People Like Angry Car Faces. I Don't.

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

First off, I love cars, I own an odd one, and, thanks in part to Make: magazine, I've even raced them a little bit. That's why I've deluded myself into thinking my opinion on this has any relevance here at all. So, if you don't mind, indulge me.

Recently, a study showed that people tended to prefer cars with "angry" faces. Auto designers have known this for a while, as the vast majority of cars available today have "faces" (you know, the front end arrangement of headlights, grille, and shapes that we tend to read like a face) that are at least aggressive, and at most absolutely freaking livid. This is across the board, too-- from entry-level cars to minivans to expensive sports sedans-- they all look like pissed-off turtle robots. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the most notable ones (New Beetle, Mini) are modern updates of vintage designs.

Now, I think there is absolutely a place for aggression, determination, and even a bit of anger in auto design-- some of my favorite cars use this as a major styling inspiration-- it's more about raw power and aggression becoming the default look for all cars that disturbs me.

Personally, the visual character I've always sought out in a car is a certain degree of plucky fun-- something upbeat, capable, but not so damn serious all the time. Now, I don't expect everyone to have the same tastes as me, but there seems to be a growing homogenization in auto design to favor these cars that look like douchebags. The fact that the statement everyone wants to make by the vehicle they drive is one of intimidation and power seems like it's the symptom of something unpleasant going on in our culture.

Maybe someone smarter than me can shed some light on this; I know people want to seem successful and powerful, to some degree, so maybe that's it. I don't think this is the case in all cultures, as Japan seems full of cars so confusingly cute you want to spit. Cars form part of the constant background of our visual lives, so it's worth taking a look at them every now and then and seeing how they make you feel. Lately, when I look around a parking lot, it feels more like I've stumbled into a den of demented robot land-sharks. If I had it my way, the land sharks would still be there, but there'd be a good assortment of other faces out there, some of which would be looking like they just want to chug some 87 octane, go fast and have fun. Oh, and maybe get your ass to work on time.


  1. oh i totally prefer the happy little car (and i’m an american) maybe that’s why I’ve never much liked american cars. hmm

  2. Strangely I’d been thinking about this lately, looking at my own angry car. I bought it because it had a low pricetag, I didn’t take the angry faced nature of the car into consideration, and I think that many Americans don’t. If it was a conscious decision that felt like one we were truly allowed to make when walking into a car dealership, above safety and mileage and all that other important stuff, more americans might choose happier looking cars, but as it stands, for many of us it’s a “take what you can get” market. I’ve always liked the way VW bugs looked but I’ve heard horror stories about the engine blocks landing in drivers laps, etc. So I avoided them myself… and yeah, that’s a retro style anyway.

    I’m with you, though, bring back the happy car. Or better yet, how about a car that isn’t personified in any way.

  3. Whenever I see faces in cars, the headlights are the eyes, but other people (and cartoons like Pixar’s Cars) tell me that the windshield is the eyes. What’s the majority view on this?

    My own car (95 Dodge Intrepid) looks like a weird alien catfish. Crosseyed. Not so smart. Not so hot. I think I’ll go with a happy one if it dies for good.

  4. Where do these articles mention that the study involved Americans? Did I miss it? It was a study done by a European research group, but I couldn’t find a reference to Americans being in the the focus group.

    I couldn’t find any info stating which nationalities were in the focus group.

    Try harder next time. Or don’t.

  5. That has to be the friendliest, sweetest-looking car I’ve ever seen! It looks exactly like :D

    @ Caldrax Or better yet, how about a car that isn’t personified in any way.

    I don’t know… You’d have to pretty much get rid of the headlights and grill (or at least their symmetry). Pareidolia is hard to work around.

  6. The BMW E39 M5 and E65 M5’s both have gigantic smiles on their faces, and those are very much sought after cars in the US. Even the E46 BMW M3 has a big grin.

    They look very much like they’re rage-laughing at 155 MPH.

  7. In America, smiley cars can end up provoking a beat down =) I think that most consider angry looking cars as masculine.

  8. Maybe you should photoshop the German license plate off the front of the ‘angry’ looking car that Americans supposedly like.

