On day two of my classic Mustang road trip with Ford Motor Co.’s top two designers, Moray Callum and I were concerning ourselves with the future. Not just the future of cars, cities, and design; but our own imminent futures. Because we were driving a half-century-old car, with antiquated brakes, insufficient tires, and zero safety devices—and it was snowing. And our windshield wipers had just quit.
When we last left off on our Mustang adventure, we’d rumbled into Rochester, NY just after midnight, after leaving Dearborn, MI at 10AM. The 1965 Mustang I’d been riding in with Chris Svensson, Ford Motor Co.’s director of design for the Americas, was a champ. The 67 Mustang, driven by Ford’s head of design Moray Callum, was breaking down with the regularity of Old Faithful. Today, I’d be riding with Moray in the temperamental 67.
Moray Callum’s 1967 Mustang.
After trailering the 67 for the last 60 miles of our first day, Moray and mechanic Matt Patrice had woken up at 6AM to try to fix the temperamental car’s flagging electrical system. By 10 o’clock, when designer Chris Svensson, Motor Trend‘s Scott Burgess, and I arrived at the trailer-turned-workshop, Moray and Matt had settled on the same solution as yesterday: drive until the battery died, then swap in a fresh one from the charger in the chase truck. Repeat for 300 miles.
We would know the battery was dying when the windshield wipers slowed to a crawl.
As our manual transmission, manual steering, crank-windowed 67 Mustang roared out of the hotel parking lot into a trademark Central New York mix of frozen precipitation and misery, I asked Moray what a world of driverless cars might look like.
“If the lawyers will ever let us have autonomous cars, then in theory, I think a couple things could happen,” he replied. “Pretty soon we’ll have cars that are able to avoid each other. But that’ll only work for cars that can talk to each other. So then we’ll see if you’ll have a unique set of roads for that kind of technology for specific cars, or if we’ll ban old cars completely, which is slightly worrying.”
The 67′s windshield wipers quit wiping. Moray fiddled with the switch. “But I suppose the promising thing about that is, if you imagine cars can’t collide with each other, we can take all the safety devices off, take all the pedestrian protection off, all that, and actually be a bit more creative with cars again.”
The wipers popped back into action. “Imagine the weight you put into cars to make them collision-proof, or for the consequence of a collision. If there’s never going to be a collision you could take all of that away. That could be quite interesting.”
You’d be left with a 1967 Mustang, I thought.
Port Byron, NY
We pulled into a rest stop off the New York State Thruway. The miserable weather, alternating between rain and snow, demanded full concentration at the wheel from Moray and Chris, but both cars were running strong. On the road, Moray’s 67 wasn’t quite as loud as Chris’s 65, though neither could be characterized as quiet.
Unlike modern cars that that almost seem ashamed of their gasoline-fueled guts, these Mustangs always remind you that they’re powered by a series of small explosions.
In the rest area parking lot, a guy in a black leather jacket emblazoned with a red, white and blue “Mustang” insignia took a long, slow walk around our two cars. This had become a familiar sight. Everywhere we’d stopped, people came up to chat about the Mustangs. Nearly all of them had a Mustang story, whether it was about a parent, a sibling, a neighbor, or a younger version of themselves. Separately, I made this observation to both Chris and Moray. Their reactions were the same: they loved it.
“Isn’t that amazing?” Moray asked. “I think that’s what makes the Mustang iconic. That’s an overused word, but the Mustang is such an American thing.”
This was the one time I wanted the wipers to stop. They didn’t.
We drove on. The windshield wipers were nearly cooperating. The snow had turned to mostly rain. Which was only a partial improvement: both the 65 and 67 Mustangs leak a not-insignificant amount of water through the bottom of the windshield and onto the driver and passenger’s feet. Matt told us this was just a characteristic quirk of the era. Not to mention, neither car’s windows completely sealed—in Moray’s 67, with my window cranked all the way up, there was still a gap between the top of the window and the door frame.
I could see why my parents, who grew up driving cars like these, always insisted I call home after a car trip of more than an hour.
Moray and I got to talking about hybrids and electric cars, and how car design could change in a future where vehicles aren’t strictly powered by gasoline. “It’s interesting to see what Tesla’s done,” Moray said. “They had the opportunity to do a completely new shape of car if they wanted to. What they really did was just take all the elements we already know make a car look better, and did it.”
