Auto News

Hear Me Out: The Atlas Should Be Offered as a Woodie

Last week, Volkswagen sent out a press release about dealers participating in a “Community Drive Atlas Initiative.” I don’t really care about the press release, what caught my eye was this picture of the Atlas with a decal on its side.

The decal fills the space between the beltline and the character line near the bottom of the car and most importantly looks kinda good. I had one thought immediately: The Atlas would look great as a woodie! 

Woodies have been around for, roughly, ever, and started when parts of cars were actually made of wood. Cars that were only partially wooden were popular at fancy hotels, country clubs, and national parks, though. It’s no wonder then that the style became popular with the rich, so once steel replaced wood completely, some designers still liked to add a little grain for style.

In the ‘60s, though, simulated woodgrain started growing in popularity and soon it was hard to find a family wagon that didn’t have the option. The practice came to define the station wagon body style, which Byron Olsen, author of the book “Station Wagons,” argues is a uniquely American design development.

By the early 2000s, though, like the station wagon body style that had popularized fake wood trim, fake wood trim was losing popularity.

Although the Ford Flex’s bodysides are said to be a nod to woodgrain, the last woodie I can really find is the PT Cruiser. And that in and of itself tells us something about the wider industry. The Flex was a crossover designed to ape late ‘50s design trends in a modern way while the PT Cruiser was unabashedly retro. No surprise then that the former tried to modernize wood trim while the latter just slapped some on its side.

We’ve been without factory wood trim for a few years now, though, and I’d say it’s about time the trend came back. And what better car to bring it back than the Volkswagen Atlas?

VW’s initial ads for the car were all but set in the ‘60s. They featured the music of Simon and Garfunkel and showed generations making road trips across America. In many ways crossovers are an evolution of the station wagon. A particularly American body style that matches a car’s chassis with a big, long body that has a hatch at the back and is designed to take families out into the country.

The crossover does, admittedly, add SUV design language to the vernacular, but I would argue that’s more of an evolution than a redefinition. What better way, then, for Volkswagen to truly capture the Americana they want to with the Atlas than with vinyl wood paneling? Actually a landau roof would that, but that would only attract boomers.

If you’re trying to capture millennials who remember driving around in the last real hurrah of wood-paneled station wagons, then it has to be a woodie. Only ‘90s kids will understand. Already the aesthetic of the ‘90s has proven a powerful design influence with car shows like Radwood.

Most importantly, though, it just looks rad. 

PT Cruiser photo By Navigator84 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

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'Helmut Marko should make Red Bull/AlphaTauri equal'

Under the new rules, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has suggested that Helmut Marko should split resources equally across Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Since the team known as Toro Rosso joined F1 in 2006, they have served as a Red Bull junior team, giving young drivers a path into the senior squad.

But with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat now forming their most experienced partnership to date, the team have been rebranded to AlphaTauri to promote Red Bull’s clothing range under the same name.

Marko has said before that AlphaTauri have now been upgraded to Red Bull’s “sister team“, while the relationship between the outfit and Red Bull Technologies has grown closer.

And with the new budget cap coming from next year, as well as a sliding scale for R&D based on where a team finishes in the Constructors’ Championship, Brown thinks it would make sense for Marko to split the budget equally across Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, he said: “I think you’re going to have three or four teams that now run in the budget cap, ourselves, Renault, Racing Point and I think AlphaTauri will also.

“And I think Red Bull, if I’m Dr Helmut Marko, I now have two teams and collectively, I can kind of spread my resources and create two equal teams, so I think they’re a big winner out of this as well.

“And then I think it closes the budget gap for – I’m not sure if Sauber, Haas and Williams will run at the cap, but the difference between where they are today and where the cap will be will certainly be tighter.

“So I think everybody’s really a winner at the end of the day, and it’s going to make for fairer, more balanced competition.”

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Car Reviews

Should You Drop $68,000 On A Tesla Model Y?

Longtime Tesla owner and fan gives us the lowdown on the Model Y crossover.

We’ve read and watched many reviews that call the Tesla Model Y an excellent car. However, we’ve also learned about a fair share of concerns. When considering the whole package, should you really spend over $60,000 on this Tesla crossover?

Ben Sullins has been promoting Tesla for years. He’s a huge fan and has owned several Tesla vehicles. However, more recently he announced that he’d be dropping the ‘Teslanomics’ name and changing his focus somewhat. While he still covers Tesla, he also covers other emerging technologies, companies, products, sustainable energy, etc.

In addition to the above changes, Sullins has taken a bit of a turn to helping people decide whether a Tesla is really right for them, rather than simply sharing how awesome the cars have been for him. This means his focus strayed from simply promoting Tesla, to getting in-depth into the cars and reporting on issues he’s had. This is not to say Sullins doesn’t still have positive things to say about the company, but he’s sure not afraid to share problems and call Tesla out when something’s not right.

With the said, Sullins has already published a video sharing Model Y issues to look out for before taking delivery. Now, he goes a step further and talks about whether or not the crossover is worth the $68,000 he paid for it. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Should you buy a Model 3 instead, or wait until the Model Y is available in less expensive variants?

Check out Sullins’ take. Then let us know yours in the comments section below.

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