Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cars, styling and water droplets

click photo to enlarge
Elsewhere in this blog I've confessed to having little interest in cars except their price, utility, safety and economy. However, the way in which they are designed and styled does have a certain fascination for me, as much for the sociological and psychological reasons, as for the engineering and aesthetics angle.

The other day I was out shopping when the sight of a new Ford Fiesta set me thinking. In recent years Ford appear to have steered two divergent paths with their European models. The original Focus and Ka were styled to be different and eyecatching, but with the Mondeo and the newer Focus they opted for bland inoffensiveness. However, as I looked at the most recent incarnation of the Fiesta it occurred to me that this was styled as a "me too" car. By that I mean Ford's stylists had looked at the trends in small hatchbacks - the small Peugeots, Mazdas, Vauxhall/Opels, etc. and come up with a shape that says, "don't forget we've got one of those too!" It has the same "going fast when standing still" appearance, the elongated headlights, and the bodywork curves, bumps and flicks of the rest of the leaders of that market sector. I've always felt that "me too" is one of the two main approaches to car styling. The other is "look at me", a course that is adopted by all sectors of the market, though mainly the top and bottom - think Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini, BMW, but also Fiat Multipla (first incarnation), Kia Soul, Honda Civic (current), and Smart Fortwo.

But then, as I considered the Fiesta a little more I realised that it wasn't falling neatly into either of the two main categories of styling - it was aiming to be both "me too" and "look at me". Maybe that's the reason I'm not keen on it : it falls betwixt and between. Though I must say that, as far as I'm concerned, body styling that doesn't say "functional" before anything else rarely gets my vote, and never gets my money.

Today's photographs are two views of a Porsche Boxster S that regularly parks next to my house. Not the sort of vehicle I'd ever want, need or buy, but it clearly has appeal for my son. One morning, as I fed the birds, I noticed that the overnight rain was liquid on its bonnet and still frozen on its boot, so I popped back in for my camera and took these two quick shots for the colours, lines, lighting and textures that the car offered.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1 (Photo 2)
Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 5.1mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/100 (1/200)
ISO: 80
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On