In my eyes, the McLaren Senna is pretty ugly and judging by the reaction of the internet when the first images were shown, I’m not the only one who thinks so. That said, 500 people have parted with north of £750,000 to buy one.
Why you may ask? Well, McLaren’s claim that it’s the ultimate road legal track car may be one reason, the quality of engineering that’s gone into the car could be another or maybe they just like the fact it’s named after Ayrton… Could some people just love the design? I guess, after all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?
I’ve heard people say Jaguar E types are overrated and the Aston Martin Vanquish is ugly, to me, that’s blasphemy but if that same guy thinks his red-top converted Vauxhall Nova is automotive perfection, then who are we to convince him otherwise?
McLaren will tell you the Senna is wind-tunnel designed, with every swoop and curve of carbon fibre serving the purpose of feeding the air intakes or generating downforce, both key elements of any track car. While this may be true, some of the design was fixed around the architecture of the 720S, meaning they didn’t start with a blank sheet of paper.
The design we see today may well be the only way to get that platform to produce those performance figures. That’s fine by me. The team had a design brief and they stuck to it without getting distracted. Far too often the bean counters get involved and tone things down, not to ruffle too many feathers and look what that’s lead to; a world of characterless, bulbous boxes on wheels that no one wants to look at twice.
Go to a classic car show and you can tell cars apart just from a silhouette, try that with a VW Golf and Seat Leon. Yes, regulations have changed meaning headlights have to be so high off the ground etc… but there is still adventurous design out there. I’m a huge fan of the Alfa Romeo SZ, I personally think it’s aggressive look is fantastic but it’s nicknamed “Il Mostro” Italian for the monster, because of its looks.
I don’t particularly understand “the new is always better” philosophy either. An artists final painting or a singers last song isn’t always their best, so why should it be different with the design of a car? Especially as said before, each new generation has to conform to ever more restrictive regulations. You can’t expect Jimi Hendrix to create his best-ever song if you ban him from using certain chords with his guitar.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that yes, while there are objects that are quite universal in their appeal, we as humans all have different tastes and that’s a great thing. As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”. I implore manufactures to give designers more freedom, go a bit crazy even. How boring would this world be if everyone bought identical looking crossovers and SUV’s… oh wait!
What are your thoughts about divisive looking cars? Do you have any personal favourites that you know other people hate? Let me know!