B-58 Buick - This is your father's Oldsmobuick.

In one of the Fletch movies (I can't remember which and I don't care enough to rewatch them), Fletch refers to an old car as an "Oldsmobuick". I can't tell old cars apart, just by the design of their byzantine front ends or by the shape of their cathedral-like tail fins. Sure is a sparkly grille, though.

In '58, Buick was pushing the aeronautic angle really hard. They keep mentioning their use of "aluminum brakes" and the design of the car pulls heavily from airplane designs of the time.

Aluminum was associated with airplanes. It sounded super high-tech. So, Buick was very keen to make the association by name-dropping the material four times. Any engineer reading this ad copy may get a mild heart attack reading "aluminum brakes". They really should have explained what part of the brakes were aluminum. You definitely don't want the brake rotors to be aluminum, as they would have a terrible service life. They wouldn't stand up to the heating and physical abuse. The aluminum was probably used in the brake calipers. Those are the clamps that hold the pads that squeeze the rotors, and that makes more sense.

Aluminum is still only gradually finding its way into mass production vehicles. Lots of cars make us of aluminum in the suspension components, due to the lightness and anti-rustyness of aluminum, down there where the sun don't shine. Aluminum is one of the most common elements on the planet, but it's still more expensive to produce than steel, because to make useable aluminum from it's naturally-occurring form of bauxite, requires huge amounts of electricity.

Auto makers still borrow the image of trendy materials today. Carbon fiber is the new high-tech wonder material that product managers love to seem to put in their cars. See, CF is still too expensive for mass market cars, but the distinctive black woven pattern that reminds you of carbon fiber can be found all over modern cars. Interior surfaces often have the look of black and grey checked patterns to borrow some of the cache' of the super-expensive material. You can even buy rolls of adhesive vinyl in a fake carbon fiber pattern and stick it on your car. Guys with backwards baseball hats will tell you this makes the car faster.

Gratuitous 3D printing. This will get worse before it gets better.

So what's going to be the new trendy look? Hard to say. 3D printing is up and coming right now, and people have always loved frivolous decoration for the sake of it, like we see on the front of the Buick in this ad. Maybe it will soon be fashionable for parts of your car to have the pointlessly ornate look of 3D printed-ness? Man, I hope not. But of course, that means it will happen. Maybe you're jealous of the fettuccine shoes in the picture above? You may be in luck. Hang on tight, because you might get to have a whole car that looks like it was made out of string.


Anonymous said...

To me, items created with a 3-D printer look like they came from an old Mold-A-Rama souvenir machine.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Hah! Well spotted. Actually, a Mold-A-Rama toy looks even a little bit shiny. 3D printed stuff of similar scale can often look slightly furry or flocked, due to the resolution of the plastic "toothpaste" stream. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

Brakes were aluminum drums. The cars had a surprising amount of aluminum in them or 1958.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Wow! Aluminum drums??? I just did a quick search on those, but no reports yet about how well they performed. I'd imagine they'd warp pretty easy. Also, ALU isn't famous for being a good friction material. Wouldn't they tend to warp badly?


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