Motor City Blogman, News, Opinion

The Auto Industry Changes to Expect for 2020–2029

The year 2019 and the reviews of the decade of the 2010s are behind us. Recaps of the most important automotive events of 2010–2019, from Dieselgate to Carlos Ghosn’s fall and very recent escape from Tokyo are everywhere, as are most important cars and designs and engineering feats. You won’t find one here, and I’ll use as my excuse the math-geek point that a decade begins with year one, so we’re still in the decade of the teens, which thus runs from 2011 to 2020. Call me again for my list next December.

Everything that changed in the automotive world in the 2010s began with the Lehmann Brothers’ collapse in Autumn 2008 that helped trigger The Great Recession. This coincided with the 100th anniversary of General Motors, which way back then was still the world’s largest automaker, based in the world’s largest auto market. Since the federal bailout and forced bankruptcy of GM, the automaker—which officially is an all-new corporation thanks to that event—put off complete redesigns of its full-size pickup truck and SUV moneymakers until very recently, while spending a few bucks in order to try and lead the industry with Chevrolets Volt and Bolt.

While GM has barely held on to 17-percent market share and may fall below that threshold for calendar-year 2019, it is still the market leader in North America. In fact, GM also remains very influential in the world’s largest auto market, China. So while GM may have long ago surrendered its primacy as the global design and engineering leader, its plans for the ’20s, based on everything that has happened to it since 2008 points to trends that are emerging for the 10 years ahead.

In place of “The Biggest Auto News Stories of 2019” or “Biggest Auto Trends of 2010–2019,” here are changes we can expect from this industry for 2020–2029:

Turmoil in Europe.

GM sold Opel and Vauxhall to PSA Peugeot Citroën in 2017, and the French automaker quickly turned the German and U.K. brands profitable after they lost money for years under the U.S. automaker. I don’t see how PSA, which will control 13 marques including Lancia (which is selling low-profit “fashion city cars” mostly for the local market) after the FCA merger, will keep them all alive. The new company sells seven of those brands in North America. At least two of them—Fiat and Alfa Romeo—may not have much future here, and there’s no reason for the French half of the company to carry out its plans to re-enter the U.S. market with the Peugeot nameplate. (Fellow automotive pundit Gary Vasilash believes future Chrysler models could be built on Peugeot platforms.)

But wait, there’s more. Automakers based in the European Union, which soon won’t include Fiat Chrysler Peugeot Citroën’s Vauxhall, have long dealt with keeping local governments and unions satisfied that they won’t move production out of their home countries; Thus, the late Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s promise that all Alfa Romeos will be built in Italy from now on, even if Fiat 124 Spiders are assembled in Japan and Fiat 500s in Poland and Mexico, while Jeep Renegades are built in Italy.

And then there’s the new EU CO2 standard.

After years of lagging behind the U.S. in terms of carbon dioxide-emissions standards, the EU beginning this month will make it that much tougher to do car/truck business in Western Europe. The CO2 standards threaten to slowly kill off what’s left of the diesel passenger-vehicle business there. While Fiat Chrysler already has launched the Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel in the U.S., the company’s priority in Europe is the plug-in hybrid version of the Wrangler, which goes on sale there any minute now, while the home market doesn’t get the powertrain until later in the year.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., who wants to buy an EV?

GM essentially is out of the European market, and yet it has been most vocal about expanding its EV offerings. While Ford Motor Company has announced an electrified Mustang and F-Series, and most sensationally the battery-electric Mustang Mach-E, GM has promised 20 new electric vehicles by 2023. And yet the current share for pure-electric-powered vehicles in both the global and U.S. market is somewhere between 1 and 1.5 percent.

Not all of those GM EVs are cars…or trucks…or available in the U.S.

The first two of those 23 GM EVs are on sale already, in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. GM’s Ariv Meld is a $3,160 compact e-bicycle, and the Ariv Merge is a $3,835 folding e-bike. Looks like GM has a post-Opel/Vauxhall EU strategy, after all.

Speaking of bicycles…

As major cities across the nation have added protected bike lanes, and bicycle commuting becomes more popular, bike fatalities from collisions with motorists have increased severely in the past couple of years. No matter whether you’re a driver sympathetic or antagonistic toward cyclists, experts and bike advocates generally agree that much of the blame goes to smartphones (in the hands of the motorists). Perhaps if fellow drivers can’t get other motorists to limit their smartphone use, militant cyclists will.

The German auto industry is not immune.

