To curve or not to curve?

I’m sure we all like corners, but do you prefer yours at right angles or rounded?

I noticed an interesting comment from Ying, in the post about the Cadillac CTS coming to Australia.

I do like the the look of the CTS!

It’s edgy and distinct, and I’m a sucker for hard lines in a car’s body form (I’m a TT/ TVR/ Any curvy car hater).

Now, I’m not singling out Ying’s comment for any other reason than because it made me think. I’m not a fan of Caddy’s styling at all. I find it too garish for my tastes, but maybe it’s the edginess of it all that gets to me as well.

Ying, please don’t take offence. If we all thought the same the world would be a terribly boring place.

Thankfully, for me at least, Saab’s future styling language will be based on the Aero-X, which features its fair share of curves. The 2008 Saab 9-3 blends that with some edges as well, and the end result is excellent. I just hope Saab design retains some shapeliness in the future.

So – corners or curves?

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12 Comments

  1. Hey Swade, I’m deeply offended…

    Nah, just kidding mate :). Not offended at all, actually thank you for bringing this up – car styling is a very personal thing and it’s fun for discussion.

    Being the geek that I am, I gave some thoughts on the car stylings I do and do not like.

    When I said I do not like curvy lines in a car’s body form, I wasn’t 100% clear about it, it’s actually not that clean cut. I will try to elaborate a little:

    Specifically, I tent to not favour curves that ‘closes in on itself’, I don’t know the correct mathematical term for this (should have listerend in college…), and it’s kinda difficult to explain in words.

    What I do like, is gentlely sloping curvature, with a sharp corner transition between 2 body panels. Example: Saab 9-5, 9-3SS, Lotus Espirit, Lamboghinis.

    What I do not like, is contineous curves that blends body panels with no clear transition at the corners. Example car: Audi TT, most TVRs, Lotus Elise.

    It’s actually very difficult to find cars with mostly very straight lines and mostly very curvy lines, most tend to achieve something in between.

    The Aero-X is pretty much in the middle ground of what I descibed eaelier, it’s got enough curves to make it smooth and flow, yet retained a little ‘edgeness’. I like it! If it’d been more curvey my favor for it might lessen somewhat.

    Car styling also evolves with time, in 70’s and early 80’s, near straight lines was in fashion, before that it’s all round and curvey, and now, more curvey lines seem to be making a come back, but with a modern twist.

    This is also only a general caption, there’s exceptions to every rule: I love the old classical Beetle shape, the Mark V Celicas, and not so hot on Lambo Reventón.

    And I got NO idea why I favour one to the other, maybe we are born with aethetics like our genes? Is sense of aethetics developed by nature or nurture? 😀

  2. My preference for this gentle curve + sharp corners also applies to other stuff.

    Maybe as an engineer I have an in-born distain for big curves? – curvey lines on appliance means difficulty in manufacturing and waste of useful space and it’s a non for engineers.

    Designers on the other hand seem to favour round shapes, because it does tend to lend an object more interesting form.

    So it may come down to usefulness vs. style. I am a firm believer of function over style. I laugh at design sketches for mobile devices with rounded/ oval screens – any non rectangular screen means you waste pixel for style… And it seem to be a main theme for first year design students to use as many curves as possible :D.

    A product’s form is a battle ground between stylist and engineers.

  3. Either way. I love Saabs and will catch myself just admiring my 9-3 Aero. But this new CTS is a looker and I absolutely love it also.

  4. Personally, i prefer curves. The funny thing is though, in my opinion, SAAB also went through a corner phaze with the early 900 and 9000. I was never fond of Volvo or the Early SAABs for that matter because of their boxy look, Which is an opinion i strongly held till a couple of years ago when i got a ride on a 900 convertible. But that all dissapeared when i got into SAABs. The funny thing is that i still see Volvo as a boxy car and others like it and i own a 9000….. So is it about curves and angles which put us off or is it just about makes and models?

  5. I actually liked the old CTS better than the new one – the new (2008) version has that Cadillac ‘in your face’ front end that just says Cadillac. And I do not really care for that kind of ‘bling’. At any rate the CTS has been a fairly good seller for Cadillac over the past several years – but they are still a weird brand.
    And keep in mind that CTS stands for Catera Touring Sedan – and the Catera is a car that should have killed the Cadillac brand all together. The Catera was terribly boring and horribly unreliable – basically everything in-between the license plates was junk. The CTS is based on that car so thankfully someone at GM got the second generation somewhat right.
    I drove the hyperactive CTS-V a few times and it was a blast to drive – however I would never buy one. The rear differentials tend to puree as they were never designed to handle that sort of power – and the clutch feels like a wet noodle. Sure it goes fast, but once you are over that well….
    Interesting GM is moving the CTS over to Australia – I wonder if anyone really wants one. Holden sent us the Monaro/GTO (Pontiac) a few years ago and the car was met to lukewarm reviews and poor sales. Nobody really wanted one.

  6. Cadillacs remind me of old men who wear too much jewelry. I believe the word is unseemly.

    I don’t know why people spend that kind of money for something like that. It is like going to a flooring store and paying for solid wood and coming home with a laminate.

    I am always scared a designer from Cadillac is going to take his crayons and wander over to Saab.

  7. Rod H, I’ll say the same thing to you that Saab fans say to everyone else:

    You just don’t get it.

    That said…

    This is pretty much the most beautiful car ever IMO.

    Then again, so is this and this.

    My point – it doesn’t matter whether it’s curvy or jagged or whatever, as long as it’s pretty. :p I have eclectic tastes when it comes to car design.

  8. Blocky and bulky are rarely good. Show me a blocky flower. A blocky tree. A hippopotamus is gorgeous, a concrete block is not.

    The B-17 is a beautiful plane, the F-117 is not. The F-117 is quirky looking like some Saab’s, but it isn’t beautiful. Take a look at a C-5; a huge airplane but it is beautiful and elegant. It looks light on it’s feet unlike my neighbors Cad.

    I find it interesting that a lot of industrial designs used to be very good looking. Most of the equipment used by the Germans during WWII had a very good look. A lot of tractors from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s are very good looking. Some older Caterpillar bulldozers are very beautiful. You rarely see that anymore.

    I think style and image also has a lot to do with it. Cadillac is more Phyllis Diller than Grace Kelly. More Elvis in his later years than Cary Grant. The only way to change that is to put away the crayons and go to art school.

  9. Well, maybe Germany would have won had they not wasted money making their tanks pretty.

    Not that that would have been good, of course, I’m just saying: War is not the place for good looks.

    Also, Grace Kelly didn’t need a Cadillac, she probably could have gotten an old Bugatti or Hispano-Suiza or something, she was royalty for chrissake :p

    See, Rod, I think the F117 IS beautiful. Point: It’s all subjective.

    Also, the question isn’t “blocky v curvy,” the question is “angly v curvy”. You can have a small car with sharp angles that isn’t blocky.

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