Tuesday, 24 March 2020

A coincidence? I think not.

They haven't shut the petrol stations yet, so for the time being, the only fun thing left to do is driving round. Roads are empty, petrol's cheap.

So let's talk about cars again, in particular, what my Holy Trinity of Jap Crap was copied from.

There was an approx. one decade gap between two of the originals (Spitfire and X1/9) ceasing production and the Japanese copies (MX-5 MkII and Del Sol) being launched. Car models have tended to become larger and less angular over the years, with rounder/integrated bumpers etc. If the Spitfire and X1/9 had remained in production, with a design refresh every ten years, they would have ended up looking like the MX-5 and the Del Sol when they were launched.

The MR2 Roadster was contemporaneous with the Boxster; Toyota just chopped a foot off the front and off the back of the Boxster (the silly droopy bits), sacrificing the boot and frunk, and left the middle bit the same.

[For clarity: the MX-5 MkI was a copy of the Lotus Elan, but I don't own a MkI so that's not under discussion]

Triumph Spitfire

Mazda MX-5 MkII (aka 'Miata NB')

Fiat/Bertone X1/9

Honda Del Sol

Porsche Boxster

Toyota MR2 Roadster


Frank said...

The Lotus Elan, not the Spitfire, was the inspiration for the MX5

Mark Wadsworth said...

F, yes, the designer was happy to admit that the mx-5 MK1 was a Lotus Elan copy. But they had to lose the pop up headlights, and segued into Spitfire/MGB copy.

Mark Wadsworth said...

F, I'm not doing car design generally, just my three.

Lola said...

From memory Colin Chapman's daughter had an X1/9 and she crashed it. ACBC was horrified at the way the thing folded up around her.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, as cute as the X1/9 is are to look at, they're not very nice to be inside.

Lola said...

Bertone designed the X1-9. I think it's very 80's.

I think the Michelotti design of the Spitfire has worn well. It still looks contemporary. I think Michelotti was a master of the small sports car.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, the X1/9 concept car came out in 1969 and final version went on sale in 1972. Apart from the rubber bumpers and various decorative bits, it was pretty unchanged until 1988 Gran Finale version.

The Mark V Spitfire akak 1500 (1975 - 80) still looks pretty up to date, but you have to imagine the general pattern that applies to all cars.

Front bumpers became integrated and headlights became flush in the 1980s, the fronts of cars became rounder (pedestrian safety and reducing drag), cars got bigger. Sooner or later, Triumph would have worked out how to do a decent folding roof etc.

If all this had happened, the 1990s/2000s model Spitfire (Mk VIII?) would have looked pretty much like the MX5 MkII.

benj said...

Can't help but think you really need a s2000. Dat engine.

Lola said...

MW. Yes, I have always thought that the Spitfire design was updatable in a way that would keep its essence.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, I've already got a Honda, same engine but smaller than S2000. PLus S2000 looks awful, sort of failed retro like BMW Z3.

L, exactly. Still looks crisp today.

James Higham said...

No Ford Transit Van then?

Mark Wadsworth said...

JH, it's a design classic, but I don't own one and don't particularly want to.

Lola said...

JH Everyone needs a van....:-)

benj said...


Has to be RWD. My manual RWD transit,RIP, was know as "the stunt van". No weight over the rear axle when empty ;)