Hooniverse Asks: If you could be a car designer….

Who’s watched or read “High Fidelity”? In that superb film / novel, Rob Gordon (John Cusack) decides that his dream job is as a music journalist for Rolling Stone, specifically between 1976 and 1979. He’d get to meet The Clash, Crissie Hynde, The Sex Pistols, David Byrne and get loads of free records. It was a dream based on qualification, time, history and salary not being an object.
During my ‘off grid’ holiday I mostly amused myself by reading, but one night I was strongly taken by an urge to ‘do a car’. The result was ungainly at best, but packed all the multiple pop-up headlamps and four gullwing doors that I set out to achieve, and firmly underlined my favourite era in concept car design – the 80s. As a child of that particular decade, the motorshows of the time would thrill me with their wild show cars, many of which were crammed with a mish-mash of totally incompatible features and design cues.
Compared with the graceful flamboyance of the ’50s, ’80s concepts were purposeful in an angular, functional way, long before the curvy, amorphous 90s and ‘organic’ naughties rolled into view. Hence, if I was to fullfil my former dream of being a car designer, I’d want to to it to be in the era between my own birth and 9th birthday.
If you could be a car designer, what era would you pick?
(Image copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.


  1. Clearly the late 50s/early 60s. Fins and faux rocket exhaust clues were out, and some cool sweeping styles were coming incoming in.
    I’d design a curvy 2 door sports car that is a cross between Corvette Stingray and E-type Jag.

  2. I’d go for the late 60s and early 70s. Vehicular cubism, strong, horizontal lines, big windows with thin pillars, and muscular, but not extreme grilles with decent chrome are my thing.
    Not even in doubt about that, even though I’d be plunging into a car industry crisis pretty fast.

  3. Today. Someone needs to lead us beyond the age of the amorphous flame-surfaced suppository. Crossovers take the heat for slowing sedan sales but really, who can blame consumers for staying away from such uninspired designs?

    1. Yep, agree whole-heartedly. Powertrains today offer incredible power in tiny packages. Lots there to work with.
      Problem is that nobody is going to buy my designs incorporated with manual transmissions, lack of consumer tech (oh how I loathe thee touchscreen everything), 15″ wheels/60 series tires, and complete visibility.

    2. Same. There is so much wrong with modern vehicle design, yet I am not in a position to do anything about it. I wish I could be in a board room just to yell “Stop it with the fender vents!!!”
      Sometimes I wish I had nurtured my artistic skills beyond middle school. I could draw pretty well as a twelve-year-old. Now, at thirty-eight, I draw pretty well for a twelve year old.

      1. what the hell? no square headlights???? and the four round tires and wheels! it is up setting to see the cubist design elements destroyed by such glaring deficiencies and thoughtless use of such mundane design features.

  4. Back in my college days… I managed to get into a 3D Design and animation class. The instructor let us create whatever we wanted. Caterham has just intro’d the 21. I was eat up with Britsh cars.
    My “final” was designing a car in Alias Studio. This was in 1995. A few years ago a company pretty much created this car… down to the Panasport wheels. I can’t find that pic though.

  5. Eighties and Nineties for me too. Vehicle dynamics and aerodynamics were well resolved, vehicles not too heavy. Biomorphic design was in, but so were wedges and straight lines. And curves – like a Viper.
    One of the forgotten cars from that era was Julian Thompson’s 4 door-ish mid engine V8, 4200R for Isuzu, sadly never making it to construction.

      1. I wonder if Isuzu will return to cars, or settle for partnering with Mazda?
        Later, Julian Thomson did bring us the S1 Lotus Elise. And the Jaguar in the last Bond film
        and he had a hand in the F Type and Evoque
        From 1977, a time when design was informed by and not ruled by computer surfacing program.
        That headlight treatment might come back with LED and laser technology. I remember the GM designers being so proud of how slim they’d got the Calibra’s

          1. Oh. They don’t do cars any more. They haven’t since the mid eighties. The last cars they sold were rebadges (only, nothing else), of other maker’s cars. See if you can guess who they teamed up with.
            ’90-’93 Isuzu Aska
            ’94-’98 Isuzu Aska
            ’98-’02 Isuzu Aska aka JDM Honda Torneo

  6. If I had to pick a past era, I would say the period from about 1959 to 1970. For some reason, the designs of the 60s appeal to me. They were getting into more sleek designs, away from the bulky rounded look of something like the mid to late 50s cars.
    Although with that in mind, I would like to be a designer in today’s era, with the stipulation of making retro designs…of cars from the 60s. One of the cars I would redesign is one of my favorites, the Buick Wildcat. GM would colossally screw it up if they tried. (They’d slap stickers and chrome wheels on a LaCrosse and call it a Wildcat.) It was originally called a “banker’s hot rod” and I would try to recapture that feeling as a sedan that had a bit of a “bite” to it. Or redo the ’67 Fleetwood, or make a proper modernization of the original 1963 Riviera.

  7. in this day and age, most people have the idea that the ideal vehicle should have two doors and possibly seats in back for those inconvenient guests who could not find the rental section of the phone book(sounds dated does it not-phone book).
    so how is it that in this time i can only think of a handful of coupes in the rebel colonies built by major manufacturers? if i need to move more than two people it seems to me that the bus/train/plane is a better option. why should i haul around the five pax capability unused 95% of my time. being single, that is about how it really is. families with more than one children would be well served with some kind of mini van.
    i have seen a four door corvette concept car at the auto shows some years back and i recall the comments i had heard. not a good thing. not good at all. it was as if someone was caught sinning in public and was proud of it. as if one dumped excrement on some cherished ideal of automotive independence.
    who would buy a practical coupe? a practical two seat car with no pretensions of being a race car. would that be someone who would buy a “regular cab pickup truck”? is that the ideal design?

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