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car design thread

Discussion in 'Creative Arts' started by jm2, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. G. Pepper

    G. Pepper F1 World Champ
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    It reads like a word salad paper in an applied studies degree. Good grief.
     
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  2. jm2

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    Leave it to those PR hacks.......
     
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  3. jm2

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    Harley Earl the father of automotive design. The book 'Fins' is excellent.
    https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-steve-jobs-of-car-design-how-harley-earl-transformed-car-business.html?fbclid=IwAR0jKcUbbiDIzLWjX0knpFU761z03CVuhTIfAJlvU7NqFRBHV5UMSW81LbE



    DESIGN
    The Steve Jobs of Car Design: How Harley Earl Transformed the Car Business

    Harley Earl put form on equal footing with function, and in the process helped make automobiles the country's defining product for generations.
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    In the '40s and '50s, my father and grandfather would hurry to the only car dealership in town when they heard that year's latest models had arrived. New models, revised models, updated styling, upgraded interiors... seeing the new cars on the showroom floor was an event.

    Eventually they would walk home and talk cars, and a few nights later go back to the dealership to look again. Not because my grandfather was shopping for a new car; just because there were new cars to see, talk about, and most importantly, dreamabout.

    A scene like that is hard to imagine when car companies will spend a fortune this year trying to drum up even lukewarm interest in their 2019 models, but that's how it was for millions of Americans.


    Performance was important, but what cars looked like, what cars embodied... cars had an incredible impact not just on the country's economy, but on its broader aspirations and culture.

    In large part that was due to one man: Harley Earl, a college drop-out who basically invented the entire profession -- and system -- of automobile styling.

    As William Knoedelseder recounts in his excellent new book, Fins: Harley Earl, the Rise of General Motors, and the Glory Days of Detroit, Earl brought art, color, and panache to what had been the almost strictly mechanically-based mass-production automobile manufacturing business. (Henry Ford revolutionized production, but a Model T was the opposite of "styling.")


    Along the way, Harley invented a brand-new system design. When he was sixteen, a nearby canyon flooded and he and his brothers used the resulting clay to mold car designs; even today, with CAD and other technologies available, clay is still a basic tool of car design. Later he worked in his father's carriage shop designing custom auto bodies for Hollywood stars. (Think West Coast Choppers, but cars.)


    Then, when General Motors decided the best way to compete with Ford was to create attractive vehicles at a grand scale and reasonable cost... and change the look every few years without requiring extensive factory retooling... they brought in Harley, a man with experience using the then-novel technique of designing the entire car, not just individual components that would later be cobbled together.

    In Jobs-like fashion he recruited, trained, and led a staff of draftsmen, woodworkers, clay modelers, metalworkers, pattern makers, and most importantly designers, a skill in short supply since no art schools offered automotive design courses; car design wasn't recognized as an art or, heaven forbid, a profession.

    Within a few years his team had created the Aerodynamic coupe (a show car for the World's Fair), a car that "auto historians credit with ushering in teh modern era of car design."

    And he's the man responsible for those fins, like the 1959 Cadillac tail fin that often serves as the defining image of 1950s America.

    But just like Jobs, Harley was "hell to work for. Reminiscing about the experience decades later, his designers invariably described him as impatient and relentlessly demanding, with a hair-trigger temper and a seemingly bottomless reservoir of profane invective that he drew from whenever he felt the need to tell one of them that his carefully rendered drawing of a taillight 'looks like a baboon's *******.'"


    Yet in 1955 General Motors produced 50.8 percent of the record 7.9 million new cars sold that year -- more than double of Ford, and triple of Chrysler. (Even so, CEO Harlow Curtice wasn't satisfied; the inside joke at GM was, "The boss says we're still losing five out of ten sales.")

    Also thanks to Harley, GM had "gained an inordinate measure of influence over the look of virtually all makes and models of American automobiles. By the mid-1950s, every design department in the industry had adopted his system, his techniques, and even his theories. Every studio was filled with -- if not directed by -- men he had trained."

    I love books filled with practical, useful, actionable tips and strategies.

    But sometimes it's fun to sit back and learn about how other people accomplished amazing things. Learning from the challenges faced, the innovations developed, the roadblocks overcome... that's a great way to gain insights about whatever youare trying to accomplish.

    If you agree, Fins is the book for you. It's the story of a man who charted his own course and overcame doubters and naysayers to help General Motors win on of the longest-running battles for market share in our country's history.

    Fins is a fascinating story, well told.

