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The Designer Of The Mini Responds To My Critiques And Is A Bit Salty

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You longtime Autopian fans may recall how, back in the early days of the site, almost two weeks ago, I did a bit of a critique of the 2001 BMW-owned Mini modernization, focusing primarily on how the headlight design of the 2001 car appeared, at least to me, to be modernized versions of headlights that the Mini never used. At the time I reached out to Mini designer Frank Stephenson for his input, and just this morning I got a response! It’s interesting, and, yes, stings a little.

Here’s what I got from Frank, which, I would like to point out, was

… “dictated and sent in my absence,” which is a pretty baller thing to have at the end of your emails that you can’t even be bothered to type out on your own! You’re a badass, I get it, Frank.

Okay, the response:

Hi Jason!

 I started to read your article with great interest and then it faded dramatically when I understood the point you were trying to make. Of course, taste is subjective, but the difference between good design and bad design is not subjective. It’s guided by science and the basic laws of proportion and balance.

 In a nutshell, the new MINI I designed is not a retro piece of work. I’ve explained often that it’s a product of 4 decades of imagined evolution. I arrived at the selected theme in my initial concept ideation phase with theoretically updated versions of the Mini for 1969, ’79, ’89 and finally ’99. In fact, I also added a vision of a potential ’09 design. All this took place in 1995 at BMW AG in Munich, Germany. I’ve never worked at Design Works in California.

 As a modern version of the original, it’s unimaginable for me that the R50 and the R53 would have upright round headlamps. That would certainly have antiquated the design, much like a person today using a monocle instead of contact lenses. In my opinion, a designer who stays tied to the past is not really a true designer. Designers in our industry are paid to innovate and improve. Moreover, the application of aerodynamics to automotive design has improved overall performance.

 Your reasoning behind keeping the original Mini’s upright headlamp design places aesthetics over performance, a principle I think that detracts from the true purpose and mission of good design.

 Best, Frank

First, “I started to read your article with great interest and then it faded dramatically,” ouch. But I get it, and absolutely had that coming, since I’m some dipshit criticizing this incredibly important work of automotive design.

What I found especially interesting was the part where Stephenson clarified that he never considered the Mini a retro design, because he was basing his design on a series of imaginary updates to the original Mini. Honestly, I adore this concept, because it goes so much further than just updating an old design into a modern design vocabulary, but imagines a whole history that never actually happened–something that we here at the Autopian are especially fond of doing.

The redesigns for 1969, 1979, 1989, and 1999 can be seen here, as sketched by Stephenson:

These sketches are interesting; the ’69 update shows a Mini that’s been smoothed and refined a bit in the details, while the ’79 one, with its elongated hood, perhaps suggests early attempts to improve crashworthiness? The ’89 one introduces the more sloping headlamp design that prompted my article in the first place, and the ’99 one is clearly very close to the 2001 R50 modern Mini.

Stephenson discusses these imagined updates in this video:

Now, the real question here is: Do we think that these sketches and incremental Mini concepts were actually done before the 2001 Mini, or done afterwards to fill in the path? I don’t think we can ever really know for sure, and I’m not sure it even matters all that much.

What could also be interesting to consider is that for some of these imaginary Mini updates, we kind of do have real-world counterparts. BMC did leave the basic Mini design alone for an incredibly long time, but it’s not like they never played with the Mini design.

Take the Mini Clubman, for example, which appeared in 1969 and was what our reality had for a 1969 Mini re-design:

BMC modified the Mini from the A-pillar forward to give it a more modern look, and in doing so essentially abandoned the traditional Mini face. Of course, they made this alongside the original Mini look, so that wasn’t lost.

