Musings of an Aussie design strategist gone North

No, no, no! A V10 does not an Esprit make!


Although it’s only a rumour promulgated by Evo magazine at this point, the very thought of Toyota lending it’s new Lexus V10 to a future Esprit is enough to make me seethe with vitriolic outrage.

Lest we forget, the original Esprit was the ultimate road-going expression of Colin “to add speed, add lightness” Chapman’s fanatical obsession with elegant efficiency. He was obsessed to a fault perhaps, as demonstrated by the time, when upon returning from a GP race and having demanded more weight be removed from the prototype Esprit’s rear transaxle, he sort of fell on his own sword . He took off for home in the amended mule making it a short distance before the new “added lightness” tore itself free from the car, leaving him stranded on the airport exit road.

If this little anecdote goes to show anything, it’s that Colin would be turning in his fibreglass grave at the thought of a stonking great ten-pot in the back of his little supercar that could, no matter how much Lexus green-washing it may have had or the fact that Lotus may also produce an “eco Esprit”. Why not make all Esprits eco?

I have long thought that the future of maximum driving enjoyment lies in super-lightweight, compact and fuel efficient cars that are unencumbered by concessions to overt luxury or pretensions to practicality, in essence the Lotus approach. The new Evora, by all accounts, stays as true to Colin’s edicts as much as a 2+2 Cayman competitor can, but the Esprit should be the very essence of the company’s fabled light-weight history, not an offensive repudiation.

P.S The sketch in the Evo article makes it look like Lotus has decided to throw the baby out with the bath water, do an Audi and put the V10 in front of the front axle line. Whatever will they think of next?


Filed under: Car, Design, Design Strategy, Eco, Lost in Translaton, Philosophy, Quotes, Sustainability, Things I Hate, , , , , , ,

Quote of the Day


“Car designers need to create a story. Every car provides an opportunity to create an adventure.” 

Freeman Thomas

I couldn’t agree more. There are so many concept and production cars these days that fail to stir the emotions simply because there is no story to help us or, indeed, their designers fall in love with them. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Freeman is the mind behind some of the most iconic cars of the late 20th century, namely the VW New Beetle, which he co-penned with J Mays, and the original Audi TT. The article from which the quote was pulled provides a wonderful insight into the mind of a fellow car nut and his take on car design past, present and future. This is a man I would love to meet.


Design – Freeman Thomas | Fast Company found via VisualCulture

Filed under: Branding, Car, Design, Design Strategy, Philosophy, Quotes, Things I like

An appropriate approach

My bread and butter comes from working in the automotive industry which, if you hadn’t noticed, is going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. Although I’m in a pretty good predicament right now, many manufacturers and their support networks (the suppliers and consultancies come easily to mind) are not doing well at all. It’s interesting to hear the various negative sentiments being expressed around the place as development budgets are cut, design staff are made redundant and management battens down the hatches, turns the lights off and waits for the storm to pass.

Call me the eternal optimist but shouldn’t this adversity be helping us, as designers, to strive higher and be more creative than ever before? At some point this crisis will end and our clients/employers are going to need something to sell that will help them to bounce back stronger before.

Swiss Miss happened upon this fabulous quote from Einstein that sums up my approach pretty succinctly:


(Source: Unplggd via Swiss Miss)

Filed under: Philosophy, Quotes,

About DownsideUpDesign

I'm Drew Smith and I'm a freelance design strategist and journalist for the automotive industry. DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. Get in touch at downsideupdesigner (at) me (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.