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McLaren P1 GTR Design Concept revealed

The Design Concept also features race-spec suspension with an 80mm wider front
track, an on-board air-powered jacking system, and motorsport alloy wheels
with quick-release centre-locking nuts.

McLaren is aiming to start P1 GTR production within a year

How much of this will eventually make it on to the finished GTR remains
unknown, but it seems likely that the concept is a very big hint at the
car’s final specification.

McLaren has also announced that it’s to start its own driver training
programme alongside the new car, to ensure buyers can get the best out of
their new toys.

Release dates for the finished car are unconfirmed, but McLaren says it’s
aiming to start production in just under a year.

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a look at bertone’s concept car design studio by benedict redgrove

behind-the-scenes at bertone’s concept car studio by benedict redgrove
all images courtesy of benedict redgrove




british photographer benedict redgrove has taken a rare look inside the design studio of italian automobile firm bertone. in a distinct artistic approach that highlights geometry, architecture and engineering, redgrove has captured some of the company’s most radical concept cars from the 1960s and 70s — some never seen before — including designs for alfa romeo, lamborghini and lancia. the series of images which was originally commissioned by wallpaper* magazine, exudes a specialty in styling, coachbuilding and manufacturing, with bertone’s vision categorized by abstract angular frameworks, a use of unique materials for standard auto parts and super-sleek interiors built for luxury and functionality.


‘I was allowed to move the cars into areas I found that worked well with the design of both building and car’ redgrove tells designboom ‘they very kindly let me drive the lancia stratos prototype which you stepped into via the front glass panel, fell back into the seat, then pulled the steering column between your legs and then pulled the glass front down onto you. it was an amazing thing to behold and extremely hot, like sitting in a gold mobile greenhouse.’

a 1970 lancia stratos zero concept parked outside the studio

redgrove takes an exclusive look within bertone’s design lab

a 1968 alfa romeo carabo

1967 lamborghini marzal

the lamborghini’s glass doors swing upwards instead of out

lamborghini bravo

the lamborghini bravo’s window details

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Renovo Coupe: The Electric Dream Car For Gasoline-Crazy Gearheads

A Silicon Valley startup just revealed the latest piece of electronic future-tech, a 500hp, all-electric supercar that does zero to 100 faster than a Porsche 911. But the most important part of the Renovo Coupe isn’t cutting-edge at all: It’s that gorgeous body, designed in 1964.

Over at Jalopnik, Damon Lavrinc spoke with the founders of Renovo, getting all the details you’ll want to know about this beast. You’ll find Damon’s full coverage below.

Impressive numbers are great, but no kid ever fogged up a showroom window talking about curb weight. Even more than killer performance, the greatest thing Renovo’s got going for it is that classic body.

Sharp-eyed readers already know it: It’s the Shelby Daytona Coupe, one of the most beautiful and recognisable race cars ever built.

That design, straight out of 1964, was draped essentially un-altered over the Renovo’s 21st century electric car guts. With that gorgeous body, the Renovo Coupe offers something for nearly everyone: Electric car nerdliness for techies, scorching performance for thrill seekers, and a hallowed design for traditionalists.

That’s sort of the gearhead ideal for electric cars: As the technology matures, it opens up a whole world of opportunity to wrap zero-emission electric drivetrains in the beautiful, legendary designs of yesteryear. Not everyone wants to restore a long-neglected classic car by hand; stuff that classic look with a no-maintenance electric powertrain and you might convince a whole new crowd to break away from anonymous me-too-mobiles and embrace zany, unique designs. Hell, Neil Young already did it with his LincVolt, a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 1959 Lincoln Continental now powered by batteries.

There are a lot of caveats and what-ifs that could hobble Renovo before a single car hits the road. The auto industry is tough, and all the good intentions and beautiful designs in the world won’t do squat without a solid business plan. Even if Renovo can manage to hack it, you probably won’t see one in your cul-de-sac: The Coupe is definitely going to be very expensive and have a very limited production run.

Still, most of the electric and alternative-fuel vehicles out there today look like anime golf carts. Even Tesla’s designs, while beautiful, don’t stray too far from the design norms of today. Renovo could blow the doors off the trend of safe, staid, conservative car design (even if the design Renovo is using doesn’t actually belong to Renovo). The potential to shake up the norm is electrifying.

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‘Industries Must Lend Support to Coach Youth in Car-making’

VELLORE: Like in the US, big companies in India should come forward to provide students with better access to technology, components, materials and technical inputs to design cars for competitions. This was the opinion of Dr Dale Alan Wilson, faculty advisor at the Tennessee Technological University (TTU), USA, who interacted with a group of reporters on the sidelines of the one-day international workshop on BAJA SAE-India 2015 at VIT on Saturday.

