Apparently this post got me kicked off another forum;
Hi Cord, saw the thread and if it's of any use thought I'd provide some (hopefully) constructive criticism.
Feel free to post any or all of this in the thread, but I felt it best to contact you directly in order to minimise the possibility of misunderstanding the spirit in which this is intended, especially as by definition it'll be focussing on the areas that need attention.
For the record, I don't practice professionally but am a Coventry graduate of more years ago than I can to remember (back when it just them & the RCA in the UK...
. Nor am I interested in helping out on the design side, or proposing any money changing hands; I just enjoy analysing & deconstructing things, and doing stuff like this forces me to define & articulate things more precisely than might otherwise be the case.
The only thing I would be interested in is your feedback on my feedback. I realise that given a) how far you've progressed & b) your deadline, most - if not all - of the attached will be after the fact (even if you accept and agree with my observations), but if those issues weren't pressing, would this have been a useful exercise?
Not sure I get the whole catfish thing (not that it matters) - and think Jag's XKR-S has beaten you to the punch anyway ;-P. It's probably worth starting by saying that the overall standard of design is high, full stop (or period, if you prefer); and I mean that in a general context, rather than within the kitcar ghetto. Although most of my feedback is critical, it is concerned with detail: as is, you're 95% there - which is damn site closer than most get. The car in the renderings is not exactly the car that we're making, but it's close enough for comparison. It really does look like the rendering, and I think the rendering really does translate the idea of a catfish. I'm sticking to this comparison of a bottom-feeding trash fish because I'd rather that than people think it was a Chris Bangle knockoff.
It's great that front & rear three-quarter and interior views have appeared but the initial images were sparse and small, and the worms eye, wide angle view of the buck is great for drama but not so good for analysis. Would have preferred more pics of the buck (esp. elevational) than the influences. The BauerLtd site is being updated now, and will have more pictures in September. I've turned the site over to a professional, as I put all the information up earlier this year while I was bedridden after back surgery (L4/L5 crushed disc). Considering the drugs I was taking, not a bad effort.
You have already answered one of my questions since I first saw the thread - I'd guessed that the original designer was no longer involved; there some basic thematic differences, and some of the problems are already apparent in the renders...
...which brings me onto the biggest problem: the front quarter panel. It looks a little overbodied generally at the moment but I assume the finished item will be running bigger wheels; even so, the visual mass of the front quarter panel will overpower any size rim. Shawn Whetstone of Zukun Plan took over the design duties after Greg Tada bowed out. Greg was designing in Maya, and his renders looked quite a bit different than his original sketch. While his renders morphed into a car that didn't look at all like the sketch, I needed a baseline design like the sketch and Greg was out of time. At that time I contacted Zukun. These guys are great, and essentially redesigned the car so it would fit the Miata and match the original design.
The original sketch seemed to use a basic surfacing theme not dissimilar to the E89 Z4 (no bad thing). In the renders and prototype the lower swage line has been de-emphasised and truncated. The net result is a relatively tall, short, large area with little to direct the eye and it's impacting how the proportions are being read. There are a number of possible solutions:
a) carry forward the lower swage line through into the front quarter panel (as per Z4), this could be terminated by driving light (which seems pretty arbitrarily positioned in render) or faux brake cooling inlet, or just faded out.
b) use the inlet / light in isolation - but this will only add visual interest and not really direct the eye at all, or
c) work the other way: carry through the lower lip from the main intake area as a lightcatcher surface feature. Yes. This was my original thought. I wanted the viewer to mentally tie the lower surface area to the lower swage line. The car in particular I was looking at was Ken Okuyama's 550 Berlinetta (see pic).
d) You haven't seen the "barge board" in our next design. It's more "fish" than the Pininfarina design, but takes care of some of your points.
Actually one of my other suggestions would be to reprofile the whole lower lip into a chin spoiler section from it's current bluff section; you could justify it on negligible aerodynamic gain, but it's main benefit would be aesthetic as a lightcatcher. Not unlike the original sketch in fact...Wait until you see the 'race' version…
Staying with the nose & intake area: none of the changes below is going to make a radical difference in isolation, but the cumulative effect would be noticeable. Another thing that's been lost is the height difference between the side intakes and lower central intake - not only did this add visual interest, it actually looked like it could be developed into a neat number plate mount, a detail oft overlooked. The cross section of all these elements has been simplified to the point of crudeness - attached is pic of GT-R for reference / inspiration (ThumbSnap - Simple Image Hosting & Photo Sharing
), but again looking at the original sketch would serve equally well. I agree. This can be incorporated as we move forward with the car, but I wanted to get the first molds made and see the car at 100% before making more changes.
One feature I'd be tempted to nick from the GT-R is the rebated feature that defines the lower lip of the upper intake, which I think looks like fishlip (or is that just me?). The section of the bonnets leading edge could do with attention too, it looks like it's almost a hard 90°, relaxing it would improve things: again see GT-R. Finally, the vertical plane of the intake area seems to be almost the same as the surrounding bodywork - making it more vertical could add some tension / drama to this area. I think we've gone one better. We're adding downforce wings to the front quarter which changes the whole look of the car. Another possibility is for us to add simple round fog lights at the same area to add visual appeal and take some of the weight out of the front.
Overall, the bonnet line seems to be a little high which adds to the visual mass at the front. I assume this is most likely for clearance issues but from memory, only the central 400mm(ish) (maybe not much more that current swage lines) needs to be high enough to clear engine and can't help feel that a subtle bonnet bulge and consequently lowering the surrounding surfaces by even a small amount would make a big difference - and making the front fender 'pontoons' more prominent might even enhance that strong sweeping curve at the front. The inline 4 is a tall engine, which caused us to raise the hood height twice. Even so we have less than 1" of clearance. There are stock items on either side of the engine that also prevent us from pushing the hood down. Packaging prevents the design elements we both agree should be present.
