The Truth About Cars » industrial design http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:31:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » industrial design http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Vellum Venom: 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/vellum-venom-2014-rolls-royce-wraith/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/vellum-venom-2014-rolls-royce-wraith/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039961   While designing top-dollar luxury cars was a rare success during my year at CCS, it’s gotta be tough to get these into production.  Consider competition from lower-rung manufacturers, namely those parent companies owning the likes of Rolls Royce. How much shared engineering is forced upon them?  What financial (beancounting) and legal (pedestrian safety, carbon emission) […]

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While designing top-dollar luxury cars was a rare success during my year at CCS, it’s gotta be tough to get these into production.  Consider competition from lower-rung manufacturers, namely those parent companies owning the likes of Rolls Royce. How much shared engineering is forced upon them?  What financial (beancounting) and legal (pedestrian safety, carbon emission) design constraints are forced upon the uber-luxury Transportation Designer?

Design directives get muddy in any vehicle, yet weak design is intolerable at a $354,000 price tag.

2The (legendary?) Chrysler 300 became such a force that the Wraith seeks relevance from that aggressive face.  Not a bad thing: it worked for Chrysler, it’s a no brainer here.

4But that grille!  Old world craftsmanship never goes out of style, even if the individual “teeth” have more gaps than Cletus from The Simpsons.  Perhaps meant to fold away in an accident, let’s hope today’s grilles are more pleasant to get jabbed into your rib cage.

5Many vehicles from the 70s-80s sported safety-minded stand up grilles matching their 60s counterpart’s swagger. But they usually implemented energy-absorbing, spring-loaded grille teeth nestled behind a one piece grille shell.

Not so here,  perhaps safety takes a step forward…at the expense of elegance.

6Emblematic of success, far above your peers.

7Rolls Royce’s trap door for their signature hood ornament is fantastic: even looking cool when retracted, because you know what’s going down later.

8The “flying lady on a ball” is a fantastic piece of kit from a design and user-interface standpoint.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Perhaps a short video (shot incorrectly, rushing at dusk, sorry!) is in order.

8_video1 The chrome strip is frustrating afterthought.  Not long enough to reach the grille, the ending point seems arbitrary and…well…cheap.

8_video2Even worse at the tail: it’s the same class of fail seen in the concept-to-production of the third-gen Chrysler Sebring’s hood.

9The lighting cluster looks suitably upscale, though every car maker encrusts corporate logos/easter eggs on lighting pods.

12Step back: a cheap cut line, worthy of the Chrysler 300.  One of this era’s big design sins is making the front fascia into a bumper. Contrasted to making a lower bumper that’s a “shelf of protection” for the fascia due north.  The cut lines between fascia and body go higher, therefore far more visible.

And curb appeal goes down.

13Imagine if the fender flowed down to a point far south of the headlight.  Imagine the uncluttered, expensive look this provides.

Large fenders dipping below the lighting pods is commonplace for Aston Martins, ya know.

13_1Insurance constraints or whining about a dent in a big metal fender are the least of a Rolls Royce owner’s worries. They worry about the SEC, or other First World Problems.

13_2The bumper cut line wouldn’t be visible from this angle if the  bumper started at the slot below the headlights.  The Wraith walk-around experience deserves an uninterrupted fender free fall.

 

14For the love of all that’s holy, the correct cut line is presented as the fake, just a few inches south of the real one! Perhaps the taller bumper/shorter fender was a last-minute addition from the beancounters/lawyers?  

 

15But that’s more than a fake cut line, it’s a light.  Fantastic, even more reason to make the fender/bumper transition at this point.

16Every modern car needs a lower valence with big speed holes, helping visually reduce the bulk associated with the ridiculous height.

17Especially when $300+k ensures no solid castings with fake mesh textures.  Whew!

18The chrome grille lives in a painted shell, with another bizarre choice for the hood cut line. Pushing the cut line forward makes the hood more unwieldly to operate and extra vulnerable in an accident, but again, First World Problems.

18_2The Wraith’s grille shell is an awkward, cetacean tribute to its ancestors. A clumsy integration for modern pedestrian safety standards?

19A better way is to move that hood forward, extending the chrome strip too.  And since First World Problems are ‘fo real son, you just go right ahead and make the hood share the same cut line as the chrome grille.

20Can you visualize the two new proposed cut lines from this angle?

And if pedestrian safety regulations allow for a “shelf-like” bumper, shrink back the fender/headlight area to give a subtle homage to the exposed fenders of pre-war Rollers.  Kinda like the shelf you’ll see at the rear.

21Proper cut lines also mean an unobstructed view of the Wraith’s clever light/sensor assembly.  The chrome ring is a nice touch, but it sorely needs a chrome casing for the light.  It worked for the 2008 Chevy Malibu’s rear marker.

See? First World Problems!