The professor said TTU had the geographical advantage of being close to the automobile industry hub. Many of the industries such as DENSO, Cummins, which have huge manufacturing facilities, were sponsoring internships for TTU students while promoting the competitions of car designs in a big way.

Since many of the car giants were in the vicinity, the students of TTU had better access to the latest technology in the field of automotive engineering, which is quite a contrast to students in India. Since the car culture is still young in India with highways coming only recently to the country, youngsters here have to catch up with understanding various aspects of car design.

According to him, TTU began promoting BAJA competition activities among the students since 1988 as the local people had a lot of involvement and passion for car design. Three competitions were held in the USA every year, including one for the students of other countries, to design all-terrain vehicles. Around 150 engineering colleges from across the USA were participating in these events every year on a regular basis. The TTU students have won 12 times in the BAJA competitions so far. ‘With this expertise our students have volunteered to train students from India to get them prepared to compete with others, he added.

As we work more on the design aspects of the all-terrain cars, the models designed by students were getting much lighter, stronger, safer and affordable, he noted. These designs were being developed into business models by car companies, he added. The industry-academia interaction was stronger in the USA, which made exchange of ideas, prototyping and  validation of designs easier and more focused, he said.

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Volvo V40 R-Design makes a great family car with sporty looks, delightful …

The Swedish car makers’ range is now much more expansive and, in many cases, stylish – although the trademark emphasis on safety always remains.

And if you’re in the market for a family hatchback, you should take a look at the Volvo V40.

With more than 50 different combinations of power, specification and trim available, there is certainly no lack of choice.

I have just been trying the petrol-powered T2 version dressed in the sporty R-Design stylings, with the range-topping Lux Nav equipment package on board.

The efficient 120ps 1.6-litre engine is capable of delivering 53.3mpg on average, with the help of an automatic start/stop system that is standard across the whole range. Not only that, CO2 emissions are also curtailed to just 124g/km, so you’ll pay no road tax in the first year and just £110 a year thereafter.

And running costs are hardly likely to overstretch the average family budget.

The economical performance hasn’t come at the expense of performance on the road, though, and the powerful, sporty looking R-Design trimmings suit the car.

Volvo V40 R-Design


The car felt quick on the road, with an official 0-62mph sprint time of 9.9 seconds, and a top speed of 120mph is more than respectable.

Throttle response on the move was swift and smooth, with the compact six-speed manual
transmission offering plenty of versatility.

The taught R-Design chassis also offers good grip and sharp, nimble handling, while providing a ride that remains on the comfortable side of firm.

The V40 is equally capable in busy town traffic or cruising on the open road.

Other more cosmetic trappings of the R-Design treatment include eye-catching alloys, an exclusive front end featuring a glossy black grille, LED lights and twin tailpipes.

Inside, there are sculpted leather front seats featuring embroidered R-Design logos, a blue digital
instrument cluster and more LED lighting, which can be personalised.

It’s a package that looks hot-hatch enough on the outside to keep dad happy but offers enough space inside for the average family.

Volvo V40 R-Design


Head and leg room are good all round, despite the coupe-style sloping roof, and there is plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment for the driver to get comfortable. There are also lots of nooks and crannies to store your oddments while on board.

An innovative approach for the rear cup holders sees them flip out of a movable panel in the front of the mid-section of the rear seat, meaning the armrest is still free to be used.

The interior is put together to a high standard and the materials used are all good quality, in keeping with the luxury image that modern Volvo cars aspire to as they ambitiously go head to head with the premium German brands.

The range-topping Lux Nav equipment package also fits the bill, including, as the name suggests, an integrated satellite navigation system and stereo with iPod connectivity and Bluetooth.

There are also electric windows, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and keyless entry and ignition.

Volvo V40 R-Design


And with Volvo’s proud reputation for safety, you know that you are always going to be well-covered in that department.

The V40 boasts the top five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and as well as stability and traction control and all the usual airbags, some useful hi-tech safety aids also come as standard.

These include Volvo’s City Safe system, which takes over braking when a front-end collision is
imminent, and the world’s first external airbag, which deploys over the windscreen and bonnet to protect pedestrians.

Optional upgrades, including automatic parking pilot, lane departure and blind-spot warning systems, make the V40 one of the safest cars on the road.

All that hi-tech protection, generous kit levels and low running costs make this T2 version, priced at £24,170, a great-value family car.


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2014 Woodward Dream Cruise: GM Design Team Car Show mixes current … – The Grand Rapids Press

ROYAL OAK, MI- There aren’t many places you can go and see a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray parked next to a two-door hot rod.

The GM Design Team Car Show though is one of them. The annual event combines classic Pontiac GTOs and Chevrolet Bel Airs with future classic Pontiac Firebirds and current-gen Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays.

