Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Fuselage-Look Echo

I include the label "Lookalikes" for this post, even though the cars discussed here only have the similarity of "fuselage" styling.  The term was applied to large cars in Chrysler Corporation's lineup that appeared for the 1969 model year.  What interests me is that more than 30 years later, Cadillac revived that theme.  Which is further evidence for my belief that American automobile styling evolution ended about the time of the 1949 Ford, and that since then, what we have is largely a matter of changing fashions.


Fuselage styling, in the 1969 Chrysler sense, took the form of relatively simple bowed-out sides.  The lower body cross-section was a sort of oval that was pushed in on the sides and top.  Reflections on the car tend to disguise this, so look carefully at the door cut-lines to read the shape of the side bulge.  Shown here is a Chrysler 300 two-door hardtop.

The 1969 Imperial four-door hardtop shown here featured a more flattened side panel, but retained the general outward curved effect.  Both the 300 and the Imperial had very long front and rear overhang, typical of large American cars in those days before the 1973 fuel crisis.

Two views of the 2000 Cadillac DeVille.  Much had changed since 1969.  The fuel crisis sparked the need for serious consideration of aerodynamic efficiency.  Cars were made shorter to save some weight, a factor in fuel efficiency.  Drivetrains generally shifted from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive.  This latter change resulted in changes in cars' proportions -- large front overhang coupled with a short distance from the front edge of the front door to the front wheelhouse.

Those characteristics aside, it can be seen that the 2000 DeVille has a cross-section similar to that of the 1969 Chryslers shown above.  Also similar are the shapes of the side-windows of the Cadillacs and the Imperial.  More than 30 years can go by, yet there are cases such as these where styling stands fairly still.

No comments: