Why don't auto makers create and sell unique looking cars?

Back in the day, when I was a kiddo, all cars looked different. The style of the car was often a selling point. People LIKED the way that Buicks or DeSotos or Chevies looked. And you could sure tell the difference between a Cadillac and a Ford. That was a significant selling point, I’m guessing, for the folks at Cadillac. Today, you can’t tell the difference between a Mercedes and a Ford Escort. That’s also true for the advertising. A television ad for a Cadillac has the cars skidding around just like a Saturn. I don’t understand the thinking of the folks in Detroit, or Japan or Europe, for that matter. Why isn’t the appearance of a car an additional selling point? Why don’t car makers make their cars somewhat distinctive? And why don’t they promote new gadgets and features? They all seem to be the same today. Why?

An initial WAG is that the perfect shapes for the different types of cars have been achieved, and that when makers stray too far from those shapes (as they still sometimes do) the car is percieved as ugly.

What do you call the Scion xB, the Honda Element, and the PT Cruiser? You certainly can’t say they look like every other car on the road.

Even if we limit the discussion to four-door sedans, it’s just more subtle now. Plenty of people can tell the difference between a Mercedes and a Ford Escort.

Sure you can. Well… I can anyway.

I think one reason as to why they’re all perceived to look the same, is that automakers are trying to make cars aerodynamic. In a way, the aerodynamics all try to achieve the same thing, therefore they all look similar in design.

They do make and sell unique looking cars. Dodge Viper, Ford GT-40, Chevrolet Corvette, Honda Element, etc. They don’t try to make every model look unique (when’s everything is special, nothing is special) nor to make every model from a given manufacturer look the same (the people who buy Corvettes don’t want a car that looks the same as every other Chevrolet). There is some copying, and some “alike-think” going on, but the bottom line is they try to make what sells. What the public says it wants isn’t always the same as what the public buys. And I’ve never known the auto manufacturers to not promote new gadgets and features.

I don’t buy a car for form, I buy it for function. I don’t care in the least if it looks exactly the same as every other car on the road.

Adding unnecessary extras adds to the cost, why on Earth would I want that?

Actually, people have been saying “today’s cars all look the same” for decades. If you’re strict with yourself about this, have a look at some cars from, say, the 70s. The similarities are greater than the differences.

Anyone else seen the 2006 Pontiac Solstice?

I bought a new PT Cruiser Convertable a few months back. I didn’t think it was ugly like the regular 4-door Cruiser. It’s a unique car, but now I notice a strong resemblance to the new VW Beetle convertables.

It’s funny, I’ve always thought cars from the fifties all looked alike. I assume that’s the decade you’re talking about. I can only tell them apart by looking at the emblem.

It looks like an MG.

A lot of the reason Escorts look like Mercedes is that the Escort designers are consciously copying the Mercedes look. If Mercedes changed their look, the Escort folks would follow.

Why? Becasue even folks who buy cheap cars want them to look sort of like expensive cars.

Check out the SmartCar.

Yeah, like ashtrays. Just traded my Jeep Wrangler in for a new Jeep Wrangler. No ashtray. WTF? Intermittant wipers, cup holders, tachometer, but no ashtray. :frowning:

Personally I think old cars have definite similarities too. I look at an 57 chevy, a 57 buicks, and a 57 pontiac and they all look pretty much the same to me except differing amount of chrome. Admittedly these are all GM, but look at a ford or a chrysler from the same year. Big car, 4 doors, chrome, wings. look at the late 40’s cars and its the same way. Big, similar looking cars, only this time no wing. Look at cars from the late 60’s. All of the sudden all the major manufacturer’s start crapping out muscle cars. In addition, in the old days you had a limited amount of choices, so yeah you had a 57 chevy that was distinct from a 57 ford in a lot of key ways. However, you had the exact same 57 chevy as all your neighbors. Today we have lots of choices in what we want to drive.

I think you’re just biased against todays cars, when I look at the parking lot of my work I see almost entirely late 90’s early 2000’s 4 door sedans. A lot of honda civics and accords, a lot of toyota camry’s, a lot of ford taurus’s and a lot of GM sedans. I think all these cars look very similar. If you go much outside that standard 4 door sedan type car that everyone drives the similarities are gone. All of the sudden you have hatchbacks, wagons, pick ups, SUVs, tiny commuter cars, specialty “nostalgia” cars (new bug, mini, PT cruiser, Z-car). I don’t think you can tell me with a straight face that a BMW mini looks like a ford taurus which looks like a cadilac escalade.

I guess now I think about it, this thread shouldn’t really be in GQ. Whether or not old/new cars all look the same is very subjective. I think it has a lot to do with what type of cars you grew up with, and what type of cars you think of as “cool”. There’s really no way to answer this without giving an opinion.

New model cars have to undergo R&D, which costs money, which needs to be recouped, which is passed onto consumer in car’s pricetag. In the dog eat dog car market this would be unacceptable as the consumer would probably decide to go for a cheaper car. Uniqueness is one of the many selling factors. Now mabye if car plants are relocated from first world countries to China well CC your wish may become reality. Shame about the unemployment though.

I don’t get that either. Everyone I know that has an older car (with an ashtray) uses it for something - holding mints or change or whatever. Of course, I smoke, so I want the ashtray, but still see it as useful for other things.

When we bought a new Acura several years ago, ashtrays were optional. Ours doesn’t have one.

I call the Scion the silliest, ugliest car on the road.

It looks like one of those boxy US Postal Service trucks.

And how about the newer BMW’s? They certainly look distinctive.