22A timeless wheel design is mandatory on any Roller, these pre-war Bugatti-alike spokes do the trick.

23Branded performance brake calipers have jumped the shark when Rolls Royce does it.

24Rolls Royce’s hallmark self-aligning hubs make any shot a perfect one. And some know-it-all-fulla-crap AutoJourno can’t casually spin them by hand, either!

25The space behind the front wheel is thanks to a liberal “dash-to-axle” ratio.   It’s a perfect place to affix an emblem promoting a history of superior proportioning.

26Let’s marinate on this beauty.

27Like a BMW 7-series, the Wraith’s A-pillar extends deep into the hood: a sad reality of modern car design.
27_1You know what’s coming.

28DLO FAIL!

Yes, that’s a sheet of glass where cheaper cars opt for a solid plastic triangle.  But glass is an acceptable DLO FAIL alternative for cars like the $14,000 Nissan Versa Note…but for $340,000 more? Inexcusable bullshit.

28_1The problem worsens when opening the (excellently suicide-hinged) door.  Redesigning a firewall’s hard points for a Wraith can’t be that resource consuming, considering it lacks door hinges!

28_2Perhaps the classy umbrella demanded a door cut line in a certain place.  Perhaps DLO FAIL met its match: the umbrella conquers all.

28_3Truly a magnificent piece of product design (umbrella), integrated into a sad work of transportation design (firewall).

29Even worse, the door cut line is a whimsical curve worthy of a yacht, forcing your eye to naturally follow the curve up to triangular DLO FAIL.

29_1The Wraith’s side has sculptural elements. Note the steep grade on which the side view mirror bolts to the door.

30There’s a subtle character line that also reduces visual heft.

31The door handle is masterful metalwork: reassuring in touch, packed with modern keyless functionality.

32The extra metal spear not only lengthens the door handle’s appearance,  it houses a fancy LED puddle lamp.

33The spear forces your eyes down, south of the DLO FAIL.

34_alsonotechromeseamThe door’s cut line doesn’t meet the starting point of the quarter window.  Frustrating on the CTS-V coupe, far worse on a vehicle nearly four times more expensive.

NOTE: see the chrome’s break point atop the greenhouse. More on that later.

35Not having the window and door cut line match is beyond frustrating. Suicide Door Lincoln Continental it ain’t.

36Start the cut line there, make whatever changes are necessary south of that for a functional hinge.  Could the revised cut line look much worse?

37The chop-top school of thought is getting very, very old.

39Remember what I made you take note of? This break means the Wraith’s quarter window trim comes from two pieces. Inexcusable considering cheaper luxury cars like the 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII.

(Photo Courtesy: eBay.com)

If this relatively affordable luxury coupe made it with one piece, what’s the Wraith’s excuse?

40The beancounted quarter window trim, bizarre B-pillar cut line and played out chop-top: the Wraith’s greenhouse is like a greatest hits of poor vehicle design from the last decade.

41We expect ostentatiousness, not clumsy and chubby.  The flat-not-fastback roof, misaligned B-pillar, whimsical door cut line that missed the A-pillar by several inches: all sloppy in side profile.

41_1A less swoopy door starting at the beginning of the A-pillar loses the yacht like swage line, but that’s a good thing: it’s too “fast” considering the surroundings.

42The rear window has a false panel (or is it a spoiler?) giving the impression of hatchback functionality.

43The CHMSL in this false panel is a nice touch.

43_1Ditto this roof indentation: perhaps for rain water drainage, but definitely excellent for breaking up an otherwise huge swath of sheet metal.

44Here’s the actual cut line for the trunk, yes a conventional trunk. Perhaps it could use some of the door’s whimsical curvature.
46While the fuel filler door has a respectably located bend matching the body, it’s better seen south of the wheel arch, deeper into the quarter panel.
47Because it’s kinda bland here! Nothing wrong with an uninterrupted panel, but take the “clean design” hit to clean up the wheel arch. Priories!

48No, it’s not a 3rd Gen Hyundai Grandeur/XG350.

48_1The Wraith’s fantastic wheelbase and strong proportioning is marred by a smooshed roofline giving the appearance of a decadent automotive cockroach.

Perhaps this is an XG350 that met a very well-endowed cockroach.

49But there’s no Hyundai’s with a chrome frame this massive, with lighting elements so harmonically layered.  All elements compliment the chrome trim: nothing screams like so many OEM lenses in lesser vehicles trying hard to be cool.

50So the rear gets a proper bumper shelf and the front does not? This transition adds depth, texture and refinement: even if the cut line is unnecessarily north of the bumper shelf.

52A subtle crease in the Wraith’s trunk keeps it from appearing bloated, bubbly.

53The Wraith’s softened contours on the chrome trunk mustache needs the front grille’s sharp drop off for more bite.

