The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1.7 What are you looking for?

After writing the previous posts, I thought I was guilty of the same general attitude against similar looking cars. I don't like them.
Is it possible?
Even liking Aston Martin, the Rapide is a somehow a delusion at the moment, and I can't bother about the new Audis because they don't appeal me aesthetically in first place. At the same time, I'm much more interested in the Reventòn than in the LP670-4 SuperVeloce recently unveiled. I perfectly know the LP670 brings some new technical elements, but the Reventòn has that new look typical of a coachbuilder's creation.

Probably that's exactly the point, coachbuilders. Considering the recent revival bringing us cars like the Pininfarina P4/5, the 612 K, the Zagato GS and 575 GTZ or the upcoming one-off from Bertone, it's very easy to say they are among the cars that interested us the most in the period they came out, even if they doesn't have a relevant impact on the market, or they aren't carrying over new technologies of some relevance for production cars.

Technology became a standard feature of modern objects, and it isn't something surprising anymore. Even when it comes to green cars the first thing to be really discussed is their looks. Consider the new Chevrolet Volt and its sister the Opel Ampera. Even being exactly the same car, one could ask himself why GM designed such a banal car with the Volt, especially considering how much important that car is for the company's future. Fortunately, the Ampera looks much better, for European customers' sake. Now even if the Volt could achieve a 50% better running cost than say the new Prius or Insight, it wouldn't sell 50% more than those as a given fact, also because 90% of buyers aren't car enthusiasts, let alone into cars' technical part.

Not to underestimate the emotional feeling a good looking shape can evoke, eve compared to some astonishing performance figures. Can you remember the technical specifications of the Webber? Or is it the Gumpert the first name that comes to mind when you think of extreme performance? No, in both cases, because they simply look very bad, even if their looks are completely devoted to the achievement of technical superiority.
It's like when it comes to choose a girl (or a guy, I suppose). She has to be beautiful, first of all, or at least good looking and pretty enough to catch your attention, if you didn't know her before. I don't want to sound as a sexist, which I think I am not, and I guess it would be a long explanation on how this comparison could go on, so just consider that sentence on its own, and harmless meaning.

Personally, if I had some huge amount of money hidden somewhere, I would definitely follow Glickenhaus&Co' example, and request to some coachbuilder my personal ultimate jewel. And as they did, I would care about what's under its tailored skin, because after all I'm an enthusiast and a technical one too. But I wouldn't be focused in the ultimate performance, or in the highest top speed and other stuff. I would just require the best solution for my own creation, but staying far from extreme technical ideas or groundbreaking ones. The experience would be that to own the car, to create it, not to squeeze every horsepower out of it, or the last tenth of lateral acceleration during a corner. Some years ago I was considering which were the ingredients of the best performing car, but now I'm after those that create the best experience, which goes from the purchase, to the end of the life's car. Perhaps the high quality of an Audi would improve by much that experience, but I also would like to turn my head to look twice at my car after parking it in front of my house.
Passion and emotions are the main ingredients I would require in a car, and those are two blind characteristics, which don't care about figures and technologies.

I like Aston Martin therefore I would stare to all of its cars for the whole day, but I understand how another person, who just likes say the DB9, isn't happy with the V8 being just the little sister, without adding something new to the brand, to its own personality.
After all engineers, which are after the technical and the invisible ingredients of a car, are never been on the front row trying to convince people the car is better than others especially when we are considering expensive and special one. Actually they are present to press conferences trying to show off the technical superiority of their latest product, and I found them failing usually. Even if on the first level kids and average Joes are extremely influenced by numbers, then there are persons like me, and hopefully you, more interested in “what this car means” rather than in how it is built, or how fast it can go and such.
From this point of view I have been quite sold on Aston's philosophy, while I see Audis, or SUVs, just as blind products, means to the end of being commuted in a car of a certain kind. Of course it's easy to be the “cool guy” when you drive a 200.000 € car, but at the same time I think an Alfa Romeo Brera is much more than an expensive coupe as the A5 is, even if I'm not saying the A5 isn't a good car, at all.
The 8C is like the rebirth of a brand, or at least that's what we are hoping, and possibly even the GranTurismo is so, having a much stronger personality and market definition than the 4200GT and Granpsort. On the other hand, if it wasn't for the Reventòn I would consider Lamborghini quite boring right now, being outrageous as it used to be in the past, but only for the sake of it.

So, at the end of the day, seeing as I was both pro and against similar looking cars, I think this contrast can underline how what really makes the difference is how the car makes us feel, not how it looks or how it goes.
Emotions and passion seems again to be two very important things to keep in mind when creating something, no matter what it will be.

Perhaps you could disagree with the choice of the Bertone B.A.T. 11 aesthetically, the main reason I chose it was the story behind it.
Follow the link to know more.

Photos sources: XK150, B.A.T. 11

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