Vellum Venom Vignette: Kia's Magical Tiger Nose

Dan writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Since you’re a (failed-SM) auto designer, I was curious about your opinion on something I’ve noticed. I (like a lot of people, apparently) like Kia’s current styling and design language, especially on the Optima. It’s got a presence that reminds me of older Pontiacs, a kind of aggression that is lacking in a lot of cars today. What’s your opinion on Kia’s grille treatment?

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Nissan Juke

I was in a bad place about a year ago: fighting problems that resurfaced 10+ years of (secret) regret that my life at the College for Creative Studies shoulda ended differently. But then a few silver linings showed up, motivating me to write the first installment of this series. While I still am in (occasionally) bad places a year later, designs like the Nissan Juke keep me motivated, excited.

So, to celebrate this series’ First Anniversary: THANK YOU for letting me share my Venom. And know how much I appreciate it when you click that link:

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Less is More…Enlightening?
Mark writes:


We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern.

In short, Jeep’s design team needs to be raked across the coals for destroying what was Chrysler’s best-looking vehicle on the market, and I think you are the man to do the raking.

Sajeev answers:

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Ridin' Spinners

Here’s the funny thing about being a failed designer-turned-blogger in today’s world of information overload: designers make mistakes and we get to discuss them. The autoblogosphere is buzzing about the upcoming C7 Stingray softtop, but as my mangled merging of GM’s PR photos show, someone forgot to sweat the details before hitting the news wires.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Ghastly Entry-Level Luxury Design
Robert writes:

Have you seen a more ghastly DLO (daylight opening) fail than the new Avalon? (note the nicely highlighted black plastic sections in the photo sent by the OP- SM)

Sajeev answers:

Gather ’round the warm glow of your collective computer screens, let’s tell the tale of three Entry-Level Luxury Sedans of the year 2013 with very different DLOs. A tale with plastic triangles and fixed window panes told by me, but the ending lies at the end of the comment section.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: From Here to Eternity

Spencer writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Are there any examples of concept cars which, while not representative of the vehicles in the manufacturer’s immediate lineup, actually become something of a reality five or ten years down the line? More specifically, can you provide some images of concept cars that actually look like the cars we have on the road today (Isuzu VehiCROSS and similarly rare instances to be omitted, I suppose). Thanks!

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Vellum Venom: 2003 Volkswagen Jetta (MK IV)

Did you see an instant classic at last week’s Detroit Auto Show? Maybe that new Stingray. And hearing that the first C7 Vette was on the auction block to support the College for Creative Studies made me a little proud of my former school, too. But, aside from the always nerve-racking bus ride between CCS and Cobo Hall, my “instant classic” moment from the (1999) NAIAS was the introduction of the MK IV Jetta. All of a sudden I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Jettas, especially a silver one in the lower hall of Cobo. And time hasn’t changed my opinion…aside from making it more extreme.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: More Cluster Commotions?

Question #1. TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes:

Sajeev, I have another question for you.

Why do auto manufacturers increasingly make cars with hard to read speedometers? I was thinking of buying a Mustang, but I could not tell easily how fast I was going. The new Accord speedometer is harder to read than previous models.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: ATS Cluster Commotion?

Fellow TTAC scribe Alex Dykes put a somewhat innocent enough post on our Facebook Wall, suggesting the BMW 3-series has a reputation for homogenous design, while the new Cadillac ATS suffers from…well, what so many modern GM products suffer from: a new release that’s only “almost” there. The ATS gauge cluster was his proof.

This cluster spurred a commotion from our FB readers that merited a chat window popping up from the Esteemed Mr. Dykes, suggesting this is a good Vellum Venom. Agreed.

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Vellum Venom: Ferrari 275 GTB

I apologize for torturing you, dear reader, with over-analysis of absolutely mundane machinery for far too long. I blame it on my style–or lack thereof–as a student at the College of Creative Studies. So on Christmas Day, how about I let you in on another secret? No matter which bias (American, German, Japanese) got you into car design school, everyone loved Ferraris. This predominantly male student body often equated a Ferrari’s universal gorgeousness with that of the female anatomy. Surprised?

