Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Exploration of Car Design - Chapter 3 - Design Concepts and Design Museum

For this third installment on Car design it seems important to pay tribute to the concepts and designs that are already in the finished state.

First for the "Museum": This is really not the purview of the web, but rather of collections of cars that are best appreciated in there natural and very physical state. For two of the most inspiring collections on view I would point out the Blackhawk Collection in Danville, CA. Having the Maharajah Rewa's Daimler among other one-of-a-kinds such as Clark Gable's 1935 Duesenberg, this museum is a feast of automotive delight. It is worth the trip and the memories.

Perhaps even more of a fine museum is the Schlumpf Collection on the Cote D'Azur, France. As far as its notable pieces of history, it is simply enough to know that the collection has 2 of the 6 Bugatti Type 41s ("Royales") each of which is perhaps the most valuable of all cars in existence.

As for "Concepts", the list of these is more elusive since few of these cars are actually built...or if they are built, they are never sold to paying customers. Perhaps two of the most interesting sites are 1) www.conceptcarz.com where there is an absolutely encyclopedic list (by year) of all manufacturer concepts and 2) www.seriouswheels.com. For example on Conceptcarz see the 2002 Mercedes-Benz F400 Carving concept which is not only cataloged here but seen with a full book of pictures. As for special finds on Seriouswheels there is a similarly voluminous list where one can find the 2006 Mercedes Mojave Runner.

Each of these museums and concept repositories is special in the world of design because we have found that over 100 years of automobile history it is difficult to point a a large number of design innovations today that cannot be found in cars from history. Swivel seats, disappearing hardtops, electric engines, all of these relatively en vogue topics of car design from 2007 are echos of previous models from the past century. This is not a bad thing, in fact, it is refreshing to see good design resurface - sometimes we must look back to move forward.


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