Many of the world’s automobile manufacturers use the North American International Auto Show as a platform from which to unveil new design and new concepts in car design. This year’s exhibition just came to an end in Detroit, Michigan and we are happy to report there were at least a few new designs that caught our eyes.
A series of concept cars comprise the Lexus LF, or “L-finesse” line — and this year the Toyota Motor Corporation introduced the LF-A Roadster — a topless version of the previously revealed LF-A coupe. The LF series represents a new direction in design for Lexus — centred around the philosophy of intriguing elegance, incisive simplicity and seamless anticipation.
The high performance topless roadster will be set to compete with some of the most desired vehicles on the roads today. At a glace, the low-profile aerodynamic form is built from lightweight carbon fibre and aluminium, and a rear wing ascends automatically as a trigger speed is reached. While there is no official word yet about which type of top the LF-A roadster will be fitted with, we’re expecting to see a fully automatic retractable hardtop as Lexus will want to keep its competitive edge. By Andrew J Wiener
In an attempt to revolutionise the process of car design, David Hilton, founder of Motorcity Europe, along with C2P Automotive, created the MC1 Supercar in just three months. Hilton, who spent much of the formative part of his career working for Ford, believes the MC1 will be production-ready by 2011, if he finds the right client. Presently, the mid-engine, V10-powered supercar has no set identity or branding. Weï¿½re willing to bet a recognisable logo will soon sit neatly within its grill.
By quickly translating computer-based design into engineering, Motorcity Europe achieved a radically different approach to supercar design in regard to its proportions and manufacturing processes. While certain aspects of the exterior appear entirely futuristic from nearly every angle, the MC1 looks like one of those cars we always dreamed we could afford. Fortunately, all anyone can see right now is the outside - the interior will be ready this spring. By Andrew J Wiener
To celebrate the 3rd annual PARK(ing) Day, San Francisco based art collective Rebar decided to take things a little further, with their pedal-powered park on wheels; the Parkcycle.
This one-day global event encourages artists, activists and everyday citizens to temporarily transform parking spots into "PARK(ing)" spaces: temporary public parks. This time around an astounding 180 parks in 47 cities were created.
"The process of rethinking the ways streets are used is an important first step in making permanent changes in our cities to improve the quality of urban human habitat," says John Bela, cofounder of Rebar.
The Parkcycle, which can be cycled by a team of three, but enjoyed by many more on it's 7m lawn, features a 5m tall tree and solar charged battery which run's the cycles breaks.
With a top speed of 5mph, it is hardy going to get a yellow jersey in the Tour de France, but makes for an incredibly scenic picnic. By Brendan McKnight
Mobile living might not be for everyone - but those adventurous enough to give it a shot. Living Is.be has crafted a fully-functional living space within the bed or a truck.
Two hatch skylights provide natural ventilation and allow sun to illuminate the interior. A double bed was installed at the rear of the truck allowing two adults to sleep comfortably. Running water is not only used in a functioning sink, but is also used in a sunken shower that was placed directly behind the cab of the truck. A kitchen stove ensures meals can be prepared - whether driving through an urban area or traversing rugged terrain. By Andrew J Wiener.
See Also -THE WOLTHAHELLIZAT
DOUBLE DECKER LIVING
Mazda's current design philosophy is moving in decidedly Zen-like circles. Like a child throwing pebbles into a mirror-still pool of water, the Japanese brand cast the diametrically different Sassou, Senku and Kauri concepts far out into the design community in 2005/6 and waited to see which way the ripples would take them.
From these three focal points an inward momentum was created, an inexorable circular movement towards a production car bearing a completely new Mazda design language. That car, hints Mazda North America's Design Director Franz von Holzhausen, will appear in pre-production form at the company's home auto show in Tokyo later this year.
'It's like a concentric circle,' explains the soft-spoken California-based designer. 'With the Sassou, Senku and Kabura we struck out in a bunch of different directions, but eventually we're going to land in the middle at something that you can go into the showroom and buy. For the moment, however, they're still circling the outer reaches of a design philosophy that Holzhausen has dubbed 'flow', or Nagare in Japanese.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, this new form language physically manifested itself in the first of a troika of striking new concepts: the Nagare. A radical grand tourer for the year 2020 designed by Mazda's studio in Irvine, California, Nagare borrows the most successful elements from its three conceptual forebears and translates them into what Holzhausen describes as a 'concept of a concept car'.
'Flow is the study of how nature expresses motion. If you look at a desert landscape, it appears as if the air is moving across the sand even though you can't see it. That's what we wanted to create: a way of introducing ideas of texture and motion into the surface language,' explains the Pontiac Solstice designer. 'That's the thing: it's not just a stuck-on detail or a cliched road stance. We've got a lot of freedom to explore this.'
The most striking thing about the Nagare's design is the deep etch lines that run along the car's flanks. They converge, fading as they go, to an invisible point above the rear wheelarches before re-emerging and fanning out to form filigree-like strands of orange light that make up the rear light clusters. Like ripples on a sand dune, they create a sense of air moving across the vehicle, of unseen motion - a theme picked up by the twisted lines that form the headlamps. Sidewinder trails are what come immediately to mind.
The Nagare, says Holzhausen, was just the first expression of flow. For the Detroit show in January, the Irivine studio team distilled this idea into a deliberately more feasible and down-to-earth form: the 2010 Ryuga sports car concept. Again, deep etch lines dominate the overall look, and the Senku-inspired shark's head nose and sidewinder lights remain. But the feel is less extreme, especially inside where the Nagare's diamond-pattern seat configuration gives way to a more conventional 2+2 layout. 'It's still about motion,' insists Holzhausen, 'but in a much more calm and quiet way. Like a Japanese rock garden.'
Meanwhile, the Geneva show will debut an even more grounded expression of the philosophy, this time designed by the company's studio in Frankfurt, Germany. Something equally exploratory but more believable, promises Franz. As radical, as avant-garde, as these cars feel now, by the time we get elements and themes into the finished car two years from now, people will be like 'yeah, we've seen this. It's a Mazda'
Personally, I doubt people will be so blase. While parent company Ford's European arm continues to talk in a loud voice about its Kinetic Design philosophy and expressing 'energy in motion', Holzhausen has found a way of actually translating this into something you and I can touch, and hopefully buy. Interestingly, the US-born designer says that the roots of this can be traced back to Spring 2006 edition of Intersection, the one with the Colani concept on the cover: I saw that car, the way it was shot from above with those organic, flowing shapes, and said 'that's the kind of car we need to build'. All my recent concepts have sprung from that point. By Euan Sey. Exclusive online extract from Intersection Magazine.
This years Geneva Auto Show stunned audiences with a car which teeters on the edge of an optical illusion. Exasis, is a transparent Rinspeed creation has an insect like body, transparent high tech plastic and yellow trim. At first glance it looks like a large scale Meccano set, upon closer inspection the image is literally transparent! Perfect for someone with a Wonder Woman fetish who wants to re-enact the invisible plane routine. How did that poor woman ever find where she parked that damn thing? We suggest adorning it with beaded seat covers ala Taxi Drvier style to help it stand out in the crowd. by Andy G
The boat you see here is a 30-foot concept from designer David Borman. He has designed and developed it to be the efficient future of transport. "That Wally powerboat, which I think is $20 million for the 50 footer, it sucks down something like 2,000 gallons of fuel an hour and it only does 70mph. I'll be using less than a tenth of that amount of fuel going twice as fast."
"My tag line is: helicopter speed at a powerboat price. It's the ultimate status symbol, but it's got a practical side too. I love the Bahamas, love the Tortugas, but they're between 130 and 200 miles from here in Miami. If I were to have a conventional yacht that could only do 25mph and I've got a 3-day weekend with the kids, I might as well forget it. By the time I got there it'd be time to turn around and come back home. Scale up to a 64 footer Sea Phantom and you'd literally be able to cross the Gulf of Mexico with impunity. It would cruise at 150mph, you'd have room for several staterooms, and you could walk around in the wings. It would be fast enough to run from Key West to Cuba in 20 minutes, when Cuba opens up. It would literally take you longer to get out of the harbor at Key West and back into Havana than it would to make the actual passage."
Like a chimera between a stealth bomber and a submarine, the design is sculpted around the central body airfoil. "I was able to draw on NASA research, free over the Internet, from the '60s to integrate into my philosophy", David acknowledges. "I had to put a backbone on it to support the tail, and it just so happened that I had just seen a photograph of a children's model of the late 1920s Bugatti Atlantique, so I lifted it almost directly from there."
Borman has invested some serious time and effort in his dream project ‚Äì thousands of man hours and $1.3 million in the project. But the rewards are potentially massive.
"The ultimate objective is passenger transport. For $2.5 million I'll have maritime transport capabilities similar to a $10-12 million aircraft. Not only at a fraction of the purchase price, but also at a fraction of the operating expense and I'm not encumbered by the FAA's rules. Airports are getting backed up; they've run out of expansion room. Aircraft can hardly get any bigger because the airports can't get any larger. 60% of the world's population live within 300 miles of a coastline; I could envision dozens of these just running up and down
the Florida coast alone. It could scale up to 90 feet if someone wanted to carry 100 passengers at high speed. It's a whole new world of transport."
The first customer Sea Phantoms will be 50 feet long, cost $2.5 million and be capable of cruising at 140mph with 24 people on board. By Wes Siler. Exclusive online extract from Intersection Magazine.
The Mini Mokes was perhaps the most loved sun buggy of the 60's, 70's and even the 80's. What sealed its success was the simple lack of doors. The convenience of jumping in and out of a car without opening doors and then the added bonus of driving around topless made it very appealing.
Today, riding on that success, Fiat have created the Fiat Jolly Panda. Although it sounds like a Japanese game show, this car is a successful remake of all the things that made the Moke a hit. The FJP was first launched over summer where it was used to ferry VIP's on the island of Capri.
With the interiors created by Italian design co. Paolo Lenti who specialize in the use of innovative fabrics, the FJP looks stylishly sixties from within. On the outside, the car has been designed with nontoxic and UV ray resistant materials, centered around a simple structural design which makes the car appear almost seamless. It's simplicity is its beauty, with an added element of fun throughout the design. by Andy G
It's a little Mad Max, without the madness, or umm, the max. It's the Wothahellizat, the off-road, knows-no-bounds 6x6 turbo diesel motorhome with bite!
As many of us eagerly inch towards a mobile, nomadic lifestyle without wanting to sacrifice our digital obsessions, we find the things like the Wothahelliza providing the answer. Like all diamonds in the rough, this motor home looks less glamorous outside then it is practical inside. However considering the vehicle is capable off roading, beautification would be alike to wearing stilettos to the New York marathon.
Stay online, work from home and dare to roam. With a price that challenges that of a one bedroom apartment in most major cities, the Wothahellza is tagged at around $260,000, with a small catch. It's available only in Australia. by Lisa Evans
With world oil prices continuing to soar through the roof, alternative transport energy is a hot topic. The world's latest design in electric cars comes from what is possibly the world's most unlikely source, a fashion design house. Unveiled this week by Paris-based house Maison de Courreages, the Zoop is a high performance 150 kw three-seater electric car. Designers Andre and Coqueline Courreages got their start in fashion working for the legendary French house Balenciaga. Thanks to them the worlds of fashion and engineering may no longer be worlds apart. by Bill T