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15 Car Styling Cues For The Ages Page 2

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Audi R8 e-tron track drive, Berlin Tempelhof Airport

Audi R8 e-tron track drive, Berlin Tempelhof Airport

1954 Buick Series 40 Special two-door hardtop with three ventiports (by Flickr user Sicnag)

1954 Buick Series 40 Special two-door hardtop with three ventiports (by Flickr user Sicnag)

 Thermador Car Cooler, aka a window-mounted evaporative AC (pic by Doug Coldwell)

Thermador Car Cooler, aka a window-mounted evaporative AC (pic by Doug Coldwell)

Double-bubble Abarth (photo by John Lloyd via Wikimedia)

Double-bubble Abarth (photo by John Lloyd via Wikimedia)

Corvette Stingray Concept split rear window

Corvette Stingray Concept split rear window

2013 BMW 7-Series

2013 BMW 7-Series

5. Sideblades
Sideblades are a relatively new phenomenon, and no car does them better than the Audi R8. What's awesome about sideblades is that they aren't just slick, interesting design elements slapped onto the sides of a vehicle, they're functional, too, funneling air toward the engine. Attractive and practical? How German.

6. VentiPorts 
Let us please have a moment of silence for the poor, ridiculed VentiPort. VentiPorts appeared in the 1940s and 1950s on the sides of Buicks -- in theory, as a way to draw air from the grill, over the engine, and out of the engine compartment. Before long, engineers realized that the ports weren't very effective at accomplishing that task and plugged the holes, but the VentiPort elements remained. Though they've since been discontinued, every two-dollar tuner from here to Timbuktu loves the VentiPort, as proven by the vast number of stick-on versions found at auto supply stores and on the sides of family vans.  

7. Window-mounted evaporative A/C
Before the auto industry figured out how to take Freon and convert it into bone-chilling A/C, there was the car cooler, also known as the window-mounted evaporative air-conditioner. Using a few laws of thermodynamics, it evaporated water inside a window-mounted tank, then sucked air through that tank to generate cool air for passengers. And as you can see from the pic above, car coolers looked spectacular, like the unholy spawn of a missile-launcher and a vacuum cleaner. Our dreams foretell of someone bringing these things back one day, but our dreams also said that the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet would never see the light of day, so we're not making any bets.    

8. Double-bubble roof
To be honest, we're not all in agreement on this one. Done properly, a double-bubble roof is a thing of beauty, giving a car a subtly rounded silhouette that screams "retro" and "futuristic" in one voluptuous breath. Done improperly, it looks like the most bootylicious of plumbers has gotten stuck doing a handstand on your floorboard.   

9. Split rear window
There are two schools of thought when it comes to split rear windows. School A deplores them because they're completely impractical; not only do they block vision, but have you have tried to get one replaced? School B adores them because, well, just look at them. (Added bonus: Split rear windows go great with a double-bubble roof.) 

10. Hofmeister kink
Richard Wagner, Mad King Ludwig, Nina Hagen: Germans have a flair for flamboyance. And that's what makes the Hofmeister Kink so remarkable, because it's not flamboyant at all. It's the automotive equivalent of Guy Fieri's ubiquitous visor: everything else may be outlandish, but without that one subtle detail, it's just another car/celebrity chef screaming "Look at me!"


 
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Comments (3)
  1. Great article! However I think the Side-blades (mainly in a contrasting colour) are there to break up the slab-sided R8. The space between the rear wheels and the back of the door is very long and plain, making it almost look like a sedan. Look at one with body-coloured side-blades and you will see what I mean.
     
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  2. You say VentiPorts, I say "speed holes". They make the car go faster...
     
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  3. You mentioned the Cab Forward design. The AMCs may have pioneered it, but remember the 1990s Chrysler "big" sedans? Cars like the New Yorker had the Cab-Forward, and were able to have a longitudinal mounted V6. The 1970s GMC RVs also were Cab-Forward, FWD, and the 454 CID engine was longitudinally-mounted.
     
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