To Boldly Go, Twenty-Six Vehicle Designs That Dared to Be Different

by Graham Hull

 

“‘Ugly, ghastly, ridiculous, monstrous,’ said CAR magazine. The Italian press called it ‘Il Mostro.’ Rarely rattled Autocar said, ‘completely mad Zagato styling.’ An acclaimed international car designer indulged in a ranting, vitriolic condemnation of it in Design magazine. It’s rare for a car’s appearance to be so vilified, but ___ was universally panned.

So why doesn’t this observer also condemn it?”

 

We won’t say what that car was because the point of this quote is to establish that the author can rightly claim to possess the ability to factor in the often conflicting parameters of intent v. execution or industry pundits v. consumer tastes.

There’s nothing like looking a car designer over the shoulder when he evaluates cars. Hull is retired, the book doesn’t include his own designs, and he has published in the international design press—meaning, he has no axe to grind, and if he did, he’d know better. His day job for much of his professional life was to design cars that due to their elevated place on the food chain and uncommonly conservative owner demographics had to satisfy extraordinary expectations—Rolls-Royce and Bentley. And he was able to do that, competently and for three decades, because he had a complete grasp of all the moving parts of what the paying customer wants and technology allows and his bosses would go along with.

The 26 designs, arranged chronologically, span 1911 to around 2013. They range from the very well known (Mini, Morgan 3-wheeler) to the offbeat (Brubaker Box, Austin 7) to the utterly obscure (Ariel “Home Brew,” Steyr-Puch Haflinger). A racecar, a trike, and a motorcycle are also included. The author is British and it is no surprise that US readers may not recognize some of the machines or know them by different names. A special treat is that all but three illustrations are drawn by Hull, a process that requires a particularly concentrated form of engagement whose merits he explains in the Preface.

Each design is presented on 5–7 pages and the narrative touches on relevant historic factors, construction, and a design analysis. A final paragraph offers a summary or conclusions; on occasion sidebars with contemporary magazine excerpts or expert commentary flesh out the picture. There’s even an Index.

Almost every page contains something pithy on the order of the quote above but always, always Hull lays out his reasoning and connects elements a layperson would simply not know to think of.

 

Copyright 2017, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info)

To Boldly Go
Twenty-Six Vehicle Designs That Dared to Be Different
by Graham Hull
Veloce, 2017   [In US: Quarto]
160 pages, 79 illustrations, hardcover
List Price: $39.95
ISBN-13: 978-1787110021
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