Design Priorities

Our writer says when it comes to cars, love is not blind

By Bruce McCulloch


“Not only does my new vehicle boast a great amount of horsepower and great interior, but it’s it provides great entertainment as a driver’s vehicle. The exterior on the other hand, well, let’s just say it’s… Oh, did I mention how much of a bargain it was?!”

How much of that design do you actually like? Such a question had recently dawned upon me when a fellow automotive enthusiast was deciding on purchasing a new vehicle. At the risk of possibly offending him – I choose to leave out his name and of course, the car which he eventually purchased.

When I showed my interest in the particular vehicle that he had purchased, he responded with a few remarks about the vehicle’s styling which he disliked. In fact, despite his recent purchase of the vehicle, he seemed overly disappointed with the vehicle’s exterior design. Personally, this shocked me very much. Not only did he describe a styling cue of the vehicle as one that was a blatant copy of another, he also made note of how he thought its exterior design was ‘efficient’, rather than good. With such an attitude, you’re probably wondering why he would purchase something he didn’t have much appreciation for. The answer to that question was practicality – as an overall vehicle it suited his needs just about perfectly. Oh and before you ask, yes, he’s a huge automotive enthusiast.

While I can understand the necessity for practicality, I cannot understand why one would purchase something that they do not like to look at , now, and then every day they own it in the future. Mind you, he’s most certainly not the only one to buy a car, or for that matter, even like a car with a design they were just ‘ok’ with.

Admittedly, I’m an overly picky enthusiast when it comes to car design and let me tell you, there’s no way in hell that I’d purchase any car (at any price) if I didn’t like the exterior styling of the car. Of course, this is all going to depend on the individual in question and what priorities they lay out when purchasing a new vehicle. Certain individuals will purchase on the merit of reliability, while others on the merit of either power or interior comfort. Perhaps for some (certainly myself), most everything must be considered – but in any event: I don’t care how much practicality; how much power or how much of a bargain an automobile is, if I’m not satisfied with the exterior metal. Honestly, I mustn’t only like the front of the car, but also the rear and with that, the side profile. That being said, I think it’s fair to say that with an attitude such as mine, I have a far shorter list of automobiles I would actually buy than most enthusiasts.

Arguably, there is no such thing as a ‘perfect design’, especially as one is most usually forced to focus upon a certain aspect of the vehicle’s exterior design which they like, or dislike. For instance, the BMW 8-Series is a car which I have great affection for, but I must admit to having greater appreciation for the front end than the rear end. Although that’s not to say that I entirely dislike the rear end though – not at all, I’m just merely pointing out a styling cue throughout the design. That being said, I can still safely say that I like the entire design of the car, unlike an E60 BMW 5-Series (for instance).

Those are some of my thoughts and annoyances regarding car design. So then, how about you? Are you willing to purchase a vehicle with a design which you only consider to be “ok” for the sake of such things as comfort, practicality, badge, power, price, etc?

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at

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  1. I agree with you, if the looks aren’t there, then forget it. I don’t want a car with a great personality and an ugly appearance.

  2. I must be drawn to a vehicle’s exterior design in order to purchase it. Sometimes it’s the overall value that helps me make the final decision of whether to buy a particular car or not, but it always starts with exterior design. In the best cases, the exterior (and hopefully the interior) design becomes something I appreciate more and more as I live with the car that I’ve bought, and I end up strongly identifying with the vehicle’s overall feel.

  3. I think this compromise process is what the buyers of Japanese cars go through when they buy a car. They want the quality and the durability, but not the bland styling done by commitee. But their desire for the positive attributes of the overwhelms the nothingness of the looks. But, then you have the situation of people treating their cars like a service tool. Drive it until it wears out, then get another. No reason to keep it running and keep it around because there is no emotional attachment to it. People keep their old American cars, their old Italian cars, their old German cars, their old British car, but they sure don’t keep their old Japanese cars. Sure, there is the odd exception, but for the most part, they go to the junkyard or the crusher.

  4. lenlen, you have it right about the Japanese car buyer, at least in my case. I would rather drive something with more style, but reliability is extremely important to me. I have a long commute every day, and my wife works as an evening shift supervisor at a call center, so we definitely can’t afford any breakdowns when she’s coming home late at night. So, we own two Camrys. Pretty boring, huh? Would I like to have another car? Yes, I’d like to have something better-looking, actually I like that Ford Fusion, but I’m afraid to get a Ford. So reliability wins out.

  5. No way I’m buying anything that I don’t think is a good-looking car, and that goes for the interior too. Too much to pick from to have to “settle” for something I don’t like that much.

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