Saturday, October 29, 2011

2013 Lincoln Continental

Based on the MKR concept car from five years ago, this 2013 Continental would be Lincoln's re-entry into the rear wheel drive luxury sedan market. The size of a short-wheelbase Mercedes S Class, but priced more like the E Class, this suicide-door sedan would also feature optional all wheel drive. Available with an EcoBoost V6, Supercharged V8 or Hybrid drivetrains, this car would go a long way in doing battle with the resurgent Cadillac division of the New General Motors.

For this chop, compared with the original 2006 concept, I raised the roof, added quarter windows front and rear, lengthened the trunk and rear overhang, removed a character line and added black and chrome rocker panel trim among other subtle "production" differences. The wheels are more appropriate in design for a luxury vehicle, too, but would still be state-of-the-art 21 inchers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Design Tweak: Fisker Karma Surf

Not one of my full-blown chops, just a slight tweak to the rear 3/4 view of the new Fisker Karma Surf electric sport hatch. I changed the rear most window from the upswept original, below, to a more "traditional" wagon-type shape. I didn't change the rear hatch window at all. I just used its baseline and followed its natural progression in an upward sweep to the C pillar, adding a wraparound glass effect. I also gave the roof a slight "visor" effect, which carries the eye rearwards emphasizing the cargo area and rear "haunches." I think it simplifies the side profile and the wrapped glass goes perfectly with the rest of the car. I also changed the door handles. For such a highly-styled vehicle, the Fisker's tiny, plain, squared off door "holes" are set too low and ruin the sides of the car to me. I added suicide clamshell doors and a more svelte chrome handle. For such a limited production electric luxury sport vehicle, I don't see why Fisker didn't used dramatic clamshell doors anyway.

The original photo I started with of the new Fisker Karma Surf. I don't care for the upward rising window line used behind the C pillar. I think it fights the overall shape of the wagon. I also don't care for the exceedingly plain door "holes" used as handles. I feel they take the emphasis off the voluptuous fender lines.
  •  For more information on this new electric car company, Fisker, click here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Short-Deck, 6-Window 1965 Cadillac Town Sedan

Re-imagining one of William Mitchell's flawless 1965 Cadillacs. Caddy built short-deck 6-window hardtop sedans in 1961, and 4-window short-decks in 62 and '63. They produced full-size 6-window sedans all the way through '64. Though they dropped the short-deck for '64, my chop presumes they decided to try again in '65 with the '61 formula—short-deck, 6-window—though pillared this time. Click on image to enlarge, as always.

C H O P S — Oftentimes, to relax, I'll peruse eBay's cars for sale. I'll pick a "marque  of the night," say Mercury, or Hudson, or Nash, and then go through the years and see what is still out there. Tonight I picked Cadillac—1961-72. I was struck how many 6-window sedans Cadillac showed up. They were very light-looking, almost sporty rooflines for such a stately luxury car. I found examples of them for sale right up through 1964, the last year for the bodystyle. It got me thinking of what a 6-window 1965 Cadillac might have looked like. The birth of a chop idea!

I found a good image of an appropriate car, a mint condition low-line '65 Calais pillared sedan, with the proper focus and resolution, thanks to Google Images. My "vision" wasn't quite as easy as just adding the C pillar window, though. Besides adding the extra glass, I ended up lowering the roofline, changing the angle of the C pillar and enlarging the rear window, all in order to get the same "sporty" feeling as those earlier 6-window Caddys. 

I liked how it looked at that point, but decided to "step it up a notch" and recreate a little-known version of the Caddy sedan offered in the early '60s. the short-deck. From 1961 through '63 Cadillac offered a version of their sedan with a six-inch shorter trunk for customers with pre-war garages which tended to be smaller than postwar garages. Offered at first in their base Series 62, as a 6-window, for '62 and '63 it was offered only as a 4-window, though a De Ville-level model was added. The base short-deck for '62 was named the Town Sedan and the step-up version, the Park Avenue. For '63, only the Park Avenue was offered. Since I had started out with the low-line '65 Calais, I named this chop the Town Sedan. Besides shortening the trunk, I reshuffled the chrome trim, taking off the mid-body chrome spear and adding chrome rocker panel moldings to further differentiate this shorter sedan from its longer kin. 