Another fascinating real-world Mini redesign happened in 1974, when Innocenti, then part of British Leyland, re-bodied the original Mini to update its look, based on designs from Bertone, and the result was extremely modern-looking:

Innocenti Mini 90/120/DeTomaso - Classic Car Review | Honest John

The Austin Metro, which arrived in 1980, could be considered reality’s redesigned Mini of that era, since the goal of it was to replace the Mini. As you can see, it owed almost nothing to the look of the OG Mini:

So, really, it’s not so much that British Leyland never attempted to redesign the Mini, it’s that they never attempted to redesign the Mini while simultaneously giving a shit about the look of the original Mini design–something that Stephenson’s imaginary Mini re-designs absolutely do, and, I think, despite what Stephenson himself says, does make them retro resigns since that’s the key to a retro design, isn’t it?–a respect for and attempt to translate key design cues to a more updated design language.

But look: Stephenson designed the new Mini, and if he says the headlights have a damn good reason to look the way they do, then the headlights have a damn good reason to look the way they do.

I mean, I still think they look a lot like modern versions of this old Hella lamp, as I said, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to un-see that, but I’m also happy to admit that I’m wrong.

Frank Stephenson has told me that the 2001 Mini headlights are the result of decades of imaginary evolution from the original, and that’s good enough for me. In fact, I like it even better now that I know a whole made-up history is involved, because, whatever you think of the design or its justifications, that’s just fun.

 

(Images: YouTube, Chasing Perfect documentary (2019), BMW, AROonline)

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86 Responses

  1. If it was sent out in his absence that does explain why they forgot the ointment to help soothe those burns.

    Frank Stephenson’s YouTube channel is pretty damn fantastic and insightful though. A shame you probably can’t convince him to do features for you anymore.

  2. I hope this was supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, because for someone who does videos criticizing other designers’ work it comes across as awfully defensive when someone did the same to his. There are some valid points in his response, but they’re so buried in self-important nonsense that it’s hard to sort them out. :-/

  3. I’m kinda amazed at the responses from people that think automotive design is just subjective aesthetics. Amazed because I would have expected that automotive enthusiasts would know better.

    The only design I can think of that might be 100% subjectivity is interior design (aka “decor”) but I might even be wrong there.

    Design of physical products is absolutely not a subjective art. It’s objective science with a dash of aesthetics thrown in.

    1. Are you suggesting that an American in 2022 AD, a Chinese person in 1022 AD, a Yanamamo in 22 AD, an Egyptian in 1022 BC, and an Wiradjuri in 2022 BC, all have the same preferences as far as what constitutes good design? Because that is some hot buttered nonsense.

    2. I think interior design is much easier to get objectively wrong than exterior design because interior design is what you regularly interact with. There’s a lot more to play with in the exterior because you don’t really interact with most of it – while stuff like aerodynamics and meeting regulations are important, for the most part you can style it however you want. In the interior, design is entirely interactive. Repositioning buttons – or in the modern era, removing them and including them in the touchscreen – or even just making them too similar to other buttons can lead to an objectively bad design because it’s hindering your ability to effectively use the car. Pretty much everything in the interior is going to affect comfort and usability, and you have to be hyper aware of that. I’ve seen way more objectively bad interiors than exteriors.

    3. I think it’s because it’s hard to separate it exactly. Some people love how the new GTI looks, others hate it. It’s rare for a vehicle to be universally loved or hated for it’s design, and the exceptions are quite notable.

      1. Exactly. Vehicle design is an art, not a science. A couple of examples:

        I like the Juke. It’s an objectively weird-looking car, but it works for me. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the first new generation of the Cherokee. It had some similar styling elements to the Juke, but it just didn’t work the same way for me.

        Same with the Kia Soul and basically every other boxy car (Nissan Cube, Scion xB, Honda Element). I like the Soul. I find the others extremely unattractive, even though objectively they’re very similar styles.

        Now, if someone could explain why the Juke and the Soul work while the others don’t that would be a great article, but I don’t think it’s possible because there are plenty of people who love the xB, for example, so it’s not an objectively bad design. Plenty of people hate the Juke, so it’s not an objectively good design. Likely because, despite what Frank claims, there is no such thing.

