Autos - Best and Worst

    Car manufacturers must capture the imagination of the buying public. This takes an eye for design, recognition of current trends, and some risk taking. Since 1991, I have been the ultimate judge of the success of these manufacturers. The results are presented here (though for reasons beyond my control, gaps exist for some years).

  2012 Seven long years. I knew 2005 would be a pivitol year. After the Cayman, there is little in comparison. At least nothing for which I wanted to drag out this seldom browsed page and waste valuable upload bandwidth. But 2012, there is one absolute STUNNER! And I finally get to spend some time ridiculing a deserving marque. Both, first timers on the Best/Worst page.
  2012 Best of the Year:

Ferrari is back to their winning form, at least in road cars (lets hope the F1 boys can cobble together something someone other than Fernando can score in). The Ferrari F12 Berlinetta has everything Ferrari is known for - Pininfarina styling, V12 engine mounted in front, fast, fast, and beautiful. If Jaguar evokes the feline sensuality of a cat, this thing is the Alpha Tiger, with giant, meaty paws, a steely eyed stare, and a big, scary mouth. What's more, it is all muscle and it doesn't want to be pet. It wants to eat. Its got a cool name, too.

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
  2005 Worst of the Year:

We waited seven years to name a successor to past worsts. And it is worth the wait. These guys have been knocking at the door for about four years: "Hey, what about this dog? We worked hard to make it dog ugly. How we doing?" So says Lincoln with the MKZ. Look at those teeth! Kind of like that guy in 11th grade who always wanted to hang around, had this goofy smile, and generally tried too hard. Could you imagine having to get into one of these in public? Only at night!. BTW, The MKX sedan has been chomping at the bit for the award for a few years with its bejeweled taillights which look like pizza boxes. Maybe (and most probably) next year

Lincoln MKZ

  2005 This may be a pivitol year in car design. Pivitol in terms of impact on the environment (good and bad); Pivitol in terms of the need to break out of bland, commutopod design; Pivitol in terms of car buyer excitement with blatent theft of past (vintage) design successes. So what's left? Strong original designs from Europe in Porsche, Mercedes, Chrysler. Boring xerox copies of Toyota's, Hondas, and boxes coming from the east. GM remains lost in their exit-less mazes shaded from the light of consumer illumination by self constructed barriers of bureaucracy.
  2005 Best of the Year:

This thing is beautiful. The Porsche Cayman. It's fast as well. Designed nominally as an hardtop Boxster, it emerges as a truely original look. Note the Porsche-correct oval headlights (no more of that triangular window crap). Note the proportions front to rear. Harmonious, mid engined six cylinder with 260 plus HP. It should go pretty well. And at $30K short of the 911, I hope Porsche can build enough. Guess they can use the excess 911 production line capacity which will inevitably result. A+. (Click Here to see some other shots of this bad boy.)

Porsche Cayman S
  2005 Worst of the Year:

The struggle continues. So many to choose from. How about this one? Or this one? (Did you see that snout?) Oh, don't forget these! I really need to come up with some one else to pick on. How about this beauty to the right? Its the Chevy Colorado or Arizona or Idaho or Lake Powell or Las Vegas or some other geographic name depicting the west. Put a guy with a Marlboro and a yellow slicker on top if you really want to rob the best of the west. The front looks like two trucks crushed on top of one another. Hey Chevy! How about firing the headlight, grill, fender, and tail guys? Keep the gas cap design guy but fire everyone else! Good luck to all the poor workers who have to assemble that crap. Cmon, Chevy! Give your workers something to be proud of!

Chevy Colorado

  2004 The good news is that there are lots of great cars coming out on the market. Chrysler is charging around building unique, good looking cars. And BMW swears their 3-Series replacement won't duplicate the bizarrity of the 5- and 7-series. Massarati has actually build a beautiful exotic around $100K. There are some good choices for the Worst of the Year as well, though the pickins are getting slimmer. While Ford, GM, Toyota, and Honda all have some candidates, most are just boring and not really horrible.
  2004 Best of the Year:

For the first time in the history of Outcrop Acres B&W Awards, a Chrysler product takes Best of Year - The Crossfire SRT. This machine makes a bold styling statement, clearly shedding the "me-too" styling trend all too common with the big two and imports. Its good looks are accompanied by solid engineering (by Chrysler's owners) connecting the wheels to the road. DC demonstrates that American designers can actually "build excitement" (Sorry Pontiac!).

