The art of a gem cutter creating an outstanding diamond, is to maximise the amount of light that returns back to your eye through the stone. To achieve ‘brilliance’ – the grey and white sparkle – Masters are set apart by their ability to look at the natural stone, understand what is achievable, and then how they treat the surfaces. Not so different to car designers.
When inspecting diamonds there is a flaw when a diamond is cut either too deep or shallow referred to as a ‘Window’, this is when the light doesn’t bounce back up through the top of the stone, and black spots are noticeable.
I was reminded of this when looking at the front grille on the Lexus LF-SA Concept at Geneva.
With the ever increasing frontal area taken up by grilles on cars, I wonder if automotive designers have unwittingly created the car’s equivalent of a diamond’s ‘Window’.
Geneva International Motor Show 2015, Salon International de l’Automobile.
Zenos Cars first hit the headlines in 2014, launching their brand with the E10 show car. This concept marked the culmination of an intense design and development period in which Drive Design and Zenos worked hand-in-hand to lay down the foundation for not just a “lightweight, affordable, fun to drive” road legal track focused vehicle, but a new range of thrilling and accessible sports cars.
The roots of the E10S can be traced back to the summer of 2012, when Zenos management approached Drive Design with plans to build a completely new British sports car brand around a mid-engined, carbon-tubbed car priced at less than £25K. At that point founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards had a unique market proposition and a few key words that would define their brand. Drive Design had to create a design language that would embody all of their aspirations.
One of the main challenges during the initial design process was achieving the delicate balance between a friendly, approachable look in keeping with Zenos’ brand values while also communicating to the customer that it’s a thrilling, lightweight trackday car. With affordability in mind, Drive wanted to highlight the innovation of the carbon composite material and reflect the intelligence of the styling, with the break up of panels, wings and tub allowing ease of production and lower repair costs compared to the single clam mouldings used on competitor products.
The public’s response to the car’s design can be measured by the fact that 40 deposits were taken from customers before they had even seen it run. This justification of the product, only raised the pressure to deliver on their promise to have the production model ready for January 2015. Drive and Zenos launched into a rapid productionisation phase sensitive to the fact that the car’s appearance couldn’t alter significantly, though taking the opportunity to tune the car’s character and balance. This phase involved working with suppliers on feasibility whilst ensuring manufacturing costs were kept on target keeping to the business plan and budget. The secret of the E10’s affordability relative to its performance, is off-the-shelf Ford components including engine, gearbox, and brakes with an innovative composite tub made from recycled carbon fibre that offers 70 per cent of the lightness and stiffness of pure carbon-fibre for a tenth of the cost.
The interior is another area where careful thought went into the design, built around the ideal driving positon, the quality of the panels and fit had to exceed what would be expected at the cars price point. This approach has seen Zenos Cars has take more than 110 deposits, first year production run being 200, with a deliveries scheduled for March. For Zenos’s founders Ansar Ali and Mark Edwards, the E10 represents the culmination of a dream. For Drive Design, it provides a mobile showcase for its design strategies and a shop window for carmakers – large and small – searching for the kind of collaborative, ground-up design approach that only Drive can deliver.
The Zenos E10 project is the essence of what we do at Drive. We extract the DNA of a company and express it as a tangible product. We tell a story.
On a cold, damp Monday morning in December at Brands Hatch the Zenos E10 prototype, that was designed by Drive, is sitting in the pit garage and I am talking with Ansar Ali one of the founders of Zenos Cars. As always he is in good humour and as we discuss the car he scans the invited guests to make sure they are being looked after by his team.
I have looked forward to this moment ever since we were approached by Ansar and Mark Edwards with their vision and business plan for a new lightweight sports car that required both a visual and physical identity to establish the brand. For me, this was an exciting challenge and a project that all at Drive believed in.
So as I pulled on my crash helmet and slide in to the cockpit of the E10 prototype, it was a chance to celebrate all the work, effort and dedication of everyone involved with Zenos, with particular pride in Drive’s team who approached the project with their usual commitment and passion.
To date the response to the Zenos E10 design has been fantastic; with nearly 90 deposits taken from viewing the showcar prototype alone, it is looking like a business success for Zenos.