        1. The Juke was deliberately designed to be visually challenging, because the market where it was pitched wanted something that didn’t look like anything else on the road (ie young urban types). The proportions and the stance of the Juke are spot on – it’s only the details and surfacing that make it look like it does. Is it objectively a great looker? no, but it does do what it intended to, which is get noticed. It will be mentioned in snooty design books for that reason alone.

          The first and second gen Soul are tidy, handsome designs. The third, not so much as it looks a bit squinty and heavy handed.

  4. It’s nice to see they also kept a firm focus on the reliability language. They may have evolved the problems a bit too far, however. Good thing they didn’t imaginarily evolve the reliability of a Honda or Toyota.

  5. I don’t know design but I know what I like. I like the old mini and it’s headlights. I like the new mini and it’s headlights. Nothing wrong with either. But had that 79 mini looks like a Yugo came out that would end the appeal of the mini. The 89 mine looks like a Rabbit and those were not too bad but the reduced size would not have worked. These designments are like concept cars that never get off the boards.
    However I would like the sloping headlights to follow the old Jaguar sloping headlights as opposed to these.

  6. If we’re playing “which picture doesn’t belong in this imagined imaginary evolution” it has to be the ’79. It doesn’t fit at all, looks more like a Gremlin than a Mini. Also, ‘imaginary evolution’ is a great made up concept that stumps the google…imagine that

  7. Please can you add a content warning to any pages with pictures of the Austin Metro. Just seeing one makes me feel ill.
    At least this picture wasn’t of a poo brown one, like most of the ones I saw in the 80’s.

  8. I mean… I get it. I’m sure I’ve reacted in a salty manner before when getting critiques of my work.

    But the idea that they would never consider upright headlights on the Mini because it would have compromised aerodynamics seems kind of silly. Isn’t every vehicle design a constant tug-of-war between form and function? If manufacturers were exalting aerodynamics as the single most important aspect of design, a whole lot more cars would look like the Prius.

  9. So wait a sec…BMW relaunched MINI, a classic British vehicle as they were looking to cash in on the brand’s equity. This means that the revised version should’ve been an evolution of the original, actual car, the one that was being bought and driven by people in real life, just like the Fiat 500 mentioned in your article. Frankie’s version of the redesign however, was an “evolution” of a picture of a car!!!

    1. I think you nailed it, “an evolution of a picture” of what was a revolutionary car, but at a different scale in a different time. Puffed up visual nostalgia no matter how you slice it or try to explain it.

  10. The notion he thinks automotive design is not subjective is a weird ass way of saying “No MY design is better.” The only “objectivity” used in automotive design is that of the corporate overlords; cost and regulation. Of which they themselves are not objective but simply arbitrary decisions used to sell a product, cost, and arbitrary regulation put in place through quite possibly the worlds most corrupt process, politics.

    This idea of his progression form 69-79-89-99-09, IS SUBJECTIVE. There’s not objectivity involved in interpreting that progression. A real man would have simply said, “I did what I did, whatcha gonna do about it? It was pretty successful all things considered.”

    1. Objectivity is found in functionality. Vertical headlights would be, objectively, worse for aerodynamics and pedestrian safety. They would, objectively, make the car functionally worse.

      Subjectivity is style, objectivity is function.

      1. But by the metric of aerodynamics and pedestrian safety, ‘objectively’ the headlights are still not optimized. Those two metrics are not mutually exclusive, but are divergent. To maximize aerodynamics would be to not maximize pedestrian safety, and vice versa. The ratio between the two, where the traits of maximizing one as the expense of the other, is subjective.

