Friday, January 22, 2010

Maximum Retro

Is the innovation in car design dead? Or is retro simply something that designers have used throughout a century or more of car design.

Some will say the last decade was a golden age of design. Audi and BMW from Europe and Cadillac from America produced truly sculptured cards. Others will say the myriad of different shapes and styles we had in the late fifties and early sixties were better. Sure they were oversized gas-guzzlers, but they were all unique. In between we had the boxy cars of the seventies, eighties and the nineties. So what will the next decade’s cars look like?

Will all future cars look the same? Will brand loyalty and customer service be the only differentiators. It looks like the 3 cars below, the Opel Corsa, the Renault Clio and the Ford Fiesta could have been designed by the same team.

Is it inevitable that manufacturers will borrow ideas from each other? After all, fundamentally all cars have 4 wheels, an engine and a body with styling that is sometimes new and sometimes a through back from the past. What more can designers make out of it?

Will future cars take the aging population in consideration? The average new car buyer in the USA is 40 years old. And with predictions that future drivers will continue driving until an advance age, ergonomically designed features for boarding and seating, visual aids like side and rear-view cameras and aids to improved night and rain vision, etc. will be high on designers’ mind. At the same time more people are moving to cities and their car demands are different due to the congested driving conditions. From a design point of view these future city cars will need to focus more on how to deal with the stop-start traffic conditions, maybe even automate it. In car entertainment and information systems/Internet/Television will become strong selling points, and cars will probably be greener with near-zero emissions.

The last few years we have seen many retro designs based on cars designed many years back. Look at the new Ford Mustang (below, bottom) and compare it to the 1969 Mustang (below, top.)

One company in California, N2A Motors is now taking retro to its maximum state.

Simply known as the 789 (below), the car combines the front headlights and grill from the 1957 Corvette, the sleek side lines of the 1958 Chevy Impala and in the rear, the “bird in flight” tailfins of the 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air. Truly a unique and stunning looking retro car.

The 789 from N2A Motors

The cost of converting the 789 from a stock C6 Corvette is $80,000 and the owner has to provide the base C6 Corvette, which retails for about $60,000. A unique car for a cool $140,000.

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