    Just sayin’.

  9. The happy-go-lucky face on the original-style xB had to have been part of what sold us on it. The Brave Little Toaster is like a family member at this point (and I say that fully aware of how sickly materialistic that sounds.)


    Definitely headlights, IMHO.

  10. Have you noticed that most white SUV’s look like Star Wars stormtroopers? My car dealer thought I was nuts when I bought my hybrid Escape because I wanted any color but white.

  11. I think that as people feel like they have less and less control in their lives, they want to SEEM in control, and buy cars that make them look and feel powerful (in their eyes at least).

    My car here in Japan is a very happy little fellow

    …but there is a huge trend toward customization and models that look like customs, and most of them look very agressive. It may be no coincidence that Japanese society is under a lot of stress now and is very unhappy.

  12. I’ve noticed the angry faces on American cars, but I’ve never understood it. I prefer a cheerful-looking car. Then again, I react to other drivers’ shouts, threats, obscenities, and rude gestures by waving cheerfully and yelling “Hi, Mom!”

    Driving is not a test of manly dominance, and I refuse to help encourage my fellow drivers to think in those terms.

  13. Well, I wish they would put an angry face on my MINI John Cooper Works, because I’m tired of hearing “It’s soooo cute.”

  14. What’s with all the nonsense “how dare you talk about Americans like that, when the car/study is from Europe” attitude in the comments?

    The writer of the article never said anything about Americans. He said “people” seem to like angry cars. And that some cultures may be different, like the Japanese. That’s the only nationality even mentioned!

    Are these particular American commenters so absurdly self-centered that when one mentions “people” they automatically understand it as “Americans”? Are Americans seriously the only “people” you can conceive of?

  15. I think it’s amusing that one of the cars with the most stereotypically aggressive and snobbish drivers, the Porsche 911, mostly just looks like a determined frog. Doesn’t seem to have hurt its reputation too much.

  16. Huh. I wonder if that can account for a percentage of road rage. You end up getting mad at the car that’s riding your ass (instead of the driver inside) and you get more livid if the car looks pissed back at you.

    Also, I’m not sure I know what my car is doing… it looks like it just dropped a deuce on the carpet and doesn’t want its owner to find out:

    Time for a new car.

  17. I prefer a friendly looking car – I’ve associated expressions with cars since I was a kid, and nothing’s changed. I’ve always liked a friendly looking car. And no matter what Pixar thinks; the headlights are the eyes.

    That BMW is kind of nasty and sly looking – I don’t care far it at all.

    My Corolla is friendly-looking enough without looking goofy. I’d expect to see a variation if the results were broken down by gender. More guys probably like the aggressive look. A nice, big, aggressive penis-extension, er, Hummer.

  18. I like early 90’s mercury cars with the cross bar of lights (that rarely seem to work), the must of been inspired by Star Trek TNG

  19. I frikkin hate all of the macho trucks in my town (Anchorage, AK) detailed with steel flames, pissing Calvins, testicles below the tow hitch, raised, lowered, tinted windows, gothic-font zip codes, all that crap, usually driven by young men with white-framed sunglasses and sideways ball caps. I think James Howard Kunstler nails it when he says that Americans have to act so threatening in public because we are, for the most part, insecure.

  20. Then there are those of us who consider the car simply a vehicle and care a lot less about what it looks like than what kinds of space it has, how it drives, reliability and efficiency and so on. Yeah, there are occasional exceptions — most often in the “so ugly it’s amusing” category, but occasionally in the either retro or futuristic fantasy ranges — but generally my attitude is “I’m not the one who has to look at it from outside.

    As long as it isn’t the moral equivalent of a pink monkey (a pink Caddy?) that’s actively begging for abuse. Or something blatently stupid like a hummer. But those two examples fail all my other tests too.

  21. Thanks for the link. The results seem to be a natural extension of this study of SUV drivers and personality types.

    @15 Kurtmac: I bet the road rage connection is there. How would we drive if all the vehicles around us were painted like goofy clown cars with big dopey smiles?

  22. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the angry car Americans love shown above is German.