The windshield wipers quit briefly, then resumed. “And I think that’s probably the way it’s going to have to start. People still have certain rules about what cars should look like, and quite frankly it may be less experimental than we’d like them to be in terms of how a car could look.”
“I think with different powertrains, combined with [self-driving] cars not hitting each other, you could actually really get back to the old days of the coach builder designing your own body for you. If the roller skate [the car's chassis] just has all the safety systems on it, and the collision avoidance system, you could get back to people having their own uniquely designed cars.”
Aside from the 67′s battery charging problems, and the errant dribble of rain sneaking inside, both Chris and Moray’s cars were doing an admirable job keeping up with modern traffic. When everything was working right, the cars didn’t feel at all out of place cruising down the interstate at 70 MPH, despite both cars being closer in age to the Model T than to the 2014 jellybeans we rumbled past.
The only area where the vintage ‘Stangs both felt wholly antiquated was in electronic gadgetry. Both Chris’s 65 and Moray’s 67 had hidden smartphone connectivity (Bluetooth in the 65, auxiliary input cable in the 67), but their dashboards were bereft of the knobs, buttons, speakers, and screens we associate with car interiors today.
I spent the whole day searching for the seat heater button, but never found it
“Is it hard incorporating the latest entertainment technology in car interiors?” I asked.
“It’s a challenge that’s bigger than a lot of people think,” Moray replied. “A lot of people think it’s as simple as putting an iPad up there, but the whole distraction aspect of that is completely different than what an iPad is. You can’t make it overly entertaining because you don’t want people to be looking at it, you don’t want it to cause accidents.”
“I think we really need to understand what information the customer needs and how much is overkill. As designers and engineers we tend to like to give people as much information as we can give them. We need to go back and ask ourselves, just because we can do it, should we do it?”
Just south of Syracuse, our windshield wipers started to slow down noticeably; the tell-tale sign the 67′s battery was dying. I called Chris and Scott, riding in the 65 ahead of us, and asked them to tell us whether our headlights had gotten dim.
When Moray pulled out the headlight switch, the 67′s engine bogged down and backfired violently. Our battery was out of juice. Moray managed to limp the dying Mustang to the side of an off-ramp before the engine quit.
While we waited for Matt to come with our next battery, Chris and Scott drove the annoyingly reliable 65 a quarter-mile down the road to get gas. Helpfully, they discovered a Subway and took an impromptu 30-minute lunch break.
Absent the constant roar of the thirsty 390-cubic-inch V8, Moray and I no longer had to shout to hear each other. I asked him about the parallels between car design and architecture.
“It’s all about communicating function,” Moray said. “I think of Frank Gehry for example, I think he opened up a new life for architecture in terms of flexibility, how much form and shape can change a building. And he probably broke a lot of rules. But I think that’s part of this job, there are a lot of unspoken rules in car design as well.”
I thought I heard Chris and Scott coming to join us, but it was just a passing farm truck. After two days of near-constant auditory assault, all these Ford V8′s were starting to sound the same.
Moray continued. “The same thing that Frank Gehry’s done in buildings I think’s happened in cars as well. And it probably started off with what Chris Bangle did at BMW, really sort of questioning the traditionalist approach and actually doing something a little different. And that’s been taken to different lengths by different companies, some more positively than others.”
Matt arrived with our replacement battery. He had it swapped in under a minute. He’d had a lot of practice in the past 24 hours.
New Milford, PA
We got going again, but the 67 didn’t seem happy. There was a new sound on top of the usual booming engine note, a loud clattering that made the freshly-rebuilt V8 sound like a 200,000 mile survivor.
We clocked another 80 miles, but by our next fuel stop the 67 was in a sorry state. It left a shimmering smear of oil on the concrete as Moray filled up the tank. The rain showed no sign of stopping, and we had another 160 miles to go before we reached New York City. Reluctantly, Moray threw in the towel. After 500 miles of heroic effort, Matt and the truck driver Nate loaded the 67 into the trailer. Moray and I would finish the journey in the luxurious back seat of the chase truck, with Chris and Scott following in the 65.
