Sunday Column: Corey Isolda looks to the automotive future, not the ‘retro’ past.

We’re at the start of May already and the previous months have seen a lot of activity. There have been some beautiful concepts from Geneva (and some bloody awful ones!). We have said a sad goodbye to Bristol and a chirpy hello to the first new MG in a VERY long time. There’s even news of a new E-Type! Albeit Swiss and with a dodgy name. That brings me quite swiftly to the point of this ramble, are new cars at the moment really new? Is it just me getting fed up of the so-called ‘retro’ remakes?

As I’m writing this I have heard news of the ‘new’ Renault 5 to become a rival to the (hmm where have I heard this before?) DS 3, and yes the DS 3 is a very good-looking car, and of course it will be great to see the 5 back on the road. But why the need for a remake, has creativity died?

Another example of this is the fine Bertone Jaguar B99 coupe, perhaps a brilliant line for Jaguar, but is it a new car? In 1961 when Malcolm Sayer penned the mk1 XJ he used true imagination to create its stance and lines, there was almost nothing like it to seen before, such grace hadn’t wafted over Britain’s tarmac, it was startling. Now we see Bertone’s B99 and say, ‘oooh that’s nice’, but there’s no ‘WOW’ reaction, no amazement, as we all know that’s not an innovation or creative, just a tracing of an old drawing with some new lines to bulk it out.

I understand and appreciate that design is hard work and takes incredible skill. Did Battista Pininfarina ever sit at his desk and merely redraw a car from an Alfa Romeo 8c from the 30’s to add some curvier lines and say ‘Here Mr Romeo, I give you the 1600 duetto spider’? Somehow how I think not.

Now I’m not suggesting we don’t ever draw inspiration from cars of the past that we know are brilliant and worked perfectly. But why, why, why must me drag the cars of yester year back from the quiet life of a classic and slap some makeup on it and call it a ‘modern concept’? Should classics not be left as classics?

Now, although they are rather well, bonkers, and sometimes not the best looking of cars I think we should all doff our caps to Rinspeed, especially a Mr F. Rinderknecht (let’s call him Mr R for short). Now although Rinspeed conjures up images of crazy scuba diving-hydrofoil-shape shifting cars there is a forgotten background. Mr R has brought a great amount of sense and innovation to the automotive world; in fact although his cars have never been mass-produced many mainstream manufacturers have used his ideas to create their ‘new’ models. In fact Mr R invented the genius that is the multi function steering all the way back in 1982! There we were thinking it was relatively new tech! He also jumped on the oh-so horrific matt black band wagon seven years (lets forget that one) and most impressive of all he and his team developed the first drive monitoring systems used by the likes of Mercedes and BMW today. His motto in short is’ anything can be done on a computer or paper, doing it is the real challenge’. I think this quote needs to be engraved in every car designer, engineer and remind them to be creative. To do, not say.

So that brings us back round to my point. Why not make new things, break the barriers, and push the boundaries? Let’s see some stunning new adaption’s to the average motor and solve fuel problems whilst keeping combustion. Let’s keep old cars as loves, museum pieces. It’s time for the old to become cherished rather churned back up. I love old, but its well overdue time for some new.


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