    I’m just saying.

  23. As a two-MINI family, we agree. Heck, I even opted for the driving lights, even though they’re completely useless with the HID lamps, because it makes the car look “jaunty”, imo. And there’s very little else out there I like these days. The 2007 redesign made them look a bit more aggressive, but still pleasant. If I had to get something else, it’d be something quirky and strange.

    (I tried and I tried to like the PT Cruiser. Really, I did.)

    Heck, look at the front of most new minivans — they look mean and aggressive just like anything else.

    Of the “angry” cars, though, I do like the BMW Z4, which looks more sly.

    But nothing beats the Bugeye Sprite for a smile.

  24. I have actually had an argument with my mom over the headlight vs windshield = eyes dilemma. No matter what the folks at Pixar think, I am on the side of the headlights looking eye-like. You have to disregard the lights entirely if you choose the windshield.

    It is hard wired into our brains to see faces. Even a US wall socket looks like a face even though I am fairly confident the original designer did not intend that. Early car designs may have had a similar unintended effect, with people instinctively gravitating towards more face-like arrangements.

    I actually have a degree in car design even though I do not currently design cars for a living. When I was in school, I became increasingly aware of how much of an emotional effect design choices made on people. My theory is that the cars that are successful strike an emotional resonance with the prevailing moods of that era they are made in. There may be perfectly brilliant designs that are too far out of step with the times to catch on. As the pace of modern life increased and traffic got more congested, people’s driving became more aggressive. Isn’t it logical to then want a car with a face that says “get the hell out of my way” as it looms in someone’s rear view mirror?

    One of the tools that car companies frequently employ (much to the chagrin of car designers)to test how successful a proposed new design will be is focus groups. They show a “random” sampling of people several un-badged car designs and ask them to rate what they like and what they hate. I think that this is a huge factor in the “all cars look the same” comment that I continually hear from non-designers.

    The angle of the top edges of the headlights play a big role in how aggressive a car looks. There are several cars out there that originally came out with less aggressive /\ headlight shapes that were later redesigned into more aggressive\/shapes. I wonder if focus groups had a say in the matter?

    The Audi TT

    The new TT

    The BMW Z4

    The new Z4

  25. hahaha, a determined frog.

    Here’s one of my most favorite cars, if not number one: the 1938 Phantom Corsair

    What’s interesting about it is the whole car becomes the head/face… not just the grill. The eyes are the windshields, the hood is the snout, the headlamps the nostrils, the bumper is the mouth.

    And when the headlights become eyes, the front has its own face… like a very satisfied alien salamander.

  26. Have you noticed that most white SUV’s look like Star Wars stormtroopers? My car dealer thought I was nuts when I bought my hybrid Escape because I wanted any color but white.

    I, on the other hand, like the thought of being inside a stormtrooper.

  27. This is actually something I’ve been thinking about lately – not so much the “angry face” of most cars, but the fact that they seem to purposely look like faces. I have been wondering lately if a car that did not have anything remotely resembling a face would sell well (or if it would sell at all). It’s really interesting to me how most things that humans have manufactured are very much based on the natural world and what we know.

    And this prompted me to look at something – I have a 2006 Scion XB, which was not a terribly popular model of car (I’ve been told it’s ugly, too boxy, and even that it looks like a Nazi car, whatever that’s supposed to mean). I don’t much like the new version of the Scion XB. I just checked photos of the two models. Mine looks very much like it has no facial expression – very flat and emotionless. The new Scion XB definitely has scowly headlights!

    And @#5 – I think the headlights are the eyes…no matter what Pixar says! :)

  28. I’m really surprised that there are so many “reintroduced” cars, and so few “reissued” ones.

    My point of comparison is sneakers, where old favourites are reissued exactly as originally designed, simply with new ‘colourways’. Or enamelware, where classic Le Creuset and Dansk and Copco pieces are being reissued?

    Take the Volkswagen Rabbit.

    Here’s what it looks like in 2009:

    Typical angry-car, styled for suburban teenagers.