Some cars though, such as David Nedock’s custom 1937 Chevrolet sedan with a 557 cubic inch supercharged engine capable of 1,300 horsepower stand out a bit more than others.

“This is my personal hot rod,” said David Nedock, a 65-year-old Southfield resident and owner of hot rod shop Detroit Speedcraft. ”It’s gone through an evolution of changes over 40 years.”

Nedock, who has been building hot rods for 45 years, was one more than 100 vehicles registered for fifth annual car show, which continues until 9 p.m. at the Northwood Plaza on the southwest corner of Woodward and 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak.

“I am definitely involved in cars, have been as a vocation and a hobby my entire life,” Nedock said. “This is a great big car party, how could I not come?”

General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet brand – presenting sponsor of the 2014 Woodward Dream Cruise on Saturday – is hosting events, such as the car show, through Saturday.

The 20th annual Woodward Dream Cruise – taking place Saturday — is recognized as the world’s largest one-day classic car event. More than one million visitors and 40,000 antique and classic cars annually attend the event, which stretches 16 miles from 8 Mile Road in Detroit through downtown Pontiac.

Look through the embedded photo gallery above for 60 of the featured vehicles at this year’s GM Design Team Car Show.

Click here for all of the news, photos and video from the 2014 Woodward Dream Cruise.

Michael Wayland covers the automotive industry for MLive. Email him at follow him on Twitter @MikeWayland or Google+.

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Watchmaking team dials into car design roots

Spend any time around a group of car designers and youll notice them showing each other their watches.

But Patrick Ayoub has taken that designers love of watches a step further; he and his wife Amy, also a designer, have launched the Detroit Watch Company to design and assemble what they hope are timeless timepieces.

Theres a great correlation between the mechanical timepiece and the car, said Ayoub. Its an engine on your wrist.

And theres the relationship with (auto) racing, he added, noting the historic involvement of TAG Heuer and Rolex in motorsports. Theres a romance there.

Its a great industrial design product, he continued.

The effort in the design of a classic, even timeless timepiece is much like that put into designing a car, he said, and therefore explaining the understanding and the respect of the car designers.

Ayoub has designed cars in the European studios of BMW and Volkswagen, and locally at DaimlerChrysler and ASC. He is creative director at SRG Global, a Tier 1 automotive supplier based in Warren.

Amy Ayoub, whose background is in interior design, works out of Royal Oak as the director of design for New York-based Viacom, the entertainment company that owns MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and other brands.

Patrick Ayoub, who was born in Montreal and grew up in France, has been designing watches for more than a decade. In 2003, he co-founded the Bozeman Watch Co., named for the city in Montana but, he said, all the work was done in Michigan. In 2010 he sold his interest in that company and started doing watch design for and learning about the internals of watch production from the Maryland-based Towson Watch Co., the experts who four years ago opened Abraham Lincolns pocket watch for the Smithsonians National Museum of American History.

But the Ayoubs wanted to do their own watches. The launch and success of the Detroit-based Shinola brand was encouraging, but we needed a story, Patrick Ayoub said. That story, they discovered, was Detroit itself and a celebration of the citys history.

They launched the Detroit Watch Company in June with three designs the 1701 Edition, named for the year of the founding of the city, and the Pride of Detroit Aviator Edition.

The Ayoubs do the design. The various component parts are produced in Germany, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Patrick does the actual assembly himself (at least for the time being).

The first run of 1701 watches has sold out (at $895 each) but launch-edition Aviators ($795) are available. Deliveries should start in late August, Patrick said.

Additional designs are in the works, including an M1/Woodward sports chronograph as well as watches in a smaller size designed for womens wrists. Those should be in production before the end of the year for holiday sales, Patrick said.

Were considered a micro brand, he said. Detroit Watch anticipates producing only 500 to 1,000 timepieces a year.

For information, visit

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A preview of the Mercedes-AMG GT with the company’s design chiefs

Mercedes-Benz design boss Gorden Wagener has said the new Mercedes-AMG GT represents a “paradigm shift” in car design for the manufacturer.

The car, which is due to be officially revealed next month, ushers in Wagener’s vision for the future look of the Mercedes family, a design philosophy called ‘sensual purity’.

Autocar had a sneak preview of the AMG GT’s exterior and interior at Mercedes-Benz’s Design Centre in Sindelfingen, Germany. 

Wagener explained how Mercedes-Benz is moving away from ‘traditional luxury’ towards ‘modern luxury’. This can be construed as part of the company’s efforts to appeal to a younger customer base. 

The design chief also pointed out that he is keen for the AMG GT to be regarded as a new chapter for Mercedes, and not simply as a follow-up to the SLS AMG.