54Add some tooth to the chrome’s bends (around the logo, at the drop off to the license plate) and it’d look like a Rolls and less like a Chrysler 300 emulating one.

55The massive rear bumper is another reason the flattened cockroach roof has gotta go.

Or perhaps the bumper needs to taper up (same height by the rear wheel, 1-2 inches higher from this angle) making a thinner and rounder posterior?

56A thinner bumper isn’t happening: Rollers need substance to make presence. This bad ass bumper is brand honest. It’s one of many great landings at a Frank Ghery designed airport.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely week!

 

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Peak Emblem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/vellum-venom-vignette-peak-emblem/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:40:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997690   Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem. It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week. Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has […]

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This just happened. (photo courtesy: Ram)

Most design students don’t consider Peak Oil in their studies, but The Reckoning was on my reading list back then. While Peak Oil is tangentially connected to car design, we clearly reached Peak Emblem.

It cannot get any worse than what’s being introduced in Chicago this week.

Emblem size, just like wheel size and body/firewall (versus glass) height has been on the rise for over a decade.  Park a new Corolla next to a 1995-2000 model for proof.  The problem is empty real estate, sheets of painted metal with no landscaping. A big problem for a top-tier RAM, for the Laramie Limited trim. How do you visually separate a premium model when even the mid-level model has that in-yo-face look from a huge grille and acres of chrome?

Larger and larger emblems, apparently: on the grille and the tailgate.  Damn Son, dat tailgate!

As mentioned before, it’s all about proportioning: big butts need MOAR BLING. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless the proportions are so extreme that creativity is stifled and the sheet metal cannot to rest on its design laurels.  A shame, as the RAM (like many new Chrysler designs) are quite fetching by themselves.

Here’s my suggestion:

1985 Dodge Power Ram (photo courtesy: www.fortrucksonly.com/truckforum)

Stamp a (unique to trim levels like the Laramie Limited) tailgate with negative area, then add a metal insert with small(er that what you did) lettering. Of course Ye Old School Dodge has a much smaller tailgate, but applying the concept of negative area to the Laramie makes sense.  Well, perhaps not the financial sense of slapping the biggest emblems you can make on dat butt.

Peak Emblem is real, it happened.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part III http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-iii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-iii/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:06:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990010   Rio is full of beauty: beaches, gorgeous people on said beaches, delicious caipirinhas served beachside and…wait for it…a healthy alternative to DLO FAIL. Yes, a way out from the infestation of black plastic cheater panels: triangles of FAIL that plague Car Design from the cheapest subcompact to the most flagship-iest Cadillac. It’s amazing what happens by removing the A-pillar’s black plastic trim […]

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IMG_4189

A Fashionable Savior for the Budget Minded?

Rio is full of beauty: beaches, gorgeous people on said beaches, delicious caipirinhas served beachside andwait for ita healthy alternative to DLO FAIL.

Yes, a way out from the infestation of black plastic cheater panels: triangles of FAIL that plague Car Design from the cheapest subcompact to the most flagship-iest Cadillac.

IMG_4181It’s amazing what happens by removing the A-pillar’s black plastic trim and affixing the mirror directly to the coachwork. Hailing a DLO FAIL free cab in Rio portends to an honesty that all machines need.

IMG_4171Indeed, the first generation Dacia/Renault Logan is a respectable design, bargain basement budget and lack of snob-appeal aside. The redesigned Logan avoids DLO FAIL even better, proving that some designs improve over time.

But there’s no shame in owning a last-gen Logan in Rio. To the contrary, it makes you an object of desire: you have a car and maybe even a place to park it!

IMG_4128Not all is perfect, as this Renault Duster shows. The “footprint” of DLO FAIL is present on the fender. Without that black plastic triangle of super-cheat, it’s clear why a poor meeting of door/fender/a-pillar is a problem in car design.

IMG_4129Implementing the Logan’s footprint-free stamping would clean things up. On the cheap!

IMG_4135Similarly, the 2008-12 Renault Sandero Stepway needed a good Logan-izing around the A-pillar to eliminate DLO FAIL in a low-budget redesign.

I know the photo quality disappoints, but I’m not hanging around to get mugged: photos are quick, walking down the street is done with purpose. Ish.

IMG_4381It’s amazing how the wedgy and minimalist 1980s Fiat Uno(?) looks so out of date compared to modern hatchbacks, even with its “fail-free” daylight opening.

IMG_4383The new Peugeot 208 has a unique take on A-pillar DLO FAIL, pinching it down to accentuate the roof line’s inherent speed. (too bad about the colossal C-pillar FAIL) It’s not horrible, relative to its place in the world of pointless black triangles: we’d be lucky to get this in the States.

IMG_4384Speaking of, Honda’s horrible design failure (a glass DLO extension and a plastic triangle) made itself known in Rio: reminding us that pricier machines (relative to the Logan) aren’t necessarily a better design.