After the raucous environment of the classic Mustangs, the truck seemed like a rolling luxury suite. Despite hauling a 48-foot trailer carrying nearly 3,000 pounds of dead Mustang weight, I could hardly hear the truck’s engine, even as we merged onto Route 81. Moray, having gone to bed late and woken up early in an effort to get the 67 sorted, dozed off immediately. I plugged in my laptop and started writing. A late-model Ford F-450 King Ranch, with its opulent leather and abundant power outlets, makes an excellent office. Coming from the 67, the truck felt like a Lear Jet.
But if the Alternator Fairy had come down and bestowed working electronics on our 67, I’d have hopped back into the old beast in a heartbeat. In a modern car, even the driver starts to feel like a passenger. From the shotgun seat of the 67, where I served as navigator, windshield de-fogger, and blind side traffic monitor, I felt like part of the drive—even though I never laid a finger on the steering wheel.
Which is why I’m relieved that Ford’s top two designers are such adamant car guys. I’m even glad they refused to bring along modern backup cars, despite the frequent breakdowns more than doubling the time it took us to complete our voyage. There were no safety nets on this trip.
With Moray and Chris at the wheel, the future of car design looks pretty bright. As long as our windshield wipers cooperate.
Many thanks to Moray Callum, Chris Svensson, and Ford Motor Company for inviting me along on this trip.
This week the Ford Mustang, perhaps America’s most culturally influential car, turned 50. Ford Motor Company celebrated the anniversary with commemorative models and publicity stunts, but the company’s top two designers had the most fitting tribute: A Michigan-to-NYC road trip in two classic Mustangs. I rode along and, while the vehicles were vintage, the conversation was all about the future—of design, of cities, and yes, of cars.
Full disclosure: Ford Motor Company wanted me to ride shotgun on this trip so badly, it paid for my flight to Detroit and for two nights’ accommodations to boot. Not to mention, enough gasoline to hurtle two thirsty pony cars across an international border.
On April 17th, 1964, Ford Motor Company unveiled the original Mustang at the World’s Fair in New York City. After the fair ended, a few Ford engineers drove the two display Mustangs back to Ford’s world headquarters in Dearborn, MI, winding through central New York, swinging through the Canadian border at Niagara Falls, then cutting back into Michigan.
Our trip was to be a homecoming of sorts, the 50-years-delayed return voyage to the place where it all began. Ford’s head of design, Moray Callum, was at the wheel of a 1967 Mustang, while Chris Svensson, director of design for the Americas, helmed a 1965. These are Moray’s and Chris’s personal cars, both fresh from an immaculate restoration. This would be their maiden voyage, the first shakedown run. For this reason, we were joined by Matt Patrice, the master mechanic who just the day before had completed the rebuild of the two cars, and a yards-long trailer that would double as a rolling workshop should things go wrong.
Ford also offered to load a pair of 2014 Mustang Boss 302s in the trailer for backup, in case the classic ‘Stangs broke down. Moray turned down the offer on purist grounds. This decision would prove momentous.
Chris Svensson’s 1965 Mustang.
Moray Callum’s 1967 Mustang, foreground, preparing to depart from the Dearborn Inn.
The chase truck and trailer we hoped we wouldn’t need.
It was gray and breezy when we lit out from the Dearborn Inn, a grand hotel Henry Ford built in 1931 for important guests who flew in to the private airport once located across Oakwood Boulevard at Ford’s world headquarters. Our itinerary had us crossing into Canada at Point Edward, rumbling across the toe of Ontario, and stopping for the night in Rochester, NY. As we thundered onto the highway a little after 10AM, Google Maps estimated we’d arrive by 4PM.
I rode with Chris in the ’65 for the first stint, with Motor Trend‘s Scott Burgess alongside Moray in the ’67. (You can read Scott’s two-part account of our journey here and here.) Chris is a lifelong Ford designer, having worked in the company’s design studios on every continent. He now oversees exterior and interior design for Ford in North and South America, most recently completing the design of the 2015 Mustang.
Like Moray, Chris grew up in the UK. I asked him how it came to be that the two designers in charge of rebooting America’s most iconic muscle car hail from the wrong side of the pond.
“They breed them well in the UK,” he replied.
Stopping for a photo op outside Ford’s world headquarters. Moments after I took this shot, security rolled up. The front walk, photogenic as it may be, is a no-parking zone.
