One designer's review of the Local Motors Rally Fighter.

So, let me first start off by saying I totally respect what the team at Local Motors is doing. They are doing it big and they are doing it loud, and I think they can really pull off what is basically making the kit car concept legit and respectable. That is no dig, I think the concept of the company is awesome.

Now I’m going to get to the meat of it. Is it me, or is that Rally Fighter design a mess? It looks like they got the design for free… wait, they did. I mean no offense to the designer Sangho Kim, but I do want to discuss the particulars of the design, and the particulars of what happens when you get volunteer design work for such an important, and expensive project. With all the money put into this, hire a designer guys!

Video of the awkward beast in action:

Attached are my thoughts about it in the below image. What do you all think? Am I off base here? Maybe it looks awesome in person?

Good points Mike, don’t have time for a long response but I have felt this design was fairly schizophrenic with lots going on, maybe an amalgamation of a couple people’s designs… I also was curious why this was the car Local Motors decided to make in support of their cause- a cool car concept, but not practical or a vehicle that adds much to the bigger dialogue other than the method of development.

Well the whole notion of Local Motors is crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is the new age word for design-by-(unpaid) committee.

I think they pulled off a lot with what they had, and given the nature of it some of those elements don’t bother me.

I can forgive the Civic tail light usage in the name of saving cost, but some of those transitions are definately painfully awkward and don’t seem to have a reason to be that way. It almost looks like they mismeasured in their original CAD file and had all the other surfaces worked out so they couldn’t go back and fix everything to line up.

The door handle is just painful. It may need to be that low for ergonomics since its such a high vehicle with no running boards, but it’s pretty awkward.

The random graphics on the side are also a bit…odd. I liked the fighter plane inspiration, but those just don’t make sense. If you’re gonna have people it might as well be a sexy chick riding a missile. :smiley:

I just hope they can actually pull this off. My bigger worry is no one will pay ~$55k for what is effectively an off-road toy when it seems as if a $25k Jeep Wrangler with some modifications would provide as much amusement and creature comforts, plus another $25k for a real car.

According to their website, 69 have been sold.

Anyways, thanks Yo! for the break down. It’s nice to see such an intense look at one car. I never noticed the graphic was TR. WTF? hehe

One thing that I’ve noticed is the lack of a decent gallery of images of this car. All I’ve found are photos from weird angles and grainy video. So, I’m not sure what to add.

In regards to the crowd sourcing, I can see it. I would expect a crowd sourced car to have every design detail of the last 30 years thrown at it, and that seems to be what happened. Definitely, it would served the design well to have one person edit it down to something more cohesive. Maybe for the next draft?

Great points. Yo! Thanks for the detailed explanations, we need more of that.

I like where the direction of this vehicle is going, it looks aggressive but still smooth and sleek. However the lack of attention to detail drops it from memorable to disappointing. I wish this was a prototype and the next version would fix the notes you mentioned.

If you aren’t a fan of Teddy, the other side offers Poncho Villa.

I don’t agree with many of your comments from another designers point of view. I think you were a little too hard on it. I agree, some details need tweaking, but come on, its a start, and I think they did a great job. See my comments on your pic edited.

Of course it is your right to respectfully disagree Brook, but I think you are off on this one. This is not a cohesive design. It doesn’t sit together. Instead it seems like a collection of disparate favorite cliche elements and stock bits. It is easy to make something garish and claim it as unique and rebellious.

On a conceptual level, I just don’t get it. Sports coupe profile, muscle car and fighter jet details, jacked up off roader? The front is a collection of circles, and radiused rectangles, the side is a collection of soft and crisp forms that clash against one another, the rear is a collection of triangulated polygons.To assemble elements from cars and fighter jets in an attempt at mass appeal is not an example of a good design for me.

To be unique it doesn’t have to be ugly. It can still “flow” together and be original and striking. It can be tough while being holistic. That is the designer’s challenge.

I’m being hard on it because I believe in the project and I think it is important.