Chrysler Crossfire SRT
  2004 Worst of the Year:

Oh, the confusion. Where to start. How about the General Motors Web Page? Ahh, but which division? No worries, they are all the same car. So which one? How about the styleless Chevy Impala? The Chevrolet Malibu? Or how about Toyota? The Prius is pretty ugly. And Toyota won last year and in years past. Between GM and Toyota, they have won seven of eight Worst Awards. But alas, perhaps its time to introduce a new manufacturer to the fold. And after taking a reasonable wagon platform and sawing off the back roof, Subaru deserves to win this years "Worst of the Year" with their Baja.

Suburu Baja

  2003 Early on, I selected the Honda Element as the preliminary "Best of 2003." But by the end of the year, it had lost its luster. Likewise, the Cadilack CTS had an early lead for "Worst of 2003." At years end, it had inherited some of the lustre the Element had shed. Consequently, I had to rethink my selections. So, as the year ended, I went back to the fundamental criteria for best and worst. Best is the car that is unique, with a form following function yet strikes an element of passion. Worst is the car that attempts to duplicate past successes, missing the mark for either of Love or Hate, and igniting no passion (just pay a visit to your nearest GM dealer).
  2003 Best of the Year:

The Mazda RX-8 recaptures all that a "Best" should be . . . sensual, understated lines, good performance, uniqueness and no cladding (GM - Get the Point??).

Mazda RX-8
  2003 Worst of the Year:

Some of the early candidates included the the entire GM truck range and, of course, the Cadillac CTS. However, Toyota instills little passion in any of their designs. This is the second "Worst" award bestowed on the Celica, though the award could have gone to nearly any car in the Toyota lineup. Note the slab sides and lack of flow.

Toyota Celica

  2002 All the cars worked. American cars seem to be tapering off the quality rise. Japanese cars all look identical. German cars start to look like Japanese cars.
  2002 Best of the Year:

Retro's a bit old, but this things pretty cool. Doesn't look like the ubiquitous comuter pod. Goes pretty well and (I hear) is very safe.

Mini Cooper
  2002 Worst of the Year:

This thing is amazing. Its a Chevy Avalanche. The guy that got fired for designing the Aztec got rehired by Chevy. Pontiac like cladding and flat fender lines. Not to mention that hideous grill.

Chevy Avalanche

  2001 All the cars worked. American cars seem to be tapering off the quality rise. Japanese cars all look identical. German cars start to look like Japanese cars.
  2001 Best of the Year:

Mazda Protege5. First its a Mazda and they Zoom. Second, its got 130 horses and good balance. Third, it looks cool, not like everything else.

Mazda Protege5
  2001 Worst of the Year:

I think this one only lasted one year. Can you believe this thing got design approval, much less made it out of the factory? How do you think the folks who had to assemble this thing felt about it? They must have walked out of the factory with bags over their heads!

Pontiac Aztec

  2000 Y2K. When these came out, now one knew if the roads would still work - something about the asphalt disintegrating due to tar mixing errors caused by computer bugs.
  2000 Best of the Year:

The new Ford F250/350 Superduty (I think it actually was introduced in 1999). It looks like a truck again. Ford sort of screwed up the F-Series with the F150 - too slab sided and car like. Too aero and Flash-Gordonesk. The Superduty has a spacious cab, good visability, and looks like a truck.

Ford SuperDuty
  2000 Worst of the Year:

Too bad. I used to own Hondas. But this is a Honda Prelude. What happened to the headlights? Kind of like an Avanti. I guess some people like them, though I suspect this is Honda's way to get more sales for the equally boring Accord.

Honda Prelude

  Other Winners As distressing as this may sound, I can't actually remember all the best and worst for each year prior to 2000. It was a Y2K bug in my head. However, I do recall several of the losers that occupied last place in the "Cool Car" or "Car I would actually own" categories. Here are a few.
  1997 Worst of the Year:

The Oldsmobile Achieva. WHAT?? Achieva?? What's up with that name? That's like a car named "Dogooda" or "Accomplisha." Plus look at the car. Flat rear fender lines. This designer was not only NOT BOOTED - he/she made it a few more years so that he/she could do the same ridiculous thing to the Avalanche.

Oldsmobile Achieva
  1991 Worst of the Year:

The Chevrolet Caprice. Once again, the guy who reviews rear fender design was asleep. Once again they came up with this awkward flat rear fender. Once again, a GM product gets "Worst of the Year." It was hard to find a picture of a civilian Caprice - seems Chevy could only sell them to the government.

Chevrolet Caprice
  1990 Worst of the Year:

The car that started it all. The first of the "Worst Of" years. It was the Toyota Celica. It was very plain, slab sided, with a sleepy front end. This from a company who is hot or cold with this model. Some celica's are very nice while others are hideous (look at the 2002 versions). No doubt, some sort of GM designer exchange program.

Toyota Celica

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