Chris Svensson’s 1965 Mustang, with a 2014 Mustang GT in the background, owned by a Ford designer.
Point Edward, Ontario
We crossed the Blue Water Bridge into Ontario. Motoring behind Moray, Chris evaluated out loud the lines of the 67 Mustang in front of us.
“If you look at the centerline silhouette, the middle of the car and how it looks, it’s fundamentally the same as that new car,” he explained. “It’s that fastback, dramatic, speedy looking profile that this car has, that everyone got so passionate about, and the new car has that too.”
The 50-year-old car was a touch unsteady in Canada’s stiff cross-winds. Chris kept both hands firm on the wheel. “We went back to that centerline silhouette and said, that was so iconic in the 65 and the 67 cars, we really need to reinvigorate that sporty silhouette. These [old] cars are important, they’re really key to how designers look at modern cars and trying to interpret what people find passionate about these things.”
He continued, as we made miles into Canada. “I think it’s the same with furniture, and fashion. You look at mid-60s modernist furniture, and it’s still so contemporary today. It’s very influential in modern furniture, and I think it’s the same for old cars too.”
Chris’s 1965 Mustang interior.
Both of these iconic cars were designed in an era when automotive safety was a bare afterthought. The only halfhearted concession to life and limb in either car is a lap-only seatbelt like the one you buckled for takeoff on your last flight. I asked Chris how today’s safety requirements impact vehicle styling.
“It’s very confining,” he answered. “It limits your capabilities. But then, people have to use these cars and they have to be able to crash in these cars and be safe. I hate to say it, but if we have a crash in this car, it’s not gonna be good. Fasten your seatbelt as tight as you can.”
I cinched the belt snug, remembering an elderly aunt’s misguided belief that a seatbelt would “cut you right in two” in an accident. Given the many blunt and sharp metal surfaces one can hit one’s head on in a 65 Mustang’s interior, bisection seemed like the better option.
Our first fuel stop came less than two hours into our journey. These cars have a powerful thirst for dinosaur juice. And for electrons: When we went to pull out, Moray discovered his car’s battery had nearly drained. A young guy named Aaron pulled his lowered, decal-laden Acura up to the obstinate Mustang’s angry snout for a jump-start, the short hood and tiny motor of the modern car looking woefully inadequate next to the 67′s 390-cubic-inch juggernaut.
“Sick car,” he remarked.
Moray’s problems were just beginning. While the 67 hustled mightily past modern traffic, its alternator wasn’t keeping up—the further we drove, the more his battery drained. About an hour further into Canada and a drenching rain storm, with Moray in the lead and Chris and I running close behind, the 67′s taillights went dark. Moray’s engine had run the battery completely dead, and bereft of electrons, the Mustang stalled and scrubbed off speed at an alarming rate.
Chris swerved into the left-most lane, avoiding a Mustang-on-Mustang collision by mere inches, while Moray grappled with the dead 67. A sharp-eyed truck driver used his 18-wheeler to carve a gap in traffic so Moray, now coasting at about 30MPH and dropping, could muscle his car across two lanes to the shoulder.
Our chase crew loaded the downed Mustang on the trailer. We exited the highway in the town of Woodstock, Ontario, and bounced between three separate parts stores before locating one that carried an alternator that would fit a 67 Mustang. Then we waited for three hours while the shop negotiated a special delivery from its supplier. The shelf where they expected to find the part was empty.
Before Moray’s breakdown, I had asked Chris how design is changing with an evolving automotive market.
“They might not want this,” he said, gesturing at the dashboard of the 65. “But they might still want a space, a social space, they still want to get from A to B. How they do that, and what they use that social space for, might be very different to what I’m experiencing with this car.
He fiddled with an uncooperative windshield-wiper switch that wouldn’t turn off. “I love the experience of driving the car, shifting manually, that’s really exciting to me. They might want a space that’s a home away from home, where they can hang out with their friends and just chat. So it throws up different design criteria for our designers.”
“Design’s not easy,” he added.
Matt Patrice works to replace the faulty alternator in the 67.
“When do you think we’ll get self-driving cars?” I asked Chris.
“Soon I think. I think we’ll have that situation within the next five to 10 years.”
“Will car design change when cars start to drive themselves?”