“The SLS is a fantastic car, but it is nonetheless a generic design – it has a bit of a mathematical structure,” he told us.

“This new car goes beyond this; we avoided having any sharp edges and created a look that is sophisticated on one hand and modern and high-tech on the other. It really embodies the idea of sensual purity you will see in every new Mercedes car.”

Wagener went into detail about the thinking behind the exterior design of the Mercedes-AMG GT: “It has fantastic proportions, the kind we’ve known from Mercedes sports cars ever since the 300SL. It has class and style. The round ‘greenhouse’ is almost aeroplane-like, and has a retro touch of the 300SL about it.”

The Mercedes-AMG GT features conventionally hinged doors as opposed to the iconic gullwing apertures of its predecessor. There are several reasons for this. It’s partly down to cost but also, Wagener says, “to really emphasise that this is a new chapter. We ended the SLS and we don’t want to see a direct comparison between the cars because they are so different.”

The new model is also more compact than the outgoing car: “It is 2cm shorter than the SLS and has a shorter wheelbase too. If anything the SLS was a touch too big in terms of length and width, and so I think the proportions of this car are more perfect. It also makes it a bit more agile.”

The car’s broad rear haunches are one of its most distinctive exterior design features. Wagener says: “The rear for me is the nicest part, with its huge shoulders. This is an example of how we can play with the execution of our design philosophy – the more sporty the car, the bigger the shoulder. 

“You have to decide where to put the ‘real estate’ and we put three feet of it into the shoulder and a lot into the wheel arch. I think it is a perfect balance, the stance we have achieved with the shoulder makes the rear perspective really stunning. 

“This shoulder theme is a very significant one for all Mercedes. If you look at all of our coupés – from the S-class coupé to the CLA and even the B-class – they have a shoulder, albeit in some cases a tiny one.”

He describes the front styling as “typical AMG, with the radiators left and right, huge openings for cooling and then the ‘A-wing’ signature, which has already been seen on the latest E-class AMG. We are giving AMG a specific face as a sub-brand in the future, so you will see different executions of this.

“The headlight design is aggressive and the front is designed so that when you sit in the drivers’ seat, you can see the bonnet and the left and right wings.”

Read Autocar’s review of the SLS AMG GT Final Edition

Autocar also had the chance to sit in a near-complete design of the Mercedes-AMG GT’s cabin, as interior designer Jan Kaul explained the highlights. 

“The cockpit feeling is inspired by aviation and jet themes,” he said. “There’s a really high tunnel console which rises sharply to meet the dashboard. 

“One of the highlights of the interior is the metal plate which integrates all the driving performance functions. They are in a high position, ergonomically in the perfect position, close to the driver’s body.

“The inspiration for these four cylindrical elements on each side of the centre tunnel comes from the V8 engine. It is such a wide and high tunnel console. It expresses the power that the car has and the driving performance. 

“Another interesting feature is that we tried to reduce the number of functions on the centre console, just focusing on the driver performance. So it was necessary to take some of the buttons that are necessary for the user interface and put them in the roof. This really accentuates the cockpit feeling, because aeroplane pilots have buttons above them.

“In a lot of areas in the cabin, we played around with contrast. One example is the colour trim contrast between black and white, but there is also the contrast between gloss and matt finishes. For example, on the centre console we have a PVD (physical vapour deposition) coated black diamond insert and it’s a very nice contrast to the matt carbonfibre. 

“Other aviation themes are the centre console control panel, which is shaped like an NACA air duct from an aeroplane, and the four air vents in the centre of the dashboard, which interpret jet engines and are a signature on our top-of-the-line models.”

The cabin feels comfortably snug without occupant head, leg or shoulder room being an issue.

“It doesn’t feel small inside,” affirms Kaul. “The dimensions were not really a negative aspect in the design process. We had almost complete design freedom over this car. It’s a pure two-seater and is designed to feel like a tight suit that is tailored to you.”

AMG boss Tobias Moers had an active role in shaping the interior, requesting the repositioning of the infotainment screen, which on early test mules was placed higher on the dashboard.

Moers felt that the positioning wasn’t suitable for a driver’s car, and ordered it to be lowered, a complex task that required the design team to rework the air duct venting within the dashboard.

Design chief Wagener is a believer in ‘reduction’ – removing unnecessary complexity from car designs – but adds that Mercedes is unlikely to follow the lead of Tesla by installing minimalist touch screens in its cars.

“Even though I’m a lover of touch pads on some devices, I don’t think a touchpad is appropriate in a car,” he says. “We go a different way than Tesla because we want to move screens and functions higher up, where you actually look on the street. 

