By on April 23, 2011

Recently, our man in Brazil has been confessing his love for Citroen’s “anti-retro” DS series, sparking a debate over what qualifies as “retro” and what qualifies as “anti-retro.” Here, to help draw the distinction are two separate interpretations of an iconic vehicle. On the left is Geely’s EnglonSC7-RV concept, which gives a tackily Chinese take on the classic British taxi. On the right is VW’s Up! London Taxi concept, which takes the same inspiration and packages it in a far more sleek, modern style. As a result, the Englon looks like a doughy, anglophile PT Cruiser, while the VW looks sharp, crisp and yet classic. When it comes to interpreting modern classics, its seems that capturing the spirit of a car is more important than faithfully recreating its cues.

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18 Comments on “Retro Versus Anti-Retro: A Case Study...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I like ’em both.  Although the VW looks strange with whitewall tires.  If I had to choose one I’d go for the Geely but knowing full well that it was the cheesier of the two choices. 

  • avatar

    The Geely looks like it riped a few cues from the Bentley Mulsanne. Its tacky, even ugly, but I like it, just not in that colour.

  • avatar

    I really like the UP. I’ve never understood why someone doesn’t make a modern taxi cab for the N/A market. All the euroversions like the UP, the London Cab or those Ford Transit thingies seem to make terrific sense for a fleet. Is it just that the Panther is just too cheap?

  • avatar

    I think they both have the potential to become iconic taxi styles in their respective regions. They’re each interesting in their own way, and clearly identifiable as well (which is perfect for an iconic cab look).

  • avatar

    The Geely reminds me of a 1970’s VW Beetle with a Rolls-Royce style grille grafted onto the hood, only without the tongue-in-cheek humor. Sadly, I imagine that there is a designer somewhere deep in the bowels of the Geely machine that is actually proud of this mess. I’m amazed that a professional car designer could be this culturally tone deaf.
    I give VW credit for taking the concept seriously and leaving out cheeky baloney, in jokes, stereotypes and lame attempts to “seem cool to the young people” by adding swoopy lines, asymmetry and other dopey design cues that scream for attention. (Yeah, I’m talking about you, current generation Scion xB and Nissan Cube.)

  • avatar

    Geely is a fascinating anomaly, its in that odd little category of cars that are obviously rip-offs but yet somehow are unique, funky fun or so bad that they’re actually good. 
    It ends up instead of being a blatant copy, a send up, a parody if you will that is just as much or more memorable than the original in its own right. Which I guess is to say that retro works if whomever is designing it are not taking themselves or the car too seriously.

    I’ve always had large amount of disdain for retro-look cars, their existence screams ‘the desing department has got nothing.”  They’re the automotive embodiment of the baby-boomer, attempting to be what they were 20-30 years ago, only heavier, rounder, safer bigger and with a lot more money.

  • avatar

    I’d say both are “pretty good” (maybe c+ or b-) but neither is great. The Geely gets points for round headlights. One of the things the PT Cruiser did wrong was those awful pokemon eyes. It is a bit doughy, but not as bad as the PT.
    The Vdub SHOULD have round headlights. the other thing is it looks somewaht like a tinny toy. I can just feel myself picking it up, and pushing it across the floor, and I can hear the friction motor whining. But its simplicity is beneficial.
    One thing that’s important is how a style wears. I liked the PT and the New Beetle at first; I quickly came to thnk the PT was awful and the New Beetle was ok, but not great. I suspect this VW would wear badly because it looks so tinny. I’m just not sure about the Geely. I think it would have been better less doughy.
    I didn’t like that Citroen, and I don’t think it was either retro or “anti-retro,” although I’m not sure what anti-retro is. Maybe the original xB was anti-retro (Ed, if you can find and plug in your father’s relevant column here, please do.)
    I don’t think retro is necessarily either good or bad. Depends on how it’s done. I think the MINI is pretty good, though not great. A truly good job is where you like the new one at least as much as the original. I prefer the original Mini. I vastly prefer the original Beetle. I prefer all the original T-birds. I prefer the original Camaro. I like the current Mustang about as much as I like the original.
    I’d love to see a modern take on the second generation Corvair. More generally, I’d love to see Chevy reach back to the ’60s generally for inspiration, although they would have to do a damn good job of it. ON second thought, I doubt they could do a decent job.

    • 0 avatar

      The VW looks tiny because it is high and because it is electric it doesn’t need a lot of engine room.
      ps. round lights aren’t aerodynamic and scream to me as car designed with to much design. But i can say the same about the radiator or wheel arches that are way to big

  • avatar

    The Geely has way too much front overhang.

  • avatar

    There are certain functional requirements of a Hackney Carriage, governed by a wonderfully pompous act of parliament no less. One of these is to have a turning circle of less than 25 feet. There are very few vehicle with this capability and it is very hard to do with a FWD car. The Geely is FWD (based on one of their current cars, not the LX4 as has been suggested) so is probably not suitable. The Up petrol version is based on a rear wheel drive concept however the ev version powers the front wheels, although a motor in wheel configuration may allow for the turning circle. However the discusson is moot given that neither of these are actually Hackney Carriage proposals, they’re just styling exercises.

    As for the Geely styling, it would be more accurate to describe the Geely as having 1950s pre-pininfarina Austin cues as this is where the original FX4 came from. See the A40 Somerset, A70 Hereford and even the Mini in some respects for similar design features.

  • avatar

    You had me at “doughy, anglophile PT Cruiser”.
    The VW looks like the New Bulli concept that was featured here a while ago. I like it.

  • avatar
    M 1

    The Geely looks like a miniature Bentley which is wearing those big screw-on wheel arch extenders used by people with enormous 4×4 tires.
    I can’t figure out what is “classic” about the VW.
    Also, the TTAC comment editor is horribly broken in Firefox 4.

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