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.

Friday, April 10, 2009

2.3 Being an Enthusiast

We have still to wait another week or so for the unveiling of the mysterious car designed by Stile Bertone under the direction of Jason Castriota, and another video is supposed to come out in the meantime. What I would like to underline is a result they already achieved, maybe a result which is even more important than the car itself.
In the last weeks I have been looking at the Inside Project M website or twitter page daily, looking for new updates, images, video. Everything was good to satisfy my interest.

And that's the point, the interest. It's something that slightly faded away in the past years.
I couldn't say the market never offered special cars, intriguing products or new technologies over the past years, being a small two seater developed in conjunction with a watch maker, or a new Italian exotic manufacturer came out of the blue with an astonishing masterpiece, or cars running on electricity or petrol on demand. But a few times I could say I was really exited about some of them, apart from the initial reaction or the general fuzz and echoes of “oh, wow”.
I don't think it was something connected to the cars themselves, but rather to how they were introduced and also how they were developed. After all, what's so special in a Lancia Fulvia? It has an engine, it isn't even rwd (kidding), and it could even be considered “bad” looking.
And the other hand, what's wrong with a BMW 1 Series Coupe?
Personally, it isn't as good as a Fulvia, or even a modern Alfa Romeo GT (which is far from being aesthetically perfect in my book of “The best rear ends in the automotive history”), but it's surely a smart kind of vehicle in these days. It's smaller than the 3 Series, it has the performance of a 3 Series, doesn't have something worth all those money or even less, still in my opinion. Even if performance is the main part in a BMW, or rather should be, and even if this car isn't short of it, it hasn't been made for being the fastest car you could buy in that category or range price.
It has been designed for selling more 1 Series, to have another variant of a car designed to be bought, period.

I'm aware of the car's credentials, but I'm also aware of how the average owner of a 1 Series is. It's a car for those that would have bought an Audi A3, but also wanted to declare they know about cars. I'm pretty sure that if it was sold as a Hyundai it wouldn't have even nearly the same success, not at that price, not so fast.
Indeed I could think about the poor result (and styling) of the previous 3 Series Compact (both generations) and I still remember that back at the days of the 1 Series introduction, while people and journalists were foreseeing excellent sales, I was wondering why, especially while you have to clean your reputation after two predecessors people never loved. So it was pretty much obvious, since the beginning, that the car was going to sell well, thank to a good marketing office, and a white and blue badge. I'm not saying the car isn't good or worth it's reputation, but that those aren't the real factors behind it's success.

What's the point og the 1 Series while talking about Castriota's car?
I said interest was the first and maybe main achievement.
In a world and market where decisions are made only on certain results and statistics, and not based on the customers' desires and wills but on it's capability of being convinced in buying something else, I found myself intrigued, really, on his project, in this endless teasing activity, in trying to figure out what we were talking about not for the sake of guess the right options but to understand what was behind his mind, behind the whole project.
I don't see a real difference if the car is going to be a Maserati based on, as I supposed in post 2.2, or if it's going to be a Lamborghini Gallardo as I thought when I saw the first images of the yellow car.
It's irrelevant, really. It's a car designed to be perfect in a much more complicated way than just being performing excellent, or extremely astonishing while looking at it.
Or at least, this is what I came to the conclusion with.
So I don't know what's the car, or how is it going to perform or look, but I'm sure of one thing.
I have being interested in following him and the genesis of the car, having the opportunity to look inside this key hole to have just a small and blurry picture of a much larger world that now I can state is made of enthusiast, guys and misters who likes cars as we do, and wonder, dream, experiment in the same way we would like to do.
I saw economical decisions and marketing interpretations being simply absent, while there were people looking at older exotics and concepts and being exited about them as I'm when I walk on a auto show's floor.

So that revived my interest, showing me there are people who care what they do, which incidentally it's what I like to see and perhaps even to do in the future.
I saw a a spot of this larger world, and understood that, maybe just marginally, it's still made of passion.


Now can I come to Shanghai with you?! NO?!
Even Balocco's unveiling would be fine...Villa d'Este???

post header source: Project M teaser
photos sources: BMW 1 Series Coupe, Project M team

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