“In the Tesla the screen is very low, and you are unable to put touch pads in positions where they are in your first field of visibility. This is why we are true believers in separating screen and the touch pad element – it is easier to operate.”

Wagener can barely contain his enthusiasm for the car: “To me it is one of the most beautiful cars we have ever created. It embodies all of the modern luxury on one hand, but on the other hand it is very pure and high-tech looking.

“It takes all of the DNA of the legendary Mercedes Silver Arrows into the next decade, but it still keeps the classy sexiness of the classic sports cars.”

But the Mercedes-AMG GT represents more than just a new rival for the Porsche 911 and Jaguar F-type coupé. It also ushers in an era where Mercedes puts design at the forefront of its car development. The workers at the striking Design Centre building, created by noted architect Renzo Piano, are taking the lead in shaping how we will regard Mercedes vehicles in decades to come.

Wagener says: “A few years ago it would not have been possible for Mercedes-Benz to design a virtual reality concept car as we did with the Vision Gran Turismo concept [which informed the AMG GT].

“As designers we have to define the future so it is important for us to look into the future. We are already looking to 2018 concepts [and with] platforms we are looking to cars that are going to be on the road in 2030.”

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Porsche specialist weighs in on how Google Car will change the world

The UpTake: Google’s self-driving car may be primed to change the world, but that’s of little concern to this British Porsche specialist.

B ritish Porsche specialist Design 911(as in the name of the car, not the phone number or the date) has taken a keen interest in Google’s plans for a self-driving car wired to the world’s most powerful search engine.

In March 2010, we saw the closest thing we expect we’ll see for a while, to an actual Google Porsche, when the German automaker integrated a couple of the search engine’s map APIs to create a virtual test-drive experience, according to a Fast Company report.

But judging by the free publicity the specialist is giving Google, it’s pretty apparent the British company isn’t all that concerned that Google will be a competitor to their particular goods for quite some time, if ever.

Below, the London, England-based Design 911 put together an insanely compact collection of interesting information about Google’s foray into automobiles, including that the parts used to make it reportedly cost a quarter million dollars, and it’s expected to hit the mass market by 2020.

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interview with robert melville, head of design at McLaren automotive

interview with robert melville, head of design at McLaren automotive
all images courtesy McLaren automotive




robert melville is the head of design at McLaren automotive in woking, UK – a luxury manufacturer of technologically advanced high performance sports cars. at McLaren, melville oversees the product and design strategies – under the direction of frank stephenson – and has been working for the company since 2009. prior to Mclaren, melville was the senior creative designer of GM’s advanced design in the UK and designer at jaguar landrover; since then he has worked on hypercars such as the McLaren P1 and 650s, and cross utility vehicles such as the range rover evoque.


in the second part of the three part series, designboom travels to england to speak with melville at the foster + partners-designed headquarters on his past experiences, current philosophies and future visions for the company:

McLaren special operation P1



designboom (DB): can you explain your role as head of design at McLaren?


robert melville (RM): as head of design, the key thing is to inspire people, and to enable people do their job well around you. so I think it’s multi-faceted, but the key message is to inspire the other around you. in my position, different to when I first started out as a junior designer, now I need to look at the product strategy, the brand DNA, what the brand DNA can be, or should be because of the formula one tie. you need to be outward looking at the rest of the company. you can’t be purely selfish and think ‘OK, this car needs to be just this by being a McLaren’. it’s got this layer as a product, it’s not just ‘it looks cool’, it needs to be functional, so you need to make sure you choose the right materials, that suit the purpose of the job. but the main thing, again, the marketing, the conceptual side, the strategic side, the new product opportunities, sort of feeding that into the rest team, so they can take the thread of the DNA and input that into all the new sketches, and new designs – then everyone starts to get this sort of family feel. so then we know, ‘OK, what would a boat look like if it was a McLaren, what would a motorbike be. but you need to able to tell it to McLaren.’ even whether it was a knife and fork, a piece of furniture, you should be able to apply our philosophy to that.


so really, my job is to relay that message around the whole team, and make sure they have the right tools to do their job, and day-to-day talk to the designers, you know, work on the sketches, on the proportions. we need to make sure we don’t propose things that aren’t possible – you need to propose things that are cutting edge, look like concept cars, but you can make them. you can’t just repeat what other companies have done over the last 50-60 years. we’re kind of new on the block, so we need to do everything for a reason – which is kind of one of our mantras – the car needs to tell the story, we’re looking for this new visual narrative of the car. as you walk around the car as customer, you need to be able to work out the way the air flows over the vehicle, and it tells its own aerodynamic story.



DB: how exactly did you end up here at McLaren?


