Now, I've really got nothing against Wheels, the automotive blog of the New York Times, but the logo they use for the blog is so wrong for an automotive blog I had to say something.
It's an automatic transmission shifter. A normal, boring PRNDL one.
It's wrong for so many reasons; it's not just that it's an automatic for the one part of their readership that may actually know how to drive a stick, it's that this, out of all the evocative parts of a car, was the one they picked. It's like they were trying to do it wrong.
Want something that relates to everyone, and says "driving?" How about a steering wheel? Everyone has it, from racecars to classics to commuters, and everyone can relate. How about a tire/wheel? How about a foot on a gas pedal? How about a piston? How about a hand on a gearshift knob that could be manual or auto? How about, I don't know, almost any fucking thing else?
This clip-art-tastic logo looks like it was a part pulled from the cheapest, boringest, most rental-cariest car imaginable. An auto shifter on the column, that would be cool. That suggests a certain charming era in automobiles, not the giving-in sensation of a commuter car you don't give a shit about. Which is what that PRNDL lever looks like.
Someone at the Times managed, impressively, to find the one instantly-recognizable auto part that inspires absolutely no passion. That's not easy— almost anything else I can think of— a seat, an exhaust pipe, a speedometer, a door, even— can conjure up images of both everyday cars and more exotic and interesting car related ideas.
You know what car related ideas an auto shifter conjures up? Forward motion is the best one. There's also reverse, and, even more excitingly, park.
It's picking the one piece of a car as your symbol that is the one part where people look at it and feel the absence of passion. Does the art section have a paint-by-numbers for the logo? Does the travel section have a VHS tape labeled "Boring Vacation Videos"?
Actually, I did think of one part even worse than the auto shifter they could have used, so I made it for them so they can just finish the job.
Here it is. You're welcome, Grey Lady: