25 June 2007
Ford : Home Of The Original Styling Cue
See that Lexus up there? In the US, it was sold as the Lexus IS300, the Lexus answer to the BMW 3 Series. In Japan it was sold as the Toyota Altezza. Sales started in 1998. It had some issues- namely, it didn't have that big of an engine, and the interior really wasn't all that Lexussy. It was a case of Lexus trying to be BMW a bit too hard. It even had an inline 6. What it DID have going for it was its looks- it's a handsome car from all angles, and even managed to look good in wagon form- a rarity. Notice those tail lamps? The IS300/Altezza started a trend in 98- 'Altezza' lights, which are basically clear casings with lots of chrome bits showing through. A more common sighting of Altezza lights would be Nissan, which cribbed the idea to an extreme in 2002 with the Altima (now in extra large versions with the current gen).
Well driving around this morning, it struck me just how hard the American makes are trying to make the rear ends of their vehicles look like Altezzas. It's quite funny actually. Especially in light of all the brouhaha they make about 'traditional American style' being the key area where they can trump the Japanese. The entire Saturn lineup is starting to look like Nissans from behind now... but the biggest offender is Ford. Who are methodically turning the front of their cars into Mach 3 razor blade replacement cartridges, and the rear of their cars into 1998 Toyota Altezzas. From the Fusion (which started it) to the yet to be released Focus, all the new Ford coming out are cribbing this styling element. Without grace or style I might add. Even moreso than the Altima, which was a shameless offender in previous gen guise in terms of a 'tacked on look' to the tails, the current Ford products look like 2 different designers had a go at the car- one at the front and one at the back.
All of them with ultra glitzy rear ends for no other purpose than to copy the Japanese. Who would have thought the day would come where American style would be influenced by the Japanese? Well, it's here.