Within the thread for the new BMW X3 the discussion spun out of direction, as we car geeks seek to
find an answer to Yo’s interesting question:
I wonder if a car company would ever do this? Footwear and apparel brands do it all the time of course. Don’t we really all just want the 68 vette, not the new one?
There is a strong replica market in most parts of the world, but nothing feels
like the original old item. I for one think, that the “collector car” market is
booming, because those thingies have a much different feel and in connection
make yourself feel different about yourself and life. For me nothing beats the
mechanical connection to the road that old Alfas and BMWs offer when in prime
shape. And they still work perfectly well in a modern context.
A typewriter or C64 doesn’t.
This “new” X3 doesn’t make any sense from a design context. It is uglier than the
old one. Generic, yes.
With the Z4 I have a different view. I my eyes they have developed the interiour
substantially and the exteriour is much more mass compatible, but sexy and good
proportioned in it’s own right. They will bring a Z2 within this cycle. Perhaps this
will bring back the punk.
Another good case study in how to (and how not to) evolve a cars personality over the years is the Mustang:
1964 the original ICON
1967 a little more rounded, progress well made
1970 becoming bloated already
1972 too much of everything (drugs,steroids ?)
1974 after rehab. back in shape, but bad plastic surgeon
while browsing for “mustang II” I found this styling buck. You see, how the designers tend to get carried
away with new form vocabulary. Interesting approach, but a good mustang?
1970ies The competition smells weekness and tries to built the better “stang”.
1979 what now? Mimics the competition (Mercedes SLC), instead of holding high the own strength!
1988 the dark years. Trying to bring back some memories, but you see that the belief is not firm, yet.
1994 trying to harmonise Mustang cult elements with the 90ies Ford teardrop design language.
2005 after 40 years Ford finally gives into the cult following and acknowledges that a Mustang has to be
true to its breed. This is one of the very few reincarnations within the auto business, that went well.
And the only one after so many generations with gene defects…
But only the original will ever be the original.
I think Yo, you answered your question yourself. Would you drop into an Austin America dealership
and trade your (new) Mini Clubman for a Mini Traveller of 1970? We might all look for the honest approach
and some originality aka “soul” as Clarkson (see Top Gear) puts it, but the original personality can evolve
with time. There are alway die hard fans, like you are with the TT. But the general public is less devout.
So, what do we learn from the Mustang case?
- You have to tie down marketing = No look at any one elses apple trees. No new features.
- You have to tie down customer research= No “little improvements” to a strict concept.
- You have to tie down design= No new fancy forms that are a must have to stay up to date.
- You have to let engineering to work their magic = Deliver more horsepower for a lower price every summer.