In the shot of the buck I don't know if it's camera angle or distortion, but the main sweep of the fender looks... odd. The curve's apex seems to be quite far behind the front axle line; not necessarily a problem in itself, but it also seems to slacken quite considerably ahead of this point, losing tension so the unfortunate effect is more humpback than catfish. (Incidentally, does your repositioning of the radiator result in a longer front overhang than the MX-5 and in the absence of bonnet vents will there be ducting to front wheelarch?) Agree. The barge board in the race version helps with this tension line. There was a point at which I had to shut down the design tweaks, and that point coincided with Zukun getting VERY busy with good-paying customers. Either we wait 6-8 months or move ahead. I didn't want to stall.
You probably don't me to tell you that the area between the rear of front wheelarch & swage line is tricky area; I'd say look at the M-B Shooting Brake (I refuse to spell it their way) or F800 style, but the basic problem here is lack of space - reducing width of wheelarch 'edge' might help but still tricky. I own an R500 the "Shooting Brake wagon" of Mercedes. When starting this project, I never thought I'd have that design on the car. I thought we'd end up with a wedge outline, but none of the renders looked as good as the Catfish.
I'll admit this more than anything else might be personal prejudice, but though side exhausts are good, making separate feature of silencer and actual tailpipe seems a bit odd. I'd be tempted to keep the tailpipe but re-instate the sill section as per original sketch, or have some sort of stylised silencer cover (as per original Viper). Shawn added this element and I've never seen it before. It's nice to have an "homage" style car that makes people look twice. The design is modern-retro to an extent. There's a "balancing act" that I want people to experience with the car, between old and new, reference and original. It's not easy to walk this line, and not everyone will fall off the line into the "I like it" category. That's ok.
With only the renders to go on at the back, there some detail that need attending to (but not necessarily be critical path for SEMA).
- will the leading edge of the cockpit really be such a harsh, straight line? This can probably be resolved independently of the screen solution. Yes, for the first cars. The design will evolve as the checkbook allows.
- headrest / hoop fairing nice detail but needs integrating into rear deck, if only to make pulling moulds out easier...Yes. The hoops will be structural and safe, and the fairing will be built into the rear deck so that they come off when the rear deck is removed.
- section across front wheel arch taut, defined by hard edges of main fender sweep, section at rear wheel much more rounded. Care needs to be taken to make sure these cohere well generally (or you run the risk of a design of two halves from some angles) and ensure that rear arch doesn't get too bulbous overall. This has been a part of the design conversation, so if it works that means we addressed it properly.
- some detail work needed on rear fascia. Can't help feel that given the raised inner edge of rear wheelarches could form boundary of neatly integrated rear lip spoiler as opposed to more conventional current solution. Just wait.
- Area around light needs definition and you've committed one of the cardinal sins of surfacing - a faux bumper ('A' in pic at ThumbSnap - Simple Image Hosting & Photo Sharing
) shaped formed by a hard, tight radiussed dog leg in section. A simple, crisp surface change will add sufficient interest - look at rear bumper Z4 Coupe (ThumbSnap - Simple Image Hosting & Photo Sharing
the problem here is that the rear looks a little rounded generally. This was a natural parting line for the moulds. It loses the roundness when the rear diffuser is included in the design, which becomes the focus of the rear end when fitted.
Even allowing for the fact that the number plate recess seems angled at 30-45°, the surface again seems rounded. It be possible to integrate area between spoiler & bumper into concave ellipse form, punctuated by taillights which would add contrast and interest and solve most of the issues at a single stroke. Obviously problem is that this would mean extensive re-working of the tail end...This was rendered, and the change made the concave ellipse form seem a bit contrived--like we were trying too hard. Now your brain needs to connect these areas, which goes back to my point about the balancing act.
...so staying with variation on current bumper feature, why not angle the horizontal surface so it's at least 15-20° below dead level - which is what it what it looks like in the render (you might also be able to mirror this in the underside surface of the lip spoiler); reduce the overall width so it doesn't end quite so close to rear wheelarch; make clear surface break or step between 'bumper' & plate recess; consider larger radius (in section) of outer lip. It is actually angled down so it doesn't seem like a pigeon perch. The tail end integrates nicely.
IF you've got this far and aren't baying for my blood I'm happy to discuss any of the above in more detail. Just to re-iterate, even as it stands you've made a considerable achievement and an improvement on what's currently out there, and you deserve only praise for having the commitment to give it a go. Sean I appreciate the constructive criticism, and it's clear that you have a design background. It's nice (on my end) to know that we at least have a reason or ulterior motive for each of your points, and I hope that you'll like what we do with the design going forward.
If you can imagine, this is the gentleman's version of the car. Racy but understated. We have upgrades that will make it look more at home at a track, and a final race version that makes it look like it escaped from the track. In all, the car can adapt to the customer (and their wallet), and hopefully stand on its own from a design standpoint. If you haven't yet seen the youtube video, you'll see that this car will have the performance to back up the looks.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing finished item
/sean collins (seansverige)
PS though I love the chassis, & tube section IS ultimately the better choice, given that you're working to a budget have you examined just how much you could save by using a box section? The Miata was specifically chosen as a donor because our frame can be literally dropped on top of the engine/suspension/drivetrain. a box section would be complex from this POV. As it is, there are four main tubes connecting the suspension at top and bottom. Simple.
Thanks for the input Sean,