        What objective was the headlight design aspiring to meet? If the objective is functionality, an almost vertical, precisely aimed lens with a crisp beam cut-off would be ‘best’. If the objective is aerodynamics, a sloped, molded light that channels air efficiently around the vehicle would be ‘best’, but such a headlight would inherently introduce diffusion into the beam pattern, making it functionally worse. If the objective is pedestrian safety, an inset headlight (regardless of style) with hard points surrounded by collapsible impact zones would be ‘best’. Any of these theoretical designs could be argued to be ‘objectively’ better than the others, but the balance between them, for the sake of overall design, is subjective.

    2. I agree with Stephenson. He’s right that Jason’s take on the headlights isn’t realistic. Sure, it’s more authentic to the original, but it’s likely wouldn’t have been a valid option in 2001. Look at other “throwback” vehicles of around the same time and none of them have almost vertical round headlights; the Thunderbird, the New Beetle, the SSR, the PT Cruiser, and hell, even the 911 (not a throwback vehicle, but a vehicle known for it’s unimaginative evolution). None of them have/had nearly vertical round headlights like Torchinsky put on.

        1. True. But those are the exception. And I’d argue even though they are an exception, they are further than the original CJ lights than what Torch drew on the Mini compared to the original Mini.

          Good find though. I can’t think of any others.

  11. “Of course, taste is subjective, but the difference between good design and bad design is not subjective.”

    I’m sorry, but this got an lol out of me. This sort of self seriousness / undue importance is exactly how a lot of the worst car designs made it to market.

    1. Bad designs get to market for a lot of different reasons. Not all manufacturers place the same importance on design as others.

      I’ve said it elsewhere, but a company like Toyota doesn’t sell cars on the basis of their designs – they sell on other factors. A company like Land Rover however, is very design led.

    2. He did a fine job with the car, but he’s got his head too far up his own ass to respond graciously to a difference of opinion.

      One can be important without being self-important. A lesson Mr. Frank Stephenson should take a moment to consider.

    3. That’s not really his point. Bad design is generally when something works demonstrably worse, and he’s arguing that the upright headlights – which could potentially look cool, of course – would sacrifice aerodynamics and likely pedestrian safety requirements. Bad design hinders the object’s ability to do the job it was meant to do.

    4. I dunno, I think there are some objective reasons why a vertical round headlamp just wasn’t an option. It would be terrible for aeordynamics, for example. Vehicle styling does occasionally need to bow to practical constraints.

      1. I think thats a fine argument… but rings extremely hollow to me when you look at the entire rest of the car, inside and out. Just an insane number of decisions that sacrifice function for design in that car.

        1. I drive my brother’s R50 from time to time – it’s fast and fun and the exterior looks have aged well, but the over-designed interior never fails to make me tired while also being a kick in the face of functionality.

  12. I think Stephenson’s argument is that his isn’t a retro-design, but rather it’s more akin the the 911. 911 designers aren’t designing retro looking vehicles, they just understand that the look of a 911 is iconic and they don’t want to deviate from it. So each evolution of the 911 is clear (and usually somewhat minor, visually speaking) and he used a similar approach when it came to the Mini.

  13. I started watching his youtube channel regularly because hearing him talk through the why of designs was really interesting, but quit because of his pomposity. His love of himself and his own ideas was just too much to handle.

    And Frank, your views are subjective. Also, I bet you don’t ride that longboard behind your desk.

  14. What’s interesting is all the I’s and Me’s in his response. Surely he had help, committee review and focus group input. It’s not what he says, but how he says it that is telling. Jason my man, consider his response open invitation to design and built a new old mini much like Sir Jim Ratcliffe is doing with the iconic defender.

  15. I call BS on this whole “objective science” thing trumping “subjective design”.

    The number 1,2,&3 highest selling vehicles in US for decades are pickup trucks. The whole front design has continued to move towards the proverbial flying brick wall look.

    Tell me how that fits with this “bad design”. At least for trucks, they continue to be the real money-makers in US and the scale tilts WAY more to looks rather than other. Otherwise, all these manly looking trucks would be rounded off, cute and cuddling looking.

    1. Most of the current full size pick ups are over-styled. The F150 Lightning is I think the pick of the lot because it isn’t so garish.

