Pininfarina ceases car manufacturing to focus on design

October 13th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Italian coach builder Pininfarina is set for a big shake up that will see 127 workers made redundant when the company shuts down the manufacturing arm of its business. The iconic firm will now focus on what its more traditional strengths of design and engineering. The company points to the declining automotive market as the reason behind the move.

The redundancies and structure changes are expected to cost the company around €2.9 million. Pininfarina is also getting busy trying to find an investor to purchase a stake in the design firm as part of a debt restructuring agreement with the company’s creditors. French billionaire Vincent Ballore is one investor who has shown an early interest in purchasing part of the family-owned company. Continue reading “Pininfarina ceases car manufacturing to focus on design” »

Ford’s next-gen Mustang to be less retro

September 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The year 2014 will be a big one for the Ford Mustang. The iconic sports car will celebrate its 50th anniversary and a new production model will be released. The announcement came last week from Ford’s design chief, J Mays, who spoke to the press at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

According to Mays, the design of the next-generation Mustang has already been completed – three years ahead of its launch. But what’s even more interesting is Mays statement that the new version of Ford’s pony car will be more future focused than retro styled.

“Both redesigns introduced in 2005 and 2010 are retro vehicles,” Mays said at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “The challenge with the 50th anniversary car is to not just look back over your shoulder, but to try to win all of the Mustang faithful yet bring the brand forward as well.”

It sounds like a tough task and if there’s anything that really angers badge fans it’s poorly considered exterior styling. However, Mays is confident that, even though the new Mustang will be different, it will still keep the famous models character. Continue reading “Ford’s next-gen Mustang to be less retro” »

Kawasaki ZX-770R Concept – design fantasy

August 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

When KTM released its X-BOW lightweight sports car it broke new ground by crossing over from being a motorbike maker to becoming a car brand as well. The X-BOW was a success, but no other motorcycle manufacturers have followed with sports cars of their own. It can’t be easy dabbling in four-wheeled machinery but the concept of motorbike styling in car form remains tempting for automotive designers.

Dutch car designer Sabino Leerentveld has made waves previously by penning the Aston Martin V12 and BMW Nazca Homage prototypes and has now turned his hand to creating the Kawasaki ZX-770R Concept pictured above.

Inspired heavily by the KTM X-BOW, Leerentveld designed this lightweight coupe with Japanese motorcycle company Kawasaki in mind. However, the ZX-770R is much larger than the X-BOW and measures 4,427mm long, 1,017mm tall and 2,073mm wide with a wheelbase of 2,710mm. Continue reading “Kawasaki ZX-770R Concept – design fantasy” »

Sci-Fi styled ‘Flake’ concept car uses active body panels (+video)

August 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Active aerodynamics are starting to find use in top end performance-focused production vehicles, but even the latest electro-hydraulic flaps already look outdated compared to this recently revealed concept car.

Created by budding automotive designer Da Feng, the ‘Flake’ concept draws inspiration from some strange sources including the characters from the movie Cars and the ash from Feng’s cigarettes. Despite its bizarre influences, the Flake concept began three years ago at Coventry University and has now taken shape. Well, some sort of shape anyway.

Pictured is the third version of the Flake, which uses 250 active body panels, all of them controlled by mini solenoids pulling on carbon nano-tube wires. Lost already? So are we but the end result is a unique body that can lay flat to decrease drag at speed, hinge upward to slow the vehicle open up to aid cornering and increase downforce. Apparently the active body panels will also be able to collect solar power.

Just as radical are the “D-Wheels” which are constructed of 12 individual legs that extend upwards and contract downwards to fit the driving surface. Both wheels and the body structure can act as part of the suspension, giving the Flake off-road ability as well. Continue reading “Sci-Fi styled ‘Flake’ concept car uses active body panels (+video)” »

A Gender Agenda

July 10th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

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One suspects that this week there will have been not inconsiderable merry-making in whichever street of Aotearoa the political do-gooder brigade live. Nasty old Alasdair Thompson, with his Neanderthal viewpoints and crass sexism has been booted out unceremoniously from the EMA and vilified in the media from the tip of North Island all the way down to Bluff.

Now I have no desire to get involved in the whole matter of gender pay equality – although any girls who think the fairer sex is always on the rough end of the deal can explain why Novak Djokovic had to play 95 games more than Petra Kvitová to win his Wimbledon pot – but I do take objection when Mr Thompson seems to have been given the old heave-ho for doing little more than being a man. Continue reading “A Gender Agenda” »

Mini Coupe Gets Me In A Lather

June 25th, 2011 by Tim Grimley

During my weekly forage at the big yellow comestibles shop I decided to splash out on a bit of a retro indulgence that – as far as my reasonably limited memory can remember – has never actually made it into the shopping trolley since my ownership was transferred to the current Mrs Grimley.

