I always think that my enthusiasm for Apple products is because Jonathon Ive (Apple’s heads of design) and me are exact contemporaries. We’re the same age and studied industrial design at the same time in colleges just 30 miles apart. I reckon I can see the same influences I had when I was a child. Like, for example, the production design from Gerry Anderson’s Space 1999. (Tell me the Comlock communicator was not the inspiration for the iPhone…). So when I see something new from Apple, I almost always think ‘yeah, that’s how I would have done it’. Apart from the positioning of the USB slots on my iMac, of course. Another common influence was Californian outfit Frog Design, one of the hippest design consultancies. Back in the late 1980s Frog was leading the trend for post-modern product design. The idea was to make hi-tech goods more ‘friendly’ and ‘accessible’. At the time, some of you might remember, we were in the … [Read more...] about Could head-up displays revolutionise interiors?
1980s interior design
If Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design director, were to put his pen down today, his position high in the design firmament would be secure forever. This is the man whose Aston Martin DB7 design saved its maker in the early 1990s, after which he designed the Vanquish, DB9 and Vantage, which set Aston on a whole new path. A few years later, Callum’s vision of the future allowed Jaguar, whose management at the time wanted to keep it handcuffed to worn-out traditions, to leapfrog two design generations and become modern again – starting with the XF in 2007 and leading to today’s XE, F-Pace and now I-Pace. But Callum refuses to “wallow in glory”, as he puts it. “I’m lucky to have come in at difficult times for both companies,” he says. “It’s easier to fix something than to improve what’s already good.” Besides, none of the biggest successes would have been possible without the loyal, multi-talented design team he … [Read more...] about A day with Jaguar’s design director Ian Callum
Bill Mitchell, only the second man to head General Motors styling when he took over from the monumental Harley Earl, was not a man about whom people were impartial. GM’s official history reveres him. Harley Earl’s family reviles him. His coworkers and subordinates at GM either loved him or despised the man. Even landmark designs that were signatures of his reign at GM Styling, the split-window 1963 Corvette Sting Ray and the boat tail Rivieras, are polarizing designs that had detractors, including some on the GM Styling staff. He admittedly ran that department like a dictator, though he rarely fired anyone. Mercurial in temper, he’d have screaming fits at his design staff, laced with the most vulgar epithets, then defuse the tension with an offhand joke as he left the room. Shamelessly ambitious and self-promoting, often taking personal credit for his staffs’ designs, had the term “larger than life” not existed, Mitchell would have coined it to … [Read more...] about Was GM Design Head Bill Mitchell A Sexist Bigot?
From the January 1980 Issue of Car and Driver Many times over we've listed the design virtues of GM's front-wheel-drive X-bodies. In theory they're all the good things American cars should be, but in practice it seems General Motors is only practicing so far. The early X-cars lack refinement in roadability, comfort, and finish, and these shortcomings are a big disappointment. Languishing almost unnoticed in the shadow of Chevy's X-body Citation introduction is the more conventional Malibu. Proportioned and basically laid out like a Mercedes 280E, the Malibu is a better real-world car, at the moment, than the Citation. It is certainly nicer to drive and to travel in, and is almost as efficient, and those, after all, are the primary responsibilities that should be seen to by any car. The Malibu has gained its advantage by virtue of development. Its time on the market has given Chevrolet the opportunity to fix most of the little shortcomings it had when it … [Read more...] about 1980 Chevrolet Malibu Classic
The massive Car and Driver archive is stuffed chock full of original press photos, our own photography, technical specifications, test results, and more from pretty much every car that was sold—or intended to be sold—in the U.S. between the 1950s and today. We use this archive frequently, and our most recent deep dive turned up an utterly glorious 1980 American Express catalog featuring an ad for a DeLorean DMC-12 plated in 24-karat gold. We thought you needed to see this. We have no idea who decided it necessary to store this catalog in a folder assigned to the DeLorean DMC-12. We don’t really care. That’s because between the wondrously ’80s vibe of the catalog itself—there were entries for a Solo-Flex bodybuilding machine ($495), a portable Panasonic TV ($200), and a Gleneagles trench coat ($165)—and the DeLorean gracing the publication’s cover, we’re smitten.The catalog declares “This Christmas, American … [Read more...] about In 1980, You Could Buy an $85,000, 24K-Gold-Plated DeLorean