    Can't beat that.


    (And if you like Fins, check out Bill's other books -- they're great. Like Bitter Brew: The RIse and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer, and I'm Dying Up Here: Hearbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy's Golden Era, the inspiration for the Showtime series I'm Dying Up Here.)
     
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  4. G. Pepper

    G. Pepper F1 World Champ
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    I remember when new model intros were televised! Me and my parents never missed them since I was car crazy, even as a little kid.
     
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  5. jm2

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    Near where we used to live, the dealers put brown paper to hide the showroom till intro day.
    Kinda like an Apple reveal these days.
    How times have changed.
     
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  6. tritone

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    THIS!
    Whitewash over the windows, front doors locked; one year all the new/used cars were moved away somewhere, front of dlrshp was EMPTY! Wha?
    Sunday morning early, paper gone, new cars everywhere! Including an acquamarine blue Corvette!!!! I must have been in & out of that car 20 times that day...
    Curiously, later that year my parents bought a new car from that dealer.......
     
  7. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Living in the 'Motor City' Detroit, new car intro was ALWAYS a huge deal. Like Hollywood is a company town with the movie industry, so too, Detroit was the Auto town. New car intros had to be seen to be believed.
     
  8. 330 4HL

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    #9558 330 4HL, Jan 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  9. NeuroBeaker

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    That's surprising. And surprisingly appealing. :)


    I'm afraid Mercedes-Benz was outdone... by Sony of all companies! Strange times.

    All the best,
    Andrew.
     
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  10. jm2

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    The strange allure of ugliness? It's come to this.
    From www.cardesignnews.com


    https://www.cardesignnews.com/insights/design-essay-the-strange-allure-of-ugliness/39776.article?utm_source=communigator_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CDN+Newsletter+-+08+January+2020&utm_term=New+Year,+new+tech+and+a+fond+farewell…&utm_content=709395&gator_td=ysqnEThfOLQDe/ZvvMibFbQ0Cl7xmhJbuqQv77Qu56vxtQfXwkNnWMViDlHKG9vLWFbQhA5IRvRnzqHGsUCRo2jjjkzkdTH0Dns8i/AjK3HCnkAk91I1NvuxN+YXgdmYAJJNXdN65/+VOQpHzjKFJa09AEDHCK24ZzHB6uXu0lrN8Dg+8Zla6imewfv9dsB9


    INSIGHTS
    Design Essay: The Strange Allure of Ugliness
    By Aidan Walsh18 December 2019

    From Edsel to Marcos Mantis, Reliant Robin to Pontiac Aztek, ugly cars have been assaulting our eyeballs since the dawn of the automotive age

    In recent times however, a marked change seems to have occurred, in that a grotesque appearance doesn’t seem to be quite the curse it once was. Whereas the more unseemly conveyances of the past were for the most part condemned to commercial failure and social ignominy, many of today’s automotive success stories are, by contrast, conspicuously uneasy on the eye.

    How exactly does a car almost universally derided upon launch, in large part due to its bloated and piggish appearance, go on to not only propel its once-beleaguered maker into the commercial stratosphere, but to turbocharge a premium SUV revolution which swept the entire industry?

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    Held to traditional aesthetic standards, the 2002 Porsche Cayenne – along with BMW’s X6, Nissan’s Juke, Lamborghini’s Urus and arguably Toyota’s C-HR to name but a few – should have been the epic fail to end all epic fails. Clearly, the reality couldn’t have been more different.

    Whilst it must be noted that the widespread movement toward heavyset SUVs and crossovers, or the hardcore aero addenda utilised by many modern supercars, are not exactly conducive to great works of beauty, we should remember that ugly yet successful cars are not an entirely new thing (see Ford’s 1960s Anglia). What is particularly striking now is that many well-regarded manufacturers seem to be actively pursuing ugly design styles even in more traditional market sectors, where elegance once reigned supreme.

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    – Some current and upcoming BMWs for your consideration

    One-time king of suave sophistication BMW has become a particularly notorious example, with the recent facelift of its flagship 7 Series, along with the 4 Series-previewing Concept 4, plus the new Z4, 1 Series, and 2 Series GranCoupe. With their ham-fisted graphics, confused surfacing, mismatched features and in some cases unbalanced proportions, these cars are considered by critics to be tantamount to an all-out assault on the marque’s long history of visual excellence.