IMG_4170But don’t take my word for it,  agrees…he drove it!

Marcelo suggests it’s an Engineer’s car, not a Designer’s car. Not true: like the beauty of affordable housing from post-WWI to today, the Renault Logan looks good (well, good enough) and doesn’t resort to stupid car design cliches to win buyers around the world.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Cadillac’s SEAT In Ibiza http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-vignette-seat-ibiza/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-vignette-seat-ibiza/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:35:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893250 One interesting thing about living on-campus at CCS was the precious little available to purchase within walking distance. Such is the life of a car-less design student in Metro Detroit. That’s until a friend took me to a Meijer Hypermarket in the ‘burbs: a new world of “stuff” entered my cloistered world. Cheap but nice […]

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One interesting thing about living on-campus at CCS was the precious little available to purchase within walking distance. Such is the life of a car-less design student in Metro Detroit. That’s until a friend took me to a Meijer Hypermarket in the ‘burbs: a new world of “stuff” entered my cloistered world. Cheap but nice stuff, with an intrinsic value far higher than its retail price.

Which leads to our subject: a current-gen SEAT Ibiza (visiting from down Mexico way) I met on a business trip to Austin. Fear of getting shot by the owner in mind, I only made time to analyze this VAG derivative at the all-important A-pillar.

2

Yes, the Ibiza is a beautiful little car: logical enough lines with a genuine sheet of glass on the A-pillar to continue the greenhouse’s sleeker-than-my-size look without resorting to junky plastic filler panels.

And it’s cheap: base price (including current incentives) is £9995, just under 17 grand. The Mexican version starts at 201,900 pesos, a little over 15 grand.

(photo courtesy: http://www.jimfalk.com)

Contrast with the Cadillac XTS’ standard DLO FAIL at a juicy $44,600 asking price: the world at large gets “cheap but nice” stuff while we’re still cramming bean-counted, badge engineered platforms down our collective throats. Granted the badge engineering’s less obvious than the days of Robert Farago’s Deathwatch screeds, but the fail remains.

And when you can’t avoid it, distract everyone. To wit:

(Cadillac website screenshot)

It takes big, Cadillac-grade, money to make it right: so many of our mid-size, full-size and luxury sedans embrace DLO FAIL, lacking a platform with the requisite space between the front axle and the dashboard (dash-to-axle ratio) to actually look appealing. And instead of masking up the cheapness with pride (sheet of glass) we get that little black plastic triangle.

Because in no way is a Cadillac as good as a SEAT Ibiza.

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To be fair, such fail is available in cheaper European cars. Plus we get the affordable Focus Fiesta in its fail free glory…which isn’t the point.

The point: if the world makes many DLO FAIL free vehicles for under $20,000, there’s no excuse for expensive vehicles not to follow suit. Either with more glass (cheap) or a better dash-to-axle ratio (expensive). All of them, no matter the country of origin.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

 

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Vellum Venom Vignette: World Industrial Design Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:37:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852745 This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the […]

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This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the craft known as industrial design.

The BMW i8 is a revolutionary piece of Transportation Design. The i8’s key is no slouch in the Industrial Design department. Without rehashing what others say, it’s clear that Industrial Designers took the best attributes of the i8, the smart phone and today’s latest ignition keys to make something stunning.

i8-craddle

Not to mention the i8’s key fob has a style that looks great in your hand and (sorta) blends into the assertive wedge forms present on the i8 console.  It’s a great piece of Industrial Design that forces you to consider how an Industrial Designer enriched your automotive hobby/career.

Take this “utility” key for example:

In some respects the Ford Pinto was an underrated piece of Engineering and Industrial Design. Sure, it needed that rubber pad to protect the gas tank from the rear axle.  But when it comes to simple, durable and honest Design, the Pinto worked.

Certainly not VW Beetle stylish nor Honda Civic enlightened, but dig this key: once cut for your ignition this baby gapped spark plugs, screwed down anything under the hood, let you crack open a beer and then fire up the beast so you can drive with a cold brew in your hand while you keep on truckin!!! 

Perhaps I got that last part wrong, so I am ready for the Best and Brightest to correct my weak Nixon Era Ford knowledge. But the Pinto utility key looks like the coolest gadget to have in your pocket in the early 1970s.  What the hell is an Apple iPhone anyway?  Sounds like gibberish talk of those nattering nabobs of negativism!

Just make sure you know which gap on the gapping tool is the right one for your engine.

Nice job integrating the Pinto logo and patriotic color scheme on a tool that elegantly and cheaply combines many things into a small hunk of metal. And that’s the heart of Industrial design: it plays a crucial role in dreaming, engineering (in theory) and producing exceptional products. The bottle opener is a bizarre feature by today’s standards, but it proves yesteryear was a simpler and stupider time.