Am I the only one getting a total X6 vibe from this thing? (not a fan of it)

In regards to the graphics on the rally fighter. Must say they really messed it up, compared to what they showed earlier on the concept renderings. Thought that was a pretty cool idea, which to me carried the entire car, atleast a long way. Maybe it was because it made the inspiration of the idea a lot clearer.

I shouldn’t have said anything.

All good points above. Interesting argument between an educated opinion versus a popular opinion:

“Will Crowd-Sourcing produce the next ‘Raging Bull’ or the next ‘Batman and Robin’? - Discuss”

It does look striking and it is meant to be a rally kit car, so I’d expect to be styled more like a Tamiya RC than a Corolla. It will be interesting if they ever make a 4 door sedan or a hatchback, rather than a boy-racer.

Great topic Mike! First off I agree and disagree with a lot of what has been said so far regarding the Rally Fighter. It is my understanding that the the whole concept behind ‘Local Motors’ is a community of designers, engineers, and builders creating futuristic concepts for purchase. That’s good and all but I can see some issues with that.

As a designer at Ford I worked on many different programs from interiors to exteriors and let me tell you when it comes to delivering a design to market there are a lot of mock-ups created to make sure everything is spot on for surface delivery. During the development process we create countless models in clay (full size) to make sure that all the surfaces and proportions are correct. Also the use of dynock on the clay and reviewing that buck in the courtyard lets us evaluate the design in an natural environment. This process allows us (designers) to see what’s working and what’s not working either from an DNA standpoint to a visual pleasing object.

Sangho Kim has a great talent but that talent has to be refined and honed in. As we developed our designs we had numerous chiefs and directors showing us our errors and showing us what works and what doesn’t. I’ve had J Mays pull me aside and explain to me that what I was trying to create wasn’t going to work. His guidance then help me become the designer I am today. Anyone can come up with a great sketch but translating that idea or vision to 3D is not always the easiest thing. I don’t see Local Motors following this process because it is expensive and time consuming.

In the end I think it’s a great concept but I believe if they had to to it all over again and develop it with the appropriate eyes that they final design would be a lot more refined.

That’s my 2 cents…

Not at all man, this is good conversation. Very sticky subjective stuff. That is why I titled it “One Designer’s Opinion”. It is important to hash this stuff out, and to bring the discussion about design back to designers. We are doers by nature, this place is a platform for us to talk things over, consult with each other, and raise the bar for each other.

Great perspective John.

Michael, thanks for the props and honest critique. I didn’t see this thread until today when it popped up in my Google alerts - a late response is better than never, I suppose!

You’ve a great community for open design discussion here. Since you all know we’re really building cars, and we’re really doing it in an open co-creative way, I hope you’ll join us for the next vehicle dev. The choice of next LM vehicle has not yet been made, but we expect each outcome to be better than the last. This co-creative process is new, and while we are very proud of the Rally Fighter and the (typically) head-turning high-fiving response we get from folks, we know this is our first shot out of the barrel.

Since you care enough to critique, do it early and post on so we can make the cars even better. It’s strange to think the Rally Fighter would have turned out differently if you all had joined the development process.

Design Detroit, good thoughts here. Sangho is a uniquely talented individual with some solid experience under his belt. He is not the soul designer, though he is the original designer of the Rally Fighter. Like any studio we work in a team. While Sangho’s creative inspiration and design rooted this concept he worked with a large community along with a small group of super talented engineers. We never set out to design a car that everyone would want to buy - quite the opposite. We set out to design and build a car for a specific group of people, many of which joined us for the development. Much of the design was lead by engineering considerations.

Cyberdemon, the word crowdsource has earned a bad reputation. We opt for the word “co-create” as it’s more true to what we’re doing - designing and building something together. We do not design by committee, but with a bi-modal intelligence from community and company. Community keeps us on the track of their desires with honest critique and guidance. Company is responsible for safety, cost, and accessibility. Together, we’re co-creating a new type of car company. Sangho earned $20,000 -Raphael Laurent who designed the side vent, Mihai Panaitescu who designed the interior, and Filip Tejszerski who designed the RF Lightbar also earned cash. Nobody participated for the money - though the idea of having a car on the road with their names on it, that was incentive.

