Auto Beauty

ImageImageThis morning I was driving behind one of these for quite a way.  I only had the rear view, of course, and it was a glossy black one, but phwoar!  The front? Not so much, but I love the overall shape, especially the rear.

The thing is, this is a 2000 model.  They went out of production in 2005 and this design came out in 2000.  I remember thinking at the time – Hmmm, bit outlandish, bit sharp, lost the Celica look, not so good.  Ahead of its time.  Nope.

But here we are 14 years later and in my opinion it still looks fantastic.  It grew on me.  I’d buy one.  About $12-$13K now.

That started me thinking about car designs.  I can’t abide boring, weird or downright ugly cars.  A car’s styling is all important to me. I won’t buy an ugly car. On the same drive this morning about 10mins later I saw what I think is high up in the list of Ugliest Cars of All Time, a Kia Soul:


Kia Soul  Ugh!  Ugh!  I would not be seen in one.

So that set me thinking about what car designs I think are great!  Fantastic.  Timeless.  I’d like to own one just for the styling.  Here goes.  These are not in any rank order, just as they come to mind, so the first ones are obviously my favourites.


BMW  8 series. Amazing!  Beautiful. Hardly any came to Australia. I’ve never seen one on the road.


Ford Probe  1994-97.  Timeless, in my view. About $4K now.


The back of the Ford Probe.  I want one! In bottle green or white only.

1997_mazda_mx-6_2_dr_ls_coupe-pic-4488273377737355218 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA MX6 rearNotice the similarity? This is the Mazda MX6. This and the Probe are the same mechanicals, different body shell. Ford made the Probe for the US market and both models were imported to Australia between 1994-97 when production ceased.

That’s 17 years ago but they look as good as ever to me.  One of each please.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_0cIt’s Mazda again.  This the MX5 but it’s the 2000 model.  This is the only model of this car that I like. The first models were 1980s angular boxy crap, the first of this shape was bland, although we didn’t think so at the time, but this model hit the target. It’s identified by those “shoulders” on the back and the raised edge with the high mounted stop light on the boot lid.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_23I’m a rear end man, aren’t I?  This 2000 model had the best rear, imho, with the slight “shoulders” look and the small upkick of the boot.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_16 I can’t find a pic of the British Racing Green model but there used to be one regularly at Karrinyup shops with a light tan soft top and tan leather seating. Wow!

It not only looks great, it’s great to drive as well. It will never go out of style.

But Mazda’s gone bad.  Obviously they had the styling mojo, but they’ve lost it. I don’t like the next models of the MX 5 with the flared wheel arches and extra go faster stuff. More examples down the page.

1991-1992_Toyota_Corolla_(AE94)_Ultima_Seca_liftbackWha …? A Corolla?  Well, in my opinion this was one of the prettiest car shapes ever. This is a 1991 model and now 23 years later, I still want one. As long as it’s white, like this. That back end shape is sheer genius in my opinion.

Mazda_323f_green_front_20080301 Mazda_323f_green_rear_20080301Mazda 323.  Another fairly mundane car, but very pretty.  This a 2008 model and still looks nice to me. But Mazda lost its way soon after. See below.

Expo_LRV_front1997  Mitsubishi Nimbus.  If you have to have a small people mover, this took 8.  I always liked the side and back end styling and I still do even 17 years later.

Moving up market:

1990_mercedes 500sl_convertibleMercedes 500SL coupe 1990! Good design lasts forever.

Merc 500sl frontMercedes 500SL coupe.  1990 design.  Just about affordable now s/h, but probably high maintenance.

1992-1993_Mercedes-Benz_300_SE_(W140)_sedan_02Mercedes 300SE.  A very conservative design, but elegant.  Saw one here a few weeks ago.  Nice.

1992-1993_Mercedes-Benz_300_SE_(W140)_sedan_011990  –  I’d buy one.

HondaS2000-004Honda S2000  2005.  Almost the pinnacle of sports car design, to my eyes.

HondaS2000-002Honda S2000 rear.  As you can tell, I’m a rear view man.

It had (they went out of production 2009) only a 2 litre 4 cyl engine but produced around 180KW (240 bhp)!  I remember this engine being described as the highest specific power (KW per litre) output in the world, even higher than the Italian legends.

2009_vw_passat_cc_182009 VW Passat.  This will live forever, I feel.

vw-passat-03I want one.

There are many other nice designs, but these are ones that come to my mind as timeless and still desirable even 20 years later.


Now for the ones I don’t like.

As I said, I think Mazda has lost it.

Mazda3_MPS_(BL)_–_Frontansicht,_22._Mai_2011,_Düsseldorf2009 Mazda 323.  Ugh!

Mazda_3_2009 (BL)_SP25_sedan_03Boring!

2013 Mirage2013 Mitsubishi Mirage.  Ugh!  Oww!

Kia Ceed sportswagon2013  Kia Ceed Sportswagon.. No, no, no.  So many gargoyles that will be out of date by next week.

kia_Ceed hatchbackDitto.  Kia hasn’t found its style skill yet.

Kia K9 20132013 Kia K9.  They’re trying, copying, but K9??? Who thought of that name?

This is taking too much of my time, but my theme is that less is more – conservative lines and curves last forever. “Look at me” geegaws don’t.

Now to look up prices for a second hand Honda S2000.

PS: found a nice one!  It’s a 2003 model in Adelaide, one lady owner, 97,000Km, asking $26,000. Hmmmm.


I’ve noticed a fascinating thing: this photo …

1990_mercedes 500sl_convertibleThis photo still has its EXIF digital camera info attached.  It shows that the photo was taken on 11/4/2013 at 3:20pm using an HTC camera phone, at ISO 100.

But more importantly, the EXIF info includes the exact latitude and longitude to 0.001 deg accuracy. Using Google Earth, that allows me to pinpoint the location of the car at the time the photo was taken, probably down to the street and house.  I’ll bet the owner in April 2013 wouldn’t like that information being known to anyone.  I’ve tried, but being in deg, min and seconds, and G.Earth requiring decimal degrees, it may be in Sweden or in Michigan, USA. If I pinpoint it, I won’t reveal it.

Update: as far as I can see, it’s the middle of a field in Jiawang, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China.  Or in Sweden, or in Estonia, or in Michigan …  L  (that means laugh).

Further update: if I put a minus in front of the first figures, it goes to a small lake just outside Cranbrook and Kendenup in WA! Hah.

So be aware that digital photos posted on line have ALL the info exposed of where you were and at what time, using what camera, unless you remove it.