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Lincoln MKX

One thing that really burned me about design school: when a student applied their talent outside of their comfort zone, subsequently ruining a famous bodystyle, make or model. Hey, I’m guilty of it too. VERY guilty. But a foolish, ignorant student at the College for Creative Studies is one thing, getting paid by the manufacturer of said brand is a whole ‘nother. And while the original, JFK-Continental infused, Lincoln MKX wasn’t far removed from the Ford Edge from whence it came, the redesign takes what was once a solid reinterpretation of the Lincoln brand and well…completely screwed it up.

Again…ever since the Mitsubishi Diamante face of the Lincoln LS, that is. Let’s get this over with.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Honda Civic (Hybrid)

Sometimes promises are kept in the car design biz: the 2013 Civic sounds like a big step up from this 2012 model. Which was a big step down from the ’70s concept car chic of the 8th generation Civic. Aside from Wayne Cherry’s professional nightmare, how often does a manufacturer make such significant changes after one year of production? This model insulted more than one autojourno and countless fanbois, apparently Honda doesn’t mess around when reputation and $$$ are on the line. But just how bad was it in 2012?

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Dodge Avenger

A sports car. A luxury car. A truck. A car for third-world nations. And yet CCS never gave me a project that said, “lower your standards and design a great rental car” for a week of studio work. Does anyone design anything with unloved dispensability in mind? But I see it that way: leaving the design world to (eventually) to flash my MBA with an occasional corporate trip…with the obligatory rental car. But how pretty is the Queen?

The fleet queen that is.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Redesigned Chrysler 200?

TTAC commentator halftruth writes/draws:

I got taking a look at the Chrysler 200 recently and while I want to like it, I cant get past the little droop on the bottom of the tail lights. I took a couple of stabs to see what they would look like flat and perhaps they are too VW-ish, but I like them better this way..

What do you think? I did them quickly in paint but I think you get the point…thanks!

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Vellum Venom: 1986 Audi 4000 CS Quattro

Some designs are perfect in their initial run, others need a mid-cycle rethink to make ’em sing. The 4000 is the latter: cost effectively ushering a new era of modern and luxurious Industrial Design for Audi. I loved the styling, but a classmate at CCS showed me the light: he was an SCCA racer with a similar CS Quattro in the dorm’s parking lot. And while CCS was a total bummer at times, we enjoyed the 4000 in the horrible winter weather around Metro Detroit. Especially at one of our favorite hangouts: Belle Isle. At night. In a 4000 CS Quattro. Oh hell yes.

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Vellum Venom: 1984 Audi 4000 LE

One of my Automotive Design teachers at CCS made us take a personality test to determine our strengths(?) as a designer. It was beyond stupid, or so I thought. To wit, a (paraphrased) question: do you collect old things? The answer was supposedly neutral: no matter what you answered on this query, your overall score didn’t change.

Which is a total crock. The history of design is so very important, especially for a powerhouse like Audi. Please!

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Vellum Venom Vignette: It's Hip to Be…Hexagon???

My first semester’s Automotive Design class (an elective, taught on a Saturday no less) at CCS was taught by a cool, laid back dude. But he’d get unhinged when his students drew static looking wheels: his beef was four spoke wheels. They are impossible to make “cool”, unless you own a Scion xBox or a Nissan Cube. But can you have a cool wheel that’s not your average spoke-y affair? Welcome to the Hexagon wheel.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Design and Marketing's One Night Stand, 2013 Lincoln MKZ Edition

Do you have a thick skin? Nope! Someone can reduce you to buckets of tears. Welcome to the world of Automotive Design, where talented folks regularly market/defend themselves with beliefs under the scrutiny of (not so) constructive criticism. I was guilty of this ritual at CCS: when I was done, I felt dirty. “Why did I say that? Did it help me, or make me feel better?” It was sorta like the regret following a one night stand.**

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Aftermarket Fixes All!

The problem with the FR-S’ unrefined bumps, lumps and Trapezoid Homage to the 1977 Mercury Cougar now has a decent solution. And what of this workaround? It’s brutal. It’s borderline inexcusable. But my goodness, it works…too bad I’m making you click to see it.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Scion FR-S

Damn near everyone in the Industrial Design department at CCS said my engineering/gearhead/history buff background was killing my potential Car Design career. In hindsight they had a point, but most were complete jerks about it. With three art history courses at three different colleges in mind, automotive brands/models/trim levels do indeed nod to something more than PR-hyped styling takeaways: perhaps a vintage automobile, a vague reference to a sub-culture not normally associated with a large corporation, or an entire genre of fine art. But the Scion FR-S isn’t retro…

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Does This Icon Make Me Look Fat?

