This is The Owner's Manual: a limited series discussing some of the most stunning car designs and details on the road today – or, perhaps, ever. In this edition: wheels, grilles, and the Aeroblade.
Editor's Note: Every car boasts an extremely considered look, but not every car is beautiful. However, certain details and designs sprinkled throughout the modern automotive world are so stunning that they can stand out on their own. Welcome to The Owner's Manual: a limited series discussing some of the most stunning car designs and details on the road today – or, perhaps, ever.
In this edition of The Owner's Manual, we're looking at four significant 'statement piece' elements that are undeniably bold, unique and iconic. Plenty of others could be added to the list – what'd we miss?
Traditional internal-combustion performance cars seem to be a dying breed and, more often than not, the coolest and most fun-to-drive models tend to only be available in Europe. Which makes the Audi RS 6 Avant ($116,500) performance wagon a very welcome rarity on U.S. shores. Its twin-turbo V8 pumps out 591 horses and 590 lb-ft which, coupled with Audi's signature quattro AWD, shoves the long-roofed beauty to 60 mph in a cool 3.5 seconds. It screams down the road, but the RS 6 Avant also looks like a demon standing still thanks to its optional trapezoidal, 22-inch 5-V-Spoke diamond-cut anthracite wheels. They're gorgeous in a dangerous way, like a blue-ringed octopus or a lightsaber. Indeed, these wheels are as aggressive as the RS 6 Avant itself, and since that car will undoubtedly be a future classic, they're along for the historic ride.
In "car circles," the Lexus Spindle Grille–that gaping, hourglass-shaped black maw right out front–has been controversial because it's so ungodly massive compared to conventional grilles. (According to car folks, BMW has recently committed a similar design atrocity with its grotesquely outsized new kidney grills.) But on the Lexus LC Coupe and Convertible ($94,000+), the spindle grille… just works, almost as if this application were its true destiny. Throughout the rest of its design, the LC's proportions are equally immense: huge wheels, wildly long vertical "blade" taillights, that long, long, long hood… It all makes a great deal of visual sense, and though history may look back on the Spindle Grille Era as a series of errors, the LC should get a pass on judgment.
One could forget its physical form entirely and the Aston Martin DB11's ($205,000) Aeroblade would still be cool as hell–with that name, how could it not be? The Aeroblade, also now found on the DBS Superleggera models, is a supremely functional and clever design element that aids in creating proper downforce at speed. Typically, front, side and rear spoilers are used for this purpose, but this is an Aston Martin, and Aston Martins are neither cheap nor cheap-looking, and would never deign to use such primitive equipment. The Aeroblade, which can be had in many finishes and matching or contrasting colors, scoops in air and funnels it inside the body, through the C-pillar, and out the back end. By the time it exits the Aeroblade system, the air has been manipulated such that it pushes the car down at speed. It's high-tech, it's unique, it's a sexy shape: it's the Aston Aeroblade.
The Hummer H1, better known as the military-grade HMMWV or "Humvee," remains one of the most aggressive and monolithic slabs of automotive design ever crafted. A truck seemingly purpose-built for the Governator himself, it is an icon of the past. The next Hummer is an EV ($110,000+), and promises to be thoroughly bonkers performance-wise. We'll learn that soon enough, but we already know that the forthcoming truck's grille will be iconic in its own right. Yes, because it lights up. There aren't many vehicles available with lights that run the full width of the front end, Rivian's being among the few. But in this application, the lighting element is appropriately garish, just like any Hummer should be, EV or not. The illuminated grille also sports HUMMER in bold lettering, in case you need an extra level of confirmation that you are, in fact, in the presence of a big-ass battery-powered juggernaut of a vehicle.