And the Pinto/i8 keys do show how Industrial Design advanced over the decades. So to you, dear reader, Happy World Industrial Design Day!

Thank you for reading and have a fantastic weekend.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Lincoln MKZ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-2013-lincoln-mkz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-2013-lincoln-mkz/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 13:07:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=837153 Car Design college was a wake-up call for this auto-obsessed kid: it festered with two-faced people. There are bastard-coated souls smiling to your face, stabbing you in the back during Portfolio Review. Or friends that pity you, being your crutch via white lies and false kindness.  Bad news, especially for a Lincoln-Mercury fanboi saddened by […]

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Car Design college was a wake-up call for this auto-obsessed kid: it festered with two-faced people. There are bastard-coated souls smiling to your face, stabbing you in the back during Portfolio Review. Or friends that pity you, being your crutch via white lies and false kindness.  Bad news, especially for a Lincoln-Mercury fanboi saddened by how the MKZ became as two-faced as the industry that spawned it.

 

1The Lincoln MKZ trades the sistership Ford Fusion’s wannabe Aston schnoz for a gigantic butterfly smashed on the face of today’s upright, stubby proportioned sedan. It works, as there’s a balance of soft curves and thin lines with hard bends and thick marks.

The butterfly grille is organic but peep that Chevelle SS worthy hood bulge! The bulge has a strong center backbone and “power dome” shape that shrinks as it reaches the front fascia. Very Hot Rod Lincoln.

 

2The grille’s thick/thin teeth add significant depth. Their harmonizing with the grille frame’s upward bend only adds to the butterfly effect.

2_1Note the bumper’s creased beak: too subtle to catch the eye, yet clashes with Lincoln’s new “point free” emblem.  This nose either needs a belt sander or the 2014 Navigator emblem.

3Aside from the plastic block off plates as the grille reaches the headlight (note how the black abruptly turns gray), this is an elegant piece of kit.

4The butterfly grille effortlessly translates and surrounds the pointy-fast headlight assembly.  It’s a dramatic change from the first MKZ, as you’d be hard pressed to mistake it for a Fusion. (yet) The lower valence’s chrome trim and fog light harmonize with the butterfly too.

4_1The headlights may look flat, but not so!

5_1Note the lighter red section below my finger: an interesting soft bend at the hood’s edge, in contrast to the power done hood. Forehead much? It’d be less flabby if the bend started with the headlight’s leading edge and swept back into the body. Then, instead of being a receding hairline, we’d see a transition between the hood-fender cut line and the central power dome.

 

6Too bad about the solid grill space on the lower valence. It looks cheap, yet nothing like the yards of fake texture on spindle-grilled Lexi and big mouth Audis.

 

7Aside from that odd forehead (it really needs to start at the headlights) the MKZ pushes the right buttons.  Everything dances to the same DJ, and the bumper’s soft curve sympathizes with the butterfly grille. And it transitions to the muscular fender haunch well.

7_1No overhang and a very European signal light; tightly constrained by the wheel arch’s flat edge.  And if Edsel Ford’s Continental was influenced by the Europeans…wink, wink!

 

7_2Interesting interplay between smoked and shiny surfaces!  The MKZ’s rims blends unique ideas seamlessly, in stark contrast to the rough draft originally seen on the MKS.

 

8Clean, restrained firewall design: good use of what should rightly be a small patch of real estate.

 

9And then it became all Fusion: the latest iteration of wrong-wheel drive American Luxury is a Fusion with more chrome.  Literally, thanks to the solid chrome DLO Fail between the A-pillar and the door.

11The MKZ chrome DLO FAIL looks more expensive than the Fusion, in the same way Target is classier than WalMart.

 

10Again, too much of a Fusion…even if it really isn’t.  If you are a badge engineer, my analysis of the Fusion will come in handy. The door skins are different, but something’s lost in translation. Perhaps it’s the BMW style handles. Or the less edgy cut lines that still retain the Fusion’s angular windows. More on those later.

The point? The “let’s avoid badge engineering” mantra that we all believe needed more money, more dedication and less modification of an existing platform to work on the MKZ.

 

12A fixed vent window paired with DLO fail?  Usually one replaces the other, but the MKZ needs ‘em both to “accomplish” an A-pillar with such speed. Ford’s insistence to honor Aston Martin via family sedan failed. (Aston uses the fixed window, which obviously works on that body.)

13The chrome-y Fusion mirrors work quite well.  Too bad they aren’t unique, but whatever. This isn’t the first (last?) front wheel drive Lincoln to portend the brand’s future, as this isn’t a 1988 Continental.

 

14Wait, is this one of them fancy flagship BMW 7 series door pulls? A pretty shameful rip off.  So kudos to Lincoln for not raiding Ford’s parts bin, ribbons of shame for raiding BMW’s warehouse instead.

