Year in, year out, I take a holiday in Cornwall, South-West England. I inevitably end up at the same campsite, commanding a view from the cliffs above a tiny resort village called Millendreath. Just off the beautiful sandy beach, there juts a large, rounded rock, and on my first visit to the village at age seven, I excitedly exclaimed to my parents “that rock looks just like a frog.”
Thirty years on, my wife joins me on this annual pilgrimage. Every year I point out the same rock, and every year she reminds me just how much like a frog it doesn’t look. And that’s the way of things. Sometimes you’ll see a resemblance between two things you find so striking that you’re baffled that others don’t make the same association. And so it goes with cars.
These days, there’s a certain amount of follow-my-leader in car design. It seems there’s not quite enough imagination to go round, and there are certain cars that are tricky to distinguish from one another. But sometimes I’ll see a car and it summons up images of another that I really thought had disappeared from my conscience altogether.
Here’s the rock, by the way. Make your own mind up. I see a frog. Or a toad. An amphibian of some kind.
When designing the latest Rolls Royce Phantom, the ‘skilled artisans’ of Britain’s most
pretentious famous motor car manufacturer no doubt sought to reference the great coachbuilt British limousines of the past. At the same time as creating a look of presence and modernity that’s in keeping with the assertive mood of today, the latest model is granted a degree of timelessness by acknowledging the work of Mulliner Park Ward and other hallowed names in British metal-bending.
In the late 1970s, Cadillac was doing exactly the same thing. The bustle-back styling of the ’80 Seville may have doffed its cap to the Series 70 of the 1930s, but despite being cribbed by the Imperial Coupe and Lincoln Continental VII, it was arguably not Bill Mitchell’s finest hour. And the lines were virtually identical to the Daimler DS420. Perhaps oddly, it’s the Seville that I see in the rear three-quarter view of the latest Phantom. Wasn’t the case with the old one, but something about the pillar and transom angles of the latest big Roller fills my mind with Caddy.
So, which vehicle reminds you of another, irrespective of whether anybody agrees with you?
(Images Chris Haining / Redusernab 2018 except Seville by Artur Andrzej – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )