Let's talk about '00s bulgy circular fender flares

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Gather round younglings, and let’s set the wayback machine to a time at the turn of the century, when many, many carmakers decided that their cars needed to have large round fender flares.

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The VW New Beetle launched in 1998 and was the first modern car with these fender flares, and in its case, they were obviously part of the Beetle aesthetic.

A year later, the Audi TT arrived, and really created the template for how these geometrically round fender flares would look on a car that isn’t a New Beetle.

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In 2003 to 2007...everybody else went bonkers for these fender flares and jumped on the bandwagon. Were they inspired by the New Beetle or TT? We may never know.

And then, they died. Basically every car that adopted the flares removed them. The only cars that rolled with the flares for more than one generation are the Audi TT & Q7, Chrysler 300, Ford Escape, F-Series & Transit Connect, Honda Pilot, Kia Soul, Mazda 5, Nissan Z and Subaru Forester. Of those, the TT is about to be discontinued, the 5 is gone, and the Escape & Pilot have moved on to other designs without the flares.

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Here’s a chronological timeline of cars of the aughts with bulgy circular fender flares. I’m only bothering with the US market because I don’t feel like tracking down pics of a bunch of Renaults and Citroens and Vauxhalls (oh my).

UPDATE: After I made this post, on my way home from work, I walked past row of cars in the garage at my office made entirely of vehicles on this list. Whoa.

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1998

VW New Beetle

1999

Audi TT

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2002

Saturn Vue

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2003

Honda Element

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Honda Pilot

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Mazda RX-8

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Nissan 350Z

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Pontiac Vibe

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2004

Cadillac XLR

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Dodge Durango / Chrysler Aspen

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Ford F-Series

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Mazda 5

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Nissan Maxima

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Nissan Quest

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Nissan Versa

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2005

Chrysler 300

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Ford Five Hundred / Mercury Montego

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Ford Freestyle

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Ford Mustang

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Land Rover LR3

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Nissan Frontier

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Nissan Pathfinder

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Scion xA

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2006

Audi Q7

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Ford Expedition

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Kia Rio

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Mazda Miata

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Mitsubishi Eclipse

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2007

Acura MDX

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Audi TT (generation two, electric boogaloo)

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Dodge Caliber

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Ford Edge / Lincoln MKX

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Mazda CX-7

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Mazda CX-9

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Mercedes S-Class & CL-Class

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Mitsubishi Outlander

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Saturn Aura

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2008

Chrysler Town & Country / Dodge Grand Caravan

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Ford Escape

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Ford Transit Connect

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Nissan Rogue

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Saturn Astra

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Scion xB

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Scion xD

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Subaru Forester

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2009

Acura TL

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Acura TSX

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Dodge Journey

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Ford F-Series

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Honda Pilot

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Kia Soul

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Mazda 6

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Mercedes-Benz M-Class

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Nissan 370Z

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Nissan Murano

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2010

Chevrolet Equinox

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Chevrolet Spark

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Mazda 3

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Subaru Legacy / Outback

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2011

Chrysler 300

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Ford Explorer

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Ford Fiesta

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Hyundai Elantra

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Mazda 5

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Nissan NV

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Saab 9-4X

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Subaru Forester

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2012

Chevrolet Sonic

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Ford Focus

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Hyundai Veloster

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Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Subaru Impreza

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VW Beetle

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2013

Acura RDX

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Ford C-Max

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Ford Escape

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Toyota RAV4

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2014

Subaru Forester

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2015

Audi TT and the Last Crusade

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Ford F-Series

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Ford Transit

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Ford Transit Connect

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2016

Audi Q7

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2018*

Ford EcoSport

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(*But it launched outside the US in 2013.)

2019

Subaru Forester

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2020

Kia Soul

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