    (NB: Registered users can read recently appointed design director Domagoj Dukec’s defence and explanation of current BMW design traits by clicking here)

    But of course, such an apparent degeneration in aesthetic standards is not exactly unique to the car world at present. Today’s high fashion often seems to consist of super-exclusive brands (e.g. Gucci, Balenciaga, Vetements, etc.) peddling conspicuously gawky, bizarre and often downright unsightly wares.

    Particularly prominent is the Triple S trainer (sneaker) by French style house Balenciaga, a shoe which, on the face of it, caricatures the very worst of clumpy, garish, nineties sports-casual horrors whilst simultaneously requiring a small mortgage in order to purchase.

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    Balenciaga Triple S

    To the footwear novice, such a piece would appear to be little more than a bad joke, yet the shoe has reached near-iconic status, spearheading an industry-wide craze for so-called ‘dad shoes’ – deliberately ugly anti-fashion statements which have become one of the defining style trends of recent times.

    But what could motivate anyone to lust after such expensive eyesores?

    Well, if nothing else, such recognisably expensive and exclusive artefacts seem especially well-suited to a world increasingly predisposed to loud and gaudy displays of extreme wealth. With the gulf between rich and poor ever-growing, traditional ideas of good taste and decorum are perhaps less important than simply being on the ‘right’ side of that divide and making sure everyone knows it.

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    Mercedes-Maybach Vision Utimate Luxury concept

    Of course, in times past, ugliness was generally more a marker of sheer incompetence than anything else – after all, a band of Portakabin-dwelling chancers have little greater chance of creating a cohesive piece of car (or product) design than they have of perfecting cold fusion.

    However, in markets dominated by mega-corps and, for the most part, saturated with good-value, attractive and competent products, the pursuit of conventional beauty and elegance perhaps seems kind of predictable, even clichéd. What better way to demonstrate that one’s taste is suitably avant-garde, that one really does move in the right social circles and simply ‘gets it’ - whatever ‘it’ may in fact be - than to embrace all that is wilfully, ironically and rebelliously hideous.

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    A track-tuned Lamborghini Urus. Maybe we’re just too poor to understand…

    On a less cynical note, and running with the notion that outer beauty is often perceived as an indicator of underlying positive qualities, or at least a baseline level of competence, then public preferences vis-à-vis vehicle aesthetics must inevitably evolve as consumer requirements and desires do.

    For all the ingenuity of Toyota’s archetypal Prius, the eco model created a distinct, ungainly aesthetic from the second generation onwards which is now intrinsically linked with the concept of environmental awareness, something which many latter-day eco-heroes (Hyundai Ioniq, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Clarity) have consequently adopted.

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    – The Prius profile is great for aero, but seemingly less great for elegance (GM Volt and Honda Clarity also shown)

    Just as it could be surmised that forgoing a conventionally attractive car has become some sort of symbolic self-sacrifice in the name of planetary responsibility, perhaps it is the case, as we enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, that the sleek and slippery pin-ups of the twentieth are now considered more boomer than zoomer. When once-empty highways become more clogged than Ronald McDonald’s aorta, and younger generations (along with the world’s most lucrative car market) are supposedly more interested in tech than driving, are we really surprised?

    Still, it’s hard to escape the nagging feeling that perhaps the primary driver of the ugly revolution might be something a little less noble, or even logical. That is to say, the almost cult-like power of brands. Consumer culture has demonstrated time and time again that hype and marketing can easily outweigh genuine merit or value, aesthetic or otherwise, in the eyes of its disciples.

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    It’s tacky until Chanel does it, and then it’s cool… right?

    For many, high fashion and style is not some abstract set of ideals to which all comers must aspire, rather it is simply whatever Gucci is doing this season – even if that happens to be an eye-watering brown polyester tracksuit adorned with mismatched colours and vulgar motifs.

    Likewise, to the lay person, the epitome of automotive sophistication today is most likely not the delectable Alpine A110, Alfa Romeo Giulia QV, or else some piece of motive sculpture from yesteryear… but a Cullinan, Bentayga, Veneno, or in less rarified atmospheres, the new 1 Series.

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    Indeed, as we’ve recently witnessed, a half-baked prototype resembling a toddler’s drawing can trigger a stampede of interest if it bears the insignia of a Silicone Valley demigod. What better indication that nowadays, it is often not what you produce which truly matters, but rather what your name happens to be and how much hyperbole you can generate. If a brand can whip up hordes of would-be buyers for something as apparently amateurish as the Cybertruck, why try harder?