Writing for the op-ed page of the New York Times, Anna Sauerbrey, an editor and reporter for Der Tagesspiegal, notes that two weeks after Tesla announced its Metro Berlin gigafactory, Audi announced it would cut 9,500 employees by 2025. The narrative in Germany, she writes, “goes like this: Germany has failed to embrace the future. It has been complacent for too long, economically and politically, coasting on former glories. Now the world is coming for it.”

Reminds me of what we said about GM, Ford, and Chrysler here in the 1980s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s.

And then there’s Volkswagen.

The automaker that pounded half the nails in the coffin of the diesel engine announced just before Christmas it would reach 1 million in EV production by 2023, two years ahead of schedule, with 1.5 million planned for 2025. Still no word on how automakers plan to boost demand for these EVs, but keep in mind that the VW brand might sell more than 400,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. when the 2019 numbers are tabulated. The 1-million by ’23 number refers to global sales. If total global light-vehicle sales remain steady through the next few years, this will be a bit more than the 1 percent market share all brands of EVs currently enjoy.

The first of VW’s EVs, the ID 3, arrives in Europe this year for about €30,000, or roughly $33,500. Even if Tesla, Cadillac, and Ford luxury EVs sell for prices that do a better job of cutting into the cost of battery electrics, though perhaps still losing money, I believe it will be medium-priced commuter cars like the VW Golf-size ID 3 that will make electric power mainstream.

The future has come and gone for…

Car-subscription services. Except for Volvo, which lets subscribers exchange one model for another of equal value after a year, practically all the luxury brand sub services launched in the last couple of years are either gone or on hiatus. I don’t see much future in car-sharing, either. And driverless Ubers and Lyfts might make some sense as taxicab alternatives when traveling to and from airports, they’ll do nothing to alleviate traffic congestion. LAX will still be at least 45 minutes from anywhere in town.

This all adds up to:

Peak auto? I’ve already written that how peak sales in the U.S. of 17.5 million vehicles per year, first set in calendar 2015, isn’t that impressive when you compare the nation’s population to what it was when sales first breached 15 million (in 1978). Since that column, there were three more consecutive years of 17-plus-million sales, with 2019 expected to come very close to that number. That makes overall U.S. auto sales more impressive, though I don’t see the trend continuing through the ’20s. There will not be enough young new-car buyers to replace retiring new-car buyers who will put 4,000 or 5,000 miles per year on their last new cars and trucks.

Cities are rediscovering mass transportation as a way to help alleviate traffic and allow city developers to devote less space to parking lots and garages. New York City has a plan to limit private motorized traffic in parts of Manhattan, and even Kansas City is considering a proposal to cut bus fares to zero for all commuters. Meanwhile, new cars, trucks, and SUVs, even the commodity brands, are becoming luxury items anyway, as average prices race past $35,000 and middle-class buyers increasingly take out seven-year loans.

This future may not bode well for mildly enthusiastic car buyers. More brands, including several that enthusiasts covet, will be gone by December 2029. But as Automobile founder David E. Davis Jr. once said, the absolute number of enthusiasts (not a percentage of the car-buying public) has remained the same since the early 1900s. If Peak Auto plays out this way, there may be more space on the roads for us.

The post The Auto Industry Changes to Expect for 2020–2029 appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Car Lists, Gears This Week, News, Opinion

Why You Should Buy a First-Gen Mazda Miata

Richard Hart, an old friend and transplanted New Orleanian who lives in Durham, North Carolina, followed my automotive advice recently. He bought a low mile, first-gen 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata, from a friend of a friend, an older gent who’d owned the car since new, maintaining and garaging it continuously. This was good news, essential even, since the owner lived in Queens, New York, where cars that live on the street don’t get no respect.

Richard and I have been friends since my second day of college and I knew his automotive history, a thrifty enterprise littered with older cars, sometimes ones I’d found or was passing along, the last one of these being a 1975 244 Volvo sedan, which only a few years in had become too needy, too reliably unreliable, for him and his long-suffering wife, Sally, to bear. Sorry about that, guys.

In his past, there had been Darts and Valiants and Opels and not too long ago an old Mercedes Fintail. But Richard always remembered the MGB he daily drove for a few years in the ’80s, the way he loved its sporty, rorty nature and top-down possibility, as anyone with a pulse must. But it is fair to say that he was not a dedicated gearhead, displaying no discernible bandwidth, mechanically speaking, and little of the true obsessive’s willingness to spend money on nonessential maintenance—essential/nonessential being a fine line in many old cars and an issue on which the wrong side is too easily chosen. Even with his kids grown up, another MGB, which he craved, wouldn’t do. But a Miata would. They’re cheaper to buy and for someone seeking practicality, an altogether more reasonable proposition. At least that’s what I kept telling him. When it comes to old cars, I’m not afraid to proselytize. Especially for the NA Miata, the first of the breed, which turns 30 this year. (Here’s our original review.)

