I was just on a trip to drive a Jeep Gladiator over a bunch of rocks (more on that soon) and while at the aerodrome to board my airship, I happened to notice one of the tugs used to drag planes around. This tug caught my eye because, unlike nearly every other airport tug I’ve seen, this one looked like someone actually took the time to design this thing. It was actually sleek! When the hell did people start giving a shit about what airplane tugs look like?

Keep in mind that the aircraft tug industry has been rarely interested in styling at all, really. For example, here’s what a more conventional airport tug of a similar class looks like:

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See, that thing’s about as stylish as a brick wrapped in a paper towel. Let’s compare that tug, which I believe is a Goldhofer AST-1X (on the left), with the one I saw, another Goldhofer, but this time an AST-2P/X Phoenix (on the right):

That’s a hell of a difference, right? That 1X looks like a security guard booth got stuck, along with a big industrial HVAC unit, onto the front of a big rig trailer. The majestic Phoenix, on the other hand, with its Trans Am Screaming Chicken-like Phoenix decal on the side is about as fast and sleek-looking as you can likely make a vehicle like this.

In fact, it almost feels like a sports car design if the design criteria was that it needed a side-mounted engine pod. I mean, look at the angled, agressive but sophisticated grille on that engine pod, a far cry from the sheet-metal-stamped louvers that normally adorn these kinds of things.

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There’s dramatically angled side vents, the panel with the lights on the cab has similar angled hash-mark detailing, those side pods are pleasingly angled, and, hell, the whole thing just looks kind of—am I even saying this?—cool.

I mean, if you’re in downtown Beverly Hills, towing your Boeing 777 to go get dinner at Spago’s, which airport tow would you rather show up in? The one that looks like industrial equipment and a Photomat stuck onto some wheels, or the one that has the low, purposeful, agressive yet dashing air of a Pagani or Lamborghini?

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I know what I’d pick.

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While there is something oddly cool-looking about almost all of these types of vehicles, likely due to their odd proportions, that Phoenix just feels the most, um, deliberately styled. Which I wouldn’t think would be terribly important in this market?

I’ve reached out to Goldhofer to see if they can clarify why they decided to make such a stylish aircraft tractor. I’ll update if I hear back, hopefully after I’ve talked with their designer.

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In the meantime, I’ll be checking Craigslist for used ones of these.