Michael, note we’re not trying to re-invent kit cars. We’re setting a course to improve the way cars are designed and brought to market. This open collaborative process is the best way for us to deliver cars our customers really want. We’ll continue to improve the process and the cars, and hope you’ll join us for future rounds.

Cheers all - happy to answer any questions.


p.s. michael - you’re in New England, and you didn’t come by to see the Rally Fighter?


Thanks for the response. I’m impressed with how LM has taken this discussion in stride.

When I moved here about 2 years ago, I emailed someone at Local Motors about visiting the facility… never heard back. Totally understand how a single email could be lost in the the deluge of emails you guys get.

This is a very strong community, we are all super comfortable sharing our opinions as many of us have been on here for 5+ years, and moving to another site that only talks about one thing feels a little limiting in comparison. We would love to see you guys on here more though. In fact, some pretty high profile international manufacturing companies are working with the community here by paying selected contributors to work on projects. More on that in the coming weeks people… hang in there…

I’m sorry for the kit car comparison, I know it is a loaded term. What I meant is that a lot of the original kit car companies were trying to change the way cars were made, when kit cars were original vehicles in the 70’s. That was before they became Ferrari-Fieros.

I’d love to participate, and I think you actually emailed me when LM first started up based on my portfolio, but honestly, I’m flush with paying work and on a principal level, I just don’t feel right contributing a design for free. The car isn’t free.

What about a car time share? You design something you get to borrow the car for a week. :smiley: I’m sure that would have made all the snow we’ve gotten a lot more enjoyable on the commute.

I remember! And I did respond - my response bounced. Not sure why. I had your website url, so I should’ve reached out to you there. I just re-emailed you and forwarded the bounce response to regain a little credibility :slight_smile: If you don’t get it we’ll just have to continue communicating here - or you can call/email me.

That’s awesome. I appreciate the invite and will take you up on it.

Noted, understood and it’s cool.

Certainly understandable and fair. The car is not free. It would be much, much easier for us to hire the best designers to design Local Motors cars -but then we would be operating the same way traditional manufacturers and design studios have been operating for ages. We choose to do differently for reasons you’re aware of. It’s the fun of the process, collaboration and recognition that cause any person, designer or not, to join Local Motors. If you’re in it for the money, you will likely be disappointed. But for a few who earn it, there is a boatload of recognition and a good prize to work toward.

Sangho will tell you the money was a far second to seeing his design on the road.

Thanks for the speedy response! You’re still welcome to visit, though the Rally Fighter will not be back in Wareham. Best bet to see it now is at SXSW in Austin next month, or in Phoenix thereafter.


I think it was a good thing to do. Yo is a sharp designer, but not the only good voice of design out there… and from a sideline pov, I enjoy hearing you guys hash out the auto detailing

About the Local Motors rally car, I thought it was a pretty exciting vehicle when I first saw it but agree the details aren’t completely working together, as illustrated throughout. For a smaller company doing low volume vehicles though, I think it’s turning out great and is a hell of a lot better an aesthetic than Jr and the OC Chopper type work custom cars. The fighter would turn heads, not roll eyes… no offense to anyone that likes that stuff

Agreed, it’s important to discuss these things.

Ariel, not sure if you have an old address maybe? You can reach me at

I want to talk about monetary compensation a bit more, just to say my peace, speaking on behalf of a profession that always has to defend its value even though the result of our work is exactly what tends to sell one product over anther. As designers, I’d hazard to say that just about none of us got in it for the money. Wrong profession for that… but it is a profession, and one that has value, and we measure value in money. I love my doctor. Great guy, really spends time, cares, didn’t get into medicine for the money (when many did)… but he still gets paid for his time.

Most of us take pride in our work, but you can’t eat pride. I’m trying hard in this not to step on toes here, but design has value, and the real value of design is a message we are very passionate about.

Dang yo! Well said! I wish I’d had you as a professor, instead of Papanek …