What If: Learning to Drive the AI

I wasn’t expecting such a nice reaction to the imaginary AI-generated 1975 Avantis so I planned this post as a kind of palette cleanser where I could share my early Midjourney AI car efforts without getting too hung up on accuracy.

Some of these look nice and are the precursors to what you’ve already seen (there are a lot of Larks and Packards here). Some are simply amateurish, which often happens when you don’t give the AI enough information about the style of image you’d like. And some are just fun and weird and hopefully you’ll find them amusing.  I tried to group these pictures in a way that made sense to me so they aren’t in chronological order so the style and quality are going to shift around quite a bit.

I started out with the premise of an imaginary car company with a styling theme of an inverted triangular grille. (Think Alfa-Romeo but less rounded at the corners). The idea was to ask the AI to generate cars from decade to decade, showing how that theme got adapted to different styling trends. I started in 1920.

…then went on to 1930. Spoiler: Not one car got an inverted triangular grille.

1949 was much like a Chevy. Also, since I didn’t specify color, the AI assumed I wanted a photograph from that era, hence the black and white.

1950 is unfamiliar.

1958 as an ineffective approach to quad headlamps.

I tried 1958 again since I didn’t like how the first attempt was cropped.

Suddenly it’s 1960 and we’re getting the first hints of the “Midjourney likes lots of headlights” issue.

1965 reminds me of a Chevy II. Is there maybe the slightest hint of the inverted triangular grille?

I gave up on the triangular grille theme and just started playing around. This is “1965 luxury car.”

A 1970 Packard Clipper with a chrome problem. Here I’m learning how to put the car in a setting by asking for an advertising style image,

This is supposed to be the front end of a 1975 Packard Clipper.

A 1975 Crosley. This is probably one of the last things I did before I got serious about generating Larks for an article.

A 1975 Edsel.

Another 1975 Edsel.

I asked for 1975, but I’m thinking 1967.

A 1977 Packard. A lot of my early pictures had an orange headlight problem. I think it is supposed to indicate that the headlights are on. Also, note the watermark in the lower right-hand corner, which the AI decided must appear in images of this type. I’ve had some images actually duplicate the criss-cross watermarks of stock images.

Oh, I did try an inverted triangle grille car from 1978. Based on the rear view mirrors I think this is supposed to be the front end.

Another 1978 inverted triangle grille car. It looks like a bad rendition of an AMC.

1978 again.

And again. Early on the images I got were oddly cropped. Rectangular headlights flipped on their side? That would have been interesting if it were legal.

One last try at 1978.

1995 Packard. That’s some kind of greenhouse

Another 1995 Packard. Maybe a bit more realistic, but oddly proportioned.

A 2000 Corvair. Maye the air-cooled engine is in the front?

A 2022 Caprice. I don’t love it but it captured recent Chevy styling themes pretty well.

Another 2022 Caprice. Despite the cropping, I think that scalloping behind the front wheel works.

A 2022 Chevette. It looks like a Nova with a thyroid problem.

A 2022 Citation. At this point I think it’s just giving me generic Chevrolet.

A 2022 Corvair?

How about this one? I don’t know if I like it but it’s interesting.

A 2022 Cutlass. It looks like it just extrapolated not very far from an early 70’s model. Apparently, this IS your father’s Oldsmobile.

A 2022 Grand Prix.

This 2022 Monte Carlo looks like an Uraban Assault Vehicle. Check out those A-pillars!

This one is better. But a Monte Carlo sedan? Really? Have you no shame, Midjourney?

A 2022 Riviera looks wrong in so many ways. Note that Midjourney doesn’t seem to know much about current Buicks the way it does Chevrolets, so it had to draw from its generic Buick-from-the-past knowledge.

A 2022 Trans Am. I can see this on the current Camaro platform. But really, only one arrowhead on the nose is necessary.

Here’s a little detour into automotive magazine covers from different eras, starting with 1941.

Another try at 1941.



1967 again.


Eventually I saw someone generate some very awesome images of Japanese sports cars in futuristic settings with unusual lighting. I stole borrowed their prompts and substituted “Studebaker Lark” for the car name.

It did a very odd thing. It put models in the pictures. The images that ispired me had none, and yet here they were. This is also supposed to be a Laek.

This is a Pontiac Chieftain with a slice of cheesecake I didn’t ask for.

A Packard Clipper. I kept adding things like “no people” to my image prompts to no avail. Some neon is showing up on the side of the cars, which is interesting.

Another Clipper and the lighting is getting wild.

A Hudson Hornet that looks more like a Mercury.

I’m pretty sure that Midjourney doesn’t know what a Hudson Hornet is and settled on Mutant Buick.

A Lark with some side contouring that looks like water splashing out from the wheel wells. Oh, and those wheels are a bit extreme.

Another Lark.

A Roadmaster. Those rearview mirrors looks a bit dangerous.

More recognizable as a Buick. Was there ever an aftermarket kit to light up the portholes? That would be cool.

I started to figure out how to dial back on the lighting effects for this Buick. Nice hat?

Another attempt at a Lark. That grille is pretty cool.

A Packard Clipper. Dialing back the lighting effects also seemed to cause the unwanted models to dress more conservatively.

Toning down the lighting a bit more for this Lark. Interesting fenders.

There’s a vestige of the neon lighting around the grille on this Lark, but otherwise this might be mistaken for an advertising image for am early 1960’s Japanese car.

It doesn’t looks like a Lark, but you could fool me into thinking this was a real advertising image if not for the model’s deformed face.

Next time: Some Hawks take flight.