In the end, I liked the way it came out, but in no way do I think it's "better" than the cars Mitchell approved. The 1965 full sized cars he presented to the world, from Chevy through Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac, are all examples of a design manager at the very tippy top of his game. There isn't a bad line on any one of them, and they've all more than withstood the test of time.
  • I photographed a derelict '62 Park Avenue more than 20 years ago. For my blog post, click here. 
  • 1961 Cadillac DeVille info here.
  • 1962 Cadillac DeVille info here
  • 1963 Cadillac DeVille info here.

B O N U S   1 0 - M IN U T E   C H O P :
A reader, Bobf, mentioned he'd like to see an early '60s Caddy with a fastback roof similar to the '67 and '68 GM full sized coupes. I've thought about a car like that for a while, too. It's difficult to find decent high-resolution photos of older cars, though. I've been checking out '68 Cadillacs on eBay and Hemming's lately, and had in my files this medium-resolution photo of a gold Coupe de Ville. I'm particularly partial to '68s as my father gave me a '68 Hardtop Sedan de Ville for my 20th birthday back in 1977. I loved that car and kept it for about 10 years. 

I spent about 10 minutes this morning mocking up a fastback '68 Coupe de Ville to see how it would work, and I love the results. I'll keep looking for a high-resolution photo to start with, and create a real chop one of these days. This car looks like such a natural, it's too bad Caddy didn't offer it in addition to their much more formal coupe. The '68 Buick LeSabre/Wildcat looked awesome with this roofline, especially with the optional fender skirts. 

Update: As one of my loyal readers, PaulNYC, pointed out, this could logically have been a return of the "B Body" Cadillac, similar in marketing as the Series 61, discontinued in the early '50s. Perhaps the entry level Calais could have been differentiated more from the De Ville series this way.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lincoln MK/LS—Return to Rear Wheel Drive

Lincoln MK/LS hybrid sports sedan—Lincoln's long-awaited return to the rear wheel drive luxury sector, this is the second of my Lincoln chops to use my modified naming convention. While I'd love to see a return to full names, I think the shorter alpha and alphanumeric nomenclature is hear to stay for the foreseeable future. This sedan not only recalls the last LS midsize sedan, it's a full "Bells & Whistles" Luxury Sedan, hence the MK/LS name. Rear wheel drive (with optional all wheel drive), hybrid-assisted drivetrains, electronically-assisted suicide doors, 22 inch wheels and a rounded chrome license plate surround that evokes the sparetire "hump" of classic Lincoln Continentals, signify this car's top-shelf status. Hybrid and Twin-Turbo versions would be available from the start, identically priced, as is Lincoln's recent pricing strategy.

B T W :
The fine art of using Photoshop® to create images of new cars, "chopping" as it's called online, can't be any better illustrated than this Lincoln. I started out with the image of the Lexus LF/A sports coupe, above. I don't think there was much left unchanged besides the angle of the windshield from the donor image, lol.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Rat Pack's Luggage Carrier

1961 Cadillac Esprit de Ville Sportwagon—Yes you're right. Cadillac didn't make any factory station wagons in the 1960s. Or 1970s. Or 1980s. And they certainly would never have made a 2-door wagon like this pillarless hardtop. But that's what Photoshop is for! 

I absolutely love the way this chop turned out. The original Coupe de Ville I used as a base photo was white with a gray interior, but I made "mine" Fawn Metallic with red leather and cloth, a very striking and elegant combination. Besides the wagon body, I added ribbed stainless steel rocker panel trim and painted the center of the wheelcovers to match the interior color. 

I can just see Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra and their luggage, cruising all night to Vegas in this Esprit de Ville for a hot poker game on the Strip. I can also see Lucille Ball or Angie Dickinson using this wagon to pick up a few items on Rodeo Drive!

B T W : 
This little Rat Packer would have loved to have been in the back seat for that middle-of-the-night  trip to Vegas! (Yes, this is me, in 1962...)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

She Drove a Plymouth Satellite* (well, Chrysler in 2012)

Chrysler Satellite Hatchback coupe—This is my 3-door version of the recently introduced 5-door Chrysler Delta. The Chrysler Delta is a badge-engineered Lancia Delta, but I would still love to see it imported to the USA. Besides losing the two rear doors, I modified the C pillar, giving it an even more dramatic upturn, and I widened the front Chrysler grille. Chrysler placed its new corporate grille in the same space as Lancia's shield grille, but it's too narrow for my tastes, looking like it's a bit puckered up, so-to-speak. By widening it, I think it looks a bit more "American." I also simplified the under bumper air inlet, making the car appear wider, too. Original press photo here.