    It’s a depressing thought, but perhaps today’s emperors are not just ugly; they’re also naked.
     
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  11. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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  12. jm2

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    Then when all else fails, there's Retro to come and save the day.

    https://www.cardesignnews.com/insights/design-essay-why-is-car-design-so-hooked-on-the-past/39846.article

    Design Essay: Why is Car Design so Hooked on the Past?
    By Aidan Walsh09 January 2020
    Retro designs have been appearing throughout the 21st century so far… but why are they so popular?

    It’s that time again. Another year has been and gone, and 2019 was one striking once more for the sheer volume of rose-tinted output from the car industry.

    From the questionable Bugatti Centodieci, VW ID Buggy and Ford Mustang Mach-E, the downright bizarre Vision Mercedes Simplex to the undeniably attractive Hyundai 45 and its probable inspiration, Honda’s E, retro-influenced designs have again made the headlines these past twelve months.

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    – Recent ‘throwback’ designs

    Even more remarkably, it seems now that for some, merely referencing history is no longer enough, nothing short of recreating yesterday’s heroes like-for-like will suffice. To this end, we’ve seen Jaguar (E-Type Lightweight ‘Missing Six’), Aston Martin (DB4 GT Zagato Continuation) and most recently Bentley (Blower Continuation Series) churning out brand-new examples of archival models.

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    – Continuation cars

    Of course, the past has long been a place of refuge for the car industry in tough times. The first serious exercise in retro by a major manufacturer, Nissan’s ‘Pike’ series, arrived at a time of economic downturn and to a public which was, for perhaps the first time, starting to actually care about tricky issues such as safety and the environment.

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    – Nissan’s four Pike cars (Figaro, PAO, Be-1, S-Cargo)

    Volkswagen’s millennium bug, the New Beetle (together with the BMW Mini, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Thunderbird et al.), came along just as the world was staring down the barrel of its electronic namesake (or so we thought), and it’s certainly no coincidence that Wolfsburg’s recent ID Buzz and Buggy were conceived amidst the ‘Diesel-gate’ storm.

    Clearly, recent times have been nothing if not turbulent for the automotive establishment. With unprecedented regulation, insurgent tech-startups and growing uncertainty as to the future of personal transportation full stop, it’s hardly surprising many are harking back to simpler, freer days for inspiration.

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    – The retro trend isn’t new, of course…

    But it’s not just the car industry which has taken a battering these past few years, its trials and tribulations are perhaps mere side-effects of the greater malaise which has (arguably) engulfed the entirety of Western civilisation ever since the dark ‘Credit Crunch’ days of 2008.

    Economic stagnation, political upheavals, terror threats, climate crisis and an ever-ageing populace have combined to ensure the West’s collective mood has been one of plodding melancholy, punctuated only by intermittent spikes of anxiety. Small wonder then, that the 2010s seem to have incubated a particularly virulent strain of the nostalgia bug, not just in the auto industry, but everywhere else too.

    From the unashamedly backward-looking politics of “Make America Great Again” to a seemingly endless stream of film remakes, ‘90s fashion revivals, smash-hit period TV (Downton Abbey, Peaky Blinders) and revivals of forgotten tech – such as film cameras and vinyl records. When even the ultra-youthful world of pop music starts openly pining for yesteryear, it’s clear we have an epidemic on our hands.

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    Renault threw a ’90s Throwback party in 2018 to promote the latest Clio

    And it’s that predisposition to ‘early onset’ nostalgia amongst younger people, specifically the millennial generation, which seems particularly remarkable to many – even this millennial writer will, much like Charli XCX, admit to a certain wistfulness for the halcyon days of 1999. Whilst regaling others with tales of ‘your day’ is a cliché of growing older, such backward-looking tendencies amongst those in the supposed ‘prime’ of life look (and feel) rather odd.

    But though this may be something of a head-scratcher for psychologists, for marketeers it’s more akin to a golden bullet. Whilst (as a generalisation) older consumers were perhaps always fond of ‘the good old days’, harking back to times of yore has proven one of the few reliable ways for businesses to woo the elusive Generation Y – a group born and raised in an era of perhaps unprecedented optimism and idealism, only to come of age into a far bleaker, post-2008 adult world of student debt, ‘zero hour’ jobs and ‘pod living’. A generation which, perhaps more than any other, collectively yearns for its lost childhood.