      We’ve come a long way from the old GM400s, which I think were a masterclass in looking modern and assertive without being overdone.

  16. I love Frank and seek out his videos (but don’t love Mini’s generally based on the interior design and BMW mechanicals). Artists can be a bit temperamental however his delivery is typically dry and serious, so the reply is in that general tone. Don’t take it too personally, Torch! Personally, the central display module is the design killer for me– Did that come from Frank, too?

  17. I don’t understand this .. “Now, the real question here is: Do we think that these sketches and incremental Mini concepts were actually done before the 2001 Mini, or done afterwards to fill in the path? I don’t think we can ever really know for sure, and I’m not sure it even matters all that much.”

    Frank clearly laid out that he created these sketches retroactively as a design exercise – I don’t see where the doubt is? They 100% were done while he was designing the 2001 Mini.

    1. What (I think) Jason means is: were those sketches done to post-rationalize the concept Frank created at the time, or were they actually done as a design “ideation” exercise in sequence, as Frank explains? I don’t think Jason is implying that Frank did them years later.

      I’m in the design industry (buildings, not cars). But in studio classes, you quickly learn how to figure out how to explain (what I call “post-rationalize”) how you arrived at a concept to a critic with complete, but believable, bull$hit. At the end of the day, does it matter? It does create a compelling story.

  18. I see so many late-90s or early-00s Minis being driven around here in Guatemala that I’ve become curious about them. They never sold well here (too expensive when new), so their popularity is probably achieved through imports… Bought used or at auction in the US and then driven or hauled down into Guatemala (we’re immediately south of Mexico, ahem). That must mean they’re reliable, economical and easy to work on.

    Anyways. They still look very good. Better than the newer versions, I think. Less bloated, nimbler, simpler, less gimmicks. I think it’s one of Stephenson’s best. He has a lot of good designs that seem to get better with age, and the Mini is one of them I believe.

    And yes, it look infinitely better with Frank’s headlights than with Torch’s upright ones. No contest.

  19. Sir Alec Issigonis was working on Mini replacement proposals as early as 1966, and, as you pointed out, there were several attempts at doing so over the decades, some of which did reach production, but the original design was still selling too well for BL or whatever they were called at the time to give up that revenue by pulling the plug. The Metro was even called the MiniMetro when it was first introduced, which does tell you about what it was supposed to be.

    It wasn’t until BMW came on the scene in the mid ’90s that there was any thought that a new Mini needed to stylistically resemble the original Mini, until then, the focus was always on a contemporary, modern design with no retro touches. Rover’s in-house ’90s alternative was the insanely space efficient rear engine Mini Spiritual concept, which was almost radically modern looking, which they thought was a good idea, in case the car ended up doing another 40 year production run

  20. When all you’ve ever produced in life is a series of drawings you tend to get defensive about them. This seems to be common among creative types. Perhaps it’s driven by some sense of inferiority to those whose work is more tangible. It must be terrible to be so insecure.

    Anyway when it comes to design, art, architecture and music I would be surprised if it turns out expert systems can do those things better and faster than any human. I know all the stories with robot uprisings have us winning because of human originality or inventiveness but is there any evidence that’s true? For some, sure, but plenty of people I meet have the imagination of a brick.

  21. I think we should all take a long look at that speculative ’79 Mini and think about the spectacular theoretical electrical system failures that it would suffer from. I can just smell the smoldering wiring tape.

  22. Don’t pretend that upright headlights were impossible when in fact they were simply suboptimal.

    Virtually every element of design is suboptimal in some way or another, so in fact this argument is merely a difference of opinion regarding what was most important in the redesign.

    If upright round headlights were demanded by the CEO, you can bet your last dollar that Mr. Stephenson would have provided them in his reinterpretation of the original.

    The tone of the letter was totally uncalled for. A true professional would apologize for such carelessness.

  23. “Good design and bad design is not subjective.”

