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Why Do We Still Feel Attached to Pop-Up Headlights? Is It Because of CGI Nostalgia?

A neat string of projects from some deeply imaginative automotive pixel masters have recently presented pop-up visions that made us wonder if the style of hidden headlamps might be cool again. Or not.
Mazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderings 14 photos
Photo: demetr0s_designs / Instagram
Mazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderingsMazda MX-5 Miata, Infiniti G35, Toyota Supra Mk4 pop-up headlight renderings
The pop-ups, or flip-eye/hideaway headlights, as they are also known, are a long-departed automotive style feature that plays with the design of vehicles and the idea of concealing their main front lights when not in use. Some of the older ideas did not even involve pop-ups, though, and instead mostly relied on revolving parts of the radiator grille’s styling.

Alas, do not even think for a second that hidden headlamps appeared not long ago – sometime during the arrival of the original Mazda MX-5 Miata, which is one of the most famous designs using the feature. Not at all, as instead, we can travel back in time many more decades ago, to the arrival of the Cord 810 model in late 1935 at the New York Auto Show, which was swiftly followed by a custom 1936 Alfa Romeo 8C.

The powered hideaways were then premiered by GM’s famous Buick Y-Job in 1938 and had to wait a while for the 1962 Lotus Elan to put the cool idea into production form. Since then, the popularity of the feature has risen and fallen just like today’s social media hype around various socialites, but ultimately the demise of the style was mostly brought by legislation that does not favor them because of inherent pedestrian safety issues. Alas, that is never a problem across the imaginative realm of digital car content creators, of course.

As such, I have recently encountered a string of thoughtful pop-up ideas from various pixel masters, and interestingly enough, they mostly favor JDM-flavored ideas, more than anything else. Not long ago, for example, the CGI work of Kit-Core, the virtual artist better known as _kit_core on social media, who loves to dabble with long-retired, iconic nameplates, also included the recreation of the Toyota 2000GT legend as a slammed widebody grand tourer with a visible V12.

But of course, one of the coolest ideas I have ever encountered recently was from Germany-based virtual artist Andras Veres, better known as andras.s.veres on social media, who decided to imagine the next Miata as a retro-modern installment. Thus, his ‘NE’ fifth iteration brought back the pop-ups for a sleek design – and even subtly modified them to also satisfy that quirky trend where car headlamps were adorned with eyelashes! Well, sort of – maybe it’s just the CGI angle that got me going on that path!

Anyway, now I also want to bring to your attention a follow-up design idea from the automotive artist & designer better known as pistonzero across social media, who demonstrates his love for the little roadster in the best kind of CGI way – and for the third time in a row. Now his favorite 1995 Mazda MX-5 Miata is not blue or pink but rather a stylish dark gray, and also comes with a fastback design to complement the thorough widebody attitude and utterly slammed atmosphere.

Last, but certainly not least, we also have a couple of crazy digital ideas from Sean Demetros, the self-taught 3D virtual artist better known as “demetr0s_designs” on social media, who, for February, chose “pop-up headlight conversions” as his main theme. And already he has treated us to a quirky Toyota Supra Mk4 transformation along with an Infiniti G35 morphing – the latter even has other nasty thoughts to the tune of a full carbon fiber CGI front end and fender flares!





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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
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Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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