So Richard bought this one, which was good, because it spared me or my son, Ike, who found it, the trouble of having to buy it ourselves. Because it was too nice to let pass by. Low miles—80,000, or less than 3000 a year—crank windows, factory hardtop. No rust, no accidents, no mods. Its original red paint still shined and its black cloth interior had no tears or serious wear; the timing belt, the only expensive maintenance item, was freshly done.

Last month, I delivered the car to Richard in Durham, driving 650 miles or so in a day, with a stop in rural Virginia to lunch with an old friend of this magazine, the veteran journalist, curator, and hot-rod authority Ken Gross. The visit reminded me that there is a reason Ken’s niceness is the stuff of legend. And after 10 hours on the road with the first Miata, I remembered why I liked it back in the day, why the MX-5 itself is a legend and an indisputable classic. It easily earns a spot on my list of 10 all-time best cars.

If you’ve never spent time with one, you ought to. Here’s why:

DRIVING FUN. Famously inspired by the Lotus Elan, the sweetest handling, most chuckable confection of the 1960s, the Miata is above all a hoot to drive. It’s a Denali XL next to an Elan (though actually only about 500 pounds heavier) but safer and less likely to shred a half-shaft coupling or snap a lightweighted wishbone mid-corner. The Miata’s steering feel is as good as it could be by 1990, and especially so when in manual, non-powered steering form like this car’s. The MX-5 was born with what I’d nominate as the most pleasant manual gearbox ever, a creamily positive, short throw, dream device with that all-useful fifth speed for highway cruising that is also one of its many best features. Handling is companionate, ride is excellent by sports-car standards, thanks to all independent suspension, with delightfully predictable roadholding, plus a pleasing willingness to slide and just enough free-revving power in its original 1.6-liter formula to get that job done.

ECONOMY. Cheap to run, cheap to repair. Mazda and an army of aftermarket suppliers make finding parts easy and when used parts will do, they’re plentiful, as we found out when the car arrived and it turned out the motor that lifted the left headlight was dead. New? $314 from the Mazda dealer (sure, not too cheap, but readily available). Perfectly good used from a guy down the street with a wrecked Miata in his backyard? $50. Twenty-nine miles per gallon at 75 mph was not going to win any economy prizes, and is worse by some meaningful percentage than a new Miata, but it wasn’t bad. And if you want to buy a new Miata instead, a still joyous machine, better but less simple, you won’t hear me object.

CONVERTIBLE TOP. First off, Miatas don’t leak, a concept that makes MG owners variously cackle or cry. Second, there hasn’t been a manual convertible top easier to erect or take down, making this one simply the best in the business. It’s long-wearing, with a zip-out rear window for breezy top-up use on a too-sunny day. And three cheers for the optional hardtops. Like Miatas themselves, they are a meaningful unit of currency—handsome, easy to remove, easy to install, and always easy to sell, say, if you ever need some of your money back but don’t want to give up the car. Also, unlike many of its historic antecedents, there’s no need to do anything with the Miata’s soft top to make the hardtop fit.

CHEAP TO BUY. NA Miatas found the bottom of the market, price-wise, several years ago and are on their way back up, but on a dollar-to-smile basis they’re still incredibly affordable. Good Miatas needing work can be had from $1500 to $4000, cars purporting not to need work from about $4000 on up. Expect to pay $1000 extra for the hardtop, and less for cars with uninspiring automatic transmissions. Go shopping with $6000 and you should be pretty certain of going home in a good car. If you don’t, it’s probably because you didn’t have someone who knew cars check it out for you. Avoid: rust, accidents.

RELIABILITY. Everything works in a Miata and if it doesn’t it is A) a rare occurrence and B) easy to set right. The plastics are hard-wearing, ditto the switches and cable-operated controls. The bodies don’t rust, except in cases where repaired bodywork has been poorly prepared. The gauges and electrics work, always, as do the wipers and a real heater and defroster. The oily bits don’t leak. The doors open and shut properly. The door locks function. Can you tell I’ve owned some old convertibles? These things concern me. As does the fact that trunk stays dry. And for those so inclined, Miatas are straightforward and easy to work on yourself. Nor too expensive for you to hire someone else to work on.