    Why not take the unusual, eye-catching form of previous Rabbits — say, the ’75:

    Keep the exact same form, but throw in a more powerful engine, better upholstery, comfier seats, automatic transmissions, more safety features, fresh colours and a few minor trim fixups?

    Call it a “reissue” – all the cool vintage cred, but with a warranty, no parts worries, that new car smell, no e-test problems, etc.

    In other words, take something previously appealing to many but only accessible to a few (i.e., classic and ‘vintage’ cars), and make them a mass-market product (especially a highly customizable one)?

    It used to be that vintage sneakers in strange colourways were the exclusive domain of serious sneakerheads. Now anyone with $100 and an internet connection can use My Adidas or Nike ID and customize their own ‘classic’ pair of kicks.

    I know we’re talking orders of magnitude of difference in complexity, but I could see this being the natural next step in automotive marketing.

  29. Ha! LIQUIS, I thought of the Phantom Corsair as an example of a windshield looking like eyes too.

    The BMW Gina has fabric skin and can actually blink!

    Fast forward to about 1:04 in the video.

  30. I second the book, “High and Mighty: SUVs–The World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way”

    Everytime I started to lament the downfall of the US auto industry, I recall this book, and say “fuck em”. They pandered to all of our worst instincts and got what they deserved.

  31. @6/Sanity:

    Having a bad day? Give him a break, its a totally thought provoking argument, super interesting, at least to those of us not having bad days…

    On another subject, my car, which was born to give people parking tickets, has a fantastically blank yet firm expression by the criteria of this discussion. Very interesting. More Cushman pics here if anyone’s interested.

  32. As usual, a lot of people seem to think they are above basic human instinctual behavior.

  33. @31

    Pixar went with windshield eyes because of the old Disney short, ‘Susie the Little Blue Coupe’, and because it looked better and was easier to animate for. Looking at the fronts of cars as faces for a few seconds is much easier then looking at them for a 2 hour movie. If they had to animate the headlights as eyes then there would be very little face with which to convey expressions.

  34. What’s with all the nonsense “how dare you talk about Americans like that, when the car/study is from Europe” attitude in the comments?

    The writer of the article never said anything about Americans. He said “people” seem to like angry cars. And that some cultures may be different, like the Japanese. That’s the only nationality even mentioned!

    Are these particular American commenters so absurdly self-centered that when one mentions “people” they automatically understand it as “Americans”? Are Americans seriously the only “people” you can conceive of?

    Well, the original title of the Boing Boing post was “Americans Like Angry Car Faces…” Someone, the author or an administrator, changed it after a few people (myself included) pointed out that Americans were mentioned in the original articles.

    It’s not our fault that bloggers here can edit their posts without making note of the changes.

  35. **Have you noticed that most white SUV’s look like Star Wars stormtroopers? My car dealer thought I was nuts when I bought my hybrid Escape because I wanted any color but white.**

    *I, on the other hand, like the thought of being inside a stormtrooper.*

    I’m a crazed Karen Traviss fan, and I’d really like driving a stormtrooper…but a Mandalorian vehicle would send me into happy tizzies!

  36. The last two paragraphs of my post (#41) are my own, the first few are a quote. I messed up the HTML.

  37. Ah, so you notice it too? I just thought maybe I was too sensitive or something. But yeah, most cars nowadays look like they’re trying too hard to be aggressive.

    My theory on it is a loose one; people today have fewer friends than ever, many have no one to really confide in. Stress levels are through the roof nowadays, which MAY be connected to higher incidences of health problems, obesity, miscarriages and premature births.

    In other words, life is shite, and I think people nowadays generally think a happy car is an almost mocking sort of thing. Their life is crap, so they want their car to reflect how they feel.

    That’s just my theory. But don’t tell my Jeep. It already seems rather surprised about something else, with those big round eyes.

  38. I meant “Americans were not mentioned”

    BoingBoingers can edit their posts, the peanut gallery cannot.

  39. Personally–I’ve always liked cars that look like hungover middle-aged men. It was an inexplicably popular look, especially in 1954:

    1954 Kaiser:

    1954 Buick:

    1954 Chrysler:

    1951 Olds:

  40. @43- Or just the notion that everyone else out on the road is either a threat or an active enemy. (And possibly off the road, too, but that’d be another topic)

  41. The new Dodge Charger has the “meanest” looking looking front end I’ve seen in years. Do we choose cars to reflect how we feel?

