What Are Your Picks for the Most Beautiful Taillights Ever?
[Ed.: Originally posted December 7]
While making our way through the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend for this year’s LA Auto Show, we swung by Nissan’s booth, who was generous enough to bring their DeltaWing race car. I was surprised when I checked out the rear of the car; I had somehow missed the taillight design in all the photos I had ever seen of the car. I, like most, was more blown away by its revolutionary body shape that the details were something my eyes and brain simply could not process. Each turn signal is comprised of 200-300 tiny LED lights in a half-triangle pattern pointing toward the center of the car.
It’s easy to lament the proliferation of LEDs in headlight and taillight clusters ever since Audi used them to stunning effect in the R8; every major manufacturer has jumped on board and adapted them onto at least one model, usually with mixed results (at best). Every now and then, however, a car gets them right. In 2007, before the R8 had even been unveiled, Mazda unleashed the Furai concept upon an unsuspecting public who loved the unconventional design and 450hp rotary engine. The most surprising aspect of the car was its taillight design.
When I first hit the brakes of a Furai in the Xbox 360 racing simulator Forza Motorsport 4, I was blown away by how the previously unnoticed taillights lit up, looking like calligraphy that framed the exhaust and illuminated Japanese characters that spell out “Furai.” The effect is breathtaking and unexpected, and I could not like the expert LED use any more.
Another recent automobile, although this one is very much real and something you can buy today (assuming you have a few hundred thousand dollars hiding in the couch cushions, of course). The design is ripped straight from the ultra-exclusive Reventón, and features three arrows made from LEDs pointing outward. This, combined with the headlights that look like Flux-Capacitor-shaped bolts of lightning, make the Aventador a sight to behold.
Cadillac Series 62
No collection of beautiful taillights would be complete without some of the most famous of all time, the rocket-shaped beauties attached to the wild fins of the Cadillac Series 62. The car, nearly 20 feet long between model years 1959-1964, was a massive boat of a car that demanded (and received) a big, honking engine to move the 2-1/2 ton footprint this thing left on the street.
The ‘59 and ‘60 models are the ones that got the twin rocket boosters above turbine-like turn signals that made the back end look ridiculously hot, along with the aforementioned oversized fins. Throw them all together, and BANG! Cadillac excess that remained unmatched until the Cadillac Sixteen concept car in the early 2000s.
The lights were redesigned in the ‘61-‘64 models, and were integrated into the more reserved tail fins. Even the turn signals switched from a circular shape to a vertical rectangle to better match the sharper angles of the new body. It still looks cool, but the red bullets on the earlier cars hold a special place in my heart.