January 10, 2006



I mentioned last week about the hideously atrocious Chrysler Imperial concept car that debuted at the Detroit show, and didn't give a whole lot of attention to the Challenger concept that is also there.

Again, let me say the Mopar guys nailed that one.

Like the Ford guys did with the GT and the new Mustang, it is a modern interpretation of a very attractive past design. Not too slavish a line-for-line copy, but something that picks up the best design elements and incorporates them into a pleasing shape that should do well. (Of course, you have to sorta ask yourself how it is that if Mopar could have designed something so attractive and modern 35 years ago, why can't they come up with a similarly forward-looking design now, but let's not quibble. Or quabble.) And let's just hope that the build quality is nothing like the originals which, frankly, were garbage.

Not to be outdone, I see where Chevy has rolled out a Camaro concept at the show as well.


The linked article chitters on about it being based on the single-year '69 model, which might be what Chevy's telling people, but if that's the case, it only points out just exactly how bereft of historical perspective GM's designers have become. (Op. cit., the new GTO.) IN any event, the design is a bit more 1968--it has the Coke-bottle waist, and no vent windows. The '69 had some agressive "speed lines" breaking from the tops of the wheel arches, which the '09 concept doesn't have. Overall, the look is muscular, but they once more missed the boat with that horrid grinning-Jack-Nicholson grille.

WHO THOUGHT THAT LOOKED GOOD!? The one styling trope that has remained constant throughout the four generations of Camaro's 1967-2002 run is a bold, straight grille--the best probably the '69 RS with the hideaways. Not frowny, not smiley--not an anthropomorphic face at all, but a serious, purposeful, look. And what feeb came up with those taillights!? Did they hear that Daimler/Chrysler were doing a Challenger concept, and so they ran out and got some lamps from a '72 Dodge Challenger, turn 'em upside down, and hope no one notices, just to hedge their bets? And that cowl induction-looking hood--it's almost right, but not quite. And exactly why isn't this thing at least called a Z/28!? Or a Z anything?

Larry Shinoda is probably taching 7,000 rpm in his grave.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at January 10, 2006 09:26 AM

But it has a Corvette engine! Little niggling details over looking hideous should be overlooked.

Posted by: Larry Anderson at January 10, 2006 09:35 AM

That's true--the engine is a wonder, and works well in the GTO, too. But sometimes people are just funny about things like appearance.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 10, 2006 09:40 AM

You might be interested to read Mickey Kaus on a speech by Chris Bangle here.

Posted by: Janis at January 10, 2006 01:51 PM

Kaus is dead on--Bangle has been saying the same things for years now, and I haven't come one whit closer to believing him. He seems to think that only those with an appreciation for design can see the beauty in his creations, which is sheer and utter garbage. Good design is timeless, period. Faddishness is the thing that requires effort to understand.

Basically, the whole set of talking points are pure bunkum--since when did the shape of the outer envelope need to be defined by the tools we ourselves have made!? What about letting the envelope be defined by the underlying structure, just as skin over muscle and bone? Kaus is right about the juxtaposition of women in the presentation--except for the folks who enjoy all the piercing/scarifying/branding/tattooing/cyborgiana look, the human body is marvelous to look at, just like a Jag XKE, or a Pontiac Solstice, or a Ferrari Daytona.

Automobiles long ago surpassed architecture as a sculptural form--architecture takes too much resources and time to change quickly, but car design is as plastic as water. To try to say you've just now caught up with building aesthetics is pathetic in the extreme.

In the end, just because an artist does something, doesn't mean it's art.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at January 10, 2006 02:27 PM