Six weeks later, Richard is still pinching himself—the Mazda hasn’t broken once. “No better, smoother, cheaper thrill than hugging a corner from a foot off the ground at 30 mph,” he writes in this morning’s e-mail.  I’ve owned a few Miatas in my day, and, though I don’t own one now, I guess I’m still crazy about them after all these years. Would I buy another, even if only to salt it away? Absolutely.

Read More
Did You Know Mazda Built a Production Miata Coupe?
Here’s the Miata 30th Anniversary Model: It’s Orange
ND Mazda Miata RF Review: Carving Canyons

The post Why You Should Buy a First-Gen Mazda Miata appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

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Features, Opinion

Opinion: I Like the Tesla Cybertruck’s Design. There, I Said It | Automobile – Automobile

Worse, you might say, is the more I look at the Cybertruck, the more I like it still.

Perhaps one day not too distant, I’ll look back on this and wonder what I was thinking. How I could have been so obviously wrong-headed (if, you know, it turns out I was wrong). Beyond freaking people out, the truck’s edgy design appears to introduce enormous, untenable blindspots to the front and rear. But right now, all I see is a rad-looking space truck from the future that will do all kinds of truck stuff and is claimed to not cost an absolute fortune. And I like it.

Stop screaming, I can hear you just fine. This website doesn’t allow readers to comment, either, so stop slapping your keyboard like a memeable cat. So maybe the Tesla is an affront to your senses, and not just the metaphysical ones like aesthetics: this thing hurts your actual eyes, you say. I know, change is hard. Hard like the Cybertruck’s bulletproof stainless-steel coating. I like that, too.

In fact, what’s really not to like, once you get over yourself and look past the exterior? The truck was unveiled by the same Tesla that has caught the world’s hair on fire with each new model release. Underneath its wedge cap, the Cybertruck uses pretty much the same Tesla hardware you’re familiar with, except more robust and even more advanced. We’re being promised the pickup will offer the longest driving range of any Tesla, it will seat six, and it has its own loading ramp (plus a matching ATV to drive up that ramp). I like all of that.

The windows seem to need some work still, sure, but you can’t exactly shoot or throw large metal balls at any other pickup truck’s windows without severe consequences, either.

But please, take a moment to reflect, and try to look at the Cybertruck not as a grossly nonconformist pickup truck of hideous proportions, but as a new thing that shatters the century-old pickup-truck mold. A thing foreseen by generations, imagined, hoped for, animated, and simulated. Not a truck. A Cybertruck.

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News, No Filter, Opinion

The Best and Worst Car Keys, According to Me | Automobile – Automobile

Do you ever stop and think about the key that you use to enter and start your car? Well, since I’m a detail freak and I spend time in a variety of automobiles on a regular basis, I tend to fixate on such minutiae. I also hate bulky items in my pocket, so I’m rather particular about keys. And I’ll tell you, there’s some serious diversity in the world of automotive keys.

Let’s start with possibly my least favorite key in the industry. It comes out of England and it’s from Aston Martin. Actually, I’m not even sure I’d call it a key. It’s more like an overweight, phallic weapon. Put the bulky fob in your pocket and you better make sure your belt is cinched-up tightly or you may find yourself showing your undergarments to the world. Given this, you’d think Aston would offer a handy place to stash the large key inside the car. Sorry. But we shouldn’t be that surprised as this isn’t the company’s first dance with the devil in the world of keys.

Aston Martin came up with this so-called “Emotion Control Unit” when the last DBS launched in late 2007. It replaced the DB9 and V8 Vantage setup—a Jaguar key attached to a Volvo-derived remote by a piece of leather. Clearly, such a simple key wasn’t enough for then CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez. I would have much preferred conventional because the poorly named fob had to be inserted into the dash in just the right way or else the car wouldn’t start. And if you were to stall the DBS at, say, a busy intersection, good luck swiftly releasing the Emotion Control Unit from the dash and then reinserting it again quickly (and correctly) before experiencing an overload of horn honking and inappropriate finger gestures from fellow motorists. The clunky key operation stuck around through the lifespan of VH platform, though it did work far better in later iterations. Now we simply get a giant key fob from Aston Martin. Maybe it’s designed to impress your friends when you plop it down on a table. I’m not impressed. It’s time for Aston to simplify its key strategy.