RM: basically, frank stephenson, the design director at McLaren gave me the phone call, it was friday night, I was late on the floor, taping the back end of a big cadillac sedan. it was around 8 at night, and I got this phone call, answered it – and it said ‘hi it’s frank, I’ve been given your name by someone who used to work for me that recommended you’, and I was like ‘OK, who is it?’ ‘my name is frank stephenson, I’m at McLaren’. so it was music to my ears, GM was at a real struggle at the time, they were about to go bankrupt. so for me, when your looking down the barrel thinking, ‘what’s my next career move’, to phoned up, and to be asked to come for an interview – it was good timing anyway.


so I came down for the interview, literally the next day, I said to the guys at GM – I didn’t tell anyone – I said, hey guys I need to leave. left, literally the next day, jumped into my car, drove straight down, did the interview, and frank seemed really happy. but it took 6 months to hear back, so I think he interviewed most people – and I was the guy that got lucky and got the job. so it went from that friday night, sitting in clay taping the back end of a cadillac, and six months later, I was here, starting on this kind of new exciting journey of forging what McLaren might be, the new product line up – a dream come true really.



DB: how did you get introduced into the world of car design?


RM: my dad and brothers, I was the youngest of the 3 brothers. my dad was a real car nut. he always used to love AUDI quattro’s, and my brothers were the same, they were always reading his car magazines, so I thought ‘yeah, yeah how could I do this?‘ – my dad was an engineer. I used to draw boats, cars, planes in my spare time as a kid. and my dad would sit with me and say ‘you could turn it into this, or make it into this’, and we’d develop things like santa’s sleight, or you know – I would always be drawing some kind of vehicle. and as I got older, my tutor at school – he was an ex-motorbike designer, so that was a quite a good influence at the right time. he told me ‘you have to go to art college’, so I went off there. and during art college I enjoyed photography, I enjoyed fine art, print making, but the thing I always came back to was 3D design.


people always told me ‘you could never make it into car design, only like 1 percent only ever get to do that.’ it’s harder to do that than get a drive in an F1 car apparently. and I thought, ‘there’s got to be a way’, so I persevered, worked hard and got into a course doing vehicle design up in huddersfield. that course has since shut down, and from there I went to the RCA. the 2 years there were key, I think it really introduced a lot of the people in the industry – I was sponsored by jaguar land rover at the time, so that was great, it helped me pay for a decent life in london. and from there, I went there to work as a professional.



DB: what was the aesthetic inspiration for both the P1 and the 650s?


RM: well they were clearly two different cars, the 650s was based upon what was the 12c and the P1 was an all new carbon tub, or modified tub. so, with the P1, first of all, I think the key there was to really start to forge this brand identity of the surface language. so as I was saying earlier, the surface language can’t be just, ‘oh, it’s trendy, it’s cool, it’s the new thing.’ it has to be, ‘okay, it communicates what the formula 1 cars have done.‘ so in a broad-brush  sense, I think it was inspired by formula 1, in the sense of shrink wrapping, choosing the correct sections and radii to steer the air around the car. from a mood board point of view, which maybe some people are familiar with that phrase, we would have images of sharks, manta rays, stingrays, fish, sailfish. so frank got a full sized sailfish shipped in from miami. um, it’s full of drugs probably (laughs). and that’s up on the wall in the studio. and that was trying to communicate this message of bio-mimicry.


so looking at bone structures, taking weight out. the P1 definitely has through the door. communicates this idea of layering, and skeletal, this thing with the tendon across the door, and the graphics and the way the seal has been hollowed out. so when you open the door you can see down inside the door seal. but yeah, bio-mimicry, layering, and the idea of when you layer, it implies a material has been removed from underneath. it implies it’s lean, it’s light. so it’s the consumer again, not only does it allow us to pass air underneath and have heat inducting – but when you get close to the car, you can see it’s like an athlete, it’s been trimmed up, it’s lean.


for the 650s, that kind of has a different story. I wasn’t involved with the 12c originally, but when 650s came along, the idea for that one was to take some of the work we had done on the P1 and then start to introduce it onto that vehicle. so with all the technical upgrades it’s basically like a different car, it’s like a new car. visually, we had certain restrictions, certain panels we carried over, but the idea was to start to get the family face on the front and on the rear as well. the idea of the open area, the le mans-inspired meshes and get you all that hot air out the back. it was really just to tie out the thread across from P1.




DB: would you say your work has changed from early in your career until now?


RM: I’ve been working professionally now for about 13-14 years. so from the early days I was working very different products – jaguar and land rover and things like this. but in terms of the style and the thinking, I think my strong point was always the conceptual thinking, and the planning, the strategy. and seeing how the models would fit into the showroom and what kind of story we would need to tell. but things I’ve improved on since then are: selling proportions. doing land rover’s was great for that. it was all about the ways it performs and using the proportions to tell the story about what the car’s function was. so getting all the proportion work in now and, again, going from a lot of cars – cadillac where they worked with a very hard crease to developing new ones here where it’s all about changing radii and soft fluid forms like porsche.