I fell in love with Lancias back in the mid 1970s when I was lucky enough to drive a brand new, loaded, Beta coupe for the summer. Lancia is owned by Fiat, which in turn, now owns Chrysler. Most future Chryslers will be based on Fiat platforms. including those from the Fiat brand, Lancia and Alfa-Romeo. In turn, some Chrysler platforms, including its minivan, are currently being sold as Fiats in Europe. There is even a future Maserati crossover SUV that will use a Jeep platform (Jeep is owned by Chrysler). Economies of scale!

N O T E  —  Please make sure to check out Peter De Lorenzo's this week. I have several chops featured in his "On the Table" column. I am always extremely grateful, and humbled, to have a space in such a respected, and well-read, weekly news site for the automotive industry and cognoscenti.

Planet Claire, by the B52s, first released in '79, the year I graduated from Vassar. Link to their video on YouTube. Lyrics:


She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head


Some say she's from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3:30 in the morning


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Continental Mark IX LSC-V12 Biturbo 2+2

The spectacular, if I do say so myself, lol, Lincoln Continental Mark IX LSC V12 Biturbo sports car concept. Long name, but the hood is even longer!

My latest Lincoln to feature the classic "Parthenon" grille, would "borrow" a twin-turbo Aston-Martin V12, and place it in a carbon-fiber bespoke platform and body. Utilizing a generous 2+2 layout, the interior would feature 4 Recaro bucket seats, upholstered in Nappa leather and Alcantara, with the rear seats electrically foldable. Fitted carbon fiber luggage would take advantage of every nook and cranny in the carpeted luggage area. 

This V12 Biturbo LSC would compete with Mercedes-Benz's AMG CL65 and BMW's M6 coupes in luxury, performance and price, and be faster than Cadillac's CTS-V coupe around the Nurburgring. Rear-wheel biased all-wheel drive would ensure all of that power and torque would make it to the business end of the 21" tires and carbon fiber/aluminum wheels. The body would be carbon fiber intensive for a low 3,400 lbs weight, relatively speaking of course, for a V12 performance coupe with all the modern safety and convenience items.

Base photo is Peter Schreyer's gorgeous Kia GT concept, but the only parts "left" were sections of the glass area and wheels. The classic grille is based on the Lincoln Continental Mark III of '68-'71. I think this "throwback" radiator/grille could really be what Lincoln needs to position itself in its market in the 21st century.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lincoln Continental Mark IX—The Parthenon Returns!

Will Lincoln's new "face" be a familiar, and beloved, one?

Lincoln has recently announced that its most recent corporate "face," the bold twin-grilles based on the early '40s Lincolns, will be replaced on its next generation of cars. I have no idea what the replacement will be, but I'd like to see a contemporary version of Lincoln's "Parthenon" grille. While some felt it was a ripoff of the Rolls-Royce radiator shaped grilles, it was stately, and definitely said "Lincoln" when you saw one. 

For this chop, I used a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe for the base of this Continental Mark IX coupe, so yes, I actually did rip-off Rolls' radiator shaped grille, lol. I've been working on a much more avant garde Lincoln coupe, based on the new Kia GT concept car, but it's quite an intense chop, really a cleansheet design study, so to clear my head tonight I decided to work on a quick chop. I love the way it turned out, though!

In addition to the formal grille, eagle-eyed aficionados will recognize classic Lincoln traits such as hidden headlights, a mid-body contour line similar to the '56 Mark II, small vertical powered vent windows, and characteristic wraparound Lincoln Continental taillights. LED running lights in the front fender blades update Lincoln's once ubiquitous wrapped parking lights.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Fastest Pumpkin Around

My version of a new BMW 1-series sport hatch, in a perfect October color. While there are shorter 3- and 5-door 1-Series hatchbacks available in Europe, BMW only imports the slightly longer notchback coupe and convertible to the United States. For this chop, I've lengthened the roof of the coupe to create a svelte hatchback for our domestic market. Darkening the rocker panels, perhaps using carbon-fiber to lessen their weight, creates a longer, thinner-looking car body. I also widened the dual front "kidney" grilles, moving them all the way to the edges of the headlights. I'd like to see BMW go back to a full-width grille, as they were in the '60s and '70s, and changing their trademark "kidneys" back to being a chrome detail in the center.