Years ago, a friend of mine said she didn’t understand people’s fascination with cars. She thought they all looked the same. I explained that it’s all about the lines, the proportions, and the subtle differences that can make or break a car’s aesthetic. And in that way, cars are very much like typefaces. What makes a beautiful typeface is a combination of well-drawn lines, balanced proportions, and flow.

With that in mind, I wrote what I’m calling AutoType:

Serif – This might be your grandparents’ car. These cars have been around for a while, or are at least modeled very traditionally. These can be very nice and classy, or a bit frumpy. Either way, they’re often useful and comfortable. Examples: Pontiac Bonneville, Olsmobile Cutlass, or even a nice Cadillac.

Sans Serif – These cars have more clean, modern, and sometimes even hip styling which attracts a younger demographic. Smart, versatile, and often look good in their surroundings. Examples: Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Scion, Subaru, etc.

Script – These are your classic cars. The restorations of another era. Attractive and elegant, but definitely not for everyday use. Examples: Anything with fins

Display – These are the sports cars. Unique, sexy, and larger than life. These turn heads but used incorrectly can make you look like a complete ass. Examples: Porsche, Corvette, Camaro, etc.

Webfonts – These are the new forward-thinking generation of cars; the hybrids and electrics.  Much smarter builds and less harmful to their environment. Examples: Prius, Volt, Tesla, etc.

Dingbats – Simply put, any car where the stereo system is worth more than the car itself. Examples: Thump thump rattle rattle.

Extended – Limousines. From Hummer to Mini, doesn’t matter as long as it’s strrrrrrrrretch.

Condensed – Compact and smaller cars. Examples: Smart, Mini, etc.

Bold – The bigger, stronger versions of any of the categories above. Examples: Trucks, SUVs, etc.

Italic – Foreign cars can also fit into the above categories, but have just a bit more flair (or at least a fancier name.)

And there you have it. What do you drive? What did I miss? I really think this deserves to be a poster at some point.


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