van! (maybe it had something to do with the red-pink-orange-whatever-color-that-is vinyl, blinding my eyes)

  3. Maymar Avatar

    This was one of the few vehicles at SEMA I really liked. It's strange, it makes little sense, and I like it for that. In a sea of 2010 Camaros with rubberband tires, this stood out.

    1. CptSevere Avatar

      Yeah, I can understand your reasoning. Like Barney in a feedlot full of Komodo Dragons.
      Yes, it's too late to post on this but I couldn't resist.

  4. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I thought the Landau roof option was not meant to make your car look like a convertible, but simply to "dress up" the roof. Who would want a plain steel roof, when you can have this classy padded one, right? wrong? Not all of those roofs went all the way to the windshield either, many were only 1/2 padded.
    This van may well be the stupidest thing I've ever seen. The hood makes me think that there's a tie in to some designer hand bag type thing.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      I think it's more specific than simply simulating a convertible top (that would be a "phantom top" in the parlance of our times.) I think the landau top option is designed to resemble the folding roof on the often-ornate horse-drawn landau carriage of the pre-automotive age. The best modern examples are usually found on hearses. Or sometimes minivans:

      1. Aaron Severson Avatar
        Aaron Severson

        Or, in a broader sense, to look like some kind of formal sedan or limousine. There were a lot of variations — the landau top, "halo" tops with chrome edges, full carriage tops, even a couple that just covered the forward part of the roof, sedanca de ville fashion.

  5. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    At least the driver's side mirror kinda looks like an evil spider man…. not that it has any place on a car, but…. oh hell, i'll stop trying to save this vehicle any shred dignity that vanished long ago.