The other day I attended a networking event that featured "a special automotive guest" that turned out to be the new Toyota Supra. I was obviously excited to get up close and personal with one of the most hotly anticipated car — and at first glance, it looked great. Unfortunately, as I got closer, my excitement waned.
I realized it was covered in fake vents. They weren’t even well faked either. Each so-called "design element" looked about as obvious as those on a late-model New Edge Mustang.
If you think I’m speaking in hyperbole, look at the picture above. Almost every vent you see is non-functional, from below the headlights, to above the front wheels, to in front of the back wheels.
I simply don’t understand why fake vents continue to be a thing, and why car designers continue to include them on new designs. The only people who will be fooled are the people who don’t know any better, or who don’t care about cars — and those people aren’t exactly the kind of people who would be buying a Supra in the first place.
There is absolutely no difference between a fake rear brake vent like you see on the Supra and a stick-on AutoZone hood scoop, or a gigantic spoiler for a Honda Civic bought off of eBay. In my mind, these three things are the equivalent of showing up at a bodybuilding competition with a costume muscle shirt and acting like you’re just as ripped as the actual bodybuilders.
This isn’t exactly new, Buick did it for decades. I can see why they’d do it to something like a Toyota Camry, as the Japanese brand’s entire strategy with that car is to try to make it as interesting as possible without actually making it too interesting for fear of alienating too many loyal customers. The Supra doesn’t need to do that, though. It’s a $50,000 sports car that follows up on a performance car legend — and the only thing people will really care about is how it drives. Why can’t those vents be real? If they’re unnecessary, why put them there? Likely it would be expensive to include real engine bay openings in the body panel stamping process, and that’s a totally valid reason for not including them.
It certainly isn’t heritage, which was Ford and Buick’s excuse for its decorative vents until they disappeared recently. The original Supra was a slick design with no scoops or inlets — so, again, why does this new one have tons of fake scoops and inlets?
Above all, fake vents are simply dishonest in my book. They make visual claims to a level of performance that the car doesn’t have, designed for the sole purpose of tricking people. Only the Supra does have that level of performance. Still, it just doesn’t sit well with me — but then again, I also feel largely the same about hubcaps, so it’s entirely possible I’m just crazy.
At any rate, if anyone has a good reason for them I’m all ears. For now, I’m going to continue bashing fake vents obnoxiously whenever I see them.