Fads, Trends and Automobiles

When I was a kid I used to always think about what cars looked like. Not whether I thought they were pretty, but whether they looked modern or not.

I still do the same thought experiment I did back then now.

“What will that car look like in 10 years time? Will it still look modern?”

The answer of course is nearly always no, but I still find it weird how our style opinions change.

The one I always remember the most is the 1994 Ford Focus. This one.

1994 Ford Focus

I remember it being released. I was 6 at the time and my 6 year old brain thought it was cool. Not cool in a Lamborghini Countach kind of way (which is still cool), but just cool. Nice-looking. Then when my dad got one a few years later, it was still cool.

I remember imagining at the time that this was it. Cars can’t get any more modern-looking than this. How is it even possible? My brain couldn’t imagine a more appealing normal car ever being released.

Of course, newer cars have come out since and now the 1994 Ford Focus looks outdated. It looks old.

When you’re in the trend at the time it’s always impossible to imagine something newer or better unless it’s been invented. It’s why films that imagine the future are never even close. Remember Blade Runner’s vision of the early 2000s?

I find cars to be one of the easiest ways to track visual trends throughout time, and every now and again I stick a new trend stick into the ground.

The eighth-generation European Honda Civic released in 2006 was my latest trend stick.

2006 Honda Civic

This car was—and still is—ridiculously cool. It looked futuristic when it released, unlike anything else on the market at the time. It was straight out of Blade Runner or The Fifth Element. I even bought one, and I still want to buy another one.

But now a few newer ones have been released it’s starting to look a little bit old-fashioned.

Visual trends are interesting to track throughout the ages. My entire job designing stuff is turning current and past trends to my advantagse to produce a finished product.

It’s fun to look back sometimes and see what we’ve left behind. It’s just as fun to look back and see what we keep regurgitating.

Trends are cyclical, just like everything else.