Here’s the thing about going retro: like movie sequels, the original is usually far, far superior. But unlike sequels, we operate a vehicle outside of the lens of historical significance. Most of us need an automotive appliance to do our jobs. If you need a new ride, how do you roll? In a modern take of a classic, complete with CUV-sized dimensions and proportioning, that’s how!

One of the few exceptions (outside of rich people price points) is the Scion FR-S, which is the subject of my next Vellum Venom. So consider this a tease: enjoy the “bulk” of owning retro in our current age of fat CUVs, insane Energy Drinks, Hot Yoga and Gluten-free diets!

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Normalization of Art and Science?

Kyree writes:

Mister Mehta,

I should start by saying that I thoroughly enjoy the pure and unadulterated experience of TTAC. I also enjoy poking fun at you because you are a Mark VIII diehard, while I am a huge fan of the Gen-8 Riviera, which you have described as having an exterior full of “unrefined lumps and curves.” I suppose they’re both great personal luxury coupes–the Riv’s just a better one. (Tongue out!)

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Dated Design, Timeless Upgrade?

We all wish some things could last forever: a sports team’s winning streak, the love of a soul mate, or perhaps the still-kinda-futuristic look of the Lincoln Mark VIII. Aside from showing how every post-Mark VIII Lincoln’s style has been a step in the wrong direction, this car helped “mainstream” design elements (tiny HID headlights, super curvy side contours, etc) while keeping the basic, timeless goodness of American car proportioning. If I didn’t already drink my own design Kool-Aid, the regular stream of compliments from by-standers certainly didn’t help.

The good? A Mark VIII’s bi-plane dashboard made of a blizzard of decadently padded vinyl and rubber coated (like an Audi) hard plastics. The bad? That dated, cheap looking driver’s side airbag.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Infiniti JX

Sometimes we work too hard for success. We listen to others, constructive criticism or not, doing our best to make a change for the better. But are we really accomplishing that? I’ve always wondered if the ends justify the means. Not for me at CCS in Detroit: after trying to change myself to fit a certain mold and failing, I realized I’m totally okay with (most) everything I do. On or off the vellum.

I wonder if vehicles like the Infiniti JX are the byproduct of a design studio trying too hard to address criticisms. Or maybe this is just a common case of “over-styling” a vehicle. Either way, here we are.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Maybach 57

Let’s be clear about one thing: racism sucks. Be it the recent, tragic temple shooting or some BS you experienced when doing/not doing what your culture demands, this is a fact of life. That said, geo-cultural influences are everywhere, including the car design biz. Take my time at CCS: one of my classmates was a South Korean lawyer who wanted to style cars for Hyundai. His work was unique amongst all studio creations, reflecting a culture that’s borderline impossible to understand by the uninitiated. Which is damn near every college kid.

This person’s work reminded me how culture influences design, and how people can negatively react to it. Which leads us to a flagship Mercedes heavily(?) influenced by a Mercedes design studio in Japan. Yes, Japan. So let’s get to it.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Lincoln Mariner (Hecho En Mexico)

Francisco writes:

Dear Sajeev,

Regular reader here. To the matter at hand:

On a recent visit to Mexico, this Mariner was in front of me begging for a bad cellphone pic. Don’t get me wrong, after-market badge-upgraded cars are pretty common there, but this already badge-engineered Ford Explorer (Mercury Mariner – SM) badge-engineered once more to a “Lincoln Mariner 4wd V6” was too ironic to let go. Please note the extra Lincoln badge thrown in for good measure on the dealer license plate cover. Make no mistake, it is a Lincoln.

I assumed that this would bring a smile and a chuckle to an ardent Ford guy like yourself. Hope you enjoy it and keep up the good work!

Best regards from Sweden,

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Next Iconic American Sedan?

