I’m a believer that people should be able to do whatever they’d like to their cars. Modify them, redesign them, paint them, stripe them, slam them, raise them, whatever you want. It’s your car. That doesn’t mean I’m going to like everything one may do to their car, and that’s why today I want to call out one fairly common automotive acessory: door edge trim. It’s terrible, and while I’ll defend your right to stick them on your car, I think you never, ever should.

Strips of shiny chrome or aluminum trim that are used to define and highlight the edges of car doors have been around since at least the 1970s. My own mother had a 1980 Honda Accord sedan with this kind of chrome trim on it. I thought it was terrible as a kid, but I was too young and stupid to express why.

Now that I’m old and stupid, I can finally explain what’s so terrible about this sort of trim: it breaks a car’s fundamental design. With some exceptions, like, say, a Daihatsu Naked or a Volkswagen Thing, cars are not designed to emphasize the cutlines of their doors. A car’s profile is designed to look like one unified form, and nearly every car has character lines and trim and body that essentially ignore the cutlines of the doors to emphasize the overall form of the car.

The design of most modern cars treats the car as a unified whole, not an aggregation of parts. Doors are designed to be effectively invisible when closed, a seamless part of the car’s body. And while in reality you can see the cutlines, the overall look of the car isn’t defined by them, it’s defined by the look of the entire car.

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So, when those door cutlines are emphasized by bits of bright chrome beading, it ruins everything. Here’s an example, a Volkswagen CC:

As designed, the top image shows the car’s flowing form. There’s chrome trim around the windows, and a lower trim section on the bottom quarter of the car, but all of these emphasize the length and rear upward rake of the car’s body. They all ignore the door cutlines.

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On the lower image, the door edge trim breaks up the flowing form of the car, and adds needless complication. Its lines are perpendicular to the flow of every other line on the car, and it just makes the car look fussy and stupid.

Why would anyone do that?

People do, though. This stuff is for sale by the foot on eBay, ready to fuck up any car for anyone with enough bad taste, a free afternoon, and six bucks per foot.

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I think people put this crap on their cars as a sort of misguided way to ‘upscale’ the car by adding more chrome trim? I suppose? I have no idea. I’ve seen it on all manner of cars, from all across the spectrum: low-end cars, premium cars, sports cars, everything, and I’ve seen all kinds of owners in these cars. Again, like my own mom.

I don’t know what the fundamental urge is to outline one’s doors with shiny strips, but I’m imploring everyone to knock it off. There’s so many other fun ways to personalize and customize your car—this is just painful to anyone who loves car design. It’s the plastic cover on the couch of car design. It’s tacky, and you deserve better.

Thank you for your time. We’ll get through this. Together.