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Tuesday, 28 October 2008


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Hmmm. For most gorgeous:

1. Citroen DS 23Efi
2. Facel Vega II
3. Alfa Romeo 8C: http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/news_reports/alfa-romeo-8c-competizione.htm
4. Alfa Romeo Brera

For the ugliest, there are many, but none come close to the Mohs range:

i share your designs opinion about the new RR. My all time fav is the Citroen DS, in design, elegance and technique.


I don't know if the fuel economy of a RR bothers me; people who can afford a RR are probably burning far more oil due to other aspects of their lifestyles. (But the conscientious among them are buying carbon credits, so it's ok ;) The fuel economy of half-million-dollar cars is less than a drop in the bucket. Meanwhile, some cars are getting lighter to the benefit of people to whom the price of gas actually matters. In fact, my Honda Civic-owning friends see it as a mixed blessing; they love the fuel economy they get, but wish for a more solid feeling car. What surprised me was how the "Smart Car" doesn't get better gas mileage than a similarly priced Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla ... I guess the "smart" part is that it fits down narrow alleyways and you can park it in small spaces. It's hard to want to downsize in our supersize culture when downsizing doesn't buy you any benefits (you know, kind of like buying into 4/3 doesn't get you an appreciably smaller kit ;) We want big homes to store all the junk we import from China and buy at Walmart, and big cars to schlep it all around. The homes cost money, the cars cost money and the junk costs money, but the oil to heat the homes and run the cars never really cost that much in the past.

I'm not sure why, but my favorite car lately has been the 1996 Chevy Impala:


I have no good explanation for it. It's sorta big and chunky. The Caprice, which looks remarkably similar, is hideously ugly to me. But I really like this car.


I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that you haven't even mentioned that a terrific Rolls convertible was featured in what must be considered the best photography-based hit movie of your youth, "Blow-Up." Remember David Hemmings swelling around London with an airplane prop in the back seat of his Rolls? I think half of the photographers over 50 are photographers because of that movie...I don't particularly care for cars one way or another, but that was an attractive automobile.

A few years ago, I was passing through Boston, and went to the Museum of Fine Arts, which I always do when I'm passing through London, and I was shocked -- shocked! --to find that the museum had sold out by putting Ralph Lauren's car collection on display, as though it were actually art. When I got inside, I found to my bemusement that it actually *was* art, and held up very well next to some of the best paintings the world has ever seen. As sculpture of a certain kind, it's probably better than anything that has been produced as "fine art" since the 1930s. The best, IMHO, was a Ferrari from the mid-50s.

Somebody mentioned the International Scout. A friend of mine is moving from LA to London and has in her LA garage a very nice red International Scout convertible pickup (yes -- pickup) with 118,000 miles and great tires, and she'll take maybe $7,000 for it. Anybody interested?

I've had two Mercedes SL500s in my life, and wrecked them both on the same tree at the end of my lane. A box elder, I believe. State Farm offered to come over and cut down the tree. Okay, I'm lying about the State Farm part, but not about the tree.


Well, it looks like I'm the only one to admit to liking the Coupé. It reminds a little of the Camargue by Paolo Martin (for Pininfarina). Like the Phantom and the new Phantom Coupé, the Camargue has about its design an obstinate refusal to follow trends that I really like. (I also liked Martin's Fiat 130.) When I first saw pictures of this Coupé, I was very taken aback but pleased to see someone doing something so original. It's fascinating that someone should have come up with those lights - you couldn't do that without wanting to be confrontational. Seeing it now, I'm beginning to think of it as an exceptionally strong design. (I am - to say the least - nowhere near its target market.)

I'm with you on the Jags, though it's a shame that Jaguar under Ford insisted on cautiously reusing its past designs as blueprints. William Lyons's handiwork was not just elegant and pleasing but forward looking. The E-type, the S and the original XJ saloons still look beautiful. I even liked the original XJ-S, though its design was badly received.

Audi has offered some elegant and well proportioned designs over the last few decades, too. (The current TT is a knockout and has to be seen in the metal to be appreciated.) In an interview some 15 years ago, two or three Audi designers were asked to choose cars that represented the kind of design quality they aspired to: they chose Jaguars.

Two cars I have loved constant for 40+ years; the 1955 Ford Thunderbird, and the 1940 Ford Coupe. Both have perfect symmetry for me. The only thing better than looking at a T-Bird from the outside is sitting behind the wheel and looking down that long creased front fender and the bubble in the center of the graceful hood.

Well, as a grumpy "old Man", all of this has been entertaining, and I've thought about and looked at vehicles in ways I haven't since I was in my 20s, but.....form follows function for me. I remember kidding my then 8 year old son some 25 years ago about how station wagons were the true race cars, for real men, as you could put a sheet of plywood in them, as well as have a roof rack to strap the kids to. Peugeot was what I lusted after then. Why, I have no idea.

Then there was my wifes 51 Plymouth Cranbrook convertible, fun when we could keep the damn thing running. (My job, trying to keep the damn thing running.) She now has a new Beetle convertible, a delightful car.

Viva la minivan! Mine, an Oldsmobile, dream car, as one of my uncles in the 50s was the largest Olds dealer in the midwest, before he went blooey; and I can still strap the kids to the roof. Long story, as I have a second set ot young hellions to aggravate me.

1966 Ducati 250 scrambler. BSA 441 Victor
Cherry red 56 Ford 1/2 ton pickup.
54 Chevy DelRay.
2nd generation Corvair, twin weber down drafts, 11 inch wide tires, smokable slamming into fourth. Gas crisis anybody?

Steve McQueen, where are you?

Ahh, youth.


For me, it's always been this one:
and always will be...
(click on image for larger)

For a couple of years in my early 20's, I owned a 1970 Plymouth 'Cuda 340... black on black. The time and financial demands of college forced me to sell it, but I had a rather sick feeling in my stomach as the new owner drove it away... I've often thought about that car, and I think it's one of the most beautifully designed American cars. Not as refined as many of the cars being mentioned here, more of a blunt instrument, but sleek and sweet nonetheless...


"Remember David Hemmings swelling around London with an airplane prop in the back seat of his Rolls?"

Actually, he had it delivered!

It's funny though... Nobody either here or in the two top lists linked talked about the Citroen BX!

A car that makes along its siblings the GS look nice, the SM awesome and the XM futuristic (check the citroen article on wikipedia, these 3 ones could also be nominees).

It was hard enough getting the piano and the organ up to our third-floor walkup. If we had a car, we'd keep it on the street, thank you very much.

This caricature of the classic English upper class gentleman's expression is probably the Germans (who own Volkswagen -- or was it BMW -- who bought Rolls Royce)taking their revenge on a classic icon of Britishness. For what do they want revenge? Oh, I don't know, maybe their grandfathers died in the gratuitous firebombing of Dresden in WWII.

What cars do I like? Well I currently drive one of what one of your commenters refers to a "rolling doorstop", a new Honda Civic. And I would say, it doesn't look half bad. A little futuristic, a little "French", but overall pretty nice. It drives good too.

But I've long since given up on trying to collect "interesting" cars in the metal. I've got enough other expensive hobbies like computers and photography.

Still, I've been a huge fan of automotive styles since as far back as I can remember. I used to be able to identify make model and year of any car on the road when I was a kid. Of course nowadays they don't change them every year like they did then.

But, were money no object, and were I collecting them as art, I might start my collection with say a Lamborghini Murciélago. I had a look at that Winding Road magazine you linked to and was mightily impressed not just with their web design but with the Citroen concept car pictured therein -- far out I say. I'll have one of those too. I had a 69 Citroen DS wagon once. It was quite the interesting vehicle, not just for styling but fir its adjustable ground clearance and turning headlights. Of course their 2CV is a fun little bucket of bolts too. Ugly, but charming as well. I must say that some of the more uniquely baroque creations of former communist regimes have a certain "je ne sais quoi" that endear them to me in spite of their objective ugliness.

Getting down to more contemporary, somewhat practical vehicles, I kind of like the current BMW 323 coupe. True, the last '7' was a bit of a mess, but Chris Bangle's work is not all bad.

Oh and when it comes to SUVs, I like Land Rovers from the 60s.

After watching the pic of the motorcycle in the living room, I remembered a story, true, about somebody who did have a Ferrari F40 on his. The man who told me -a well known, oscarized PD- was a close friend of an sculptor who was asked to do a bust of Fiat's ruler, Giovanni Agnelli, for the Turin Airport. Seems that he was so pleased he offered him a Ferrari. Only the sculptor couldn't put up with the expenses and thought selling it would be an offence, so he resorted to using it as a piece of decoration. First time an urban nlegend proves to be true to me...