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    Fiat 500C Riva

    And just as such cravings for an idealised past might be appeased by a garish Kappa sweatshirt, musical ode to the nineties or a few hours spent pursuing Pokémon, they may just as easily be topped-up by the four-wheeled equivalent of ‘throwback Thursday’, a special edition Fiat 500, Mini or even (eventually) an all-electric Volkswagen Microbus.

    But is this retro itch really one we should collectively scratch so much?

    From the point-of-view of what are now sneeringly referred to as ‘legacy’ car manufacturers, the answer has to be ‘why the hell not?’ When you have (in many cases) a glittering back catalogue spanning a century or so, it would be madness not to exploit, or at least lean on, such heritage.

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    – Historic car makers are embracing the love for throwbacks, to their advantage

    Yesterday’s warm fuzzy glow is one thing (among relatively few) that Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat, Honda or even Hyundai can conjure which Tesla, Rivian, Great Wall and next year’s tech-wunderkind simply cannot. For the beleaguered establishment, 20th Century revivalism has often provided just about as easy a payday as it’s possible to imagine – short of vomiting up another SUV – and, given millennial tendencies, might yet prove a crucial weapon in the battle to remain relevant into the 21st.

    What’s more, when it comes to the daunting (to many) prospect of unknown technology, parcelling things up neatly within a familiar wrapper would seem a handy way of producing something palatable to the masses, not just early adopters. Certainly, the reception awarded to Volkswagen’s ID Buzz, Honda’s Urban EV and Peugeot’s E-Legend would suggest that tech-anxiety may be soothed by rose-tinted aesthetics – or in other words, that Raymond Loewy’s venerable ‘MAYA’ rule still holds water.

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    – Peugeot E-Legend (504 Coupé also in the sketch)

    Plus, some things just come back because, well, they actually, like… work. Yes, the boxiness of the Honda E calls to mind ‘70s proto-hatches (like Honda’s own Civic of 1972) but it’s also damn practical – and handsome. In more forward-looking times, it’s perhaps inevitable that the metaphorical baby is sometimes thrown out with the bathwater in the frantic quest for novelty, therefore, if it really ‘ain’t broke’, why not fish it back out of history’s dustbin, brush off the cobwebs and start anew?

    Worthy causes aside though, it’s probably safe to conclude that for the most part, car design’s infatuation with the past is driven by much the same factors as yours and mine.

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    Mini 60th Anniversary meets ‘621 AOK’

    When facing down a somewhat daunting future, dabbling in happy memories can provide welcome respite, just as ‘pigging out’ on our favourite junk foods can help take the edge off a stressful day at the office, or a particularly stubborn hangover. Studies have even suggested that some level of overt nostalgia might actually be good for us.

    Still, satisfying (even healthy) as occasional binge might be, doctors will inform us that frequent indulgences are not exactly conducive to long-term wellbeing. While the past might be safe, comforting, easy even, those aren’t qualities often associated with truly great design. What’s more, in design terms at least, those spending too long locked in yesterday’s embrace may someday find themselves a permanent fixture there – as Jaguar nearly did a decade or so ago.

    Nostalgia’s good, but as with most treats, best enjoyed in moderation.





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  13. furmano

    furmano F1 World Champ
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    Just wanted to take a moment for the passing of Syd Mead, on December 30, 2019, in Los Angeles California, possibly the greatest visual futurist since the Renaissance.

    His ideas were always ahead of their time and always thought provoking. And he was always happy to talk about them with a child-like wonder and fascination. And now, on the dawn of autonomous automobiles and alternative methods of mobility, we're about to live in Syd's world. Who knows what else he dreamt of that will come true in our time.

    Rest in peace, you are one of the greats.

    -F

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  14. F1tommy

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    That would because they have a real hard time coming up with original new ideas.
     
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  15. G. Pepper

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  16. jm2

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  17. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    I believe all the most important and original art is done in the early stages of every genre.
     
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  18. anunakki

    anunakki Five Time F1 World Champ
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    Agree, only real similarity is the lines are converging towards the bottom center of the front end. Im sure you have a much more eloquent way of saying that.
     
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  19. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Nah, you called it, but I would add, the overall design vocabulary are totally different. The Porsche, soft, organic, fluid. The Aztec, hard, angular, linear, etc., etc.
    No one would mistake one for the other...............would they? :eek:
     
  20. G. Pepper

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    I couldn't mistake one for the other - it should go without saying! - but the Porsche did bring the Aztec to mind.
     
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  21. jm2

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  22. jm2

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  23. jm2

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  24. energy88

    energy88 F1 World Champ
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