    I don’t like mean cars.

  42. I have a similar BMW & have always thought it had an expression like an eager dog ready with it’s leash. “Come on, come on, lets go” kinda thing.

    Not good for speeding tickets.

  43. the Porsche 911, mostly just looks like a determined frog.

    I’ve always thought it looks like a beetle, but yours is funnier.

  44. I’ve owned a lot cars, and many of them were classic Minis, and now the new MINI – they are the terriers of the car world, and even tho they have a a fierce face, the have a bit of a neotonous look, making them more friendly looking. I have a Reliant connection, too, BTW, and it’s one of the great oddities of car design, but friendly in it’s big-eyed way – a Bond Bug, the original orange cheese wedge.

  45. “Asian squinty eyed”. I see, royalty are we? Could it not be conversely said that round head lights resemble the sickeningly thyroid pop-eyed bulge of the genetically deprived northern savages?

  46. My car seems to have this goofy grin on her face, like she is super-excited to go for a ride:

    It wasn’t a factor in choosing the car though, I fell in love with the inside first :)

    “Nobody’s buying car for how their butts look like?”
    I didn’t, but a friend of mine said she liked the way her Grand Am’s taillights looked like butterfly wings. To me, they look more like angry snake eyes.

  47. I rarely get pissed off at the car that’s following me to close. It’s usually the asshole behind the wheel. And in my case, the car is usually a Honda. (Don’t know why, but 9 times out of 10 it’s a Honda.) I don’t really like Honda’s, and no that’s not what upsets me. I am just your typical angry road rage filled American. Way to many stupid people with licenses.

    As a side note, they are called turn signals. Engineers and others invented them as a way to help other drivers and people around you know what you are about to do. The vast majority of the population has not yet learned to read your mind, so don’t give me a glaring look when I do something you find rude because you didn’t signal your intentions. All the times I’ll be mumbling under my breath, “You know we invented them for a reason, a-hole.” (I believe my emotional state is similar to Ren from Ren+Stimpy. I’m happiest when I’m upset.)

  48. Mazda used to have special design study seminars for their stylists, I heard, concentrating on making balanced and appealing rear ends on all their vehicles. I think they’re an afterthought for most car manufacturers.

    A freaky thing about car styling: if you took the very first model of Honda car, the tiny S500 sports car, and then lined up next to each other door-to-door every Honda model made since then, there would a rather frightening progression of subtle changes in the front ends as the cars morph into today’s Hondas. No other car company has such a long-term thought process on styling, and their cars are usually not angry looking, either.

  49. @ McLaren+Torchinsky:

    If you change a post after it’s been up awhile it’s considered good form to leave an annotation. That way the people who correct you don’t end up looking like they’re the ones who goofed.

  50. my first car was a Neon… needless to say it had a happy kind face… (beep beep!) Second car is a Honda – it was about as kind of one you could find – but there were a few cars when I was looking (one or both of the times) that I just refused to consider because they were mean faces… so obviously I’m abnormal…

    And its kind of odd though that I wouldn’t want the evil faced car – cause its not like I’m a pollyanna – my favorite harry potter characters are slytherin, and I happen to love the song “Creepy Doll”… no pollyanna here…

  51. The smiley car in the article is an Austin Healey Sprite, it’s adorable but I couldn’t fit in one.

    There a few modern design cars with smiley faces, especially if they are aimed at the girly, leftie, feel good about the planet but need a car to commute types. The hybrids have smiley faces, give em baby eater faces and maybe even Jeremy Clarkson might like them.

  52. “…the sickeningly thyroid pop-eyed bulge of the genetically deprived northern savages?”

    Now I want a car that resembles Marty Feldman as Igor from Young Frankenstein.

  53. I wonder whether there are geographical variations in the US. Whether in the South (which inherited the “culture of honor” of the Scotch borders, and where men, on average, tend to react more aggressively to challenges), aggressive-looking cars sell better, whereas in California, more mellow-looking cars predominate.

