There was a very interesting presentation this week by the McLaren Automotive design studio, held at the new Ascot McLaren showroom. The select guests were party to an intimate occasion with the design team who were revealing some of the decision making processes and design activities involved in producing the Sports Series.
Design operations manager Mark Roberts, who is one of the forces behind the initiative, introduced the evening before handing over to Rob Melville, chief designer, who gave an insightful presentation on their approach to understanding the brand and producing a design that encapsulates everything McLaren stands for.
What was intriguing about this presentation, and evening as a whole, was the apparent move to change how McLaren is perceived. Anyone who has been to McLaren’s technical centre cannot fail to be impressed by the experience, where meticulous attention to detail is everywhere – from the clinically clean Formula 1 car assembly bays to the alignment of the visitor book pens. This precision and technical approach has made McLaren Racing the incredible championship winning team it is, and laid the foundation for producing its dynamic and technically brilliant road cars.
So what was different about the presentation – personality. The event at a showroom, not technical centre, designers mixing with guests in a relaxed atmosphere with a presentation showing individual’s hobbies and design influences of sharks – nature influencing the form not drag co-efficient figures. The original MP4-12C’s message of incredible aerodynamics and stability through corners was there, but the language used was now different. McLaren’s success is down to Ron Dennis’ focus and drive for perfection, but it is the Bruce McLaren story being used to win over the hearts, in addition to the minds, of drivers.
Senior designer Paul Howse on this occasion went through the process from sketch to production, with interesting asides on the ‘friendly’ discussions between design and engineering and the continual defining and refining of the sculpted surfaces, an entertaining description that kept everyone’s attention throughout.
With the showroom divided in to design studio, alias modelling office, clay modelling area, future technologies of Oculus and augmented reality, the full complement of McLaren models on display and the design ‘family’ on hand to answer questions and demonstrate skills, it was a very slick and well-judged presentation.
The Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall is a very fitting place for the Royal College of Art to display their Anglo-American Emeritus Design Competition.
Founded in 1897 with the aim of encouraging the development of motoring in Britain, today the Royal Automobile Club is one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, with its magnificent galleried hall.
The invited guests were treated to a display of fifteen design concepts created by first-year students studying at the Royal College of Art Vehicle Design faculty.
Set up on easels and displayed as works of art, the projects were well received by the judging panel of Club members and industry experts.
Standing beside his design winner Pontus Merkel, an ex-industrial design student from Umeå, Sweden said: ‘This is my first trophy and to receive it from the Royal Automobile Club is quite an honour. This gives me a great deal of confidence; I am humbled and thankful for this award.’
If I were to ask around our office what everyone’s all time favourite film was, I’m sure the replies would include a couple of obscure French titles, and several horror b-movies. I would probably be the odd one out, and come clean that my favourite film is an American production that everyone knows and has seen, and has it’s fair share of dubious acting. But how can you not love “Back to the Future”?
It was the first film I saw in the cinema at very the impressionable age of ten, and I desperately wanted to be able to skate and play guitar like Marty McFly. I also wanted the car, a DeLorean! The Delorean! A supercar like wedge chiselled from a solid ingot of bright metal, with those amazing gull wing doors. They were ridiculously over the top, but were a perfect complement to the genre of film. Indeed, could you imagine another car that would be better suited to being a time machine?
Ever since, it’s been my childhood dream to drive or be taken for a ride in the time machine and on the morning of my recent 40th birthday I found myself in Kent, where, I had been promised, a surprise would be waiting for me; And there she was, parked up, doors aloft with blue neon glowing from nose to tail. The amazing Delorean Time machine!
I’ll have to say that again. Amazing. Just amazing! I was at last, Marty McFly, if for only an hour or two!
Everything was as I remembered from 1985. The multiple instrument gauges, thick looms of brightly coloured wires, jet fighter style overhead instrument panel, the analogue alarm clock and of course the flux capacitor, the device which made time travel possible. Talk about exceeding expectations, this was twisting my perception of reality. Was this a car for a film, or was it actually a time machine?
Pinching myself, it turned out that this particular car was one of the working props bought from Universal Studios to the UK a few years ago by it’s current owner, and my rather wonderful wife had amazingly arranged for me to see, sit in, and be driven around in the car on some local roads. In close detail, the car was even more fantastic than you see in the film. Two film designers, Ron Cobb and Andrew Probert, were credited with creating the look, which was of a space ship that had been built by a mad scientist in his garage using parts that anyone could source from their local electronics store. That was certainly believable due to the lavish us of tie wraps, junction boxes, heatsinks, clips and a huge assortment of other unidentifiable component in and outside the car. This was definitely a mad professors project and the look was perfect for the film, and it instantly became an iconic car. 2015 is the 30th year anniversary for Back to the Future, and also the date that the “future” parts of the film were
set. There has never been more interest in the film, so much so, many DeLoreans are now being bought and converted into time machines, either to full full their owners dreams, or as a fairly good way of cashing in on the success and popularity of the film.
Being driven around a few villages in the time machine was such an experience, and I almost started to believe that this was a time machine. All the dials and clocks worked exactly as they did in the film. The main display that showed the past, present and future times could be set, and made that instantly recognisable sound when you press set. I looked rearwards and the flux capacitor was twinkling away ready for us to hit that magical speed! So maybe, just maybe we could have a little fun? Steve, the owner had to bring me back to reality. He explained that even if he could get to 88mph on the outskirts of town, he had actually run out of plutonium. And sadly there was no storms forecast for months.
The DeLorean and I parted company after a few photos. It drove off into the traffic, but I stood there waiting for a few moments, hoping for it to come roaring back into view, flying past on to it’s next adventure.
The Salon Privé was celebrating its 10th year in 2015, and the growth of this event is evident by this year’s setting being Blenheim Palace.
The Salon Privé is the motor show equivalent of Ascot, with limited attendees to ensure that no one is short of a glass of champagne or the lobster lunch over the 3 days. The experience is as important to the organisers as the exhibits, and it shows in the level of service from the helpful staff.
One aspect of the show is the chance to see these exclusive cars, and even more so concept cars, away from the artificial motor show(room) environment and view them outside with natural lighting.
Volvo’s 3 concept cars have an impressive stature, and hopefully this will be just as visible in the production cars that follow.
The debut of the Aston Martin DB10, James Bond’s latest ride in his latest film Spectre, looked stunning – their designers are clearly talking the right design language for future Astons.
As well as the array of supercars, classic rarities and exclusive boutique brands, automotive designers were again well represented with the likes of Frank Stephenson and Simon Cox on the judging panel of the RCA’s ‘Concours of the Future’ competition, along with Richard Woolley and course head Dale Harrow.
It was also a pleasure to see Andrew Barber, a friend and former colleague at International Automotive Design, exhibiting his original art work with a number being sold on the day! see more here
With Silverstone Car Auction at the event, I wisely avoided too much champagne and left before bidding started otherwise I may have been persuaded by Sam Livingstone of Car Design Research to drive away in this lovely Lotus Elan.
Drive enjoyed attending the private view of the Royal College of Art degree show, and the social evening.
Congratulations to all exhibitors.
For some of what you can expect when you visit the RCA degree show
See the RCA FMP blog here – www.vehicledesignlab.com
Industry exhibition – 25th June 2015
Public exhibition – 24th June – 5th July 2015
Drive design enjoyed visiting this years Coventry Automotive Degree show.
See the Coventry Degree Show 2015 photos here – www.covid2015.tumblr.com