Function Vs. Form


Every day I like to make my rounds in the automotive blogsphere to keep a breast of what’s happening in other scenes. One of the blogs I frequent is Speedhunters. For those of you who don’t know Speedhunters is an automotive culture blog run by Electronic Arts, this blog touches on every part of the automotive hobby. Every month they do a theme, October was BMW month, and November was slammed month. Surprise, surprise, I was a big fan of slammed month. One thing I did notice via the comments though was that was that quite a few people were not fans of slammed month. It seems most of the people who were not fans based their arguments around function and those who were fans based theirs around form.

I think the age old function vs form argument is an interesting one and I look at it perhaps a little different that most. I think that regardless of what the factory’s original functional intentions were, beyond meeting the necessary requirements to move someone around, the final function of the vehicle is up to the owner.

Cars can be built a variety of ways; track rat, street machine, hard parker (show car), garage queen, dyno queen, knee jerker and so on.

This 240z that recently took the internet by storm is definitely what I would call a knee jerker.

Form: Exhibit  A
Form: Exhibit A

This car was built to the owners tastes and it causes a knee jerk reaction. I am quite sure that everywhere this car goes the same few questions are asked ‘Why would he do that?’, ‘How did he drive that here’, ‘How can someone do such a thing’, ‘When is he going to paint it’ and ‘Why would someone ruin a Datsun like this?’ I know because when I saw it I asked some of those same questions.

One could say that the owner took what a great platform and totally robbed it of its handling ability by slamming it do the ground via Acura coil overs, sure, but at no point does the owner of this vehicle pretend it’s a track car. He built this car to bring a smile to his face every time he looks at it and drives it and as far as I can tell it’s working so the car is, in a way, being functional is it not? It’s new function is to bring enjoyment to the driver.

To flip the coin lets look at car that was built to put in a lot of track duty:

Function: Exhibit A
Function: Exhibit A

Similar to the aforementioned 240z this e30 was built to turn heads, however the difference is that it was meant to turn the heads of fellow competitors and people watching it slide sideways around a track rather than those who walk up and down the isle at shows. Sure the fact that it’s an e30 pick up would make it stand out at a show but little else was done to make this car flow together as one cohesive looking vehicle.

It’s interesting to note however that while this car now functions very well as a drift car it’s original factory function has been compromised. Non m e30s were built to carry people around in luxury, not to be track machines of any sort. BMW never intended for someone to lop off the ass end of an e30 and slide it around some pylons and corners. So if you want to look at it from that angle this e30 is now just as non functional as the 240z.

But I am not here to split hairs, we all know that cars leave the factory with a lot to be desired in both form and function.

As car enthusiasts we need to be able to embrace and appreciate at least to some degree all aspects of the hobby. I know sometimes it’s hard but stop and think for a moment that while we are argue with each other non car nuts are laughing at all of us for putting our money into depreciating assets.

Now with that my opinions on the matter sufficiently off my chest lets look at some cars that I think function and form factions alike will find appealing.

Function meets form
Function meets form
This z28 looks great and performs
This z28 looks great and performs
I've never seen an aston look bad
I've never seen an aston look bad
Both capable machines
Both capable machines
Who said you can't rock wide dish and kick  it sideways?
Who said you can't rock wide dish and kick it sideways?


  1. great post!! totally true…. i get questions like this all the time and it just is what it is! i rock my cars the way i want to rock my cars cuz i think it looks dope. the 240z is sickas hell.

    btw, i do owe you pics of my S with the stickers when i get it cleaned. thanks for the stickers again!

  2. Great points. 🙂 Unfortunately, the ones who would benefit the most from reading posts like this and understanding it from both sides are too proud to do such a thing.

    The way I see it, form & function are merely labels on a continuum. Every car will have a bit of both, though some move further to one side or the other. Just depends on the person and what they want the car’s purpose to be.

    I’m sure one of these days I’ll put together my thoughts more cohesively, especially with the continuum thing. I just thought of it that way not too long ago.

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