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Are design critiques of long ago cars entertaining or annoying?

Discussion in 'Creative Arts' started by bitzman, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    i used to get annoyed seeing Cumberford's critiques of exceedingly rare old cars, thinking what the hell good does it do the automaker 50 years later--when it's far too late to change it fornext year's model?. Then I thought later maybe we all want to know what made such and such a car so appealing even if they made only one or two? If I get "yea" vote I'll post my 500 word critque on the 250GT Lusso and let the brickbats fly as they may...I can take the heat
     
  2. Qvb

    Qvb Formula 3
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    I hated Cumberford's pompous critiques of anything. I was always happy when I completely disagreed with his assessments. But in general, I like reading critiques of cars, new or old. Bring it on!
     
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  3. tomc

    tomc F1 World Champ

    Apr 13, 2014
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    Yea!

    I don't mind reading other people's analyses of things that interest me. I may agree with them, or I may not. Hopefully, they'll draw my attention to details & information that I had not considered before, and then I could research those and form my own opinion.

    T
     
  4. energy88

    energy88 F1 Veteran
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    Such critiques make for interesting reading, but I think standing the test of time is the main criteria for what is best.

    I believe the 1963 Corvette split-window coupe is a good example. Back in the day, some owners cut out the center post to improve rear visibility and style. When the 1964 Corvette coupe was released, everyone could then see the effect of removing the post and readily compare with the original version. Then about two decades later, when the split-window version became popular and more valuable, owners were then putting the missing post back in place. In the short run, I remembered agreeing with the mod, but 50+ years later, believe the car looks better with the post.
     
  5. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    I will post later the prototype pictures, like to hear any criticisms of this critique








    DESIGN CRITIQUE: 1962-’64 Ferrari 250GT/L Lusso




    When you look back at the Ferrari 250GT Lusso (“luxury”) you have to think that the Gods of inspiration were especially active when the boys on the boards thought up this design at Pininfarina.

    Why? Because it is such a clean design and hasn’t really aged.

    It looks so much more modern than the short wheelbase 250GT that preceded it. That car was all about being pugnacious, and that car only became beautiful when Ing. Bizzarrini metamorphosed it into the immortal GTO.



    The 250 Series, using a 3-liter V12, began in 1954 and continued on through the early 1960's. The series got little updates here and there liked disc brakes, and there was even some four seaters.


    The Lusso, also called GT/L (again the “L” for luxury--the name Lusso did not appear on the car) was one of the first Ferraris that was built to a standardized design. Every one was the same (except for a few right drive for the UK and Australia and NZ). The Italian coach builder Pininfarina did the body design and building of the body was entrusted to Scaglietti, a short of in house builder of coachwork to Ferrari..

    The prototype of the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was presented at the 1962 Paris Motor Show, and thanks to Pininfarina’s timeless styling, was a great success with the public.

    The engine was rated at a modest 250 bhp.out of 2,953 cc. It was a single cam per bank not a twin overhead cam. Normally it came with three Weber 36 DCS carburetors but there was room for six dual throat Webers and some owners had those retrofitted. The trans was a four-speed manual transmission.The suspension was an independent front with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, and out back there was an old fashioned live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase was 94.5 in.

    Some of the suspension design had been tried earlier in the GTO.

    It was not built to be raced yet this author has seen pictures of them being run in long distance road racing over public roads in their original era.

    They weren’t alloy bodied (except for the doors, bonnet and boot lid) , which hurt them on weight compared to the pure race cars, but they were reliable and reliability counts.

    The rousing success of the Lusso (350 were built and sold) is remarkable considering it was already a dying breed, the front engine GT car when mid-engined versions were common in racing. But Enzo wanted this to be a luxury touring car. Not as fancy, mind you as the 400 Superamerica or 500 Superfast, with their added ability to be ordered bespoke in many details, but luxury on a mass production scale.

    Unlike the Superfast and Superamerica, it still had non-bubble headlamps but at least the egg-crate grille was sporting looking as any race car. The rear was the chopped off Kamm effect.

    One thing that helps the car gain a good reputation was that various movie directors and stars (no less than Steve McQueen) ordered one. When one of the ex-VIP Lussos comes up for auction it goes for an outsize amount that helps raise the model’s value, as in“A rising tide raises all boats.”

    It is a perfectly drivable car even in a city situation, not one that overheats because it needs to be out on the open road.

    Here I humbly submit a critique of the style.


    FRONT: Non-faired in non-bubble headlamps do make it “old” compared to those Ferraris that had it, but the smoothness of the front end does not make the “old style” headlamps too objectionable. The grille cavity, deep inset, and surround by polished chrome, is very classy and presents the egg-crate well and the integration of the fog lamps is brilliant (where most cars just jammed them on the bumpers) and even more laudatory is the clever notching of the vertical front bumper guards, protecting the front turn signals offering some front protection while still not having to have a full width bumper.

