Designing cars isn’t all that glamourous

Designing cars isn’t all that glamourous

When we think of classic car designs we think of the Mini, the Cobra, the Ferrari 250GTO, the Citroen DS, and so on. Occasionally a designer comes up with something that’s universally panned, such as Chris Bangle’s ‘flame effect’ BMWs. But when a designer gets it right, they are lauded, and it is forever the silhouette of the car that is remembered.

Never the ashtrays and cupholders, though. Yet the designer may have had to have designed these rather functional, utilitarian, somewhat boring pieces of automotive architecture. No one gives out awards for ashtrays, though, just scorn at the fact that people still smoke in cars. Which is why French cars still have them – people who will blockade the ports and motorways at a moment’s notice sure don’t want to lose the right to stub out their Gitanes while they’re off to pick up du pain et du jambon.

So, the designer spends a few inspiration-soaked hours coming up with the profile of the car, but then two years trying to make sure all the necessary bits like seats and fat people can fit inside it. That’s surely not glamourous. If I was a car designer (and I’m not, because I’m as good at drawing as Michaelangelo was at programming a sat nav), I would just want to do the swoopy exterior and let my minions decide how the boot release switch looks.

Of course, the ultimate honour for any car designer is to be let loose on the most important car in a company’s range: the successor to the Corolla will form a heavy weight on the chosen pensmith’s shoulders. Me, I can’t think of anything more dreary – I want to design the next Countach.

When we think of classic car designs we think of the Mini, the Cobra, the Ferrari 250GTO, the Citroen DS, and so on. Occasionally a designer comes up with something that’s universally panned, such as Chris Bangle’s ‘flame effect’ BMWs. But when a designer gets it right, they are lauded, and it is forever the silhouette of the car that is remembered.

Never the ashtrays and cupholders, though. Yet the designer may have had to have designed these rather functional, utilitarian, somewhat boring pieces of automotive architecture. No one gives out awards for ashtrays, though, just scorn at the fact that people still smoke in cars. Which is why French cars still have them – people who will blockade the ports and motorways at a moment’s notice sure don’t want to lose the right to stub out their Gitanes while they’re off to pick up du pain et du jambon.

So, the designer spends a few inspiration-soaked hours coming up with the profile of the car, but then two years trying to make sure all the necessary bits like seats and fat people can fit inside it. That’s surely not glamourous. If I was a car designer (and I’m not, because I’m as good at drawing as Michaelangelo was at programming a sat nav), I would just want to do the swoopy exterior and let my minions decide how the boot release switch looks.

Of course, the ultimate honour for any car designer is to be let loose on the most important car in a company’s range: the successor to the Corolla will form a heavy weight on the chosen pensmith’s shoulders. Me, I can’t think of anything more dreary – I want to design the next Countach.

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