  54. Everyone has neglected to note how most Saturns of any make/model look like cross-eyed morons, even when they are angry.

    My brother drives a Vue, and I have to resist constantly the overwhelming urge to call it cruel names and run off giggling.

  55. My Volvo 240 wagon appears to be wearing squarish glasses and admittedly looks a tad smug in all its brickish, Swedish superiority…

  56. My little car has a pleasant face. It’s too cute, so I put shark teeth in the grill. GRRR!

  57. when flexible OLED displays are cheap as hell; the front grill panel as monitor for the dash camera on your face. (why bother with electro mechanicals?)

  58. I’ve always secretly felt cars were vulgar war-machines. I own one anyway, but this is because I am not a pacifist. I do in fact feel that to be ignorant of the workings of the machines one operates is in an important way unethical. Cars burn a huge fire and blow out gymnasiums full of fouled air.

    Americans(and other Earthlings) buy big scary cars on purpose because they are war machines. Your best chance of dying young is in one of those things; we all have to tolerate a little risk in this area, but we are in our rights to hedge our bets. Projecting hostility may(at least appear to)reduce impacts ultimately.

    As a bicyclist you get a lot of time to really get intimate with these ideas, once you notice them. I feel that bicycling in an unfriendly setting is important for one’s proper perspective on invention. Edging out bicycles is a major thrust of this angryface phenomenon.

    I never cross in front of a car unless I Must. I get furious when they force me to cross in front of their angry mugs, their breathy fireboxes. And drivers never seem to see why. smiles!

    Happy Americans. the Ultimate Destroyers.

  59. Jason your car is totally badass. I love it. As for your question (current Mazda lineup excluded) I think it stems from this: The car is an extension of your body, albeit an unnatural one. In person with the exception of a few rude people, most people understand and respect “personal space”. In a car you have a much larger sense of “personal space” which extends a couple yards in front, back and around. However, many people don’t understand or feel the need to respect that space. Couple that with the fact that there is no viable way to communicate with the people in cars around you, save with the finger, or some poorly conceived bumper stickers, the result is frustration and the desire to intimidate those around you to get out of your way. Subconscious or not, it sells cars.

  60. Vagabondastronomer @76: I think the Toyota Prius has a remarkably smug smile.
    Also, advances in engineering have reduced the grille to a styling feature, thus meaning that cars’ faces are much more designed.

  61. double-plus on the Nissan Figaro, that is one classy city car.

    when i was in france in 2003, i fell in love with the 2003 Renault Clio because of its unusual front-end treatment. it’s slightly aggressive but not overtly angry. alert, i would call it, with big eyes. unfortunately they moved away from this in later years.

    SUVs and minivans (and big show-off pickups) rather resemble modern basketball shoes, or maybe it’s the other way ’round. not a design ethos i would volunteer to sport either way.

  62. Actually, the Subaru R2 posted by Anon 5:19 looks a little downtrodden. Like an office worker in a dead-end job. Thankfully, my second generation Miata has a relentlessly happy face. Maybe too happy. “But that car’s so cheerful, why is that guy driving like such a jackass?” they spit through their clenched teeth. That’s right my friends, defying the stereotypes.

  63. This brings back much confusion with me and Cars from Pixar. I never even thought to look at the windshield for the cars “eyes”, what a horrible design really.

    I looked at the trailers so many times before I ever realized there were goofy looking eyes on the damn windshield.

    I still haven’t seen the movie because of that.

    Really not that many cars are angry looking to be honest. Most just look stupid. Which can easily be confused with angry.

  64. As an aside, or maybe someone has already noted this, (90 comments effort), Honda have been implementing faces on motorbikes as people see them more quickly.

    My favourite car was a Fiat 124 Spider (pre ’78). It had a sweet face, but a mouth that would gobble anything up.

