April 16 2010

We are wondering why it is that car manufacturers are tripping over each other inventing boring and redundant “super modern” and “high design” cars, when the end result is a sea of lookalikes. One can no longer recognize a “premium” make from a lower-end car, certainly not by distinctive and recognizable design features.

They are unimaginative, uninspiring and suffer from a serious case of follow-itis. As opposed to being leaders and, in particular, design leaders. We see design tweaks and add-on features advertised as if they were a revolution when in fact, there’s nothing really significantly new or exciting. No wonder so many are giving up cars altogether. Why spend all that money to get what?

Our hopes are up a bit with a sighting of the carbon fiber-bodied “Bella Figura” Bugnotti. It is Delahaye USA’s tribute to Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean, and it was inspired by the 1937 classic Type 57S. This retro beauty will debut at the Retro Auto at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Aug. 13-15 in Monterey, CA.

We are all for going back to the basics, to looking at the best and most beautiful models of the past and resurrecting them. For example, there is nothing to add to the iconic design of a classic Saab. It was designed for minimal drag and that was partly the reason why the Saab was such a hot ticket as a rally car in the 1960s. And they had 3-cylinder engines, too.

Imagine if we could again drive cars this cool? Of course, they’d have the relevant and useful modern technology and electric power as well. Why is that not possible? - Bill Tikos


February 18 2010

Some motorcyclists just want a cheap commute to work. Others are speed freaks seeking the ultimate expression of individuality and power.

For these guys and girls, the dream machine is a Confederate Fighter or MV Augusta F4CC. But a few riders will aim even higher, and these are the people the 135hp Ecosse Iconoclast was designed for. It’s effectively a shopping list of high-end motorcycle components, based on Ecosse’s existing Heretic model.

After handing over your £44,000.00 (US$69,000), you get a bike with car-sized 2-liter engine. It’s machined from solid billet aluminum, and wrapped in a hand-welded custom frame that also stores the engine oil. The bodywork is carbon fiber; suspension comes from the favored brand of MotoGP racers, the Swedish company Öhlins.

The Iconoclast is quick, at less than three seconds to 60 mph. But you’ll need to be even quicker to get your hands on one. Just eleven will be made, and they’re exclusive to—an online gallery that only sells limited editions, from fashion to jewelry to furniture.

If the Ecosse represents the ultimate motorcycle available today, the RogueMoto KickBoxer reveals what might be in showrooms tomorrow. It’s a concept from designer Ian McElroy, and uses Subaru’s rally-bred WRX motor for propulsion. The engine is turbocharged for even more grunt, and feeds into a Baker Torquebox—one of the few motorcycle gearboxes able to handle sportscar levels of power. If the KickBoxer makes the transition from CAD program to showroom floor, the Ecosse will have a serious rival at the stoplight Grand Prix. - Chris Hunter



December 28 2009

Think back 70 or 75 years to a time when design began to break away from the traditional and elaborate rationalism that had ensued for hundreds of years. As the styles of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Streamline and Zigzag Moderne emerged after the Industrial Revolution, designers as well as consumers fully embraced the Age of the Machine.   Shiny chrome surfaces lay across curving forms or over expansive horizontal planes and glorified a dynamic new world on the move.

And suddenly, design was muted as World War II approached. Inspiration was buried away, along with some innovative and visually stunning design work. Skip ahead to 2005 when some curious members of BMW Classic opened a box and found the R7 bike 75 assembled - although not in shining condition. The engine was corroded, the metalwork was in dire shape, the battery was unusable, but the opportunity for restoration could not be ignored.

Various specialists at the BMW workshop discovered the original design drawings in the archive collections and conjured up the ghosts from Streamline Moderne’s past. Missing parts were sourced, others were rebuilt, the chrome was polished and the frame was painted black. And the final test, retuning the 1934 BMW motorcycle to the street, proved to be worth the wait nearly three quarters of a century later. - Andrew J Wiener via Bike Exif



October 16 2009

Mini goes Fluro with Neon wraps by TCH - Have you entered our Mini design contest? - do so here

Mini Neon by TCH Design


August 4 2009

Pushing the bar higher, the luxury motorcycle manufacturing company Confederate is set up to unveil its latest machine at the Quail Motorsports Gathering in Carmel California this month: the P120 Fighter Combat.

