In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Ray Lowry R.I.P. | Main | AWOL Campaign Issues »

October 17, 2008

A Truly Ugly Car

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Designing safety into automobiles wasn't solely the result of federal government mandates influenced by Ralph Nader's crusade against the Chevrolet Corvair in the 1960s.

One example was the Tucker of 1948. I don't remember what all the supposed safety features were, but it did have a little padding on the panel below the windshield and a large-ish open space directly below it on the front passenger side where, it was said, the passenger could hurl himself prior to an impact.

For the 1956 model year, Ford Motor Company offered a safety package that included lap seat-belts, padded dashboard and a steering wheel with a recessed hub that would be less likely to impale the drive during a frontal collision.

In 1957 my jaw dropped when I opened my copy of Motor Trend and saw photos of a safety car designed by Fr. Alfred Juliano. It was strange, looking like parts of it were going in different directions. For a fairly detailed write-up, click here.

Fr. Alfred Juliano's Aurora safety car - 1957

To me, the oddest feature was the windshield which bulges outward sort of like a sausage balloon. The above photo doesn't show it as clearly as a side view might, but if you look carefully you ought to be able to get a sense of its shape. The probable reason for the strange windshield had to do with frontal collisions. If the people in the front seat have lap belts (lap/shoulder belts such as we are familiar with are not apparent in the photo), their entire bodies won't be flung forward by inertia. Instead, the trunk, arms and head will pivot forward from the hip and the head might well strike a conventional windshield. A drastically convex windshield, on the other hand, is too far to be hit; the driver's chest will be halted by the steering wheel and the passengers head might strike the padded dash. Well, that's the theory as I surmise it. The linked article draws a similar conclusion using different reasoning.

The car never entered production, yet somehow avoided the scrap heap and is now in a museum in England.

I won't categorically claim it's the ugliest car ever built, but it's surely a contender.



posted by Donald at October 17, 2008


Wow. Beats the Edsel all to heck. Did you do a piece yet on the absolutely beautiful cars from earlier days? I have some nominations, a few American, and some European, but only one current model, British, the new Morgan Aero 8 touring coupe. Sexy and classy at the same time.

Posted by: Sam_S on October 18, 2008 8:36 AM

No argument here.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on October 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Wow, that thing qualifies as a major curiosity, to put it mildly. I like your description: "looking like parts of it were going in different directions." That's nothing if not apt.

Hmm, the effect of safety concerns over the decades on car design ... That's a great topic for someone.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 18, 2008 10:24 AM

And the front end is for scooping up and cradling pedestrians?

Posted by: Chas Clifton on October 19, 2008 10:28 AM

Wow, that really is an ugly car. I usually like cars of that vintage.

Posted by: claire on October 19, 2008 5:34 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?