If you were asked to describe the typical Pontiac, what would you say? From what I remember, every model in the 1990s and early 2000’s had plastic cladding on the wheel wells and bottom of the doors. If you’re drawing a blank, just recall the ubiquitous Grand Am or Aztek. While the company was probably wanting to make their vehicles stand out, it made the cars look cheap (especially when the cars had a few miles on them). Now if the company had a good reason for adding the plastic cladding, it may have caused the public to overlook the strange design. But after 108,449 plastic-clad Azteks made it into production, we’re still waiting.
Now, mind you, it’s a bit of a stretch to compare Pontiac’s plastic cladding to Mercedes-Benz’ ribbed tail lights. But the question remains: Why are they designed that way? The Mercedes-Benz cars of the 1980’s had that distinct ribbing in the tail lights that looked … well … rather odd. And though they’ve been improved over the years, that ribbing is still a part of the current models. Why is that? I would rather see a smooth and beautiful design which is flush with the body. That would make better sense aesthetically. But the truth is that the designers had a good reason for the way they made them.
Think back to this winter when snow covered your car on a morning you were running late. You may have rushed about to clean off the windows but didn’t take the time to clean off your tail lights. That’s not a good idea, but it often happens when people are in a hurry. Mercedes-Benz designed the ribs in the tail light for such a situation. As you travel, the wind follows the contour of your Mercedes-Benz, whipping around the back end and through the ribbed section of your tail lights. The end results are a clean tail light, visible brake lights, and a safer driving experience for those around you. That’s definitely a good idea and one that Mercedes-Benz has improved over the years.