Speaking of showing off, Porsche gives you the option to pay $540 to have the key fob painted to match the exterior color of your car. While I don’t see why you’d want that, Porsche does throw in a bulky leather pouch for one of the two keys. Unfortunately, it simply gets in the way when trying to start 911 models like the GT3/GT3 RS/GT2 RS, which don’t offer Comfort Access (keyless start).

The Italians, unsurprisingly, don’t run under the radar in this arena either. A Ferrari key is bright red with large, chrome ‘FERRARI’ badge on the outside. You’d think the $1856 ‘Scuderia Ferrari’ fender shield or $8100 20-inch “diamond” forged wheels added enough attention for the owner of a new F8 Tributo. No. At least the Ferrari fob is an OK size and the Italian company does provide a nice spot to stash it inside the car.

Over at Lamborghini, you get an Audi key with a few minor changes, including the bold bull logo. It’s a good size key on the latest models, unlike the older Aventador setup. That fob was also Audi-based, but with a huge lump of metal with a Lambo logo stuck on the bottom of the key. Bigger must be better.

Oh, and there’s one more Brit to pick on in the world of keys. Wait, make that two. Both Bentley and Rolls-Royce seem to love a large and heavy fob, just like Aston Martin. Bentley gets bonus points (but like golf, a higher score isn’t good here) for putting a huge letter ‘B’ on its key. You wouldn’t want people to mistake your Bentayga for a Porsche Cayenne, in case they missed that extroverted front grille.

But the ultimate key fail was by BMW. Offered on the 7 Series and certain other models, the gigantic Display Key featured a built-in touchscreen. It was interesting on paper but far too large to be practical and you had to be quite close to the car for any of the remote features to work. Plus, you really needed a cheesy Nextel-style belt clip to carry the paperweight-like key. It made the latest Aston key look downright small. Speaking of pocket computers, now that you can control the remote features on your BMW with a smartphone, there’s no point in offering this type of key. BMW knows this, and no longer sells the Display Key.

Then we come to good keys. Before you think I’m picking on England, McLaren gives owners a nicely designed key. It’s small, light, and a pleasant shape. And it only has a small, subtle logo on the outside. Mercedes’ latest key is also impressive. It’s an agreeable design and the right profile for sliding into your pocket. One of my favorite keys of all time came on the early BMW i3. It’s thin and light, and a lovely overall design. Clearly, BMW can design a good key.

I also still enjoy the act of inserting a physical key into the ignition and twisting it to ignite an engine. That’s the case with my Toyota 86, though the jagged edges of the old-school key do tend to make it trickier to pull the key in and out of your pocket. I liked BMW’s E46 3 Series key and Audi/VW’s old flip key, with the smooth-cut key design. And the original Acura NSX titanium-look key and the Ferrari F40 hinged key were both fantastic. Simplicity at its best.

But who knows how long keys will stick around? BMW’s new Digital Key and Tesla’s Phone Key let you unlock and start certain models with your phone, and manufacturers such as Hyundai are also offering such technology. Surely, facial and fingerprint recognition are being considered for the future. But how will Porsche make money off their painted keys if we no longer need keys? There goes my crazy brain again.

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Cole: There are no more beautiful cars

A tragically anonymous red brick building stands near the San Francisco airport, across the street from a train station, at the intersection of Nowhere and Who Gives A Damn without any visible markings. It has all the charm of a tax accountant’s office and the same allure. It houses a small but significant gallery of rare and expensive automobiles waiting for no one in particular.

The gallery doesn’t appear marked on any map and welcomes looky-loos and interested passersby like a Brinks truck. 

Places like this no-name shelter in Anywhere, U.S.A., aren’t unique to car fans.

There are galleries and galleries, garages and garages, of interesting stuff that’s tougher to find for the public than DB Cooper.

It’s not uncommon to hear about a cache of cars that are stashed away at some rich owner’s behest to have better security than presidents of some developing nations.

2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Pre-war stuff—the kind that rolls across the 18th green at Pebble Beach each year, has better security than presidents of developed nations.

Suppose you find a way to meander through the front door somehow, past the guard tower and under the barbed wire, through the speakeasy door with a sliding window and into the palatial front room into the fancy-pants world of high-dollar, rare cars, you’d be struck by an inescapable feeling and a waft of soul-chilling air conditioning. It comes when you stare into a lipstick red Ferrari 166 MM’s fenders, a steampunk Picasso-perfect Bugatti Type 35’s engine compartment, or Fangio’s Alfa with stretched creamy brown leather inside so perfectly rolling, flawless, and seamless that it looks like proving loaves in a bakery window.

