Though it may seem hard to believe, we’re only a month away from celebrating the 50th anniversary of the start of the Wedge Era in automotive designs.
To those of us who still think of the Countach as a sharp enough design to be considered cutting edge, this is a sad reality. Yet the prototype of what would become the 1980s poster child was first shown in a hard-to-conceptualize 1971.
The influence of the angle extended far beyond the Countach in the 1980s. It also started before the scissored doors opened on the stand in Geneva in 1971 and was seen in many more marques than just those wearing the Raging Bull. Even more impressive than its age is the reach of these designs, some of which are still being refined today. So, let’s take a look at some of the interesting and influential doorstop shapes and where they later found a home.
It should come as no surprise that some of the most iconic automobile designs have interesting associations in their geneses. Where those associations come from, though, can sometimes be surprising, as companies leapfrog the globe trying to find the talent, technical expertise, and productive capacity to build a new or unique model.
These stories seem to pop up more often when there’s a shift in a company’s priorities or an attempted to redefine its direction or mission. Large organizations can be slow to adjust to these changes, and so often these major manufacturers turned to small teams to produce what have often become standout models from already legendary lineups.
Often, but not always, as we see in this montage of odd couples.
The Italian coachbuilding industry took a massive hit during the latest global recession. Storied marques such as Bertone disappeared into the ether under the crushing pressures of debt and a shifting automotive industry that had become more self-sufficient.
Now, some eight years after the beginning of the recession, the Italian coachbuilding industry is making a fantastic comeback — albeit, at a cost.
When I did my first copywriting jobs for Volkswagen in 1973, I heard to my great amazement that the Passat wasn’t designed in Wolfsburg. It was designed in Turin (“Isn’t that where Fiat is?” “Don’t ask stupid questions, Schmitt”) by someone called Giorgetto Giugiaro. Lo and behold, the Golf thereafter looked a little bit like the Fiat 128, but nobody cared. Volkswagen and Giugiaro‘s Italdesign worked together ever since. Now Volkswagen will buy a controlling stake in Italdesign, if industry sources who whispered it to Automotive News[sub] are not totally mistaken. If the deal happens (and an announcement could come next week), Volkswagen will formalize old friendships. (Read More…)
There’s a lot happening in the world of cars these days, but few stories are as compelling as the emergence of two rival US-based firms created by two former bosses of the Chinese automaker Brilliance. At face value, both Hybrid Kinetic Motors and Greentech Auto are little more than visa scams: neither attempts to hide the fact that their fundraising plans involve a US Visa program (EB-5) which allows citizenship to foreign nationals who invest a half-million bucks in an American business. For additional scam warning points, both firms purport to use mythical hybrid engines and plan factories with annual capacities of a million units. But as easy as it is to simply write these firms as Chinese visa hucksters grifting the good folks of such towns as Tunica, Mississippi and Bay Minette, Alabama, they keep showing up in the news with stories that predecessors like ZAP would have given their stock-price-boosting-press releases for. To wit: the latest news that Alabama hopeful Hybrid Kinetic Motors has signed a half-billion dollar deal with Italdesign-Giugiaro, the largest order in the famed design house’s 42-year history.