15This MKZ-specific B-pillar cut line works better than the Fusion from whence it came: the door and B-pillar share a common line.

16Too bad about the C-pillar: the MKZ’s cut line is flabby on such a porky side profile. The Fusion’s extra surface tension enhances the package, instead of adding unnecessary rotund-ness.

Perhaps badge engineering ain’t such a bad thing, no?  No, it’s bad…that was a trick question, son!

17And this is where it gets screwy: remember the balance of soft (butterfly) and hard (power dome hood) elements up front? There’s a bizarre, two-faced, ending to this tale. (tail?)

18The problem stems from the razor-sharp tail lights, artificially pushing back to the quarter panel/C-pillar.  And the soft spot once reserved for a “tire hump” or faux Continental kit. It’s the same idea as the power dome hood, taken to an incorrect extreme. What was needed?

The ideal balance of soft and hard elements presented up front.  How the MKZ’s butterfly grille blends with the curves of its lower valence.  This avoids the two faces of the MKZ’s design.

18_1The rear door’s flab looks muscular from here, but the number of cut lines implies “hack job”.  That is, there’s nothing luxurious about three different seams/panels on a trunk lid.

 

18_3Maybe this would be awesome if the front end ditched the butterfly for something in a Robocop.

 

18_2Nah, Robocop can’t handle these flabby planes with voluptuous BMW door pulls. But kudos are in order for not adding DLO fail to the C-pillar, like the original, super badge engineered, Lincoln MKZ.

19This is where things get ugly. Perhaps the decklid’s extra black trim is an homage to the Continental tire hump. Perhaps the two antennas (especially the quarter panel’s fixed mast) honors the CB radios that kept the Bandit out of Smokey’s reach. Or it’s just a sloppy workaround for a moving roof panel.

Then there’s the flush mounted spoiler out back: too many parts to make a single trunk lid!

19_1The extra crease adds another harsh element to the MKZ’s contrived tail.  It’s almost an homage to the Bangle Butt 7-series of yesteryear; begging for the refined (refined-ish) butt of today’s 7-series: Vellum Venom review here.

20Here you see the rotund-ness of the lower valence, in shocking contrast to the trunk lid.  Notice how rapidly the tailpipes fade to a distant vanishing point, compared to the gentle curve of the tail light.

21The harsh crease (mentioned above) encapsulates the problem: it lacks the elegance of the power dome hood on the MKZ’s butterfly front schnoz.  TWO-FACED! It’s an edgy and lumpy border, just as looney as a Continental tire hump. At least the tire hump had some precedence, and uber presence.

22The chrome lettering, spread out like the C-O-N-T-I-N-E-N-T-A-L emblems on a 1960-80s Lincoln tire hump, works elegantly.

23As do the flat top haircut with furrowed eyebrow tail lights from this angle.

 

23_1But there’s nothing Kid ‘n Play about the lower portion’s voluptuousness.

 

24The MKZ’s harsh creases accentuate with an open moon roof.  The power top must shadow the roof’s elegant curve (lest it never seals to the body), while the quarter panel has none of that.

 

25Speaking of seals: the smushed rubber at the end is less than reassuring.

 

26Definitely some “groovy” engineering involved to “channel” that much glass that far back.

 

27Perhaps my “moonroof must shadow the roof’s elegant curve” comment was incorrect. The glass top isn’t beautiful when unfurled, it’s actually ungainly.

 

28The shiny black trim looks sleek with the roof closed.  The implication of what’s possible is quite cool: the roof will slide down these rails?

No matter the MKZ’s flaws, this is still a bad ass design feature.

29Ditto the black trunk panel, just don’t  step back to see it’s misplaced round curvature. Maybe a larger swath of deck lid needed the blackout treatment.

 

30_sumsitup

While Fusion has poorly finished metalwork here, the MKZ’s rubber needs much detailing to avoid the ravages of time. Totally worth owning such a huge glass roof.  Or not: skip the two faced, almost-there badge engineering and get the Fusion.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely weekend.

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Vellum Venom: Uwe Bahnsen, Car Designer, RIP http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/vellum-venom-uwe-bahnsen-car-designer-rip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/vellum-venom-uwe-bahnsen-car-designer-rip/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 03:51:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=498589 Never forget: people make all the difference.  This often overlooked fact in the glamorous world of automotive styling rings true for the life of Mr. Uwe Bahnsen. I froze in my tracks when I heard of his passing on Car Design News. His work at Ford and with the Industrial Design community influenced me, and […]

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Never forget: people make all the difference.  This often overlooked fact in the glamorous world of automotive styling rings true for the life of Mr. Uwe Bahnsen. I froze in my tracks when I heard of his passing on Car Design News. His work at Ford and with the Industrial Design community influenced me, and every American who loved cars in the 1980s.

