Cartoon Cars

Reviews of cars, trucks, and other autos.
June 21 2001 3:00 AM

Cartoon Cars

The Chrysler PT Cruiser vs. the Ford Focus. 

Auto design today seems to be about where architecture was 20 years ago. The clean functionalism that loosely dominated for so many years—when it was clear what a beautiful car looked like (namely like a Ferrari Lusso or Maserati Ghibli )—has fallen out of favor, and nothing especially compelling has replaced it. Instead, we get an automotive version of postmodernism—Cartoon Cars that replace innovative forms with clever (and not so clever) allusions to the past.


The VW New Beetle, for example, is a Cartoon—there's a reason automobiles normally don't look like the St. Louis Gateway Arch. (Those reasons are 1) aerodynamics and 2) rear-seat headroom.) The Beetle is essentially a normal, modern VW Golf with an extreme cartoon body designed to make some sort of "statement" that isn't automotive—a statement about nostalgia for the era of the old Beetle, perhaps, or about the driver's fashion-consciousness or his ironic detachment from earnest auto-worship.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies Against ISIS but Aren’t Ready to Admit It Yet

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

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