I think that’s been really interesting to have this contrast of different projects to work on in about a decade’s time. but I think the main way it’s changed, I’m not sure if it has changed though if I’m honest (laughs). if I’m really honest, I think I’ve just always been driven by the same passion, but now I’m able to see if I need to get from A to B I’ll go there in maybe one or two steps whereas I used to take maybe five or ten steps to get there. so I’m able to see the opportunities to chop down the workload and get to the answer far quicker.


so I’m far more efficient in the way I work. that’s the thing that has changed. far more efficient. and I think that’s from having to juggle the timing, the marketing aspects,  the engineering aspects, the product strategy side. and because you’re looking at the bigger picture you kind of think, ‘okay, if this car delivers this, then the next car, as we develop that one, the new one comes on. well okay, we need this one to do this.‘ so because you’re spinning all the plates at once, you can see which one needs a bit more spin or which one needs slowing down and you’re able to think that they all find their place and they all find their rhythm. and then, in the past I would have struggled to keep them all going. I think that’s the main way in which my work or my input at work has changed.



video © designboom



in terms of the design side, I think I’ve only improved at sketching and those kinds of things, but it’s just the same here. the intrinsic part of the job is the same sketch: clay, casts, production. and I still love the thrill, I still love the challenge of that. every day I love the problem solving. so in my days, I think now as senior designer the key of it is problem solving. I think in the past, you sketch areas of the car, but now I can move around and help people with different issues they’ve got on the products. and say, ‘okay, yeah we can fix this by changing this line,‘ or the other one could be, ‘okay, we use this material,’ or ‘we need to try this concept’ or ‘go and try a new supplier to find the solution for this.’ I think I really enjoy that – puzzles every day. like a new fresh challenge every day. and the technology is always changing so you need to stay up to speed with the technologies and the innovations in the industry to make sure we’re getting the best mechanics in the McLaren which need to be cutting edge.

McLaren special operation 650s spider



DB: how do elements from formula one, such as aerodynamics, directly influence the designs of McLaren vehicles?


RM: aerodynamics have never changed. so with McLaren, we can’t just follow the trend, we have to follow the function. and that means, a radius that cut through the air a 1000 years ago, slices the air the same way. if you look at super car design over the last 50 to 60 years , where porsche and aston martin have had very beautiful cars – clean fuselage body sides. so with McLaren as the new kid on the block, it wasn’t just to be different for different sake, but it was really to find the reasons on why a form of car tells the story of its function – the same way formula one cars do – you can see where the air is divided, where the air goes into a scoop, a different radii to attach the air, or separate the air – it has its own intrinsic language which you can understand without anybody actually walking you around the car, if you take the time to look at it. and that’s what we look for the road cars to do, they need to do that job.


in a show room, if there was no salesman there, the idea is that as a customer, you can walk around the car, and you can work out – OK the air goes in here, it goes through a hidden duct on the sill. its like a living thing, like bio-mimicry, the archways, the airways of the car – we just happened to have packaged some people inside – we see it like a living thing, the active aerodynamics. you can see in the future the target is clearly like transformer cars, cars that adapt and adjust to the requirements of the racetrack or the road. it gives you the optimum in almost every situation. McLaren is definitely about breadth in ability across all the products, certainly in each individual class or segment. we need to be the fastest around the track, the most adaptable in terms of everyday usage. obviously correct materials for the correct function.


traditionally in car design you look for what the latest trend is – whether if its through the pressing of the materials, you may be able to get really sharp creases nowadays. but for us, we don’t need to do that. we only do sharp crease where we need to separate the air, not a sharp crease because it shows we have the latest stamping technology. we do what’s correct for the function of the vehicle. and what makes it really interesting for us as a designer as a challenge, is when you have to mix the two together. so a fender line, or a body sideline, is not there just purely for proportional reasons, it also has to serve a double function – so the second function is, that line needs to split the air in a certain way, or it divides the air – it helps tells a story of the airflow so the customer can see it – and that’s where we stand out against the competition.



DB: what development process would you say takes longest to refine?