How ironic that Mr. Bahnsen’s passing was the week TTAC’s own Ford Sierra passed its citizenship test in Texas: so here’s a great Germanic-Texas Beer for you, Mr. Bahnsen.

Every car is designed by a team–not a person—but the kind words spoken about Uwe’s life say he was no ordinary designer.  And he was a good man: so instead of paraphrasing Wikipedia and the great work by Car Design News, let’s see what he did for us.

Bahnsen’s work with the “bathtub” Ford Taunus P3 and second generation Escort/Capri are impressive alone.  Especially the P3, a progressive–if not radical–design for the early 1960s.  But what’s the Super Bowl of a car designer’s career?  Being the VP of Design, making a paradigm-shifting sedan that sells well around the world. A vehicle that lives long enough to go from radical to mainstream over the course of a decade.

That work is the 1982 Ford Sierra. Unlike more exotic brands (Audi 100 and beyond) that went “Aero” thanks to pricey Italian design and/or expensive engineering for limited production, the Sierra was wholly affordable and completely common. A people’s car like the Model T and VW Beetle…just not to that famous of an extent.

Sierra meets the big fan…

But you catch my drift. Us Yanks only know the Sierra in Cosworth/Merkur drag, so perhaps the firsthand experience of Bahnsen’s hard work as told by Mr. John Topley says it best:

“It’s difficult for me to convey just how radical the Sierra was when it was launched. This was the car that replaced twenty years of the Ford Cortina, a favourite with both fleet and family buyers in Britain. By 1982 the Cortina was looking pretty tired. It was still a best seller but by all accounts it wasn’t a great drive and the technology was pretty agricultural. In spite of which, Britain was still buying masses of them.

By contrast, the new Sierra looked like nothing else around, aside from the even more radical Audi 100 which came out at the same time. I think the Sierra was more important though because it was a mass market rather than executive car.”

Moments in time like these are rare, how often does a design change the way a person moves?  On multiple continents, for over a decade?  This moment elevated the car design game thanks in part to Ford’s Aerospace division, the beginnings of finite element analysis, and usage of new technologies that made the Sierra’s wraparound bumpers and ergonomic dashboards so cutting-edge. It’s a most fertile ground for a designer.

While we (probably) live in the Golden Age of technology, Uwe Bahnsen’s world experienced a far more dramatic change from far less technology. Aside from the aforementioned Audi, most carmakers embraced this technology/design philosophy years later. Boo to them: Uwe and his team were on the cusp of something special…the future!

Uwe Bahnsen made the most of this opportunity, take it from the guy that owns one of his creations.  To this day, the original Ford Sierra looks more futuristic than a Toyota Prius, providing an ownership experience that satisfies the senses like a far more expensive BMW. This doesn’t happen often, especially in America.

More to the point, the Sierra is an ergonomic and aesthetic treat. I’d love to ask Mr. Bahnsen hundreds of questions about his life, but the fact remains: his contribution to the Automobile shall never be forgotten.

Thank you all for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Piston Slap: Some Venom for Andrew’s Vellum? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap-some-venom-for-andrews-vellum/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/piston-slap-some-venom-for-andrews-vellum/#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2012 11:39:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434651   Andrew writes: Hi Sajeev, I always enjoy reading your nuggets of design wisdom and critique on TTAC. From your articles, its obvious you know some rather talented designers, and definitely have some interesting stories. If you could spare a moment of your time for a TTAC reader, I’m looking for some feedback on my […]

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Andrew writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I always enjoy reading your nuggets of design wisdom and critique on TTAC. From your articles, its obvious you know some rather talented designers, and definitely have some interesting stories.

If you could spare a moment of your time for a TTAC reader, I’m looking for some feedback on my industrial design portfolio; I’m trying to land my first proper design job that I’ll be happy with after graduating in April of last year. I’m currently working in a somewhat related field in a job that pays well but gives me no joy.

My website is at http://www.lowe9.com, I’d like rather honest feedback, whether harsh or good. If you were a hiring manager a design firm, would you give me an interview? And if not, what needs to change?

Much Thanks,

Andrew Lowe

Sajeev answers:

Andrew, you a certainly a gifted designer…definitely like one of the guys I’d just watch in amazement when I was in design school.

Your portfolio is pretty impressive for someone right out of college, especially working cross-functionally with engineering students on the Moon Buggy!  I love it.  I hope every Industrial design professional would like the content on your website.  Only a real douchebag (of which there are many) will have serious problems with what is presented. Don’t let them bring you down.

My recommendation is twofold: I need your ideation sketches.  How do you sketch something? How does your sketch sell the premise of the product to your manager? To their manager?  To a potential investor?

