Opinion: can we dial down the internet rage over car design? | Top Gear
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Opinion: can we dial down the internet rage over car design?

Surfing the world wide web, it appears the internet is angrier than ever

Published: 02 Jan 2023

ManicCarGuy83 is angry. I am browsing a popular internet car forum, trying to verify a slice of obscure trivia about the Ferrari Daytona SP3, but have become waylaid by the musings of ManicCarGuy83. Who, I regret to inform you, is not a fan of the Daytona.

Over the course of several dozen vitriolic posts, ManicCarGuy83 has accused Ferrari designers of various offences including (and I lightly paraphrase in the name of politeness): betraying Italy; treating their customers like cretins, and defecating forcefully and repeatedly on the grave of Enzo himself. He’s a charmer, ManicCarGuy83.

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Such vitriol might, I guess, be justified if ManicCarGuy83 had, say, put down a deposit on a SP3 Daytona, sight unseen, then been disappointed by what’d actually rocked up on his driveway.

But, judging from the content of his posts, ManicCarGuy83 doesn’t appear to own a Daytona, or any other Ferrari. I wouldn’t be totally confident he’s old enough to own a driving licence.

The design of the SP3, so far as I can tell, has literally no more impact on ManicCarGuy83’s day-to-day life than does former England goalkeeper David Seaman's choice of breakfast cereal (Weetabix). But here he is, driven to a mad, seething rage by its glass-to-bodywork ratio.

On the one hand, it’s a free country. As Voltaire nearly said, “I may disapprove of your badly punctuated, ill-informed forum s***posting, but I defend to the death your right to post it".

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But on the other hand… can’t we all be a little less angry?

Because it’s not just ManicCarGuy83. Every corner of the motoring web is rammed to the gunnels with rage, brimming with furious, disappointed people being furious and disappointed about everything.

No question, there’s plenty in the world of cars to get justifiably worked up about about. You could, for example, legitimately question whether an 800 horsepower, £1.7m supercar is entirely… appropriate in the current global climate. (The answer, incidentally, is ‘yes’, but at least it’d be a valid debate.) Sustainability, safety, social acceptability of cars: these are all valid, ripe topics for a proper ding-dong.

But internet car-rage is almost never focused on sustainability, or safety, or social acceptability. It’s always about the way a new car looks.

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And if you disapprove of a new car’s looks, for some reason it’s never enough to simply say, ‘I disapprove of that new car’s looks'. You must decry it as an insult to the very dignity of cars themselves. The SP3’s designers haven’t just let themselves down, they’ve let down the entire automotive world. The taste police are out in force, and they’re packing emojis.

Angry people of the internet! You’re not required to police the design of new cars! We’ve already got a neat mechanism for that! It’s called ‘the market’. If a car company serves up a steaming guano-pile of a design, no one will buy it! Or, if they do buy it, that’s because they’ve decided they’re OK with the design, because looks are subjective!

OK, maybe there’s a dash of hypocrisy in an online comment piece getting annoyed about people getting annoyed about online comments. But still, can’t we all all dial down the rage? There’s enough to be angry and sad about in the world right now, without getting apoplectic over the rear end of a silly red supercar.

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