As I drove the car around the local roads all I was thinking was ‘don’t get caught speeding’ …. So all I can tell you is that it handles great and they didn’t catch me!
With the launch of the production Zenos E10S at the 2015 Autosport Show, it is great to be able to reveal the definitive design and tell you about our involvement.
Watching practice of the Russian GP I thought my eyes were playing tricks.
But the next shot confirmed my thoughts that the advertising on the track surface was indeed a cgi image.
I had never realised this was being done before, although I knew it had been looked into for green screen on advertising boards, I’m not sure I would have thought about it on track.
This obviously gives opportunities for bespoke advertising for country to country, or language.
Later it was mentioned that the get well message for Jules Bianchi was projected on to the track so maybe this has been happening for along time.
With a starting grid of 28 of the world’s rarest and important historic racing cars, collectively valued at around £150million, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the race would be purely processional. A few staged laps of careful driving with the cars safely returning home at the end of the weekend, to spend the rest of the year cossetted in a climate controlled garage somewhere in deepest England. But this was Goodwood, the Revival, which has a reputation for highly competitive racing no matter the value of the participants.
A 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO’s , 4 250 SWB’s, and an ultra rare 330 GTO, lined up together with a Maserati Tipo, 7 AC Cobra coupes, a number of E type Jaguars for the TT Celebration Race, one of the highlights of the weekend. The race included a driver change half way through, with one driver a handy amateur, the other a seasoned professional from the world of Touring Cars or F1. We had some of the best ‘seats’ in the house and were standing on the pit lane roof, literally watching meters from the start line as the flag dropped and a wall of noise hit our ears. F1 noise levels. Insane.
Everyone covered their ears as these amazing cars launched off the start line to a backdrop of spectators all in period dress filling the grandstands. Was this was exactly like it must have been in the sixties? Well, apart from the hundreds of iPhones and digital cameras that were being held aloft. The low level cloud of smoke and exhaust fumes soon dispersed and our attention turned towards the last chicane at the beginning of the long finish straight, to catch a glimpse of who would emerge as the race leader. It was obvious quite quickly that this was a two car race, with two Cobra’s taking a substantial lead, but the rest of the field certainly weren’t easing up. Every time a car passed us it was going full gas, and the nearby giant TV screen confirmed that these cars were being pushed to their limits, sliding around the corners inch perfect.
Caught on camera we saw a car going off, either being hit by another competitor or because the driver found the limit of his ability. Hitting the tyre bank hard and ripping a lot of the body work off quickly bought out the safety car, and all but one car dived into the pits. Our view from above was perfect to witness the two minutes of carnage that followed.
We are all used to seeing beautifully choreographed F1 pit stops, but this wasn’t choreographed. Or beautiful! This is when we realised this race was being taken very very seriously. All but one of the grid had come in and had an allocated space, but as the lane is quite small, most cars would end up blocking the car immediately behind them. The mechanics who had begun pushing and shoving anyone who was standing in their way even started to push cars out of the way causing more chaos. A Cobra came charging down the pit lane, misjudged his spot and took the front fender and headlight off a pristine Ferrari 250 SWB. Wow! And another rapidly accelerating Ferrari had to emergency brake, as he nearly hit a marshall who was crossing his path. If it wasn’t for the quick reactions of another marshall it could have been serious. Luckily the Ferrari only lost a few seconds, which he then made up for by laying fresh rubber down the rest of the pitlane as he returned to the race.
Once the pits emptied, the lone car which hadn’t stopped came in, oblivious to the chaos made a perfect stop with no drama and re-joined without losing a place, or any bodywork!
Apart from a couple of more crashes, the rest of the race was more of a formality for the two Cobras off the front, and the race was sealed a lap or two from then end when the second Cobra had to retire early with a mechanical.
Watching from above, the winning cars team began celebrating as if they’d won LeMans or a world championship! There was spontaneous hugging all round, with gentlemanly handshakes between teams. Though I didn’t see it, I could imagine the handshakes from the owners of Ferrari involved in the earlier pit lane incident were made through gritted teeth. No matter how well healed the owner is, he will most certainly have to double and triple check the state of his bank balance before even considering any repairs.