What makes the perfect poster car?
That one car that is special enough to adorn the bedroom wall...
It's a fundamental point of the childhood of a car enthusiast; there is always one vehicle that they look up to. There are factors that affect how we see a car - whether it be in popular culture or a niche obsession with a specific model, we will view a car with sheer awe until we are totally obsessed with it. Everybody has different tastes so we'll see Ford Mondeo and Lotus Exige fans alike. However, despite adoring a certain car, not all of them are worthy of a spot on the bedside wall. So, what makes a car qualified to look good in picture?
Firstly, there has to be a feeling of the unobtainable. To have a car that is rare or, in some places, completely unique makes it seem ever more appealing. Whether it be financially or technologically, a car that is objectively different to the stereotypical sub-compacts of the modern age will define its place on the wall. However much I like the styling of the some new Peugeots, you won't see one above my bedpost as it just doesn't deliver that warm feeling of excitement you get when you stare at something like a Ferrari, for example.
Obviously, the aesthetics of a car are fundamental to its status as a poster icon. Excessive curvatures, stylish exhausts, sleek design and lots of exotic materials will make up the basis of my judgement. The theatre behind a car will make it pop out of the page; it further emphasises how special it is. For example, the '80s created some cult cars which looked particularly glamorous in print form. Ridiculously dramatic vehicles like the Lamborghini Countach had the perfect profile to put in a frame; it had an angular, wedge-like shape with plenty of eccentric design cues like scissor doors and, in the case of some models, a rear wing which was screwed on in the car park.
The contextual aspect of these cars is also important; it's not just the physical profile which make them desirable. Their portrayal in the media is fundamental to raising their profile. When vehicles like the Ferrari Testarossa debuted in Miami Vice, it was instantly as famous as the show itself and was opened up to a bigger audience. Thence, there were more posters printed with that iconic white Ferrari on it.
The group of cars which I think always look good on camera is classic racers; the fact that a race car is built for function over style means that they don't have to look immaculate on camera. Vintage racers were just an assortment of racing parts which meant that they weren't always the prettiest or most complete cars. In particular, prototype racers aren't necessarily good looking cars but it is their heritage and the general grandeur that makes them work in print form. Classic race cars are particularly cool because they have featured on posters since the days that they were racing; they were poster cars from the beginning.
Throughout history, there are a handful or marques which have never disappointed in how they look on camera. European brands have a powerful presence in the picture world. The Italians have always excelled in the way of styling and performance. I struggle to think of a car that the likes of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Lamborghini have created that hasn't shown up on the wall. Meanwhile, Germany has seen Porsche use colour and wonderfully aerodynamic shaping that has fitted a page superbly well. The big three from Audi, BMW and Mercedes have had some zingers too - their classics are mostly gems and even the modern examples (insert jokes about the current BMW grille conundrum here) have been primarily top notch. We also must not forget that France's precise and classy design has also created some dazzling machinery. I'm particularly fond of Alpine's work with that iconic quadruple headlight design.
Elsewhere in the world, Americana always has its place - their land yachts and muscle cars will forever be cool. Though not always beautiful, they have earned their place through their reputation of speed. The go faster stripes and the thrum of a V8 will always put a smile on my face. Meanwhile, Japanese auto culture is so diverse and varied that we can have beautiful sports cars like the Toyota 2000GT and excessively modified cars of the tuner scene wrapped up into the same package. Depending on your tastes, you can see both perfectly placed on a page.
Personally, the cars that were positioned on my wall were from the group of mid-2000s supercars. I'm 15 years old which means that I'm 5 years younger than the original Lamborghini Murciélago. Though, this didn't dispel me from placing a striking portrait of the new Superveloce model above my bed. The actual image was from Top Gear magazine; it's a wonderful group photo from when Richard Hammond took the new SV, Mercedes McLaren SLR, Bugatti Veyron and the epic McLaren F1 to Abu Dhabi - they look menacingly cool heading along the highway. I also had some Bugatti concept art from the first Veyron which was bought at Bealieau motor museum.
So, I am of the opinion that a poster car should be as ludicrous as possible - a brash, loud, colourful and fast vehicle with a tasteful backdrop and possibly a large spoiler. It should appeal to our inner-child. In the modern era, I'd select the craziest vehicle from a manufacturers current repertoire. If we look at the current crop of supercars and hypercars, we can see the newly released Ferrari 812 Competizione or McLaren Speedtail making an argument for their framing. If I were to buy a poster car today, I would choose a Porsche GT3 RS in a particularly fetching colour of Lizard Green because its a tad bit insane.
The more expensive and outlandish vehicles from Pagani, Koenigsegg and Bugatti have always been perfect with their impressive styling and endless performance. But, their crown may be in jeopardy as the new group of rare performance cars is on the horizon - new models like Aston Martin's Valhalla and Valkyrie, the GMA T50 and Mercedes's AMG Project One are soon to debut and there are some impressive factors that come with them and coerce me into liking them. Everything from their engines to their looks show great promise for the future.
I don't think this article would be complete if I didn't mention the controversial topic of whether electric vehicles are deserved of being put in poster form. I'm not talking about whether a Fiat 500e is worthy; there is lunacy in some of the designs being displayed in the media and they're genuinely worth talking about. The Lotus Evija, Rimac Nevera and Pininfarina Battista are some of the unhinged EVs that are viable candidates for printing. They radiate advancement and are a completely new concept. No, they don't excite me as much as some other vehicles but their sleek and modern design paired with their obvious potential is an intriguing concept.
It is entirely a matter of preference but my philosophy of choosing a car to frame is to get the craziest and most complex vehicle you can find. What do you think? I'm intrigued to see what poster you fellow enthusiasts had or which cars you think are perfect for the role today. Comment below with your best suggestion or a story about one of your own poster cars. Thanks for reading.
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