'Fake' trim on cars

Maybe ‘fake trim’ isn’t the right term. Just starting my first cuppa joe. What I’m talking about is non-functional trim that gives the impression that it’s functional. For example, the MGB has a single chrome line at the waistline, and an old Hudson has a jet airplane ‘hood ornament’, neither of which serve any purpose other than decoration.

Then there’s trim that looks like it’s doing something. That is, it’s only there for decoration but it gives the appearance of a functional piece.

I’m reading a May 1964 Road & Track magazine that features a pair of the new Ford Mustang on its cover. The article, speaking of the available options, says, ‘… and – to replace a phony scoop on the side sculpturing – a thin pin-strip to accent they styling.’ The Mustang had these chromed ‘air scoops’ on their sides. They didn’t do anything – they were just for decoration – but they appeared to be real air scoops.

Now, some people think that there should be nothing on a car that isn’t functional. I lean that way myself. On the other hand, some decoration-for-decoration’s-sake (such as the waistline chrome on the MGB) does enhance the looks of a car. But I don’t much care for ‘fake trim’. Sure, the Mustang’s phony scoops look neat; but there’s just something ‘wrong’ (to me) with trim that is meant to be deceptive. Really, what’s the difference between a fake air scoop or non-functional louvers, or whatever, and those phony car-phone antennas people used to buy in the '80s?

What do you think?

I’m with you. The rice rockets are a great example of too much of a good thing. Wings that look like discarded spare parts from an airplane factory. Skirts and wind air dams that are so low that the car looks like a snow plow. Exhaust pipes that look like grapefruit launchers. And to top it off… blue LED lights and black fluorescent lighting underneath. The cars look more like a bad 70’s disco than a form of transportation.

I’m much more of a traditionalist. When a car rolls out of the factory, it pretty much looks like it needs to look. Sure, nice wheels (FFS,not chrome!) and perhaps a bit of a window tint job… but that’s it. After that, more is simply more, not better. Even some factory cars are too much of a good thing. Subaru WRX’s huge spoiler being one example. Mitsubishi Lancer’s wing being another. That early 70’s American RoadRunner jet wing and nose cone was butt ugly as well.

I can’t believe I’m still seeing vinyl tops on cars. They were good for one thing: hiding the rusting roof panel.

QuickSilver: Spoilers bug me. My 911SC did very well at 135 mph without one. Still, a lot of people put ‘whale tails’ on their 911s because they ‘looked cool’. (The 911 Turbo’s tail did serve a function, however. It provided a housing for the turbocharger, which would otherwise be sticking up out of the deck lid.) Spoilers and wings on a street Honda serve no functional purpose.

Mr. Blue Sky: I’d forgotten vinyl covers! And the chrome fake Landau hinges.

Yeah, never cared much for the whale tail on the 911’s either. Unless you’re doing the time trials at the Taladega, a spoiler is pretty worthless. Same for the ground effects skirts. But the worst… the absolute worst… are those new chrome wheels with the spinning do-ees on 'em. WTF!!! What’s with the wheels by Tonka!!!

Good lord! I hate those things!

Really, I don’t think they’re ‘fake trim’. It’s not as if they’re pretending to be something, like the fake air scoops on the old Mustang. But as far as decorative trip goes, they’re pretty heinous.

Hey! The rear deck wing on my Subaru Legacy GT is functional! I wrap a wire cable around it and my bike rack whenever I put it on, so I can leave it parked and nobody can take off with it or the bike. :stuck_out_tongue:

Aerodynamically, it doesn’t do anything at all (and I see they’ve stopped putting them on the GT). Neither does the mail slot in the hood, since the car is naturally aspirated. I’d remove it, but the cyclops brake light is integrated into it.


<slight high jack> I always did picture you as a Scubbie sort of guy. :smiley: </end high jack>

This is Suub #5 for me. All except for the Justy (ugh!) have rolled six digits and kept moving without pause. The next one will be a turbo; the WRX (wagon, not the STi unfortunately, but I need the room) or the GT when/if they upgrade to the B4 drivetrain. Right now, though, I’m only at 151k on the odo, which is barely broke in.