Cars aren’t beautiful like this anymore.

Bad news, partner: They haven’t been for a while, either.

The way sheet metal wraps around a car has two priorities: how the car crashes and how it cools—not especially how it looks. It’s no wonder that BMW and Mercedes cram chrome Texas-sized grilles that light up like the Bat Signal into their faces. Without them, you’d be hard-pressed to identify the automaker just by the sheet metal alone—it’s the Pepsi challenge with two glasses of water sometimes.

It’s a feeling I couldn’t escape as I sat recently with a talented automotive designer, who for reasons that will become apparent later will stay nameless.

We talked about influential automotive designers of the last 20 years, who have shaped the way we see nearly every car on the road today. Surely, with more cars on the road around the world than ever before, there’d be a trove of forward-thinking designers creating rolling works of art with automaker-sized budgets (which is to say, unlimited). Salons stuffed with beautiful cars, with Salon d’Automne misfits outside waiting their turn. Scads of designers are waiting, right?

We named two.

2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT

2016 Aston Martin DB9 GT

One of which was an old boss of his—a certifiable legend—and another for all the wrong reasons—a designer who is similarly legendary but polarizing and, well, about as user-friendly and warm as 80-grit toilet paper. Across the table from us sat a British journalist, praised for his keen eye on all things related to design, right down to the scarf he wore at the dinner table. He nodded along to the two.

One designer, and one rough rogue. That’s it. In the first most prolific automotive era ever, there is one good guy and one good-bad guy for design.

No car has been perfect recently, the esteemed designer said. The Aston Martin DB9 has come close. I offered up cars that I rated as perfect 10s in my eyes, beautiful machines that I can’t stop staring at. Velar, NSX, Miata, Wrangler, Range Rover, on and on and on.

Look at the Velar from the rear three-quarters, he said. It’s chopped, looks wrong.

He’s right.

Look at the lines of this NSX, that Miata’s body sides, this Jeep’s this-or-that. One by one by one, we picked off pretty cars like pageant contestants with parsley in their teeth. Pretty? Sure. Beautiful? No way. They were 10s relative to their time, but not 10s relative to history.  

Before the soup was finished, the last 20 years of automotive design were discarded and tossed like a shovelful of coal—fired and forgotten by history soon. The 20 years before that didn’t fare much better. In their times, the Countach and Testarossas were cool, sure. Beautiful? Nope.

Genesis Essentia, 2018 New York auto show

Genesis Essentia, 2018 New York auto show

The lone exception was the Genesis Essentia concept, which may be beautiful, but its origin story means it’ll wait for history. The Essentia designer, Sasha Selipanov, is a protégé of Luc Donckerwolke and by extension Walter de Silva, who are two phenomenal contemporary design minds.

Sasha’s an Impressionist to the bone. He is a fascinating, short, bearded man from Eastern Europe who only wears Metallica shirts and counts among his favorites the Ferrari Dino and “Let’s get another drink.” The former Genesis designer swore to me over a few beers that he’d never draw an SUV. He works at Koenigsegg now. Maybe you can guess why.

But his pick of a Ferrari Dino is worth noting.

Sasha knows that, outside of concepts and hypercars, crash and cooling dictates the cars we see on the road. It hasn’t always been like that, but there’s no question that safety comes first and we’re all better off for it.

But the way he talks about the Dino’s curves and lines gives you the feeling that he’s studied the car in person like no one else. He’s sculpted the rear fenders in his mind over and over and over again in only the ways that the combination of multiple senses make those memories. He can see the curve, he can feel the curve, he can hear the sumptuous engine note rattle around the body in his mind. That shapes his attitude for what’s beautiful—he’s touched it and been with it, not just looked at it on a monitor.

Back to the brick building in San Francisco. Past the armed guards and blisteringly cold air conditioning, and into the bowels of a beautiful collection of cars on carpet. These cars are stashed away where only few will ever see them. They move less than bank vaults, and there’s no telling how many warehouses like it exist in the world.

In many ways, these cars are kept from the next Sasha. They’re kept from the next mind to make a beautiful car. 

2019 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

They’re not only kept from appreciation but also inspiration.

Those of us who do get a glimpse are met with a sign, right next to the Ferraris and Bugattis that never see the light of day and it says the same five words over and over again:

“Don’t touch. No photography please.” 

Aaron Cole is Managing Editor of Internet Brands Automotive. You can reach him on Twitter at @ColeMeetsCars or by slowly letting the air out of a tire.

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