    Oh fucking get over yourself, or at least read a book. Different people in different places, times, and cultures have preferred *wildly* different designs. The entirety of human history attests to the empirical fact that good design is in fact *completely* subjective, and if you’re a designer who can’t see that obvious truth, then you need to go broaden your horizons a bit. Otherwise, you risk making a complete and utter ass of yourself.

    1. He’s not wrong, but the point needs some elaboration. Take a ‘59 Cadillac and a ‘62 Ferrari GTO. Two wildly different cars from two completely different cultures yet they are both great designs. Why? Because they both do brilliantly what they were designed to do, in an aesthetically pleasing way. A good design has an inherent sense of rightness about it, however it presents itself.

      1. Aesthetically pleasing… you realize that that concept is *literally* the proverbial example of subjectivity, right? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Beliefs about what is aesthetically pleasing vary *wildly* across time and space, and none of them are wrong. It is perhaps the single most subjective thing in the entire universe.

        1. You or I might find something not aesthetically pleasing to us, that doesn’t mean it’s not good looking.

          I took the opportunity of lockdown to finally getting around to watching all of The Sopranos, widely regarded as one of the greatest TV series ever. I generally wasn’t that impressed, finding it a bit soapy and the characters for the most part reprehensible, unlikable and not able to change. Does that diminish it’s acheivements as a series? No, it just wasn’t for me.

          Part of a designers job is to make a car work visually – to balance the volumes, proportions and graphically elements to work harmoniously together, and to reflect it’s function as a vehicle. There are fundamental rules as to how all of this works, in how the various parts relate to each other. This is not subjective – pick a poor design and I (or any of the other pro designers on this site) will be able to tell you what’s wrong with it and why. Likewise, pick something you don’t like and everyone else does and I’ll be able to do the same.

          Just because you don’t like something, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just not for you.

  24. I’ll just say this..I had an ’05. Last new car I’ve purchased. Loved it. I traded a bone stock 850 Mini to the dealer as part of the deal – the only original Mini they’d ever taken in trade at that time. (Schomp in Denver).
    I loved the style of the ’05 then and I still do today. Not so enamored of the blown up larger editions that have come since though.

  25. That faux progression is a load of BS. Those after-the-fact intermediate sketches are completely anachronistic and reflect nothing of what was happening in the design world in 1979 and 1989.
    As already pointed out by Jason, the Mini WAS updated (Clubman, Mini Metro, Rover 100). At all stages (from 1959 until the horrible lopped-off ovoids of the 1994 facelift), the front design was nothing more than the standard automobile face of the era. I think JT wrote a great article on the early 80s car face already.
    The R50 is a very good retro design and I don’t think that upright headlights would’ve improved it, but it’s a retro design and nothing else.

  26. The Austin Metro was the spiritual successor to the Mini, which eventually turned into the Rover Metro, and then in it’s final form, the Rover 100. This was built (and refreshed a few times,) all the way up to 1998.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Metro

    It was scrapped because it’s subframe would rust to the point of critical failure quite quickly (less than 10 years,) and the vehicle would crumple like a paper bag in an accident, which would almost certainly maim or kill the driver.

    Frank is correct, and you are wrong, lights and edges became rounder and more slanted over time, and car designers had to start building in safety into their designs.

    Put it this way, would you rather be run over (as a pedestrian,) by an original Mini, or the new Mini. The old Mini would mangle your legs and crack your skull. Actually, who am I kidding, you would totally prefer to be hit by an original Mini, lol.

    1. I had a 1982 MG Metro 1300 which got hit in the right front corner in 2013 by a guy in an SUV who had run a red light, thereby revealing far more rust hidden in the depths of its unibody than had previously been apparent. I was fine but the car was not, so I took the only sensible solution, namely getting together with some friends and running it in the 24 Hours of Lemons.

