Good Oil: Panic! at the Disco numberplate
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We’re big fans of the latest Land Rover Discovery here at The Good Oil, although we concede the car’s rear-end styling is certainly polarising.
While the latest (fifth) generation of Land Rover’s 4x4 for people who don’t particularly like getting muddy is quite a departure from what came before, there are several nods to the previous boxy versions of the Discovery, some less subtle than others.
Though you might look at the Disco 5 in profile for several minutes before clocking the ever-so-slightly stepped roof line, move around to the back of the vehicle and the cap-doffing salute to ye olde Discovery is much more obvious.
Instead of having an offset window-line on the rear door, these days that same offset line has been transferred further down into the sheet metal, so it’s actually the recess for the numberplate that mimics the asymmetrical designer flourish, rather than the glass area.
We actually don’t mind it, but it seems to be the single design feature in the 2017 edition that has divided opinion most thoroughly.
And now the man responsible for it – design director Gerry McGovern – has waded into the argument.
McGovern has gotten his cravat in a knot over suggestions that it’s an ungainly piece of design nonsense. Rather than scoff at the critics and snootily suggest “It’s a design thing, you wouldn’t understand”, like any self-respecting and self-aggrandising car designer should, McGovern has instead pointed the finger of blame at Jaguar Land Rover dealers.
The original “‘rock star” car designer reckons that dealers are fitting the wrong sort of numberplate to new Discovery 5s, which is exacerbating the awkwardness.
McGovern recently told UK motoring outlet Auto Express that, rather than feeling the need for a rethink on the design of the boot door, it’s the dealers that need to get with the programme.
“You know what part of the problem is with that offset plate? It depends on what numberplate you put on it. And it was designed for a slimmer numberplate,” he said.
“I think what’s happened is that there’s a whole variety of numberplates. We’ve got a study going on at the moment and I don’t want to change that asymmetry, but we do need to do something about the numberplates.”
You hear that, the UK Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency? You’ve been put on notice by the McGovernator.
Bangle’s back and he’s bored
Speaking of controversial car designers, none other than ex-BMW bad boy Chris Bangle surfaced at the recent Frankfurt motor show; an interesting arrival given that, following more than a decade as a BMW crayon wielder who received little thanks for his risque design work, he has studiously avoided penning cars since he left Munich in 2009.
Chris Bangle Associates doesn’t have any automotive clients — something the owner of the best 80s-themed beard since Kenny Loggins has been firm on since leaving the industry.
But he popped into the Frankfurt show for a look a couple of weeks back… and he’s a bit bored by what he saw, especially on a particular former competitor’s stand.
“It’s a wonderful stand, it has a wonderful amount of technology they are showing,” Bangle told US outlet Auto Week.
“But as a designer I am used to a set of uniqueness and freshness and change. This will turn into a critique and I really don’t want it to be published like that, but for the life of me I can’t find a new idea.
“I would love to and they have really good designers, but I’ve seen this all before in other places.”
“The young designers don’t know their own history. There is very little understanding where the past came from for car designers today because they are worried so much about just learning the tools.”
So why is Bangle even sifting round the halls at Frankfurt? After nearly a decade away, he has recently acquired an automotive client again. Who? Who knows.
He isn’t saying anything at this stage, but it will be interesting to see what sort of outrageous spin he ends up putting on whatever it is he’s working on.
But with those criticisms in mind, it better be Bangle-riffic.
Toyota developing a sporty GR sub-brand
Here at The Good Oil, we love us a sporty sub-brand.
Bigger engines, more turbos, sportier wheels and a one- or two-letter suffix from an approved in-house tuning division peopled by designers and engineers with far-away looks in their eyes are all okay by us.
And Japanese behemoth Toyota has just announced that very thing. Huzzah!
In Japan at least they have unveiled a new GR sub-brand, designed to sit atop their more ordinary, every-day cars.
The manufacturer showcased a hot Yaris GRMN at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and this appears to be the tip of a very sporty iceberg, as more models are set to wear the GR badge and showcase a more aggressive side, with uprated power, new mechanical components and enhanced bodywork.
The most obvious next step must surely be a GT86 GR… although with no plans to build the performance series cars for overseas markets at this stage, Kiwi enthusiasts might have to wait for the inevitable trickle of used import examples to arrive here.