Thursday Five: the last five cars you'd ever want to encounter in a dark alley
Motoring journalists often talk about the ability for cars to make you feel.
It's the element that separates cars from microwaves or toasters. Those are just utensils to interact with while making the lunch that you'll inevitably neglect in favour of takeaways. The car meanwhile is a living thing, with a beating heart (the engine), eyes (headlights), and whatever the gear stick is meant to be.
Now, it's not news to point out that certain cars can be scary. Supercars are typically scary, as is the typical shagged-to-the-bone, driven-to-the-moon-and-back 1989 Mazda 626. But scary can also be conveyed in design.
Before you raise your hand to object, I understand that there is a difference between 'scary' and 'aggressive'. Almost every car on the market is aggressive looking these days. Someone somewhere passed a memo to someone else about five years ago and all of a sudden designers worldwide decided that every line and crease on every car needed to be pin sharp. This has led to cars that look perpetually hacked off with something. Millennials probably.
Anyway, in the midst of the mildy miffed and phony frowners, here are the five most nightmare-inducing cars ever made.
Before we go any further, just take a moment to absorb that image above for a second. Isn't it freaky?
I digress. It's time to talk Buicks.
For 1959, Buick revised the design of its line-up, with the Invicta, LeSabre, and smaller Electra all sporting new designs for the year. And each design was absolutely terrifying.
Everyone loves to harp on about the Plymouth Fury from Christine as the single scariest car ever made. But, next to these it looks as aggressive as a shoal of girl scouts.
The 1959 Buick wears the face of someone that watched their parents get popped by a home intruder when it was five, and harvested a grudge and desire for two decades while living in their aunt's basement.
1996 Mitsubishi Galant
The eighth-generation Mitsubishi Galant is a car that strikes fear into the depths of my soul every time I catch a glimpse of one in my rear-view mirror, though admittedly some of that because I usually assume they're uninsured.
It's surprising how devilish these look, particularly in VR4 trim. Its eyes are squinted, like it's trying to scout the horizon for children to consume with its gaping huge vents — the front splitter sure to help with the process of victim disposal.
What's weird about the Galant was that its was just about the only car in its class to chase this kind of serial killer on wheels design ethos. The Commodore and Falcon were blobs on wheels by comparison, while the Camry was to the car world what televised political debate is to fans of the Kardashians.
In some ways the Galant, with its stabby demeanor, is something of a pioneer for its genre. As far as making generic cars look like they were angry about everything goes, the Galant is probably at least partially to blame.
2006 Mitsuoka Orochi
No, that's not a cat fish choking on Nemo's crushed back bone, that's a Mitsuoka Orochi. And holy hell is it that word that means the opposite of beautiful.
Between its quadlet of eyeballs is a sarcastic and smirky little grin. It's the knowingly evil grin that the villain at the end of every second new-age Hollywood movie flashes towards the camera before the final scene cuts to black, alerting the viewer to an inexplicable sequel in three years time.
Immediately above the grin is a kinda veiny slash through its frunk, worn like a war wound from its last victim.
The irony of the Orochi is that it's actually an extremely tame thing to drive, with Lexus-sourced transmission, Honda Legend brakes, and wonderfully supple suspension. If anything, it's more of a luxury saloon in a mask — like taking Prince Charles and putting him in a pair of Speedos.
The Zenvo on the face of things looks a little bit like a supercar gumbo, looking like a Ferrari from some angles, a McLaren from others, and so on.
So what elevates it from intimidating to frightening? It's the face and the eyes.
In a darker setting, the headlights fade and bleed into the large vents underneath them, and it gives the Zenvo a creepy vibe. What I'd liken it to is that moment when you first catch a glimpse of someone's eye while it's behind a mask — the sight of the gyrating eyeball through something man made.
And on the topic of masks, the rest of the Zenvo's nose has a firm aura of 'Darth Vader' about it.
At the end of the day, this shouldn't be a shock inclusion on this list given how one tried to burn Jeremy Clarkson alive.
1998 Ford Falcon AU Forte
Ah the Ford Falcon AU. Much maligned, the AU isn't exactly a scary looking car. Indeed, they were dopier more than anything else, with the lights on all corners that sink away into nothingness on their edges.
But, the first-generation Forte? Bloody horrifying. And it's all down to that grill.
What do you see when you see that grill? Do you see a bushy but well managed moustache? What about a cheese grater, or perhaps a patch of corrugated iron from the roof of a shed.
I see the spokes that go over the mouth of Hannibal Lecter's face while he's suspended on that gurney thing in Silence of the Lambs.