  65. I hate that snarling-shark look that is particularly beloved of luxury car makers like BMW too.

    Good thing I can’t afford it, then :)

  66. Anon@88:
    I chanced to notice yesterday that the San Diego Miata Club is having their annual ‘Moon Over Miatas’ ride next Saturday night. They’ll rally @ Dudley’s Bakery in Santa Isabel at about 7:pm, then roll up into Julian, and drop down the Banner Grade into the desert, under a full moon. Fabulous!

    If you’re in SoCal and have a Miata, this is an experience you don’t wanna miss. They’re a great bunch of people, and this rally is a rare experience you won’t soon forget.

  67. @ circa86 #89:

    The fact that you didn’t even notice the eyes were on the windshield just proves that the characters were well designed and animated. If it was obviously “wrong” then you would have been creeped out instantly. Pixar knows what they’re doing.

  68. There is another angle at this too: People treat cars differently depending on the car’s “face”. If you are driving a car that looks angry/aggressive/dominant people treat you with more respect (“…get out of the way or he’ll eat me up”) than if you drive a car that looks nice and happy. Having people wait for you at intersections, or just not cutting you off, might be worth more than liking the looks of your car.

    1. You want respect on the road? Drive a car with a couple hundred big dents in it. Everyone will give you the right of way.

  69. That BMW doesn’t look angry. It looks like it’s patiently indulging a moron.

    That actually sits very well with how I feel when driving.

  70. I personally think this view says more about the author than the automakers. After reading this article I did some driving, looking around for just this sort of thing. In my view there were more that looked happy or cute than mean or cute. Not everything is a conspiracy.

  71. IMO, my car looks like a smiling gap-toothed 6-year old. Then again, my friends also say that my car doesn’t have horse-power, it has hamster-power, so how could it be angry?

  72. For me it’s not an issue of Happy v. Aggressive. What I wish some one intelligent could explain is why every car made in the last 20 or so years looks like such absolute shit, happy or otherwise.

    It causes this furious, burning feeling in the pit of my stomach. This ‘slick’ look needs to die.

  73. @27 nosehat: “I bet the road rage connection is there. How would we drive if all the vehicles around us were painted like goofy clown cars with big dopey smiles?”

    I hope you realize the brilliance of what you’re saying. I think it would help. absolutely.

    My idea was for all cars to be made of foam rubber with giant “noses” up front and limit their speed to 50 mph- wrecks would be fun instead of lethal!

    Better yet- take the stupid things away and put all the wasted automotive bailout money into light rail in every civic center on earth.

  74. OMG it’s the LOLCar!!! :D

    Angry cars look more emotionless than angry to me. If you made them more smiley they’d end up to personified… like the LOLCar. An angry car just feels more serious to me. I’d like to see how the “face” of the car affects the buyer’s decision.

  75. Someone here commented that if they see an angry car in the rearview mirror, people might be more inclined to pull over and let them pass. I feel the opposite. If I see an ‘angry’ car behind me trying to pass me when I’m already going at a reasonable speed (ie. say 140kph or something passing people on the right of me), it makes me even madder at them for being such a douche, and I will intentionally drive more aggressively (even if that means easing off the gas :D hehe). If the car has a cute face I might be more inclined to be polite. I make assumptions about the driver immediately based on how they drive and then on what the car looks like.

  76. This is a reply to Anon#102 “why every car made in the last 20 or so years looks like such absolute shit, happy or otherwise.”
    There is evidence in every comment on this thread about emotions being present in automotive designs.
    The anwser to your question is within the contents of this video.

    If designers can transform fear, anger, and jealousy into creative energies by freeing themselves of any emotion, therein lies true beauty real love beyond personality. According to OSHO whenever you are overwhelmed by any emotion you lose all reason, you lose all sensitivity. love is not be a part of your emotions. Ordinarily thats what people think and experience. Love has to be an expression of your being not an emotion. These OSHO teachings can be applied to anything but in automotive design unless love becomes a part of your being expressed onto your designs it is not much different than pain, suffering, sadness. First take love out of this crowd of overwhelming emotions then go and design cars. Unless you do this don’t bother showing your designs to anyone unless you have sufficient reason.

  77. I think most cars look neutral. Some look enraged, but most look neutral.

    Oddly, I think Crown Vics used by cops look rather gentle.

Comments are closed.