Thursday, December 18, 2014

Here's Looking at You, Babe

The title of this post is an informal drinking toast that dates back to the 1930s and perhaps even before.  I'm using it here because the combination of headlamps and the grille on a car often gives the impression of a face, the headlamps being the eyes.

In the early 1990s two cars appeared whose headlamps struck me and others as being especially eye-like.  So, just for fun, here they are.

First up is the Renault Twingo, introduced for the 1993 model year (Wikipedia entry here).

The Twingo was quite small and largely nondescript.  So the "face" that Patrick Le Le Quément's styling team devised for the Twingo was perhaps the key to its success because it was distinctive and capable of evoking an emotional response from potential buyers.  Renault's advertising agencies picked up on the car's quirky personality, as can be seen in the two lower photos.

Then there was the Neon from Chrysler, launched for 1994 as a Plymouth and a Dodge (the cars were almost identical).  Neons were badged as Chryslers where sold elsewhere. The Neon's Wikipedia entry is here.

The upper photo is from Car and Driver Magazine, the lower from Automobile Magazine.  It seems that Chrysler bean counters objected to the headlight treatment because the Neon was be to as inexpensive to build as possible, and the proposed design was more costly than alternatives.  But for once, the financial staff was overruled and the distinctive headlights were on the production cars, contributing to their early sales success by giving Neons "personality."

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