Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty Employee

Car Design Fundamentals: Graphics and DLO

In the last article we looked at proportions and visual weight, and how these two elements make a car "look" right. Once these are frozen, the next stage is to improve or massage a vehicle's side view by altering its graphical appearance to reduce its visual weight, improve its stance, and to make the daylight opening (DLO) appearance look more cohesive and dynamic.

Very good and enlightening article. The various methods make me think of how classic artists, illusionists and even product-container designers all attempt to fool the eye.

The opening photo is, I believe, a Chrysler 300-something, though it's not mentioned.
I always thought that their belt-lines were absurdly high, and that trying to lean one's elbow out the window would bring that elbow up to ear-level. Maybe that's why I've never seen it done.
Community Manager

It's a Chrysler 300 SRT-8. The crazy-thin DLO and the big wheels are a wonderful graphical representation of Adrian's thoughts. 


I'm sorry to see the series end but I'm glad you wrote it. The Jeeps in your article resemble (to me) Suburbans, probably deliberately so. Those who buy them want a bulky tank, they want the bunker look; it makes them feel powerful and invulnerable. I'm likewise glad the opening picture was a 300. I've always thought the design worked; now I know a bit more why.

SUVs don't have to look bulky, even if they are; floating roofs, larger wheels and careful management of the rocker line can all help. The GMT400 Suburbans are a masterclass in disguising bulk and still look clean and modern. Land Rover are very good at this, and the Lincoln Navigator. Conversely the deep aggressive grill of the Lexus LX looks ridiculous and emphasizes the depth of the body.
Glad you like the series, I'm sticking around to write more design adjacent features.
Pit Crew

Thank you for your explanation of the bottom of the car should line up with the center of the wheel or the sides can look to big.
You have explained to me why I react negatively to today’s car builds which slam cars to the ground and and have the bottom of the car at the bottom of the tire.
When the slammed down look came out, I said it reminded me of cars with broken springs when I was a kid riding to low. Little did I understand it was a violation of historical car design principles.

It's only on SUVs the bottom line of the body should line up with the wheel centers, because otherwise their greater height will make the bodywork too deep. On normal cars it should be closer to the ground, and on sporting cars lower still. It's a best judgement scenario in these cases.
However I see a lot of student and amateur projects where cars are slammed into the ground with no wheel arch clearance at all. They think it looks aggressive and sporty but it actually makes the car look too heavy, as you say like the springs are broken.
Advanced Driver

Really enjoyed this series of articles. Now I understand from a technical point of view why I always disliked certain features on cars, because of how they appeared to me. There was always a feeling of something being not quite right. I too, simply DESPISE black/dark colored wheels! Looking forward to the next informational series! 🙂

Thanks, glad you enjoyed them. There's a lot of noise around car design because hey, everyone has an opinion, but not a lot of discussion about WHY something is good or bad, which is what I've tried to talk about. Too much is dismissed as being on the grounds of taste, and that's an individual thing, creativity is subjective etc etc, but actually there are objective reasons why some designs work and some don't.
Intermediate Driver

Why does the styling of so many cars (vehicles) angle upward as you approach the rear? Not only are the windowsills too high to put your elbow on, but it makes the rear windows much smaller than the fronts. We likely aren't going back to the horizonal styling that peaked perhaps in the mid-90s, but it seems like rear windows on four doors might nearly disappear if this trend continues.

The combo of this trend and the rocker panels getting closer to the ground makes for vomit-inducing styling, let alone increasingly worse practicality.

What drove many vehicles to adopt the low roof look and large wheels was the side crash standards. This created thick sides in the cars and to try to hide them the low roof and large wheel gave them more of a sleek profile. 

But compare the today Charger to the original it still appears to be so very thick today. It also contributes to the weight. 

This is the penalty of using the very old Benz platform.