Vauxhall GT Concept

Luton/Rüsselsheim – Vauxhall and Opel will reveal their vision of the future sports car with the GT Concept at this year’s Geneva International Motorshow (March 3-13).


Purebred, pared down, yet unashamedly avant-garde, the GT Concept is even shorn of door handles and door mirrors, its breathtaking form clothing a classic front mid-engined, rear-wheel drive chassis that will appeal to driving enthusiasts.

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While the GT Concept is forward-thinking, encapsulating Brit designer Mark Adams’ philosophy of ‘Sculptural Artistry meets Technical Precision’, its name mirrors that of the 1964 GT Concept, the first styling model to be produced by the nascent Vauxhall Design & Engineering Centre in Luton which opened the same year.

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‘We created the GT Concept to capture the bold, emotional spirit of both the Vauxhall and Opel brands,’ said Mark Adams, Vice President, Design Europe. ‘It is dramatic, sculptural and full of innovations, which is our great tradition that we intend to continue. In the mid-Sixties, Vauxhall and Opel created their own interpretations of a light-weight sports car – the XVR and the Experimental GT – both of which were thoroughly modern with dynamic sculptural forms. It’s certainly difficult to reinvent iconic concepts like these, but just as each was avant-garde back then, so too is this GT Concept today – absolutely pure, minimalistic, yet bold and uncompromising. This coupe impressively demonstrates the continuous development of our design philosophy.’

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A key innovation of the GT Concept is its large doors with integrated side windows that show a seamless transition from glass to painted surfaces. Both driver and front passenger gain access to the spacious interior after pressing a touchpad for the electric doors that is integrated in the red signature line of the roof. The doors cleverly open into the front arches, using a space-saving and patented mounting that allows a large opening angle for tight parking spaces in urban areas. Two cameras mounted behind the wheel arches offer enhanced visibility, especially in city driving. They transmit their images to two monitors on the left- and right-hand side of the cabin, rendering external mirrors obsolete. The windscreen flows into a glass panorama roof, affording occupants a similar experience to that of a targa-topped car.


Origami Juke

In a nod to Nissan’s Japanese heritage and inspired by the very first steps of car design – getting ideas onto paper – artist Owen Gildersleeve hand built the intricate replica model from paper to the exact dimensions of the current Juke.

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Darryl Scriven, Design Manager at Nissan’s Design Centre for Europe, said: “The first step of any car design involves putting pencil to paper. From that simple start, it’s a complex journey to production involving hundreds of skilled people, thousands of man-hours and millions in investment. So we think it’s very apt that on its fifth birthday, we celebrate the Nissan Juke with a tribute that harks back to that simple, but bold, first step, all carried out with Nissan’s signature innovation and excitement of course.”


Mazda RX-Vision

Mazda are on a roll with their concepts. They wowed us at Frankfurt with the Koeru Crossover, now the RX-Vision breaks cover in Tokyo.


From Mazda’s press release: The design aim was to shave away all but the essentials, giving birth to the dynamic tension and ambience of a machine that is all business. The fine craftsmanship of Mazda’s renowned clay modelers have created reflections that convey motion, thereby capturing the spirit of the KODO design language without relying on character lines or other such elements. This is an elegant and highly vital form that subtly changes its appearance with even the slightest change of viewing angle.

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Doing ‘simple’ well is the most difficult thing. Resisting the distraction of light-catchers, and surfacing-breaking character lines is a brave move by Mazda, and it’s resulted in a purity of form that is classical, yet also ground-breaking. I say that because many non car-designers bemoan the lack of beautiful forms in contemporary car design, looking back to a romantic age of 1950s voluptuous Jaguars and Ferraris, without understanding the stringent packaging and legislation constraints that today’s designers have to balance..but the RX-Vision captures that romantic proportion, that curvaceous surfacing, and combines it with a distinctly ‘now’ surface-twisting bodyside. I shouldn’t get too carried away – it is still a concept…but surely this hints at the next RX (9 maybe?)…



Mercedes Concept Digital Transformer: double-take

One of the stars of Frankfurt this year was the Mercedes Concept IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile). Its trick is to elongate body-sections around the tail at speeds above 80km/h to improve aerodynamics. Other technology is deployed around the vehicle when this happens, but the visual drama is all at the rear-end, where the car appears to elongate. The aero behind this is that the longer (and smaller in section) you can make the tail of a car (where the airflow detaches from the body) the less resultant turbulent drag the shape creates…


So back in 2006 I designed a car that would do exactly the same trick. It was for my final MA project, based around a dissertation ‘the perception of aerodynamics’, and I’ll say right now, Mercedes did a better job!..but it was essentially the same idea. I say that not by way of claiming any ownership, as nothing is ever really ‘new’, more that these ideas have been around for a while…and it’s good to share ideas that have been realised in one form or another:


Initially I started with this idea to just have side panels that cleaned the airflow around the tail of the shape. But projects evolve (not always for the good!) and ended up with the dual-mode tail – short for urban, long for aero:


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How to make the elongated tail work elegantly was beyond my project timeline / skillset at the time so I ended up making the 1/4-scale model in its ‘long’ mode..and orange.


Mercedes have created a effective solution to an aerodynamic conundrum… and I’m glad to have worked out the same design solution as they did!