The (mainstream) staying power of GM’s B-body is pretty much history. Panther Love shall live for the next decade or so, not much longer. I was in this state of mind when auto writer extraordinaire Alex Nunez posted a picture to my Facebook wall, suggesting that the Chevrolet Caprice’s proportioning is somehow a worthy successor to these Iconic American Sedans. My response? Relative to the Chevy Impala, sure. But proportioning is more than having rear-wheel drive and a lot of real estate. If you proportion it wrong, you create a Fool’s errand. You create the Chevy Caprice.

While we say Panther Love, we really mean Cab Backward design for an Iconic American Sedan. Can you dig it?

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Vellum Venom: 1986 Hyundai Excel

Sometimes designers become super stars in the car biz: just ask that dude who made the Ford GT, or the other dude responsible for the Chrysler 300. I am sure both made other vehicles which they truly hated. Perhaps the 300’s designer shares some amount of blame for the last Chrysler Sebring? I am sure that Ital Design’s Giorgetto Giugiaro has the same problem, but Hyundai wrote him a check and he made it happen. Quite honestly, the original Hyundai Excel here in the USA wasn’t a bad car at all. Bad looking, that is.

And honestly, after walking around this example at a historically savvy Hyundai dealer (next to a Lamborghini Dealership that bored me after 20 minutes) I suggest to you, dear reader, that the Excel sold so unbelievably well on both price and design. Because this machine could look much, much worse.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: BMW 328!.

TTAC commentator krhodes1 writes:

Hi Sajeev,

As promised in your Taurus X post, here are the incriminating photos. The badge up close: 328!.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Restyled 2012 Nissan GT-R
Christopher writes: Sajeev,Great analysis of the GT-R. Slow day at work, so I decided to cut a few inches out of the middle as you suggested (maybe more than just 2″…). Please excuse the crappy “MS Paint” editing and my poor editing skills… but I still think the profile looks so much better. Like a real super car. And it eliminates the fake fender vent!
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Vellum Venom: 2012 Nissan GT-R

Circa 1998, I was mentally ready to move from the (lower-middle class) suburbs of Houston to the College for Creative Studies’ (CCS) dorm in the heart of Metro Detroit. Oddly my big surprise came not from Detroit itself, but from the dorm’s many Sony PlayStations…and something called “Gran Turismo”. I knew about the Nissan GT-R, but I was like every other kid playing this amazing game: absolutely blown away by the GT-R’s prowess.

That said, I raced all CCS’ contenders in “arcade mode,” in the big block ’67 Corvette. With the most power and the easiest to rotate chassis, I wasted most of my Japanese car loving dorm mates. The GT-R was/is rarely my weapon of choice in Gran Turismo. Which kinda explains my general apathy to the GT-R in the flesh.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Ford Taurus X "LITIMED"

TTAC Commentator SupremeBrougham starts us off:

Hi Sajeev,

I found this jem at my local Ford dealer the other day and I thought I’d share it with you so you can share it with the others. It’s a real one of a kind!!!

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Vellum Venom: 1989 Ferrari Testarossa (RIP Sergio Pininfarina)

It was 1986. One of the cruise ship’s ports of call was Puerto Rico. At a local gift shop, a 9-year-old boy received his first “nice” car model, a 1:18th scale Ferrari Testarossa. He’d spend far too much time in his stateroom, with no lights but the small bedside reading light, turning the model while admiring how the light danced over the curves and edges of Ferrari’s most influential car: a World Car in every way. The vehicle that refined the Super Car. It defined a decade, and warped the minds of several generations of car enthusiasts. And it took this boy to a Motown design school, and eventually to a little car blog called TTAC.

Sergio Pininfarina once called the Testarossa “an exaggeration in flamboyance.” A fitting quote for what must be the most famous vehicle to leave his design studio. And while he might be right, compared to today’s flamboyant Fezzas, the Testarossa was veiled in understatement and modernist modesty.

So let’s dig deep into the Mehta Brothers garage, and check out Dr. Mehta’s 1989 Testarossa: a car we’ve wanted for decades.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 BMW 750Li
“I wish I came up with that.”