RM: I think the aspects of the design that take longest to develop on the McLaren’s are from the vehicle architecture side. they obviously need to be done years in advance, we need to obviously plan and look to what the future opportunities are, and what the brand needs to be able to do, and how it can grow in the future – how we stretch the brand. so we’ve got the core values, the secondary values and the tertiary values, and how they spread out, and which products can stretch and which ones needs to stay pure to the brand. so the architecture is something that is constantly being worked on.


the other thing that probably takes the longest time is the aerodynamics, because, you do the sketches, then we’ll go into the clay, then we do some early cast surfaces, then we need to feed those surfaces into the aero guys, and once they get those, they can do some computational, fluid dynamics. but beyond that point, they really need to get into the physical side, so we go a risk through the early part of the project because the computer is never really as good as reality. so we go to a point where we know we are working within a bandwidth which is what we can deliver – so we have a level of safety. but beyond that, when you get into the real world inevitably certain things change, and it’s how the risk is, or the aspect that takes longer due to its risk to develop, is then the loops with the aerodynamics, whether its the thermal, because our cars are using turbochargers, so they generate a lot of heat – so how do we cool this engine.


we’ve got lots of openings on the car, a lot of meshes, and obviously you need the car to look nice and sleek, or the products need to be more open to visually communicate the power, the kind of lightweight-ness. so its trying to find those kind of tricks. anyway, this feedback with aero, sometimes it can be the diffuser that completely needs to change shape, because its not just there for just aesthetic reasons on a McLaren, obviously they need to create like 300 kilos of downforce or 150 kilos of downforce, whether that’s the rear diffusers or the front diffusers. certainly the challenge is the heat exit over the engines and out of the back car, which with the P1 you can see – which is why it has this kind of completely chopped away rear end with the mesh, very open, very le mans like, but fluid in its silhouette, which is very McLaren, very formula one. so yeah, aerodynamics is also key, the one with the longest risk, if you may.



DB: how would you define innovation?


RM: so my definition of innovation, it’s a tricky one, but I think for me it’s more of a philosophy on innovation and philosophy to me is something which constantly needs to change, evolve, and adapt. that’s what philosophy is, something that’s constantly changing, innovation is constantly changing, materials, technology is constantly changing. all sorts of cutting edge, constantly changing. so for me, McLaren has a philosophy on innovation and that is just to stay at the forefront, and that’s through research, suppliers, reading science journals, making sure there are the correct people on the design team or we hire the correct people who have a passion for finding new technologies and not just relying on looking at, ‘okay, this is the latest trend.’ we need people to be looking at the future, what’s next, nanotechnology, or what’s the next lightweight material, or the next laminated combination of materials. so yeah, philosophy on innovation, if that’s good enough for you.



DB: what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?


RM: you don’t get if you don’t ask. and I think that’s been good from pushing for career opportunities through to certainly design-wise day to day. you need to change a line, you need to change an element or position of the package so you can get the best sense line or the best proportion or the best corners and stance. and of course you need to go and ask. because you can’t sit there and moan or ‘ah, I wish I could do this.’ you just need to go find the guy, get the guys together you need to get the information from. you ask them and make sure you get it hopefully. but that’s you don’t get it if you don’t ask. 



stay tuned for the final part of this three part series, as designboom will cover an overview of the P1 and 650s manufacturing at the McLaren production centre, and tour of the McLaren technology centre.



about McLaren automotive:


founded in 1989 as McLaren cars to produce the F1 supercar, the company is now making a major step forward with ambitious plans to produce a range of high performance sports cars.
building on the huge critical success of the McLaren f1 (1993-98), and the sales success of the mercedes-benz SLR McLaren (2003-09), both of which have pioneered carbon composite body technology and active aerodynamics, the new company is preparing to introduce ground-breaking levels of technology and performance in a more affordable category of the sports car market. beginning with the McLaren MP4-12C in 2011.


a bespoke production facility, the McLaren production centre (MPC) is planned for the MTC site that will enable ultimate production of up to 20 McLaren sports cars a day and support over 800 direct jobs and an estimated additional 1,500 indirectly in the local economy. planning permission for the MPC was granted in august ’09. the first in the new range of McLaren cars – the 12C, a high performance and technically-advanced two-seat sports car – will be delivered to customers worldwide from 2011 through a dedicated McLaren dealer network.


the SLR range, McLaren automotive’s most recent product, has proven the company’s ability to combine hand-built high-quality production techniques by highly-skilled technicians to volume car production lean manufacturing processes for ultimate efficiency. these manufacturing techniques, unburdened by the clutter of airlines and other traditional automotive workshop equipment, will be employed for 12C production ensuring that the new range of McLaren models will be built in a similarly clean, calm and efficient environment.


the MTC allows the whole car launch team – design, development, engineering, purchasing, testing, production, marketing, sales and aftersales – to be fully integrated within a few meters of each other.  potential customers are, today, able to see the formula 1 workshops alongside the existing SLR stirling moss production line and understand for themselves that the link between the road and race cars is tangible and visible.

 paul howes, head of exterior design McLaren gives robert melville a big hug outside the HQ in woking
image © designboom

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