His answer was quick: “Yes. Yes, it will. Because the technology you need to put into the car to make it self-drive, some of those sensors and the functional element of the technology is quite big. So it will impact the visual elements of the car. And if you’re not driving yourself then do you need all of this information readily available to you?”
He pointed at the gauges on the dashboard. “Do you need to have instruments and steering wheels and satellite navigation? It drives a different solution for interiors. It’d be like riding a bus. You don’t need a sat nav and a steering wheel and all the paraphernalia that comes with the driving experience on a bus.”
The replacement alternator arrived after two hours, and Matt took less than 15 minutes to swap it in. But the 67 still wasn’t cured: a mysterious problem somewhere else in the system was preventing the battery from charging. Moray made an executive decision to buy two new batteries and an in-car charger. We would drive on one while the other charged in the truck, swapping the batteries when the 67 began to falter. There would be no giving up on this trip.
Also, since the trailer had entered Canada empty, customs regulations meant it could not leave the country carrying a car. We may share the world’s longest unfortified border with our friends to the north, but in matters of the law there is no flexibility.
So we rumbled on. The driving rain finally gave way to a copper sun, traffic dissipated, and girded with a brand-new battery, Moray played freeway cat-and-mouse with Chris’s steadfastly reliable 65. Chris and I found an oldies station on the 65′s AM radio, the 50-year-old, one-speaker system struggling to overpower the booming drone of a 289-cubic-inch V8 spinning a frantic 3,000 RPM.
St. Catharines, Ontario
As the sun set, Moray’s car began to falter again. Another jump start helped limp the 67 to a Wal-Mart parking lot. Matt tinkered some more, calling fellow Mustang experts to chase down theories. No matter what he tried, though, nothing convinced the 67 to straighten up and run right.
Moray purchased and installed yet another fresh battery, joking that he’d made the world’s first hybrid 1967 Mustang. We charged on into the night, making a run for the U.S. border and the freedom to load our hobbled 67 onto a trailer for the remainder of the drive to Rochester.
Wal-Mart parking lot somewhere on the wrong side of the U.S.-Canada border. 1967 Mustang about to gobble up its third battery of the day.
We crossed the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, losing the truck somewhere in the line for the border crossing. The border agent motioned for Chris to shut off his engine—the 65′s exhaust was simply too loud to shout over. After the problems we’d had with the 67, Chris and I shot worried glances at each other. But when the officer brusquely waved us through, the 65 started without incident.
We met up with Moray and the truck at the first gas station on the U.S. side of the border. The 67 was tucked into the trailer, Moray and Scott hunkered down in the back of the truck, and we charged on toward our hotel in Rochester. Chris’s headlights occasionally flickered off, so we stayed directly behind the trailer, never losing sight of its LED taillights.
It was midnight when we arrived.
Stay tuned for day two of the journey, where we continue our voyage from Rochester to NYC, and talk more about cars and the future of design. All photos by Robert Sorokanich.
And besides, it was way cooler to just open the driver’s side scissor door, look backwards, and go in reverse.The Countach wasn’t alone in this Italian exotic car designer obsession with sacrificing practicality and maybe, unfortunately, even occasionally, human safety for beauty. Other iconic examples of that era include the De Tomaso Mangusta, the original Maserati Ghibli, Maserati Bora and Khasmin, as well as the Lancia Stratos. Those are just a few because the list is quite extensive. This was before safety regulators paid any attention to Italian exotic car designers and brands. Then they came and ruined a good time.
SAN FRANCISCO — As hundreds of riders lined up Wednesday to be the first to see BART’s proposed new rail car, members of a group for the disabled turned out to take the transit district to task for the design.
At Justin Herman Plaza, eager commuters stood waiting for a chance to walk through a car model after BART administrators did a grand unveiling.
At the first of 10 public viewings of the model, BART officials praised the design as more convenient for all users.
Representatives of the San Francisco-based Independent Living Resource Center said the design includes poles for standing riders to hang onto that make it harder for people in wheelchairs to get on and off trains.
“The poles should go,” said Peter Mendoza, a center community organizer who travels in a wheelchair.
Mendoza said, after boarding the model, that he found it difficult to maneuver around the poles, adding that on “BART you have very little time to get on and off the train at stations.”
