For those who haven’t run and gotten their google translate web page out, Jubel und Buhrufe is the rough German translation of Cheers and Jeers. To highlight the highs and lows of the Frankfurt Auto Show we brought our venerable Designer Incognito “The Stud” to the show to help. And as usual, he leaves no stone unturned and is as critical and unfiltered as ever. So let’s get right into his awards…..The Dumbest Protest AWARD
And the winner is Greenpeace! “The Stud” and I discussed this one for a while. What was Greenpeace trying to accomplish attacking VW? Could it be they were just after the press? We both agreed that Volkswagen has been among the more efficient auto manufacturers over the past few years with the number of high mileage diesels on the road (full disclosure – I have one in my fleet and the whole family loves it). So why pick on them other than they are big? Come to find out Greenpeace is unhappy with their alleged lobbying efforts. Here is “The Stud’s” favorite quote from the site “only 6% of the cars it sold in 2010 were its most efficient models”. Even though “The Stud” is a Right Brained Artist, he has enough business sense to know that Volkswagen only sells what people buy. So, for blaming VW for what people buy, Greenpeace wins the Dumbest Protest Award.
The Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (But Try Harder Next Time) AWARD
One of the key problems in Automotive Design today is that it is very difficult to be original. So on those rare occasions when a manufacturer really designs something cool, its only a matter of time before someone else copies them. (Then again, sometimes they should not have been copied in the first place i.e. Bangle-butt). But in those cases where they should be copied, many of those copies are not quite up to the level of the original. Sometimes the execution is oh so close and other times it misses the mark completely. According to “The Stud”, the winner of the Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (But Try Harder Next Time) AWARD goes to Honda, for their rather unattractive and cheap looking center cap. As “The Stud” commented, “the material they used looks like it comes from recycled shopping cart wheels”
The Which Came First, The Chicken or The Egg? AWARD
This could have easily been the Runner-up for the previous award, except we really have no idea who did it first. Since he figured the idea is not that great to begin with, “The Stud” assumed that no one copied anyone here – it really is a case of “two completely clueless PR agencies came up with that idea totally independently” because “no designer in his right mind would even suggest it, much less take the time to do it”. So, the co-winners of the Which Came First, The Chicken or The Egg? AWARD are Smart and Toyota for their disco ball-themed mini-cars. By the way, Smart gets extra credit for doing the wheels too.
The Knock Known, Who’s There? AWARD
One of the funniest things to do at an auto show is try to count how many times a manufacturers logo is displayed in a booth. Between the booth babes, backdrops, signs and cars themselves the number can easily reach into the hundreds. So if a company’s name and logo are so important, how is it possible that a car is produced without a logo in the most logical place, the wheel center cap? But that’s exactly what happened with the Dacia Sandero as it wins the Knock Knock, Who’s There? AWARD for failure to place a logo on the center cap – as “The Stud” noted, this designer was “asleep at the wheel”.
The Enough’s Enough AWARD
This is the spiritual opposite of the Knock Knock, Who’s There? AWARD and is given to the manufacturer who spends a bit too much effort AND money displaying their logo. And no, it wasn’t given to the manufacturer whose booth or building had too many logos, this one was actually on the vehicle to which “The Stud” said “WTF?”. So the winner of The Enough’s Enough AWARD is Mercedes for having two 3-pointed stars next to each other on pretty much EVERY model.
The Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should AWARD
There is no doubt that multiple finishes on wheels is one of the hottest trends in design over the past couple of years. Since Los Angeles last year the number of wheels like this has exploded. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should as this wheel from an unknown Chinese Manufacturer proves. Not only do the combination of colors “look like the designer had a bit too much bier last night”, the use of 3 spokes and 5 lugs is a “definite no-no” according to our expert. So, the winner of the Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should AWARD goes to this unnamed Chinese company for their god-awful wheel. Michelin should file a protest about having their logo right next to this wheel.
The Really? WHY? AWARD
Every now and then a manufacturer introduces a new vehicle that completely breaks convention and sets the world on fire. Then there are manufacturers that show vehicles to fit into an already overcrowded category and you just wonder Why? That is the case with the Maserati Kubang. It’s not really that bad a design, if you are some third world manufacturer showing a concept. But for Maserati “the brothers must be rolling in their graves” exclaimed “The Stud”. So the Really? WHY? AWARD goes to Maserati for showing a SUV without any Maserati DNA. Enough with the SUV’s, can we please have the Ghibli back please? Preferably in Spyder SS form.
The Authenticity AWARD
Every day I spend in the various Design Studios around the world I get preached at about authenticity in materials. Of course for many years I worked for a company that specialized in plastic components so I could understand it (somewhat). My friend “The Stud” was one of these people so it was no surprise when he singled out the recipient of this tongue-in-cheek award. Now let me preface it by saying that many vehicles block off the upper grille area for improved aerodynamics on their high-mileage versions. In this case we saw no evidence that this was anything other than a fake grille. So the Authenticity AWARD for Frankfurt 2011 goes to Lancia for their Musa grille that isn’t really a grille at all.
The Road Trip Special AWARD
Remember when you were a kid and sitting in the back seat on a long trip was equivalent to being sent to Siberia? A vast wasteland with no real entertainment value at all other than a game of Slug-Bug with your siblings. I guess I am dating myself as PICD (pre in car dvd’s). But if I was a kid today, this is the back seat I’d like to travel in. “The Stud” had other ideas however, he indicated this would be his favorite “Date Vehicle” Ummm, yeah, let’s try to leave this website SFW. Either way, the Renault R-Space gets the Road Trip Special AWARD for the fun back seat.
The I Want to Drive This One Home AWARD
No Design Awards List would be complete without at least one positive award list so perhaps its fitting we saved the best for last. Asking “The Stud” about this is a little bit asking a kid which one piece of candy they want in a candy store (or asking an auto designer which spokeswomen they like at an auto show). But this one was all about color “If Ferrari owns red, then Maserati can easily own blue” commented “The Stud”. In this particular case I’d have to agree, so the Maserati Gran Turismo wins the I Want to Drive This One Home AWARD for having easily the most beautiful color at the show.
Hopefully we have finished this little exercise in fun without seriously offending any designer who was actually responsible for any of the above. If you disagree with any of his opinions or awards I’d be happy to give you the PO Box where “The Stud” said to send his complaint mail.