That’s a phrase I said many a morning when the studios at CCS woke up to a bumper crop of new student designs for the week. Just because you can visualize it doesn’t mean you can make it happen. Self pity/loathing aside, the 5th generation BMW 7-series is one of those visions in my head that I could never make. It’s not my cup of tea, and perhaps you don’t like it either. But the attention to detail (ATD) in this shockingly cohesive Luxury sedan implementation are not to be ignored.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: In God We Trust?

It’s funny how a college professor goes from cool to angry in a split second. Case in point: my first transportation design class at CCS. People showed off their designs as per usual, but one day I opened my big mouth. I mentioned that a classmate’s rendering sported wheels that looked like the Star of David. He seemed completely clueless about what he did. But I just had to “keep it real.” Oh boy, was that ever a mistake!

A design school that caters to the big automakers, staffed with adjunct professors who work in the business…well, they know better than some punk design student. My wrist was (kinda) slapped, and everyone was warned to not include religious symbolism in their products. Because everyone in this business wants to sell their product to anyone with green money. Nobody gives a crap as long as you can “splash the cash.”

Stop reading if you believe TTAC has no business discussing religion.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Volkswagen Routan

One thing I heard over and over in the Transportation Design biz is how the real world of car design is nothing like what you learn in school. It’s probably the same for any Industrial Designer or anyone in the creative arts, but to a lesser extent. We are passionate about cars. To wit: my former CCS classmate Mike Chan is taking his education and automotive (okay, motorcycle) design experience to launch his own design: the Chrono Case. Do me a solid and check out the man’s hard work, and maybe consider participating in the Indiegogo funding thing. Why?

Because we all need to save designers from creating design nightmares such as the VW Routan. The weatherstripping is reason enough to become a design entrepreneur à la Mike Chan. From one CCS person to another, best of luck to you, Mike.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Nissan Leaf

History repeats itself. I repeat, History repeats…well, you see my point. Which was probably one of the reasons why my creations in Car Design College were universally panned as being “too retro”, among other things. It was a similar fate given to Lenny Kravitz, except he was very talented in his form of artistic expression. And while you can’t “sell” most design studios on the power of history, I present to you the latest Nash/AMC Rambler.

I mean Nissan Leaf. You’ll have to forgive me for seeing the similarity between the two, in spirit, historical context and on the Vellum.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Lincoln MKZ

“MR2turbo4evr”, today is your lucky day: you suggested that someone would appreciate my critiques on Lincoln products, and maybe you are right. But this self-proclaimed Lincoln-Mercury fanboi was pissed when his favorite version of Ford’s CD3 platform, the Mercury Milan, bit the dust. But I digress: what to do when you are a designer tasked with making every Lincoln look like the MKR concept, even if that ridiculous grille maybe (MAYBE) works on a sedan with Town Car levels of decadent proportioning, and no other Lincoln?

If you worked on the 2010-2012 MKZ, I suspect you bit your tongue, did your job, cashed your paycheck and told your family how much they meant to you. This applies to the MKZ more than the re-skin of the MKS, MKX and the all-new MKT. Or maybe working on such a half-hearted design isn’t so bad for a car designer, because job satisfaction is a relative term. That’s where fanbois who’ve lost their way get lost in their own thoughts.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Volkswagen CC

I can’t believe every automaker and their dog needs an entry-level luxury car, but some folks pull it off better than others. Case in point, this VW CC versus a Hyundai Azera or the (current) Lincoln MKZ. Which makes me wonder what designers say in the studio when trying to make such an upscale motor from a rather dowdy platform mate in the corporate stable.

I suspect a fair bit of cursing, especially for the poor souls tasked with the aforementioned Lincoln. And while badge engineering is a vital (yet terrifying) part of the game, me thinks the designers at VW had more leverage, more money and way more fun making this ride. Because the roof proves it.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 VW Beetle Turbo

Please believe: car design school is a frickin’ bizarre place. The phrase “I’m surprised you are here and not in medical school” was thrown in my face several times at CCS. And this verbal diarrhea came from people who take your tuition and are supposed to help you become a designer! But can’t I, a fairly smart South Asian dude, be more than what you assume?

Or do stereotypes exist for a reason? Like the beliefs held about the vehicle in question?

The newest VW Beetle reminds me of that old “Design School Sajeev.”