      If you’d like to see its interior pre-Lemons, it was the actual car shown in the Wikipedia article you linked above:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Metro#/media/File:1982MGMetro-interior.jpg

  27. Frank Stephenson clearly doesn’t read Torch’s articles often, if ever. If he did, perhaps his response wouldn’t have been so self-important.

    FWIW, I didn’t really agree with Torch’s upright headlight idea either, but it made for a fun article. I had a 2001 Cooper and absolutely loved it’s design. I still do! But this guy taking such a serious defense posture over an obviously lighthearted and fun article is a bit ridiculous.

  28. I think Mr. Stephenson’s approach was thoughtful and successful, as the original new MINI sold like hot cakes and was clearly a car the market was waiting for.
    His “…not a retro piece of work…”, “….Your reasoning… …places aesthetics over performance, a principle I think that detracts from the true purpose and mission of good design…” argument stumbles a bit over the afterthought chrome sticker on the front bumper, aesthetic “styling” to make the face look as much as possible like the original Mini’s.

  29. Looking at that ’79 concept. Wow, we could have had a clown shoe mini!

    On another note. I had a friend that had a DeTomaso tuned version of that Innocenti. He often let me drive it. He was not a responsible person. No sir…

  30. As much as this hurts to read, when there is a dispute between two people about whether widget A or widget B is better, I think I’m going to have to side with the one who has worked on widgets in a professional capacity over the one who has merely ogled over widgets in an enthusiast capacity.

    Not to say that the widget enthusiast can’t voice their opinion, but if a defacto authority on widgets enters the chat, I think you just have to listen.

    You took it on the chin in stride at least!

  31. Not a perfect analogy, maybe 85-90%, but questioning a Frank Stephenson design choice is almost like taking a Gordon Murray designed part and saying, “doesn’t it look like it could have been a little lighter?”. The body of work is such that I’ll defer to his choices, there are plenty of corporate committee design choices that are much more questionable (pick any front end of a current full size truck).

  32. Dear Torch,
    While you may be an endearing and amusing person who sometimes channels a superficial dipshitlike quality to the uninitiated.. in some senses… I don’t think you need to demean/deprecate yourself quite so bluntly. You, good sir, are an automotive reporter. Though you haven’t been trained like this man, you have a decent amount of experience in the field and I daresay you are entitled to your opinion on your own website.
    He’s entitled to be salty and fire back, but I’m glad you mostly stick to your guns here. Next time call yourself a writer, a yellow journalist, a hack blogger even.. but “dipshit” you are not!
    Regards,
    Fe2O3

  33. BolognaBurrito said it perfectly with the 911 comparison.
    To add to that, if you watch Frank’s videos he has a very specific definition of “retro” that doesn’t quite align with the general public’s definition. I believe he thinks of “retro” as a copy-paste job for the sole purpose of recalling something older, and possibly to the detriment of the function of the new product. The upright headlights you propose would probably be an example of what he’d call “retro”, and with some disdain. The general public perceives “retro” as anything that has some recollection of the past.

  34. Man, even in imaginary land the late 70s were a rough time for car design.

    And, short of seeing provenance that each of these sketches was produced in chronological order before the ’01 design, everything about this response screams that the first article hit an oft aggravated nerve. That looks like a lot of sketches to intentionally link 2001 to the original.

    It’s OK to do a throwback design. You don’t have to claim it’s an evolution.

    1. You raise a good point I think.

      It’s interesting how certain products (like cars or electronics), perhaps b/c of consumer expectation, nearly always have to be presented as forward looking.

      Meanwhile, other products can be throwback-oriented.

      I think of the current retro wristwatch boom…companies of all sorts are producing back-catalog models from previous decades, down to the smallest detail, just with modern materials and movements.

  35. Frank Stephenson: Take a letter!
    Frank’s Secretary: Sure!
    Frank: Listen ass-hat. How dare you question my design choices, you miserable sack of…
    Secretary (typing): Hi Jason! I started reading your article with great interest…

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