Leaders of the center also said the new seats are not deep or wide enough for service dogs to easily fit underneath in order to be out of the way of other passengers on crowded trains.
BART Board President Joel Keller and transit managers said the district worked long and hard to make the design accessible to disabled people.
They agreed, however, that BART will assess the criticism before finalizing the car design at the end of May. They also announced there will be a special two-hour viewing of the car model for disabled people from 10 a.m. to noon on April 29 at the North Berkeley BART station.
BART train designers consulted for more than two years with a BART accessibility task force, which supports the new design, said Alan Smith, vice chairman of the task force. He is legally blind.
“Many people can use the poles to stabilize themselves when the trains start moving or brake,” he said.
BART moved the proposed pole location several inches away from the door to increase space for wheelchairs to move about, said Aaron Weinstein, BART’s chief marketing officer.
Many of the riders checking out the cars on Wednesday were pleased with that they saw.
Terry Freeman, a Bay Point resident and regular BART rider, said he likes the clean and new look. “Anything is an improvement over cars that are 40 years — or more — old,” he said.
BART says the new train cars will have better seats with better lumbar support, easier-to-clean seat coverings and taller seats that make it easier to get in and out. They will also have bike racks, more handholds for standing passengers and more reliable air conditioning, BART officials said.
Lisa Brodus, of San Francisco. said she likes the new LCD screens that will show the location of the train in the system and its next stop.
“Anything to bring BART into the 21st century is good,” she said.
The first of 775 new BART cars, which cost $2.5 billion, are scheduled to arrive from Bombardier Transit Corp. in 2017.
The next public showing of the rail car model will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at the West Oakland BART station on Seventh Street.
Local Motors, Inc. announces the launch of the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge to inform and influence the design of the vehicle that will be manufactured at IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2014 in Chicago, Illinois, September 8-13, 2014. The six-week challenge will run through May 13, 2014. More than $10,000 in prize money will be awarded for winning challenge entries, which will be announced on May 30, 2014.
“Historically, producing a new vehicle from a new design has represented a significant investment in tooling and a large commitment in time to integrate multiple structures and components,” said Jay Rogers, Local Motors CEO. “This effort to design and deliver the first co-created vehicle using this digital technology and manufacturing process could change the process and speed in which vehicles are designed and built.”
Launched just two months after Local Motors announced partnerships with the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and The Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT), the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge will seek to define innovations in the methodology associated with incorporating additive and subtractive manufacturing methods in vehicle design and development. Though this manufacturing method is compatible with any powertrain solution, for this first vehicle project, Local Motors has chosen to power the vehicle with a battery electric drive system.
“AMT is always on the lookout for the newest, innovative technology. The design of this Local Motors vehicle is no exception. I look forward to seeing how the team incorporates the latest advancements,” said Paul Warndorf, Vice President – Manufacturing Technology, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
This effort will also include the engagement of ORNL partner Cincinnati Inc. and their innovative Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine. This BAAM machine pioneers the use of large-scale 3D printing technology, and is focused on packaging a complete digital manufacturing process in the first machine of its kind.
“This vehicle may well be the coolest vehicle on the planet, at least to those of us in manufacturing technology,” said Rick Neff, Manager Market Development for Cincinnati Incorporated. “I am excited to help judge the design competition for the 3-D Printed Vehicle that will influence how we manufacture many things. This will be the first application of a BAAM machine from Cincinnati Incorporated.”
In order to enter the challenge, designers are required to submit three distinct views of their project (side, ¾ front and ¾ rear), one mise-en-scene view and a description of the benefits and innovations associated with the concept.
Submissions to the Local Motors 3D-Printed Car Design Challenge will be voted on by the Local Motors Community on localmotors.com, and judged by an independent panel of experts led by Bre Pettis, CEO of MakerBot and Local Motors Board Member. In addition to Pettis and representation from both Local Motors and the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the panel includes:
Rick Neff, Manager, Market Development, Cincinnati Incorporated,
Douglas K. Woods, President, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology,
Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications, AMT– The Association For Manufacturing Technology, and
Paul Warndorf, Vice President – Manufacturing Technology, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
“I’m excited to partner with Local Motors on this project and judge the innovative designs. After years of being in the manufacturing industry, it’s still interesting to see what young engineers and entrepreneurs come up with,” said Douglas K. Woods, President, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.