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Restyled 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ – RS

I’m shocked and honored by the warm reception the Vellum Venom series has earned from TTAC’s B&B. Your comments are read, digested and will influence the series, but some comments move quicker than others. To wit: Josh Howard’s photochop of my Chevy Cruze image.

“You were so right about the smoothing out of the Cruze front end and getting rid of the small fake DLO plastic piece in front. This car looks WAYYYY different and more Toyota-like with some of the changes you suggested. – JH”

Now imagine Josh’s changes with a bow tie in the center and we are done. This “Vellum Venom Cruze” looks Acura-like, a bit more BMW E36-like and much like any other classically proportioned sports sedan from the modern era. But wait, we aren’t done re-designing this little hit from the big General. Hit the jump for another rendering of Epic Win.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Chevrolet Cruze LTZ – RS

Here’s the thing about design school, and designers in general: you are taught to fully express your creativity…which sounds like a great idea in theory. In reality, there’s very little “reality” in the situation. This is a creative art for profit, by a multinational, publicly traded corporation. Design school students frequently have to un-learn their training if they want to make the nut.

When my freshman year Transportation Design class at CCS was tasked for a third world mode for transport, the teacher chose one country in particular: India. Luckily, since I’ve regularly visited that nation and know a tad bit more about it than most car designers…well, I thought I’d nail this one. Because who in India (circa 1998, and still to this day) can afford a car? Rich people, not the masses with no hope of education and/or career advancement…they stick with their feet or perhaps a motorcycle. Sad, but true.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: 1991 Toyota Camry (emblem)

The last two Vellum Venom editorials discussed the differences between 1980s and 2000s automotive design aesthetics, for two vehicles with similar missions for their respective brands. The point? We’ve gone silly in our proportions and we need way more ATD (attention to detail) from the auto makers. Behold, my point coming to life: the 1991-ish Toyota Camry.

Before we proceed, remember what one of my design teachers said: success depends on proportion, proportion, proportion!

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Vellum Venom: 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme SL

A funny thing happened while reading the comments on Monday’s CTS-V coupe design study: I recalled that car design students are brands unto themselves, complete with perception gaps. I was certainly a Yugo, no “gap” needed. Others were solid BMWs, most of the time. We had a few Ferraris, even if they performed like every other Corvette in class. And there’s the rub: just because a “Ferrari” makes something great looking, did they make the best concept in the class? Is a flashy rendering really that great, if it will never make production without a truckload of compromise?

With that in mind, walk about 100 yards with me from our last case study. Behold: another radical GM coupe on the same lot.

As much as we all like the CTS-V coupe for merely existing, it is sorely lacking in ATD. (Attention To Detail) If you want to rally around the General for making a coupe with brass balls and brilliant ATD, well, you could do much worse than the 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

A few years after I left Detroit, doing my best to forget my heart-wrenching decision to give up on car design, a similarly disheartened automaker named Saturn made something called an Ion. I saw it at the Houston Auto Show circa 2002. Wounds from Detroit still fresh on my mind, I had absolutely no problem with the Saturn Ion shown behind a velvet rope. I honestly thought it was a design study commissioned by Playskool, not a production ready vehicle from General Motors.

I mean, it was that awful. So imagine my surprise when the General’s peeps come up with something nearly as ugly…and this time it’s a Cadillac.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Ford Mustang

After reading yesterday’s post about the future Euro-Trash Mustang, the sad reality is that most of us are incorrectly reading between the lines. Fortunately for me, I have a soapbox, slathered in venom: assuming Ford killed the Panthers, the Ranger, the Mercury brand and castrated Lincoln for a good reason, the Mustang shall remain rear-wheel drive with the requisite proportions. It won’t be a Probe, as the public/UAW outcry (with the ensuing hate mail to Ford execs) and the stunning (straight line) performance of the 1987 Ford Mustang 5.0 put those worries to bed. Even the Bruce Jenner Mustang wasn’t a big deal, so let’s all be cool.

Back to the Venom on the Vellum. As to the Mustang-Aston Martin connection, don’t sweat it: the original Pony car ripped off other designs for its unique take on Americana. So I welcome the future AMM, or Aston Martin Mustang!

