Autofield Blog

Art: Automotive & Otherwise

By: Gary S. Vasilash 22. October 2014

Each October in Regent’s Park in London, the Frieze London Art Fair is held. This year, it was last week. So if you’re big on contemporary art and are going to be in the U.K. next year, you might be interested in knowing that the event will be held October 8 to 11.

That said, you may be wondering why we’re talking about a contemporary art event held in the U.K.

Because many automotive designers area quite interested in contemporary art. Some automotive designers even try their hand at it.

To wit:

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, worked with Italian artist Nino Mustica in creating a piece titled Unstoppable Spirit, which was unveiled last week at London’s Southbank Center.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a part of the execution.

Land Rover Art

Gerry McGovern, Nino Mustica, & Unstoppable Spirit in London

Said Mustica, “Unstoppable Spirit is about the fusion between automotive design and contemporary art. As an artist I am able to work in the abstract with full creative freedom, however the Discovery Sport is a piece of industrial design that must be both versatile and beautiful. This work is a fascinating exploration of how these worlds collide and interact.”

“Collide” is not a word that one ordinarily uses when talking about a new vehicle, of course.

Noted McGovern, “Our team at Land Rover understands that art and design are central to the creation of highly desirable vehicles that resonate on an emotional level. I believe art and design enrich people’s lives in all their manifestations.”

Thus this.

Audi Teases. . .Something

By: Gary S. Vasilash 21. October 2014

Audi has teased a concept car that it will be revealing at the LA Auto Show next month with an overhead shot of what could be a crossover, sedan or even a coupe:

Audi LA

Whatever the case, it certainly shows a somewhat more sensuous shape than current models, particularly the way the shoulders are more prominent and a Coke-bottle shape of the roof/cabin.

This concept was created under the direction of Marc Lichte, Head of Audi Design, who achieved that position in February.

Lichte, born August 9, 1969, (he’s 45, for those of you who don’t want to do the math) was born in Germany.

He has spent his entire design career with Volkswagen Group. He was a student at Pforzheim University in the transportation design curriculum in 1996 when he joined the company. He was an exterior designer who became head of the Exterior Design Studio 10 years later.

While in that studio, vehicles he was involved with included the Golf 5, 6 and 7, the Passat 6, 7 and 8, the Touareg, and the Phaeton.

Looked at another way, he’s done small and midsize cars, an SUV and a luxury model.

All experiences that should be serving him well at Audi.

Time Passages

By: Gary S. Vasilash 20. October 2014

Quick: What is this car?

LS 1990

The “L” in the oval gives it away as a Lexus.

Indeed, this is the LS 400, the model year 1990 vehicle that went on sale in the U.S. in the fall of 1989.

The “400” in its name went to the point that it has a 4.0-liter engine. The V8 produced 250 hp. The car had a four-speed automatic.

Fast forward 25 years.

LS 2015

This is the 2015 Lexus LS 460.

It, not surprisingly, has a 4.6-liter V8. It produces 386 hp. It has an eight-speed automatic.

Funny how much—visibly, performance-wise—things change in a quarter century.

Will the 2015 look as, um, vintage 25 years hence?

Remembering Isuzu

By: Gary S. Vasilash 17. October 2014

In two weeks it will be Halloween here in the U.S.

It’s been nearly 25 years since we last saw Joe Isuzu commercials on TV. Arguably, the character could be a zombie by now.

It has been five years since Isuzu left the U.S. market.

Isuzu (2)

So, given:

· Halloween

· Goofy commercials

· The absence of Isuzu in the U.S. market

Here is a goofy commercial from the U.K. that is season appropriate.

The vehicle in question, the D-Max Blade, incidentally, is powered by a 161-hp, 295-lb-ft diesel, so presumably the driver would have sufficient range to get away from the slow-moving creatures.


Mazda: Looks Great, Less Gas

By: Gary S. Vasilash 16. October 2014

Although Mazda is a mass-market manufacturer of vehicles, its market isn’t all that mass because the people at Mazda intensely focus on those who are interested in driving. Consequently, the engineers pay a whole lot of attention to acceleration, ride and handling, ergonomics, and the like.

And the designers create cars that are as striking to look at as they are to drive.


(People often cite the Ford Fusion as the most stylish midsize sedan. I’d argue that the reason they do that is because they haven’t seen the Mazda6. That is, through September, there have been, according to Autodata, 240,585 Fusions delivered and just 41,861 Mazda6s. So the odds of seeing one are less.)

Anyway, it is most impressive that this company that is focusing on the driver and the driving experience has, for the second year in a row, been named the most-fuel efficient auto manufacturer in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the EPA’s “Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends” report, Mazda’s fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy performance for model year 2013 is 28.1 mpg. (It also has the lowest adjusted CO2 emissions, at 316.)

Honda is second, followed by Subaru, Nissan, VW, Toyota, BMW, Daimler, Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler.

And it is interesting to note that there is a non-trivial spread between first and last places. Fiat Chrysler came in at 20.9.

Presumably those HEMIs and Ram sales had something to do with that.

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