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Hagerty Employee

What makes good car design? An industry insider peels back the studio curtain | Hagerty Media

Hello there! My name is Adrian Clarke. I am a professional car designer, earning a degree in automotive design from Coventry University and a Masters in Vehicle Design from the Royal College of Art in London. While I was there, one of my tutors was J Mays. (He used to bring in doughnuts.)
118 REPLIES 118
Pit Crew

My wife and I just ordered a Macan. What do y’all think - is that within acceptable parameters of good design? Can *any* SUV be OK? Am I at least redeemed by also owning a 928?

You gonna take it down black bear, or just to the slopes in January?

It all depends on what you want. The opinions of others is nothing more than a cacophony from the disaffected self-indulgent. Drive what you want.

In my opinion, being a 928's caretaker puts you on the high road to sainthood. You are doing the Lord's work sir. Keep it up and enjoy the new Macan.

Well, one of my colleagues in the studio had a Macan so... 😉

Absolutely SUVs can look fantastic - pick up trucks too. I have a HUGE soft spot for the original Grand Wagoneer and the GMT400 family. 


One of our surfacing managers had a late 928 manual on Cup wheels in white. 

New Driver

Three words. “Body by Fisher”. . . . . . ah, yes those were the days. — Chief Ski

“ So, a great design will … make its owner feel good about purchasing it.”

And that’s it in a nutshell. Emotional gratification.

Buy something to make you feel good about yourself and impress others.

Instead of-buy what you want, what works best for you and your situation, and enjoy it.

In my head I could hear my Grandfather’s voice. Wise man.
One of those wealthy folks that drove a Buick because a Cadillac was “pretentious”.

If it works well for you and your situation, it will make you feel good! 🙂

Intermediate Driver

Just saw a new Mitsubishi Outlander on the road yesterday.

Move over Aztek, there’s a new kid in town.

I'll tell everyone here what impresses the heck out of me is being able to sketch an idea on a dinner napkin, blue printed, built and on the test track in 90 days. 1 year later, World Champion FIA Road Course Competition. A record I doubt will ever be taken. I know this design did not have the scrutineers of a factory backed idea designed for public sales but a bold feat none the less. I'm certain everyone here knows the racecar I'm tapping about. It was napkin sketched by Phil Remington.

Interesting article. Having grown up in the '50's,'60's,'70's I can't tell what brand the car's are nowadays. I do understand why, and luckily I am a Pony Car Guy, about the only newer cars I tell easily.
Intermediate Driver

Please pardon my pedantic moment. This is a great writing example. Not because it was 'perfect', (There is a single typographical error.), but because I didn't need to read any sentences over again to translate the content to what the writer intended to communicate.

Please take this comment as encouragement that we can all write more clearly. This piece is an example to study for clarity and flow.

Many Blessings.

Thanks, glad you liked it.

Advanced Driver

forget to mention the grand Pontiac Asstech was designed by Tom Peters who went on to become GM's chief Corvette artist.
Pit Crew

The three most important words in car design? Lines! Lines! Lines!
BMW gets a lot of points for the Z8 (and 1956's 507), Chevy for the C2 and Ford for the GT and 1969 Mach 1, but we really need to ask the Brits and Italians. Only they seem to deliver the most beautiful cars on a consistent basis. Bugatti 57, Ferrari 250 GTO, AC Cobra, Dino 246, MG TA and on, Austin-Healey 100-4 to 3000, Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, XK 120, TR4, MGB GT, XKE? I won't list them all, but hopefully you can see my point.
Pit Crew

The 63-65 Riviera had clear front lenses housing amber parking and turn signal bulbs along with clear cornering light bulbs. Also frameless windows. Most 61-69 GM designs were taut in appearance. Some great European designs of that era were the Maserati Ghibli and to me the Citroen SM. Some may call the SM ugly but it's beautiful efficiency through its aerodynamics is of no doubt. I always admired the Vega Kamm back 2dr wagon as well. Government mandates compromised design after that era, most for the good of safety.

IMO most new vehicles look pretty good and stylists have convinced the bean counters what works and not to cheap out on the important factors. For me stance is number one followed by the correct wheel tire combo. Almost any vehicle looks terrific with the correct stance along with a proper wheel and tire combo. There are always going to be exceptions to the rule however looking back to the pre-80's vehicles take any domestic vehicle you wish. Add the right wheel/tire combo and set the stance at the correct height and you have an instant "cool" factor which can't be ignored.
New Driver

Thanks for this - entertaining read and a good insight 🙂
New Driver

Why must the electric cars look so stupid in the front. Why can't there be a sort of a front like other cars.
Intermediate Driver

Well done.
“Like The Dude’s rug, these elements tie whole car together and provide visual interest, something alluring to look at.”

Yes that does provide an image. The rugs pre or post stains?

Thank you for not only making this informative but not stuffy. We really have no idea how much work goes into not only those designs we love, but the one we forgot all about.