A particular manufacturer could be spotted a mile off by virtue of its particular character and style.
With one glance, you would never cofuse a Jaguar XJ12 ans a Skoda Rapide.
And then in the 1990s, car companies started joint-venture operations and the use common parts. There were some minor stuling differences, and obviously the badge, but in essence it was the same panels, bolted together by the same robots, often in the same factories.
One of the first I noticed was the Ford Galaxy / Seat Alhambra / Volkswagen Sharan
The sharing of component parts and technologies is fairly commonplace. But is usually limited to the bits you can't see. Just about every small/medium sized Fiat is built on the Panda chassis and running gear.
In latter years, SAABs were basically Vauxhall Vectras with a different body. And the Jagur X-Type and S-Types were built on a Mondeo chassis and running gear, with the bodywork and interior breathed on by Jaguar.
At a Motor Show in the late 80s, I was surprised when looking around an Aston Martin that the interior switches, indicator stalks and even the gear knob were straight out of a Vauxhall Cavalier.
When the Fiesta (and all other Ford Vehicles) were re-styled a couple of years ago, there was a noticeable similarity in the front-end to and Aston Martin DB9.
But, having recently changed cars to a Vauxhall Insignia, I am noticing more and more similarities between the front ends of a wide range of vehicles.
There seems to be a universal approach to the design of the front end of similar sized cars. Indeed, at first glance, it is often only the badge that gives a clue as to what manufacturer it actually is.
And it's not just the front - the back (give or take a bit of chrome strip) and the profile view (particularly on Estate variants) follows the same formula.
Maybe the Design Studio is in Stepford?
(Here endeth the Rigid Digit Text Audition to be the next presenter of Top Gear)