Hi there, this is a message from an English plumber who likes to think he is also a photographer. My better half is quite content with my "butt" or so she tells me. As to the "Roller" please bear in mind that it is now owned by either BMW or Volkswagen, I cannot remember which.

Toodle pip,

Wow... I can't believe that nobody has mentioned the Shelby Cobra! I don't know that I would say it is my absolute favorite, but it is certainly up there.

Dale: when I was growing up I used to see a 1970 'Cuda around alot, and man I loved that car! It was that kind of almost neon green and black and I thought it was just beautiful! That's too bad that you had to part with yours.

I didn't mention the Cobra because of this:


I try not to repeat myself too much.

Mike J.

I'm partial to Eric Broadley's famous Lola Mk. 1. A beautiful piece of rolling sculpture that's not much bigger than a couch.


Keith: Good to see another 'Cuda fan here. They're pretty hard to come by these days. Chrysler played around with some pretty wild colors back then, including "Lime Green," "Plum Crazy," and "Twister Orange." Sounds like you had a "Lime Green" 'Cuda in your neighborhood...

Well, about the Rolls at the top of this post; my take is that the Germans have added a great deal of brutality to R-R's traditional arrogance, thus reflecting perfectly the car's target market. They'll sell all of them that they choose to make.

And just in time for Halloween the ten scariest looking cars of all time: http://jalopnik.com/5071242/the-ten-scariest+looking-cars-of-all-time

Sometimes things are created that are so ugly they appear to be actually beautiful. This car is not one of them! I have a dog that is so ugly she is beautiful. Just remember we are all "Joe the Plumber" according to "John the candidate" so no one should take offense at the "plumber butt" crack. :-)

The Healy before the 3000 was the ultimate classic. Mine was painted silver-gray with custom bumpers; four on the floor( or was it five?) with Overdrive up there somewhere and a straight six. Nothing was better than My Healy.


Funny thing, I just saw a video piece earlier this week about this car on one of those "people who have the most expensive things" type of shows on cable....I remember thinking, "Man, that is an ugly car!"

There's a part of the program where the VP for Marketing for Rolls-Royce NA is driving around and she's saying..."This car gets attention everywhere I go in it...", and I'm thinking, "Yeah, of course, people are stunned someone would actually drive, let alone buy, such an ugly car..."


Okay for the good bits-my list of most beautiful vehicles...not in any order (as I shoot pro motorsports with an emphasis on motorcycles, most of these will be racing vehicles, with a number of bikes). Numbers 4-10 are my own photographs, and the ones from 1985 were taken with my trusty Olympus OM-1 and a 75-150/4.5

1) Lamborghini Miura: I'm in perfect agreement with Craig Norris on the Stunning the day it was released, and still stunning today.

2) 1967 Ferrari 330 P4

3) Saleen S7R: Everytime I was out on the track shooting this car with my buddies, someone would say, "Man, that is a beautiful car..." I have my own photos of this car archived on CD somewhere, this is a photo from the web:



4) 2003 Audi R1 Le Man P1 prototype:

5) 1985 Benneton-BMW Formula 1 car:

6) 1985 Lancia LC2 FIA Group C car:

7) Alex DeAngeis' 2005 Aprilia 250 Grand Prix bike


8) Toni Elias' 2005 Fortuna Yamaha M1 MotoGP bike

9) 2007 Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP bike

10) Troy Bayliss' Ducati 1098R World Superbike racer:

No list would be complete without a photo of my 2001 Honda CBR 600F4i...a bike so beautiful that as soon as I saw it in a magazine, said, "I'm buyin' that..."

Yours truly riding at Thunderhill, California 4 July 2002.


The RR is not meant to be beautiful in any orthodox sense - it's meant to say "look how powerful I am. Got it? Now f**k off". There are a lot of crazed oligarchs in various places that would like that, and that's who it's made for. But all RRs, even the loveliest, most graceful, ones, have essentially been about showing off, so why should this be any different? It's just that the stakes are higher now. If you want functional, unobtrusive excellence, buy a VW Phaeton (I would if I could afford one).

I suspect it's also designed to accommodate quite a lot of oligarch-friendly armour plating without spoiling the lines.

I want to take issue with the comment "Ever heard of British fashion or design?" Paul Smith? Vivienne Westwood? Hulanicki (of my 60s youth)? Oswald Boateng? Conran? William Lyons (while we are on cars), Alex Issigonis, even? I'm not especially patriotic (actually, I'm not at all patriotic), but I do like a bit of accuracy now & then.

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