    SIDE: Proportionately, this has to be one of the best road Ferraris ever built. It is a clean unsullied design stem to stern, no side vents, a fastback still offering a trunk, maybe the door handles could have been the flat “switchblade” type and of course the side mirrors always “jar” the purity of the design.

    The hood scoop is nicely done, not calling too much attention to itself. I am not sure if it is plumbed to actually flow air, it might have been just to clear the carburetors.

    REAR: A splendid culmination of the flowing sides,with an inward sweep to the flanks toward the vertical Kamm effect tail just right. The integration of the rear spoiler lip is done well too considering the spoiler had been introduced into Ferrari race cars only recently in their history. The idea of having only one taillamp per side was good one, especially when you see prototype pictures and see with horror they were orignally thinking of two pointed taillamps (British style lamps too!) per side.

    INTERIOR It is a comfortable car for two. You might think you could fit two small people in the rear but it’s not set up for that though the rear tray is good for fitted luggage. The placement of the two main gauges in the center of the dash has been controversial for over 50 years. Let's say it was an experiment, in that if they were making RHD cars there was less reorganizing of the instrument panel but I think the inconvenience is not worth it, I want all the gauges, especially the two most consulted, right under the steering wheel (on the other hand wasn't there some movie where the Ferrari driver throws out the speedometer saying something like "We don't need this...")



    Ferrari has seen fit to reintroduce the name Lusso on a newer model but I think they should have left that name to be “owned” by the original. You can borrow a name from a great steed of the past but it doesn’t mean the current car in your stable is going to match up to it.
     
  6. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    DESIGN CRITIQUE: 1962-’64 Ferrari 250GT/L Lusso




    When you look back at the Ferrari 250GT Lusso (“luxury”) you have to think that the Gods of inspiration were especially active when the boys on the boards thought up this design at Pininfarina.

    Why? Because it is such a clean design and hasn’t really aged.

    It looks so much more modern than the short wheelbase 250GT that preceded it. That car was all about being pugnacious, and that car only became beautiful when Ing. Bizzarrini metamorphosed it into the immortal GTO.



    The 250 Series, using a 3-liter V12, began in 1954 and continued on through the early 1960's. The series got little updates here and there liked disc brakes, and there was even some four seaters.


    The Lusso, also called GT/L (again the “L” for luxury--the name Lusso did not appear on the car) was one of the first Ferraris that was built to a standardized design. Every one was the same (except for a few right drive for the UK and Australia and NZ). The Italian coach builder Pininfarina did the body design and building of the body was entrusted to Scaglietti, a short of in house builder of coachwork to Ferrari..

    The prototype of the 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was presented at the 1962 Paris Motor Show, and thanks to Pininfarina’s timeless styling, was a great success with the public.

    The engine was rated at a modest 250 bhp.out of 2,953 cc. It was a single cam per bank not a twin overhead cam. Normally it came with three Weber 36 DCS carburetors but there was room for six dual throat Webers and some owners had those retrofitted. The trans was a four-speed manual transmission.The suspension was an independent front with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, and out back there was an old fashioned live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase was 94.5 in.

    Some of the suspension design had been tried earlier in the GTO.

    It was not built to be raced yet this author has seen pictures of them being run in long distance road racing over public roads in their original era.

    They weren’t alloy bodied (except for the doors, bonnet and boot lid) , which hurt them on weight compared to the pure race cars, but they were reliable and reliability counts.

    The rousing success of the Lusso (350 were built and sold) is remarkable considering it was already a dying breed, the front engine GT car when mid-engined versions were common in racing. But Enzo wanted this to be a luxury touring car. Not as fancy, mind you as the 400 Superamerica or 500 Superfast, with their added ability to be ordered bespoke in many details, but luxury on a mass production scale.

    Unlike the Superfast and Superamerica, it still had non-bubble headlamps but at least the egg-crate grille was sporting looking as any race car. The rear was the chopped off Kamm effect.

    One thing that helps the car gain a good reputation was that various movie directors and stars (no less than Steve McQueen) ordered one. When one of the ex-VIP Lussos comes up for auction it goes for an outsize amount that helps raise the model’s value, as in“A rising tide raises all boats.”

    It is a perfectly drivable car even in a city situation, not one that overheats because it needs to be out on the open road.

    Here I humbly submit a critique of the style.