A bar of soap.

Before the more hygiene fixated amongst you abandon Car & SUV forever in protest at my lack of personal cleanliness, rest assured that on a day-to-day basis I am nothing short of pine fresh. Thanks largely to the input of the female inhabitant of Grimley Towers, at any one time our shower room has enough examples of foamy grooming products to turn the Tasman Sea into a bubble bath; but until now we have always shunned the humble soap cake.

And it only took a single application of my new purchase to tell me why. Thanks to clever people in laboratories and the selfless suffering of their guinea pigs (which probably are guinea pigs) the usual lotions and potions involved in my cleansing rituals are capable of disguising the 31 years of neglect that my flesh has been subjected to. A concoction of plant extracts and technical whizzery leave me emerging from every shower feeling like the victim of a drive-by moisturising.

Clean Up Your Act BMW

Soap does not do this. One quick wash was enough to leave me convinced that my skin had somehow been removed and replaced with some two sizes smaller and twenty years older. Every doorframe became a Krypton Factor-esque challenge as I was sure the slightest brush of my newly abrasive forearm would have been enough to remove the paint. I felt tight and weather beaten, but most importantly of all I felt properly clean.

Now, despite all evidence to the contrary, I’m not stupid. I know that scientific evolution ensures the shower gels of today are light years ahead of a classic block of Lifebuoy and will keep me looking less terrible for longer, but it doesn’t really matter. Despite the fact it is old fashioned, I love the single minded purposefulness of soap; you get clean and that’s your lot. Want to be smooth too? Buy some moisturiser. By only going about one task, the end result just seems to be that bit more focussed and pleasing.

And that’s why I’m beginning to fall out of love with Mini. Continue reading “Mini Coupe Gets Me In A Lather” »

Zagato unveils Viper-based Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale

April 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

About a month ago it was announced that Zagato was building a new TZ3 Stradale,  now the Milanese design house has revealed the first photos and details of its newest creation.

Zagato’s TZ3 Stradale is an Alfa Romeo bodied sports car based on the platform and mechanical hardware of the hardcore, but out of production Dodge Viper ACR. Power comes from the top-spec Viper’s same 447kW 8.4-litre V10 engine mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox and a full race-spec suspension. The TZ3 Stradale uses an all new and all carbon fibre body with the most distinctive design feature being the classic Kamm-tail layout. While this coachbuilt Viper doesn’t actually use any mechanical pieces from Alfa Romeo, its design puts a decidedly contemporary spin on years of collaboration between Zagato and Alfa.

The TZ3 Stradale is Zagato’s second and final tribute to the 100th anniversary of Alfa Romeo (1910-2010), which started in 2009 with the presentation of the 8C Competizione-based TZ3 Corsa that took out the Villa D’Este Design Concept Award in 2010. Continue reading “Zagato unveils Viper-based Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale” »

Ford Australia unveils new 2011 Ford Territory

February 9th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

After a lengthy development programme Ford Australia has pulled the covers off its new look Ford Territory.

The Australian-designed-and-developed SUV has undergone extensive visual updates inside and out. The new Territory has been brought into line with the rest of Ford’s vehicles that wear the kinetic design language. There is a fully reworked front end, a restyled tail, new C-pillar shape and side lines.

Presenting the new design was the responsibility of the Ford Australia design team, headed by Chris Svensson, Design Director for Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.

“We worked hard to ensure the new Territory was an evolution of the original model and, through the use of Ford’s distinct design DNA, also gave a hint of the future,” Svensson said. “To achieve this we applied Ford’s unique style philosophy: kinetic design. Kinetic design comprises several specific elements, all of which are present in the new Territory. They are confident stance, dynamic lines, expressive form language, taut surfacing, bold graphics and great detailing. When you combine them they convey movement and athleticism. In other words, the vehicle looks like it is moving when standing still,” Svensson said.

At the front, the vehicle uses an all-new tri-plane front-end architecture. The new trapezoid-shaped main grille is one of the new Territory’s most noticeable updates. This larger, lower grille in a unique three-bar design connects with the slim-line treatment given to the upper grille opening, a feature which sees the famous Ford roundel now surrounded by its own winged structure. Continue reading “Ford Australia unveils new 2011 Ford Territory” »

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