Through passion dreams are born
I'm not going to try and re-write the history of the brillant Colin Chapman, but remember the equation that still works very well:
A simple and lightweight vehicle + a medium sized production engine = guarantiees an impressive power to weight ratio:
- acceleration to rival much powerful and expensive cars (not to mention the savings on service costs).
- Dynamic finely balanced road-holding thanks to the low inertia and leightweight, to the almost ideal weight distribution, the stiff chassis, low centre of gravity and sophistication of the suspension.
- As a result, we have a heightened sense of communication between the engineering, the road, the environment and the driver. A car that is both exciting and invigoranting, an exceptional driving experience, even at moderate speeds!
- I was always convinced by this design-concept, the simple car, inexpensive, playful and different from the rest.
- In our modern age, where the automotive industry is internationalised, standardised and sterilised, where speed is frowned upon even though engines are more powerful. I said to myself that the Seven is more relevant than ever! Of course, tastes have changed since 1957 therein lies the question:
- How to conceive a 21 st century Lotus Seven concept? Should I be happy just daydreaming?
- No, it was too exciting for me, I had to stop dreaming and start thinking ...
From dreaming to thinking
My thinking began by drawing up clear terms of reference defining the "product".
Choosing the donor vehicle:
The Westfield was the one that best met my requirements:
- the best dimensions to accept my bodywork and styling.
- The suspension and chassis are technologically advanced.
- Good built quality.
- A large range of engines.
- Good value for money.
- I wanted the bodywork to be simple, minimalist and lightweight in keeping with the design concept of the Lotus Seven.
- The car's basic architecture lends itself perfectly to a neoclassic or retro styling, like the single seater pre and post war sports cars: The long bonnet, front-engined with a headrest fairing. This was my choice, albeit with two seats, for the road and the track!
- I wanted the design-concept to reflect:
Power, aggressiveness, nervousness, dynamism and a elegance with pure lines. To resume, a car with a racing characteristics, with a balance of classic and modern references.
- I started to draw a profile that was sharply streamlined, dynamic suggesting speed, with clean lines and nervous edges. The choice of flat-surfaces reinforces the impression of width, power and road-holding. The wheels are aligned with the body to add to the impression, also the sharp bottom edge underlines the design.
- The angled panel above the stills allows for a narrowed upper section giving a purer more elegant line. The over large back panel gives the rear-end a more flowing shape, suggesting fluidity and speed. From the rear wheel arches the lower, sloping, truncated bootline reinforces the virility of the car. The little round lights, the two headrest fairing, the chrome roll bars all remember the past.
- The bonnet is oversized prominent, telling us that it's a powerful front-engined sports car. The air-intake lightens the bonnet's appearence giving a nod to classic sports car design.
- The small decorative side air vents in their extended sloping reversed openings lighten the design re-affirming the car's atypical personality. If the rear-end's "retro", then the front-end wants to be avant-garde, original ... At the trailing edge of the front wheel arches there are two "prisms" in polished aluminium, these make for a harmonious junction between the lower and upper body.
- The lightly curved front-end, ful of sweeping contours emphasising graceful power. The protruding headlamps, geometric, simple and clean-cut into the various air intakes, showing us that we are dealing with a car that is virile, powerful, at the same time sporty and sensual ...
Voilà, the terms of reference are defined! I must now sit down at the drawing board to make the dream come true ...