    FRONT: Non-faired in non-bubble headlamps do make it “old” compared to those Ferraris that had it, but the smoothness of the front end does not make the “old style” headlamps too objectionable. The grille cavity, deep inset, and surround by polished chrome, is very classy and presents the egg-crate well and the integration of the fog lamps is brilliant (where most cars just jammed them on the bumpers) and even more laudatory is the clever notching of the vertical front bumper guards, protecting the front turn signals offering some front protection while still not having to have a full width bumper.

    SIDE: Proportionately, this has to be one of the best road Ferraris ever built. It is a clean unsullied design stem to stern, no side vents, a fastback still offering a trunk, maybe the door handles could have been the flat “switchblade” type and of course the side mirrors always “jar” the purity of the design.

    The hood scoop is nicely done, not calling too much attention to itself. I am not sure if it is plumbed to actually flow air, it might have been just to clear the carburetors.

    REAR: A splendid culmination of the flowing sides,with an inward sweep to the flanks toward the vertical Kamm effect tail just right. The integration of the rear spoiler lip is done well too considering the spoiler had been introduced into Ferrari race cars only recently in their history. The idea of having only one taillamp per side was good one, especially when you see prototype pictures and see with horror they were orignally thinking of two pointed taillamps (British style lamps too!) per side.

    INTERIOR It is a comfortable car for two. You might think you could fit two small people in the rear but it’s not set up for that though the rear tray is good for fitted luggage. The placement of the two main gauges in the center of the dash has been controversial for over 50 years. Let's say it was an experiment, in that if they were making RHD cars there was less reorganizing of the instrument panel but I think the inconvenience is not worth it, I want all the gauges, especially the two most consulted, right under the steering wheel (on the other hand wasn't there some movie where the Ferrari driver throws out the speedometer saying something like "We don't need this...")



    Ferrari has seen fit to reintroduce the name Lusso on a newer model but I think they should have left that name to be “owned” by the original. You can borrow a name from a great steed of the past but it doesn’t mean the current car in your stable is going to match up to it.
     
  7. anunakki

    anunakki Four Time F1 World Champ
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    What an odd thing to be bothered by. If any designer changed their design because some critic had issues with it, they shouldnt be designing.
     
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  8. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    I respectfully disagree, Anunakki. There's been hundreds of cars that had their designs changed in small ways the next model year because once it got out in the field, some consumers complained, as in the '63 Corvette split window, GM only gave Mitchell a year to have that anyway but once it got out some people complained. One of the latest complaints about a new car I heard was on the Tesla Model S' disappearing door handles, when the car acts up it can refuse to let you , the owner, open the car. But they haven't changed it. Here's the prototype pictures of the Lusso, so once you see originally Pininfarina was considering no fog lamps and quad taillamps you see that mostly they made the right decisions. I have painted several portraits of them so far.
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  9. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    First to answer your initial question: yes, i find design critiques of earlier cars entertaining, regardless of the year of the original design.

    Personally, however, I like to know more about the reviewer's resume/background.
    Like art, literature, film critiques, music, etc., it's very easy to criticize creative work. Has the reviewer ever made a movie? Written a book? Or in this case designed a car? A designer has to be prepared to accept any and all criticism as part of the creative process. Whereas art for art's sake is a one off endeavor, Industrial Design/Product Design is consumed by the ultimate buyer, and as such is open to criticism. With car design, it's important to try to understand the original design brief, and all the corresponding constraints. Just criticizing something just because you can doesn't mean much to me. It's entertaining and can certainly be fun, but for me it's just an exercise. Professional critics should try making a movie, writing a book, or designing a car. A peer review to me has a much richer outcome. Certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion and should vocalize that opinion if there is conviction behind it. Here on FChat, there is endless debate regarding one design over another. And that's great conversation, IMO. I like to know the 'why' rather than 'i like it' or 'i don't like it' critique. The ultimate critique is the customer voting with their wallet, but that's a conversation for a different time.

    The comment about Mitchell and the Split Window Corvette is not really a fair example as it was killed before it was in the marketplace. You can't ignore lead times.But the Aztec on the other hand was DOA from the very beginning because of its design. And we can add the Edsel and any number off additional crimes against the automobile. AMC Pacer, anyone?

    So are the critiques entertaining? For me, yes they are. They're a way to start up a conversation about design.
    Good, bad or otherwise..
     
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  10. Rifledriver

    Rifledriver Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 29, 2004
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    Disagree on the headlamps and the 250 SWB. While not as sleek I thought the SWB was much more purposeful looking than the GTO.

    I despise hidden headlamps. On the 810 Cord they were novel and original. On the 63-67 Corvette they were integrated into a cool design and still very unusual. Ever since they are the work of the lazy designer. In current times with changes in headlights allowed by government regulation we can do better. I use the SWB and E Type as examples where designers celebrated their presence. Not to try and hide a required element of the car because they ran out of ideas in much the same way the Hudson designers didn't know what to do with the wheels.
     