The new bike is made of a lightweight aluminum frame that wraps around an obvious massive engine, yet manages to maintain a somewhat graceful silhouette.  Confederate, known for ‘celebrating the art of rebellion,’ has not released any additional specs or price on its newest design – but we’re guessing you’re not going to see too many of these on the streets of your cities. - Andrew J Wiener - via Bikeexif



July 11 2009

Each year as the Tour de France presses on through the French countryside, our desire and envy for faster sleeker cooler bikes is reinvigorated. While the German Team Tentakulus is not preparing to train its riders to race against many of the world's best, their new Shocker bike could be highly competitive for cool.  Most Shocker riders will probably never need to worry about changing gears or overtaking fellow riders on steep climbs through the Alps.  Besides looking good, switching on the headlight for safe night cruising is just about the only true performance feature that comes standard on every bike. - Andrew J Wiener


June 25 2009

How far will your need for speed take you?  If you’re like many of us, dreams of sitting in the cockpit of any kind of aircraft rolling through the clouds are unlikely to ever happen... until now.  The US Air Force has teamed up with Galpin Auto Sports and built the stealth-looking Dodge Challenger Vapor – part muscle car, part fighter jet – all military strategy.

The designers fitted the body of the car with jet enhancements that would even make Batman look twice.  Special radar-blocking black paint covers the car, while a stealth exhaust allows it to run virtually silent. A roof-mounted camera detects any type of movement within a quarter mile. Biometric verification via the driver’s thumbprint gives access to the vehicle through gull wing doors.

All that’s left to do now is strap on one of the custom-designed helmets, climb inside the cockpit and take off.  Once seated behind the wheel (or wheels, as there is a passenger-side steering wheel as well), the pilot and co-pilot can use an advanced computer-system complete with internet access, a GPS tracking system, exterior proximity sensors, as well as switch on a thermal vision projection on the windshield to track enemy forces through the darkness.

Jumping back to reality, only briefly, the USAF designed the Challenger as a recruitment tool for future cadets.  The military planned a Super Car Tour and is visiting various high schools across the US, along with a handful of auto shows to entice young hopefuls into military service. - Andrew J Wiener


June 10 2009

If square wheels were even slightly workable, Danish designer Michael Ubbesen Jakobsen would have used them in his Bauhaus-inspired BauBike. The pared-down bicycle is designed around the geometric shape of the square, and its main raw materials are minimal: some metal and leather. The bike has the same astonishingly classy vibe as Marcel Lajos Breuer’s Wassily chair, a Bauhaus design icon Ubbesen Jakobsen most likely studied during his education at Southern Denmark’s respected design school in Kolding. From the small touches, such as the BauBike-embossed leather strips that wrap around the handlebars, and the gorgeous springs under the austere saddle, it is easy to see that Ubbesen Jakobsen is a meticulous designer, a serious tinkerer and, at least in the case of BauBike, an elegant minimalist not afraid to have some fun. So far this year, BauBike has appeared at the Salone in Milan and at the DMY International Design Festival in Berlin  We are not yet clear when and how we can get our hands on one — equipped with the second saddle accessory — but we are hopeful it will be soon. - Tuija Seipell


May 25 2009

Another iconic vehicle is about to be reborn and brought into the 21st century. This time it is the Mercedes-Benz 300SL that is getting the make-over treatment (that’s the car with the batman-esque doors to you and me, or Gull-wings as they are known in the car business).

This beautiful badboy, first introduced to the roads in 1954, is to be modified by Arturo Alonso and his company, Gullwing America. This time round it will be much more powerful, easier to handle and of course, it will feature all the mod-cons that one has come to expect from a vehicle of its caliber.

Alonso is perhaps the best man to complete this task, being no stranger to the exotic car sector. He raced for years in a Mercedes 300SE, and he is also the engineer behind the Bentley S3 E concept from last year.

With an aluminum body constructed with aircraft composite technology and chassis made of powder coated steel, the car will be powered by Mercedes’ M-133-55 engine, wired to raise the horsepower to 370. The new model will also feature striking red leather interior and an old-school instrument panel. The only hard thing left to do is to decide if you want the white one or the black one. - Brendan McKnight


May 22 2009

Whether your cargo is kids, laundry, groceries or beach gear, the coolest way to haul it is the Madsen Cargo bike. These handy urban transporters from Salt Lake City, Utah, can carry 271 kg (nearly 600 pounds) either in a bucket or on a rack. The bikes and the buckets come in three colors: dramatic black, yummy cream and sweet baby blue. Accessories for the bucket include seat belts and a seat for your progeny, pet or bride. The creative heads at Madsen are constantly tinkering with the bike and accessories, and according to their blog, a lid for the bucket is in the works. With their long tails, these bikes command attention. - Tuija Seipell

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