The 20th century produced some of the most beautiful cars that will ever exist. Their designs are iconic, with every angle being instantly recognizable even from a good distance. They also happen to be a part of a subset of cars that are truly analog and give their drivers the purest driving experience available, but more on that another time.
As a result of the aforementioned traits, a large percentage of the cars from this era have crazy cult followings. Some became instant classics on their release, while others weren't received very well initially, but ended up aging very well. An offshoot of these cult followings are fan-made nicknames for the cars based on a signature trait. As a result, these cars now have an identity that will forever be associated with them even if time rusts them to the ground.
This is a C-Class
Which brings me to the point I want to harp on Today's cars have lost that spark, that fizz, that butterfly-in-stomach inducing aura (I could go on with the synonymous phrases). I remember spotting a bright red Nissan 300ZX while driving to college and ended up following it, driven by a crazed need to know where that beautiful machine resided (Yes, I skimped on my education and am not ashamed. Besides, it was only a matter of a lecture or two). On the other hand, spotting the all-new R8 V10 Plus the other day only made me turn my head and give the car a quick scan, only to realize that it's but a shadow of its former self.
This is also a C-Class. Sorry, I lied. It's an E-Class
However, what really gets my blood boiling is the rampant proliferation of platform-based cars in the market today. Car identity has gone down the gutter, with cars in a particular lineup being nothing more than scaled down versions of their flagship model. Take Mercedes-Benz for example - I still for the life of me can't figure out how to differentiate between the new C-Class, E-Class and S-Class. They all look the bloody same! The same headlights, the same taillights, the same grille, the same body the list goes on. Where is the sporty yet luxurious appeal of the C-Classes of the past? Where is the understated luxury which the previous E-Classes were known for? Where's the sense exclusivity of the S-Class if it turns no heads?
This is an S-Class...or is it?
This same approach is sadly seen in the supercar front as well. For example, take a look at the McLarens of today. While I do love the brand to bits, their current lineup screams of only one thing - more of the same. The 650S has the front-end of a P1 and the rear end of a MP4-12C. Now while the 650S looks incredible as a standalone package, imagine how enraged P1 owners must get when people mistake their limited-production hypercar for a (relatively) ordinary McLaren. And don't even get me started on that 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 which probably powers McLaren's lawnmowers as well.
A Mclaren P1
The point here is that cars have lost their purpose and identities by blending into the river of cars that flood the streets. In the name of reducing production costs and maximizing profits, manufacturers are creating cars that will be forgotten the moment the next generation arrives. Each car should have its own appearance, quirks, driving feel, and yes, even its own issues. Driving in traffic used to be an exciting prospect in the recent past, as spotting these cars evoked emotions and a reaction. Regardless of whether I loved or hated them, I had an opinion and felt a certain way about each car. That's what makes a car memorable. With the newer cars, they don't get a second thought as I don't feel anything for them.
The Mclaren 650S a.k.a The P1 and MP4-12C's illegitimate-ish child
This might be wishful thinking, but manufacturers really need to bring back the passion of designing individualistic cars. While platform-based engineering makes more sense with nearly every manufacturer taking to it, there are no restrictions imposed on the design aspect. So there really isn't a valid reason for the copy-paste jobs we see today. Yes, it will cost more to design a whole new exterior for each model, but that will result in a more varied lineup that caters to various tastes. And in all honesty, isn't that the least we should expect from car makers?