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

I always wondered what it takes to make the top drawer trim level of a car…any car. From what I saw from my friend Jeff Sanders’ sketchbook for the (yet-to-be created) Ford F150 Harley Davidson, very little of what a designer actually “designs” makes it into production. A flare side bed with leather bags like a real Harley? Not a chance in hell, Mr. Sanders. Enter the lipstick on a P…Pony: the outgoing Shelby GT500 for 2012.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Hyundai Azera

Sometimes it’s a little difficult to style a car in a certain genre. Case in point, the “entry level” luxury car segment. And not because the cars are rubbish or the designers simply phoned it in, but because so much equity is on the line…on a budget! This is no audacious Maybach Exelero, here’s an ordinary platform given a few dimensional tweaks, a touch of class and a lot of tacked on “visual presence” in hopes of high volume (compared to an Equus) and high margin (compared to an Accent) successes. And while this Hyundai has one of the toughest acts to follow–after its Sonata brother blew the roof off the world of family car design–it isn’t a dog.

But it’s a good thing Hyundai never called it the Hyundai Grandeur here in North America. There’s nothing especially “grand” about it.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Lexus LFA

I understand the need for a luxury car maker to create a super car. It spilled into my drawing books at CCS. But I love Lincolns. To wit: a stand up grille (modeled after the Bugatti EB110), covered headlights (Continental Mark III) , a power dome hood and an-ever-so-slight Continental kit that blended into a spoiler (like the final RX-7). Jokes about my Panther Love on TTAC is fine, but I was far too scared to encourage the stereotypes in design school. I showed absolutely nobody my super car Lincoln, and I never will…it, among other aborted design studies, went in the trash when I left Detroit.

But Lexus? No, they actually think they can play in this space. At least long enough to make a statement: since I never did, I do applaud their effort. Even if I don’t especially like it.

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Vellum Venom: 2013 Lexus GS 350

A design studio gets shocking when someone shrugs off their stereotypical work, coming up with a whole new game. But all your designs look the same! You are too retro! I’ve had better looking bowel movements than your last luxury sedan proposal! The end result of this hate can be shockingly different from what they normally make, and the person behind it can have new found swagger. In my case as a student at CCS? Not so much. But for the Lexus? Maybe so.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Fisker Karma

One of my Transportation Design teachers insisted that cars were just like restaurants: success depends on proportion, proportion, proportion! And while the mere thought of his lectures makes me want to vomit in terror, the dude is right: cars need to be perfectly proportioned to prove a point. And my goodness, the Fisker Karma is just that. Put another way…

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Vellum Venom: 2012 BMW 328i Sedan

You want a challenge? Try sitting in a design studio when tasked with redesigning an automotive icon. I especially enjoyed these tasks, because you could to honor a brand and maybe even go retro on your vellum. If I was still in that game, I’d go heavy on the E36. That was my favorite of the 3-series, because it had a proper BMW look, without being tiny and cheap looking like the E30. And while this isn’t a retro 3-series by any stretch, the toning down of Chris Bangle’s flame surfacing continues. And that’s a good thing.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Scion IQ
Every lesson in car design school is a new challenge: draw a new type of vehicle and be ready to strut your stuff next week in the studio. It was always br…
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Vellum Venom: 2012 McLaren MP4-12C

The MP4-12C has a wonderful backstory for those who love and admire the McLaren brand. The McLaren F1’s instant Zeus-like status is a large part of the mystique, but not necessarily all of it. That said, for everyone outside of this world (and price point) you are forgiven if you wouldn’t even consider this over the similarly priced Ferrari 458 Italia….as I probably fit into that category.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 FIAT 500 Gucci Convertible

Gucci is no stranger to OEM trim packages for major manufacturers. The House of Gucci originally lent its unique Italian flavor to somewhat of an Intercontinental Bastard: a leaf sprung, Chevy Nova based Cadillac with a Spanish name.

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Vellum Venom: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera

Vellum is a material at the heart of Automotive and Industrial Design. Venom is something this website has in spades: so a few positive comments from a recent Piston Slap column brought the two concepts together. Before we start; some ground rules: I analyze what’s seen from my camera phone, no press cars and therefore no time to second guess my thoughts.

And a few shout outs:

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  • Jeffrey An all electric entry level vehicle is needed and as a second car I'm interested. Though I will wait for it to be manufactured in the states with US components eligible for the EV credit.
  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.