I like Audi, too, but they’ve had too many maintainence problems of late, and the image of the BMW driver is an Orange County ass-for-a-hat who is too cool to use turn signals or stop talking on his phone and pay attention, and both are massively overpriced.


I’d love to take a WRX out for a ralley run. Dirt roads, hills climbs, big water puddles. That car is built for that sort of abuse.

As for me, big fan of Audi/VW. Not a huge BMW fan but not because of image issues. Somebody is always going to have an opinion about you based on what you drive. I say screw them. Drive what you love and can afford, I say. 'cept those spinner wheel things. Gotta draw the line somewhere. :smiley:

The most beautiful cars, most would agree, are race cars. 100% function. Cars are fuckin’ machines. Would a wild animal of grace and power look better with a little extra decoration? [hijack]For that matter, I don’t much care for tattoos or piercings, for the same reason.[/hijack]

What about paint? Paint doesn’t make the vehicle faster, or more efficient; get rid of it! Cars should come in only two colors: Metal and Bondo!

Don’t you think hub caps are stupid? Especailly those pointlessly clean ones? They’re the absolute pinnacle of conspicuous consumption!

And CD players! What, you’re physically unable to drive without music playing? Forget it! CD players are for wimps who think people should “enjoy” their major purchases, or something crazy like that!

Sarcasm aside, you’ve probably figured out by now that I have no problem with people who want their cars to be aesthetically appealing. You obviously think a minimalist ideal is better; others disagree. De gustibus, and all that.

People like to personalize their stuff and take pride in it; if you’re the type of person who pays attention to the cosmetic appearance of your vehicle (as you folks clearly are), why on earth would you want it to look just like everybody else’s factory-fresh car? Such passion about the “proper” way for a car to look suggests it’s an individuality issue, but then you want it to be minimally differentiated from everyone else’s.

Very curious, thinks I.

On this point, yes. Wheel covers, which are what most people are referring to when they say “hubcap” (actually a different animal, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day) are bound to come off sooner or later. Remember the 'Seventies cop shows where the hubcaps would come flying off as they screeched around a corner? I think Hunter must have used up the entire LAPD automotive budget on hubcaps in half a season alone. Wheels should either be aluminum alloy, stamped steel, or wire spoke, IMHO.


I went to a Ford dealership about 10 years ago and of course one of the salesmen came over. I asked where the air was going from the intakes on the side panels and the nostrils on the hood. He actually didn’t know that they were only decorative, and we spent a few minutes looking. He reminds me of the sunglasses clerk who actually told me, “Look, I just sell 'em”.

I don’t like the decorative sports parts. It kind of says, “Look at me! I thought this would impress you, but I probably don’t know that it doesn’t actually DO anything. I’m a dweeb.”

Pain is functional! It protects the metal from rusting.

Hubcaps are not ‘fake’ trim. That is, they are there for decoration, but do not pretend to be something else.

Not ‘trim’, as defined in the thread.

As I said in the OP, ‘some decoration-for-decoration’s-sake (such as the waistline chrome on the MGB) does enhance the looks of a car.’ Nothing wrong with that. A bit of chrome here and there does enhance the looks.

But what strikes me as odd are those bits that masquerade as something they’re not.

jackelope: Your car has a spoiler on it, doesn’t it? :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

On the contrary. I have driven many cars and have come to the conclusion that Silver is Quickest.


As for inside trim. I love guages, buttons and on board computers. I want my car dash lit up like a 747 cockpit. I’m not an after market stereo buff so stock cd/radio is adequate.

…and a Type R sticker.


Spinners. Haven’t seen any here yet thank god. My brother, a semi driver said he saw them on a truck. A real truck, a big rig.

Unbelievable. They sound dangerous to me. Makes a car look like it’s moving when it’s not. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Remember the old vinal ‘wood’ trim on station wagons? Cleverly disguised log says I.

A buddy of mine in high school had an early 70s Mercury Comet with a factory mounted fake hoodscoop on it. Even he thought it was pathetic.

Fake “trim” like spoilers on Porsches doesn’t really bother me, because no matter what, they’re really fast cars. Slapped on to a Yugo, however, they look mindboggingly stupid.

If you think spinners on rims are bad, there’s something even worse coming down the pike. Rims that will flash messages to people! They’ll even have a touchpad inside the car so you can compose messages!