While I never officially put my time at CCS to good use, I did use my (pathetic) drawing skills to good use in the world of the MBA Business Plan competition.  I sketched a product, wrote its key features, and showed it to my team for criticism.  Then I made a nicer one to show to our professors and those who will be critiquing our business plan.  Finally, I made a stripped down drawing with minimal text for our official PowerPoint presentation to use at the actual competitions.

I personally think this kind of experience should be mandatory in Design School.  But that would require a lot of Entrepreneurs/MBAs in the mix.  And maybe, after seeing both sides, that will never work in higher education. For shame.

My second recommendation?  Industrial designers and most artists are too damn verbose. I always thought portfolios should use more bullet pointing of key features/actions/etc of your projects to show things off as purely as your renderings. Again, that’s the MBA in me speaking from Elevator Pitch experience.  But then again, if a kid that went to CCS can do cold calling and corporate-level sales in the same decade…maybe there’s something to it.

I wish you the best of luck; you obviously have talent and know a bit about marketing and sales.  If you didn’t, you’d be like every other I.D. student: unable to read the comments posted by our Best and Brightest because of your letter to me. And if for some reason you become miserable in Industrial Design, be like me and get an MBA. I think you will enjoy learning that end of the “business.”

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Piston Slap: Automotive Design Studio Inbreeding? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/piston-slap-automotive-design-studio-inbreeding/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/piston-slap-automotive-design-studio-inbreeding/#comments Wed, 22 Feb 2012 12:57:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431781   TTAC Commentator halftruth writes: Hey Sajeev, I see a lot of manufacturers using the binocular style gauge motif (see Hyundai Elantra, 2011 Avalon, Chevy Cruze for example) and I hate it! I also see a lot of carmakers using the upside down triangle motif in a lot of their steering wheel designs.  We can […]

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TTAC Commentator halftruth writes:

Hey Sajeev,

I see a lot of manufacturers using the binocular style gauge motif (see Hyundai Elantra, 2011 Avalon, Chevy Cruze for example) and I hate it! I also see a lot of carmakers using the upside down triangle motif in a lot of their steering wheel designs.  We can even throw in the obligatory fuel AND coolant gauge.. they all seem to do this same thing with little variation. That said, if we look thru history, this mimicking has always gone on.

But why? Sometimes a bad idea is just that and shouldn’t be copied: I am reminded of huge gaudy consoles that take up legroom- for an automatic.

Sajeev answers:

Many, many moons ago, I studied Industrial Design at the College for Creative Studies. I was deluded enough to think I could be the next Harley Earl/Bill Mitchell/Jack Telnack. Instead I learned a truth of the car business from the perspective of an idealistic college student.

And if you notice an undercurrent of bitterness and sarcasm in my writings, well that’s also a byproduct of my time in design school. But I digress…

Binocular style gauge clusters?  They make you feel like you’re on a motorcycle.  Which is cool, even if you don’t get it.  After all, who doesn’t want a crotch rocket over a family sedan? I guarantee you that every clinic-demographic study done by the automakers justifies this styling trend.

Upside down triangle wheels?  Actually, I am okay with this one: tillers are more than just a way to steer and save your bacon (airbag) in a head-on collision. Thanks to cruise control, audio control, climate control and SYNC-like interfaces, the wheel should be a charming piece of design to keep you interested in the technology…when parked.

My point: the car business is a lead-then-follow industry.  Someone has the balls to do something nuts, and when said loony activity makes money, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.  Cadillacs got tailfins. BMWs got Bangle-Butts, Ford made the Taurus/Sable. Chrysler produced the Minivan. Nissan put clear taillights on the Altima. Technology like SYNC gave new purpose to an old steering wheel. And people like a sedan/CUV that’s influenced by a sporty motorcycle, too.

It all brings home the bacon. As Grandmaster Flash said:

“Cause it’s all about the Money, ain’t a damn thing Funny.

You got to have a con in this land of Milk and Honey.”

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

When did you realize this sad truth about car design?

I learned about copycat designs with my favorite car, a 1983 (Fox Body) Lincoln Continental that’s been in the Mehta garage since 1986.  At the time, the Hooper inspired “bustleback” coachwork from Lincoln, Cadillac and Chrysler proved that everyone had the same idea. And I am not sure if any other moment in history made the point quite this clear!

Hooper’s designs were famous for a long hood, short deck and a sweeping beltline that dramatically tapered down to the rear bumper: the 1980 Cadillac Seville was the first to see gold in that pre-war styling notion.  Chrysler was certainly the wildest with the 1981 Imperial coupe, yet I thought the 1982 Fox Continental’s incorporation of the fake tire hump and Rolls Royce style grille (both Lincoln hallmarks for decades) worked the best on the retro-British theme. Plus, the automotive experts at Motor Trend liked the Foxy Conti better than the Seville, so now I know I’m 100% right.

Who knows, maybe disco music and endless lines of coke was part of the problem in the years leading up to those three redesigns. Or not.

 

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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