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  11. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    Jm2: That discussion about what is art, ie. is commercially-done art really fine art? I have something written on that I'd like to post. I got fired up about that when I heard that the Detroit Institute of Arts said it's going to show 30 design renderings (to celebrate 100 years of car design) in a 2020 show but some say even though they are in an art museum that, because they were done for a commercial purpose, they are not fine art. Let me know if anyone wants to read that discussion....

    As far as SWB vs. 250GTO, I never thought about it before but the swb is to me certainly the more muscular looking (reach haunches esp) than the more feminine 250GTO but then Ing. Bizzarrini designed the 250GTO without a "stylist" or "designer" so he was not beholden to anyone in creating the car, he was developing it in secret within Ferrari so I'd have to say that his design is the more artistic since he wasn't issued some dumber order like "Oh, and you'll have to use the swb trunk lid because we can't afford to tool up extra for that, etc."
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  12. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Sure, I’d love to read it. That whole DIA show has been so controversial from day one. Are the ‘styling’ sketches art or not?
    Many o-inions on that conversation.
     
  13. bitzman

    bitzman Formula 3

    Feb 15, 2008
    2,185
    Jm2 I didn't know if questions about reviewer's background were general or firected at me (who wrote the Lusso review above). If it's my background, here it is in a nutshell: author 18 car histories, some of which I interviewed designers for, like Chuck Jordan and Bill Mitchell. Now fine artist specializing in portraying postwar classics , works commissioned by owners.

    As far as to whether design renderings are fine art, I haven't got any prices from the recent Bertone selloff , through an auction company. If say,a Gandini or Giugiaro original sold for thousands, I'd say that's fine art money. But the problem I will pose in the story is who do design drawings belong to? I feel sorry for the retired designers who never took any home from their employer's office--while others have a roomfull that can be sold for the family's benefit.Now that everything is being done on computer, there aren't any "originals" to take home so we're talking about the tail end of an era. If anyone wants to see that article--"Are car design rendering art?"--let me know, I'll post it here. I'd like to hear opinions from former car designers.
     
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  14. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Questions were general in nature.

    Sure, I would love to read that article.

    We designers were told when we hired in, that any and all design/artwork belonged to our employer. I didn't have a problem with that as I was being paid for it. However, when I realized that periodically everything would get thrown away to make room for the newest work, I acted to try and save my work. Most designers threw their work in the trash when we were told to get rid of it. I made it a point to go to my bosses and ask if I could get a pass to save my work and take it home. They accommodated me and I was able to save a quantity of my work. During the '50's & '60's however, they didn't allow this. So much design work was lost to the dumpsters. Part of automotive history. Many designers resorted to smuggling their work out. Now that everything is digital, this is no longer an issue.
    Our former employers have made it clear that they don't want us to sell our work to the public. They wanted us to save it or donate it. I guess each person or estate will have to make that determination. We never considered it fine art at the time. But there is a movement to treat it as fine art now.
     
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  15. Jeff Kennedy

    Jeff Kennedy F1 Rookie
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    I want to make 2 unconnected points.

    #1 John's story of old design stuff being purged. Dick Teague told me the story that at the end of Packard when he was there the company was just dumping all the old files. Dick said he would have asked to take things out but it was moving too fast to get to those that had the authority. He took thinks and stuck them on the top of the air cleaner (cars then has a lot of vertical space to the bottom of the hood) and smuggled them out past the facility entrance before putting them inside the car.

    #2. On the critiquing of designs an important consideration that isn't always disclosed was the "why" it was that way. Easy to critique that X feature was an aesthetic problem but it may have come about because of something that design could not change. Allegedly this is why the second iteration of the Barracuda's roof came to a peak at the windshield. Some are cases where a design concept was originally intended for a different sized platform but a corporate decision was made that forced the design to be rescaled. Another one, came from the studio head, was the Ford Maverick - for cost reasons it did not get the intended rear window nor did it have cast grill/headlight area parts that would have had more detail. Dean's Garage is notable for having stories on the development of a design and where some compromises against what the studio really wanted to do. So, a relevant critique might make note of these sorts of compromises as the root cause of something that did not execute like it should have.

    This isn't to say that a critique without the tidbits is wrong, it just not be able to sufficiently explain the "why" it is the way that the public finally saw.
     
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  16. jm2

    jm2 F1 World Champ
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    Just yesterday over lunch, several of my colleagues were commenting on Bob Cumberford, and his 'design critiques'. It wasn't a positive conversation.
     
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  17. Jeff Kennedy

    Jeff Kennedy F1 Rookie
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    Some are not/have not been particularly impressed with him.
     
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