Fiat pranks Volkswagen – AUTO DESIGN WEEK IN REVIEW – 5/21/12

There wasn’t much auto design in the news the past week, most likely a result of preparation for the upcoming Designer Night at the Races events in California this week (more on that later).  This week we lose another icon in the transportation design community, we visit a museum and a car show, we chat a bit about flying cars and i-cars, we talk about pranks and curses, and we look at animal prints (seriously).

The Raleigh Chopper

Designer Night at the Races

Designer Night at the Races returns to California Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  Registration is already over 125 as design staff from Nissan, Mercedes, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota Calty, Honda, Acura, Ford, GM, Tesla and Fisker plan to compete for the title of Fastest Design Studio in the west at K1 Speed’s electric go-kart facilities.  Volkswagen, Audi, BMW Designworks and Volvo are currently missing in action so if you know anybody there make sure to tease them for staying home – or better yet, convince them to sign up at  .  Many thanks to our sponsors, for without them this event could not possible be held; Lacks Enterprises is the main sponsor and along with F1 Paintlab is providing the winning team their trophy.  Purple Platypus is providing the Fastest Designer Trophy, Honda Research and Development, Bunkspeed and Luxion Keyshot are associate sponsors.

Chopper Designer loses battle with cancer

If you are like me, the closest I could come to a car when I was a child was my bicycle.  Many hours were spent cleaning, modifying and testing to see which brand of cards in the spokes made the best sound.  One of my favorite’s of the time was the Raleigh Chopper which featured an unusual frame design.  So it is with great sadness that I read about the death of Alan Oakley, who sketched the Chopper design on the back of an envelope after being inspired by Peter Fonda’s bike in Easy Rider.

Flying Cars to i-Cars

Last week we covered the launch of the Terrafugia flying car production prototype (yes, I want one……BAD!).  This week we discuss the car that almost was – the iCar.  As much as I admire the new companies that are trying to break into the market, like Tesla and Fisker, the road to financial solvency is littered with companies like Aptera and Bright Automotive.  So, the question of the week:  After reading articles in Fast Company, Stuff and The Huffington Post (and even on appadvice) on Steve Job’s desire to design a full-fledged car, how many of you think it would have been successful?

Pranks and Curses

In the annals of automotive pranks and practical jokes, this may be the best ever.  Take a look at what Fiat did to Volkwagen here.  Awesome!  On the other end of the spectrum is the curse of the Volvo 240 Wagon.  Read about it at CNN here.

Shows and Events and Places to visit

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to travel to all the great auto events and locations around the country without having to worry about time and money?  Unfortunately I will have to continue to do the next best thing – read about them online.  Last weekend we had the Nurburgring 24 hour race (won by one of my favorite cars), Carlisle Import and Kit Car Nationals and this summer the Shaunessy Concours d’Elegance is returning to Vancouver in September.  During my trip to California this week I am going to try and visit the Riverside museum.

Animal Prints

Closing out this week is either sacrilege or awesome cool, depending on your point-of-view. I won’t spoil the surprise – read about it here on Autoblog.

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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