One challenge submission will be selected as the overall winner. The winning designer will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize plus a trip to IMTS to participate in the printing of the first vehicle. Up to five “Innovation Awards” winners will receive cash prizes of $1,000 each for exceptional ideas or usages specific to the 3D-printing process. One award for “Community Favorite,” based on voting by the Local Motors Community, will also be awarded a $1,000 cash prize.
Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology commented, “The very spirit of the Emerging Technologies Center (ETC) since it debuted in 2004 as a focal point on the show floor has been to give the manufacturing community a look into the future. Local Motors makes it their business to be that future and we are thrilled to put them center stage at IMTS. I’m glad to have the opportunity to get involved early in the judging of the 3D printed car designs.”
It’s never a good urban parenting moment. You jam the heavy car seat you’ve lugged to the curb into the back of your car, while simultaneously jamming yourself half in, too. Then you twist into a pretzel to secure the seat to the seat belt. And there’s no cutting corners. All 50 states require you to put your baby in a child seat and 48 states want you to use a booster seat as they get older, based on certain weight requirements. You have no choice.
Today, Volvo revealed a new concept that could change the industry. What’s so great about it? It’s inflatable. It fits in a bag.
Rather than being constructed out of rigid plastic and metal, their seat uses heavy duty drop-stitch fabric–the same stuff you’ll find in outdoor gear such as inflatable rafts. So you can pull that car seat out of a bag, and watch it balloon into a seat. It does this amazing feat in 40 seconds, thanks to a silent internal pump. You can even set it to inflate from your phone via Bluetooth, if you’re into that extra effort.
The seat is designed to be rear-facing, which would imply that it’s designed for children up to about age three. Otherwise, there are almost no other details available at this time. Volvo has no immediate plans to bring it to market.
While it’s certainly a compelling concept–it inflates like magic!–it’s dubious whether it offers suburban parents much of an advantage. Because they can strap in a car seat and leave it there for years. No car rentals, no walk-ups. And while car seats are bulky and heavy, some have more than one use. Infant seats, for example, click conveniently into strollers, and have a handle–which creates a fun grab-and-go concept for your little one.
That said, parents have a lot of gear. Is an inflatable car seat worth it or another luxury? What if the design were built right into Volvo cars, allowing a spontaneous pop-up child seat when you need one? Now that has appeal.
Motorshows are a chance for car designers to show off to their peers and the wider world with concept cars. These one-off machines often give a strong hint of what we can expect to see in the future, but what trends separate the fanciful from the practical?
The Geneva Motor Show is the ideal place to find out where form meets function in design and where automotive design is headed. We spoke to a number of leading designers to identify the trends that will influence how cars will look both outside and in.
Far and away the biggest influence for every designer we spoke to is legislation. While this is nothing new – legislation has dictated car design since the 1950s, as safety and then environmental regulations became ever stricter – it is also a constantly moving set of goal posts that need to be factored in to car design.
Malcolm Ward, General Motors Europe’s director of exterior design, says: “Legal stuff will always be with us, but occupant and pedestrian safety are the main areas we are focusing on.
“Designers need to carefully consider how to manage the safety of pedestrians in a collision when styling a car. This means not only understanding where the hard points of the front end of the car lie, such as the engine and suspension turrets, but how the shape of the car can better absorb a collision and guide the pedestrian more gradually to lessen any impact.”
Other designers concur, but Hyundai’s Thomas Burkle, chief designer at the Korean firm’s European Technical Centre, believes legislation also needs to adapt to changing design. He says: “There must come a moment in the near future where those making the rules will change them to allow carmakers to introduce more advanced technologies.” Burkle is talking about some of the technology incorporated into Hyundai’s Intrado concept small SUV, such as the panoramic rear view mirror operated by tailgate-mounted cameras.
Drivers are currently not allowed to look at a display while driving, but Burkle says this will change as more cars rely on cameras to inform them of hazards.
The for and against of hi-tech weight-saving materials
He is also a great advocate of new materials, such as the extensive use of carbon fibre in the Intrado’s structure to reduce its weight. This has the combined effect of increasing efficiency, but also offsets the weight of the hydrogen fuel cell it uses for propulsion.
