Tech for tech’s sake?

JLR recently showed off their 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen pillar-projection system; a high-tech solution to the age-old problem of not being able to see through the A and B pillars. jlr-urbanwindscreen-followmeghostcar-and-transparent-pillars-1 It uses cameras mounted on the pillars to feed images through 2 projectors located around the rear-view mirror, which are projected on to each pillar surface. I’ll probably get some flack for this, but…from a design perspective this is a classic case of using technology to plaster over the real issue. It’s a sticking plaster over the existing architecture of a car. The real innovation is to use advanced materials and clever design and engineering to build an A-pillar that the driver and passenger can see through. Like Kia’s Stinger concept.. kia-gt4-stinger-concept-interior-photo-572963-s-1280x782 Or Volvo’s SCC concept.. scc06 These weren’t simple solutions; each would require costly safety development and homologation, and perhaps there’s a user perception that being able to see through a pillar makes it somehow weaker than a ‘real’ metal pillar. But they were innovative; they moved the game on, they offered new design implications. It’s indicative of a trend that sees relatively low-cost technology over-riding real design solutions. Case in point; Tesla’s tablet-like interface on the Model S. 2012-tesla-model-s-interior-photo-462046-s-1280x782 Interior design has been nudged aside by the ‘innovation’ of having a large flat touch-screen. The thinking seems to be that the functions of the screen are so important that it should take priority over a well thought-out and intuitive interior HMI. I don’t belive that this will be how car interiors will develop; Design strategy will ensure that unique solutions will be required to keep each brands DNA intact. It’s the digital vs analogue argument; the digital solutions will be offered to us with huge advantages of personalisation, and cost-effectiveness. But maybe we need to pause and remember that physical, analogue design is tangible..and permanent.

Bonhams / Oxford

On the outskirts of Oxford, towards Kiddlington, is an unremarkable garage, next to an AlfaRomeo main dealer. All is not what it seems however, as this is one of only 2 Bonhams auction houses outside of London. On Sunday the 7th was a sale of collectible classic cars, automobilia, and collectible automotive art.

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One of the favourites for me was this Lister Jaguar 7litre with epic forged wheels…IMG_4363

A classic i’d forgotten about but one that’s off the ‘hotness’ scale is the Fiat Dino..a Ferrari-engined bargain at £21K

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£124K for this brutal DeTomaso Mangusta..

or £57K for the gentleman’s version..

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This Bentley’s customer had his own thermometer and altimeter fitted by the factory… personalisation 1960’s style

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Q80

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

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Having been involved in the development of this project it’s interesting listening to the internet talk surrounding the concept’s launch in Paris. General consensus ranges from being stunned by the scale of the thing (over 5m long) to being impressed by the car but remaining to be convinced by the brand.

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It’s true that Infiniti doesn’t have the cachet of the premium German companies, nor the products to challenge them. But remember, Lexus had a similar situation back in 1989 when the LS was launched. That car instantly took the Toyota sub-brand from nothing to a genuine challenger. The fact that since then Lexus hasn’t delivered anything as important is more down to product strategy and design direction, but the truth was that Lexus shocked the premium establishment.

infiniti-q80-inspiration-concept-6931-008It’s an almost impossible line to tread; design something radical and the Euro sophisticates will shun it for being too flash, too new, too expressive. Play it too traditionally and you’ll never be able to compete with the established brands with years of heritage.

infiniti-q80-inpiration-concept-front-three-quarterBy the time the Q80 gets to production in around 2017 the styling will be less shocking, less avant-garde than it looks at Paris. The suicide doors will probably change and the beautiful clean lines will be criss-crossed with shutlines. Yet the impressive presence will remain. This is the car that will put Infiniti on the map…

Vintage lust

For somewhere that’s not exactly beautiful in any sense of the word, Wandsworth in SW London seems to have more than its share of awesome car-dealers. Something to do with the cheaper land prices compared to neighbouring areas? There’s a new showroom that’s just opened on Kimber Road that grabbed my eye-balls on the way past…

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lapin

I stumbled across Lapin’s work a year or so ago, when I saw a blog post about ‘Oldies but Goldies’, an homage to the varied automotive beasts on the streets of europe and beyond. I bought the book, and was hooked. Now on his site there are some new additions; a fantastic selection of historic rally cars from the “best of the alpes”, which starts in Megève (France) and sees the finish line in Lech (Austria). The route crosses through Switzerland, Italy and Germany..

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Love his style; fluid, and not afraid of an enhanced perspective, they really capture the character of each car. I don’t know how much post-production goes into these illustrations but he has an incredibly fluid style and a real economy of line, which is something that’s very difficult to do. Salute Lapin!

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