Which Classic Looks Best In Profile?
Call me simple, but I know cars from their profiles. After realizing at about nine years old that my burgeoning career as a car designer was going to be a tough one if I couldn’t sketch the third dimension, I set about looking for examples of the ideal vehicle profile to draw. Though a bit boring, I think a classic’s side view is where many accepted nicknames and colloquialisms come from—“Tin Snail,” “Bug,” “Breadvan,” and “Clown shoe” among them.
It’s taken some time, but enthusiasts have learned to project feelings, emotions, and language onto the objects they covet. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, for example, evolved from a number of internal design proposals, but notably, one of the cars happened to have been inspired by an actual stingray that styling chief Bill Mitchell caught while on holiday. The designers definitely did their job—in profile, I’m not sure you could call the finished car anything but “Sting Ray”.
I appreciate when designers take liberties with their sketches, as you can only tell when the lines have been compromised when it enters three dimensions and thousands of parts. American cars from the 1960s and ’70s, for instance, often look beautiful in sketch form (with special credit to Chrysler’s fuselage-era artists) before being sanitized, cost-cut, and punched-out into production.
In contrast, Italian carrozzeria often produced profile drawings that, while neat and tidy, often lacked the show of form that three dimensions, a clay model, or finished car could wear; side sketches don’t often do shapely cars justice.
And if you’re the owner of a BMW M Coupe or Z3 Coupe, seeing your car from the side may lead people to think its designers were clowning around when they apparently based its outline on an oversized shoe. At least the Ferrari 250 GTO with “Breadvan” bodywork has a rear window that resembles an oven door to continue the styling theme…
Which classic car do you think looks best in profile?