From the July 1980 Issue of Car and Driver TESTED Volkswagen's Jetta started out in the same direction as the Honda Accord four-door, but veered off the trail at the first turn. The idea is the same—a popular, upscale, hatchback econobox (hutchback econobox?) converted to a trim little sedan-with-a-trunk—but where Honda produced a really nice little American car, Volkswagen has created something unmistakably German. What's more, the addition of new structure at the rear to accommodate a trunk larger than that of a Cadillac Seville or a Mercedes-Benz 240, a rear stabilizer bar, larger tires, and upgraded trim levels throughout makes the Jetta altogether different from the Rabbit from which it sprang. The Jetta was designed by Volkswagen to fill a space between the Rabbit and the Dasher, but we're inclined to suspect that the Jetta will wind up replacing the Dasher, for many prospective customers. It's … [Read more...] about 1980 Volkswagen Jetta
When people think of advanced new engines, they tend to focus on improvements in power or fuel economy, but engine innovation can also yield reductions in engine size and weight. The people at EcoMotors have been working on an engine that not only promises more power and greater efficiency, but does so in an unusual package.The company’s OPOC (opposed piston, opposed cylinder) engine is essentially a horizontally opposed engine with one big difference. Within each of its cylinders, there are two pistons traveling in opposite directions. The resulting engine is very low top to bottom, very short front to rear, and fairly wide. In either two- or four cylinder form, it’s a completely different shape than any other engine out there.In order to derive the greatest benefit from such an engine, a vehicle should be designed around its unusual shape. To demonstrate what such designs might look like, EcoMotors sponsored a design contest at America’s two best design schools: … [Read more...] about EcoMotors Design Contest: Reshaping the Future Around an Opposed-Piston, Opposed-Cylinder Engine [2012 L.A. Auto Show]
Marc Lichte took over as head of design at Audi in February 2014, and his influence can be seen already in the brand’s two most recent show cars, the Prologue coupe from Los Angeles and the Prologue Avant that was unveiled at Geneva. In an interview at the latter show, the former VW designer told us what to take away from the new concepts, explained the importance of the next-generation A8, and tipped his hand regarding other future products, as well.The next A8 will be the first car designed from scratch under Lichte. It also will usher in a new era for Audi design. As the chief designer notes, the arrival of what Audi calls its single-frame grille, in 2004, established the current look for the brand. “But after 10 years and after one- or one-and-a-half generations of cars, now is the time to do a bigger step,” he says.The timing, he adds, fits perfectly because the A8 will be the car that will introduce the new design language, which will then filter down from … [Read more...] about Audi Design Chief Marc Lichte Talks Next A8, Other Future Product
It’s difficult to imagine this happening today: Picture a major domestic automaker announcing the last hurrah of its largest, most opulent personal luxury car with the usual array of special edition models. But instead of letting its own designers handle the “collectible” trim-and-paint kits, it employed a fleet of famous, mostly European fashion houses to send off their last-generation model in style.From 1976 until the early 1990s, Lincoln did exactly this for its flagship Continental coupes.Cartier, Givenchy, Emilio Pucci were among those tapped by Ford to work their magic on the Continental, but there was one American designer hired to re-fashion the Mark V: WWII-vet and all-around badass, Bill Blass.For 1979, the New York-based Blass chose a nautical theme, with two-tone paint, a contrasting gold pinstripe, and a choice of roof configurations including a “carriage top” (pictured here), which gave the massive coupe a … [Read more...] about Parked in Drive: 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V Bill Blass Designer Edition
As I was born in late 1978, I’m a bit young to recall the Malaise era. One of my earliest memories in life is of John Hinckley’s assassination attempt on President Reagan, so most recollections I have of the cars of the time were on used car lots and, just as often, with the hood up roadside.Of course, the British car industry was imploding around this time. Very few new models were introduced; most cars were rehashed, smogged versions of the cars British Leyland had been building for many years.In the Triumph TR7 and later TR8, they did manage to bring a clean-sheet design to U.S. showrooms.This 1980 Triumph TR8 is one of the hot V8-powered roadsters produced in very low numbers, rather than the four cylinder fitted to the TR7. This one is in period-appropriate gold, with an awesome beige tartan plaid interior. It needs some restoration, but looks quite solid.I have a Triumph-owning acquaintance who’s certain that the TR8 will appreciate, as if … [Read more...] about Digestible Collectible: 1980 Triumph TR8