Statistics of Car Design

I have read articles on the mathematically averaged features of human faces.  The thesis of these studies is that the more faces that are added to the averaging calculation, the more attractive the face.  There have also been counter arguments by others that individual attractive faces are more appealing than mathematically averaged faces.  It got me thinking, what about applying that same technique to averaging car shapes?  So, for example, a car designer could ask the computer to combine a Porsche, a Ferrari, and a McLaren F1, and Dodge Viper, let’s say 25% Porsche 911 Coupe, 25% Ferrari 348 TS, 25% McLaren F1, and 25% Dodge Viper. This analysis will be worked out to a small extent below. Other questions that one can be ask.  What is the average looking American sedan by model year? How does that average shape evolve over the years?  Certainly we know that cars from each era have a characteristic look.  A mathematical approach could make that design evolution very precise.  What is the one standard deviation from the average sedan look like by model year, the two standard deviations car by model year?  Is there a correlation between popularity of a car design (as measured by sales volume or popularity among collectors) and standard deviation from the average?

An example of combining two car shapes is shown in Figure 1. It is a three quarter view of a combination of 40% 1997 Ferrari F355 Berlinetta and 60% 1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce.  I created this image with morphing software years ago when I first thought of this idea. The car color is purple because the original images were red and blue respectively. Ultimately one needs to scan 3 dimensional coordinates of the entire surface of each car to do full justice to this idea.  Read more…Mathematically combining car shapes