Modern car design is a difficult balancing act that weighs style against substance; price versus performance; safety, fuel efficiency and other government regulations, in vehicles that too often fail to inspire.
But Ralph Gilles has tasked himself with bringing the sexy back to Chrysler. Responsible for two of the company’s most eye-catching modern vehicles – the brutishly elegant 300 sedan and slinky Viper super car – the 44-year-old senior vice president of design for the Detroit automaker is turning his eye …
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But without Lorenzo, our carscape would look far, far duller. Ramaciotti started his career at Pininfarina in 1973 and stayed with the design house for over 30 years, as its design director for the latter two decades. In that time, he was responsible for the sign-off of some of the most beautiful cars of recent years, including the Ferrari 456, 550 and Enzo, along with the Maserati Birdcage concept and – a TG favourite – the Peugeot 406 Coupe. After hanging up his pencil at Pininfarina in 2005, Ramaciotti was coaxed out of retirement to head global design for Fiat-Chrysler, where he’s overseen (among others) the Maserati GT and Alfa 4C.
Almost pathologically self-effacing, Ramaciotti doesn’t like to dwell on his glittering CV, or revel in career highlights (“I have been responsible for 30 production cars and 25 concept. Most of them, I think, were not bad,” he shrugs with annoying modesty). He’s far happier on his specialist subject: the history of Italian car design and, specifically, a small handful of designers in the Fifties and Sixties who created so many of history’s most beautiful cars.
“I think Italians are more open to new experiences. We are always trying to… push the boundaries,” he says, with the faintest hint of a raised eyebrow. “In the Fifties, when all the rest of Europe was doing cars that looked like the Thirties, Italian designers had already moved to a more modern shape. It was the first place where there was really a turnaround in designing cars.”
History concurs. After World War II, while Britain’s designers were still churning out cars with running boards, the Italian design houses were busy ushering in the modern design era with the Ferrari 166 S, Alfa’s Disco Volante and dozens of others that, even today, look cutting-edge and utterly fist-biting. But, TopGear asks, is it possible to even talk about ‘Italian design’? Ferraris have always looked different from Lamborghinis, which have always looked very different from Alfas. Isn’t ‘Italian design’ as nebulous a concept as ‘American music’? Lorenzo doesn’t believe so.
“Italian design has always been about balance and simplicity,” he says. “There is a care in finding the right balance. Of course, there are different interpretations of the same school. It’s like painting. Not every painter from the same school does the same paintings, as there is always a personal interpretation. You can be square and aggressive, or you can be softer and rounder.
The design of Bertone in the Countach and Miura gave birth to the outrageous design of Lamborghini today, and the design of Pininfarina to Ferrari: more classic, less flamboyant. But both are about balance of proportion. Even now, Italian design has the same approach to proportions, simplicity, balance.”
Hang on. Even if it existed in the past, in this interconnected, global modern world, isn’t the idea of an ‘Italian design language’ a bit… outdated? “It’s true that in the Fifties, the cultural identities of cars were very much related to nations,” concurs Lorenzo. “Today, in the design centre in Fiat, we have 14 nationalities represented. Still, I believe a lot in… imprinting.
The philosophy of a company is woven into its environment. Today, Italian design, more than a passport, is a state of mind.” An evocative notion: that the timeless elegance of, say, the Maserati GranCabrio reflects not the nationality of its designers, but rather the architecture, the landscape, even the food of Italy. Its designers may hail from Seoul to São Paulo, but where else but Italy could have cooked up the Alfa 8C or the Lambo Veneno?
Welcome to the modern world of design, where brand and ‘family face’ is all. For better or worse, there’s no denying that when you’re being tailgated at a distance of six inches by an Audi, you know it’s an Audi. Even so, will petrolheads in 50 years really get misty-eyed over the A7 in the way we do today about the Ferrari 250 California or Jaguar E-type? Isn’t it odd that, despite the billionfold increase in computing power and production techniques, designers today struggle to create cars as beautiful as those simple, elegant post-war classics?
Ramaciotti raises an eyebrow. “Recently, we have been through a time of… over-design and visual noise,” he says. “There are so many cars around, and all the manufacturers are competing in the same segment. You have to scream to be noticed. I hope for a reverse in the trend, towards something more simple and more clean. That’s what I’d like to do.
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