Design of the Year— either you can’t get enough, or you want us to get stuffed.
I AGREE with Jethro Bovingdon’s statement in his article “Magic M” (March/April). “It pays to be openminded.” As he said, BMW’s new M5 succeeds largely because of the company’s willingness to change a bit and step out of the comfort zone. This should be the attitude of more of today’s companies—they should not be afraid to do whatever it takes to push the industry forward. After all, taking risks and using modern technologies appropriately is the way the world advances. If all-wheel drive and a new transmission make the car in question superior to its predecessor, then it’s the way to go. True, we might lose the legendsof-the-past character of some cars when this principle is applied, but in general, companies like BMW need to stop worrying about preserving old notions of the way things must be and let the previous cars remain icons. After all, pushing forward is the only way to make new legends and to revitalize old ones.
CONCEPT OF THE YEAR
Robert Cumberford’s article on the Honda EVs (“Concept of the Year,” March/April) brought a smile to my face. When I turned to page 49 and saw the Sports EV Concept of the Year, I was transported back 50 years to the 1969 Javelin AMX: same profile, and even the paint scheme is similar. We’ve come a long way, baby! The millennials will never know, and they will think the EV is the coolest thing ever. But shame on Cumberford for giving Honda all of the “concept” credit.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The best-looking cars in a long time were the two Honda concepts in the March/April issue. None of the geegaws that you have been complaining about. Very pleasing forms. They look good in the black/white color combo that the Japanese companies use on their robots.
DESIGN OF THE YEAR(?!!!) Tesla’s Model 3 (“Design of the Year,” March/April) might have many good design features, but the “instrument” panel is not one of them. Robert Cumberford mentioned that the initial reveal lacked an interior. To my eye, that is still the case. Rather than inviting, I find the cabin sterile. The huge screen looks exactly like a TV hung on the wall with no more thought than, “Let’s put it over here.” At least they hid the cables.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Your piece regarding the Tesla Model 3 being considered Design of the Year brought an interesting analogy to mind. I am reminded of the 1986 comedy “Gung Ho.” In the movie, a Japanese company takes over an American car company, which affected the old quality due to a difference in work ethic and beliefs. As you mentioned, Tesla will have some old issues due to the way vehicles need to be built. However, it will succeed due to the work ethic of Elon Musk and his desire to succeed. Plus, while things are not perfect as of yet, part of his determination is to make it perfect, including the assembly plant. CHRIS ABED
Baldwin, New York
I can’t wait to see how many letters you get laughing at your Design of the Year winner. A car even you admit is neither spectacular nor shockingly innovative, just a really nice-looking car. You would’ve had a better chance of convincing us of that if you had left the pictures out of the article. Then Cumberford says it reminds him of a Pininfarina design? Sorry, but you were a month early on your April Fools’ issue.
Wow! The Tesla Model 3’s interior reminds me of a concept car still in the making: Make the exterior presentable, and we’ll worry about the interior later—except the Tesla’s interior is final production. It has to be one of the most boring, if not ugly, interiors I’ve seen, and I include the Pontiac Aztek on that list! For $60K (as tested) I guess the options list didn’t include add-ons such as dials and gauges. But 500,000 people can’t be wrong! Oh yes they can when they’re caught up in the hype and willing to pay anything for the Tesla badge on the exterior and nothing on the interior. And all you artsy minimalists claiming it’s a nice, clean, and simple look—go back to college and get a real degree. And I fear nothing writing this letter ’cause I know it won’t get printed as all you car magazines are kissing ass to the Tesla Bourgeoisie.
Thank you for a fascinating issue featuring design. Cumberford’s article on the Model 3 expressed well the need for a sanity that is unfortunately not found in much of today’s automotive design. It seems Darth Vader is now the dominant influence on the face of too many
vehicles. For example, the new BMW M5 front end appears to have been created by four designers who never met each other and who share only the common trait that they have seen “Star Wars.” However, this shortcoming is not unique to BMW. Others include the Lexus RX 350L and too many others. Maybe car designers should be banned from the Force. As an aside, in 1984 while I led the Citroën Style team, we designed a concept car called Eole. Believed to be the first car body entirely developed by automated processes, with no clay model built, it achieved a drag coefficient of 0.18. We felt that aerodynamics was the future, but evidently we were wrong.
CARL L. OLSEN
West Bloomfield, Michigan
The interior of that Tesla looks like a 1980s bus terminal. Oh, and how are you going to retrieve all the stuff that falls down that huge unprotected opening in the dash? I guess it’s a vent, but it looks like gum, pens, paper, ChapStick, and anything else lying around will get swallowed up. I’ll bet there’s a big electromagnet at the bottom to sweep it all up.
Winston Salem, North Carolina
Regarding the Tesla Model 3 being the Design of the Year: It resembles a General Motors 1999 EV1 with a Kim Kardashian rear end. It does have a bit more than double the range of the EV1, so I guess that’s progress after nearly 20 years.
Other than the fact that it’s electric, the autopilot stuff, and the Elon Musk cult, the Model 3 pretty much offers what any other car does.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Design of the Year? I don’t get it at all. Was there just no other car to give the award to? I’m no hater; the Model S is absolutely stunning. But the 3 looks like anything else on the road, and its interior is just plain boring. Now, maybe the car deserves a “functionality” award of the year, but design? And don’t even get me started on the nod to classic Pininfarina. What is Cumberford smoking?
Regarding Arthur St. Antoine’s February column: In 1971, I was 13 years old. My friend Ennis called me one night and said, “There’s a movie playing downtown that shows boobs, and it’s rated PG!” I replied, “What’s it about?” Incredulous, Ennis said, “Who cares? We can get in! Get your mother to drive you there, and don’t tell her that part!” I didn’t, and she did. Ennis was right. I recall actually liking the rest of the movie too. As an adult, I’ve often thought about renting “Vanishing Point” (now re-rated to R) but always figured that my wife would give me a dope slap.
Now I have a valid excuse: “Honey,
I’m going to rent a car movie that comes highly recommended by a respected editor of Automobile.
I have no idea what it’s about.”
Write: Automobile magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, California, 90245 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. Customer service: email@example.com; 800-289-2886