In Memoriam: Ferdinand Alexander Porsche – 1935-2012

April 5, 2012

Take a moment to doff your cap in memoriam of the passing of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche; the man credited with designing and shaping the iconic Porsche 911.

Born in 1935 and the eldest son of Ferry and Dorothea Porsche, FA (as he was more commonly known) carried the family traditions of ‘good, honest design’ philosophies throughout his tenure at Porsche. It was in 1962, shortly after being appointed the Head of the Porsche Design Studio, that he penned the iconic 911 shape that has endured in its basic form for the last 50 years.

Ferdinand with a scale-model of his legendary creation - the 904 GTS

Ferdinand also acheieved worldwide acclaim for his designs in various industrial accomplishments as well, not least being pens, eyewear, desk lamps, chairs and wrist-watches amongst many others…

The 904 GTS in action

FA also designed the 1962 Type 804 F1 racecar along with the forever legendary (and beautiful) 904 GTS, but the 911 was his shining moment that cemented his vast abilities and talents within the Porsche automotive philosophy and his family’s long-standing tradition of exquisite refinement.

The 1962 Type 804 Formula 1 car

Ferdinand was 76 years old.

Sculpting the 911 in 1962

-Blake J.

Plagiarism in the Automotive World: Does it really exist…?

September 30, 2011

Tales of vehicular-design copies within the worldwide Automotive sector have always held their own. There are countless examples of this – an old classic comparison being the 1930’s Chrysler Airflow eventually followed up a few years later with the introduction of the Toyota AA, springs to mind – but as it’s a far more difficult process to copyright a shape as opposed to a logo or a feat of engineering, the plagiarism of a design itself brings about legitimate questions of morality and ethics.

Geely paying homage to Rolls Royce...?

Of course, this is all subjective so therefore we are forced to consider the often foggy areas of whether these ongoing (and ever-increasing) practises are spurned from notions of inspiration, trends, evocation or homage. The worst-case scenario, of course, being blatant plagiarism.

Should this annoy the Bavarian automaker...?

With the surging advent of the internet alone, Logo designers are increasingly susceptible to plagiarism of their creations. All it takes is a few clicks here and there on the internet and a modicum of basic photo-shop know-how to produce your own alarmingly similar re-creation. Even the Google leviathan hasn’t been spared of this slightly unethical practise as it has placed the warning-lasers on a Chinese search engine site of which the logo is hilariously similar to that of Google.

Should the Italians cause a kerfuffle if an independent Brit borrows inspiration from...?

In the ever-expanding automotive world though, nowhere is this eyebrow-raising ‘borrowing’ found to be most persistent (and more-importantly, accepted within its own market) than in the massively flourishing and developing Korean, Chinese and Malaysian sectors. By now, most of you will have undoubtedly been exposed to the almost comical, near-copy designs being rolled out by these emerging automotive companies. Yet it should be noted that this is nothing new – this sort of thing has been going on for decades – but never before has the impending levels of exposure towards these near-copies sparked so much debate and cause for lengthy/expensive legal battles.

Would it be alright for Mahindra to wave the naughty-finger at Oldsmobile...?

But something that cannot be ignored is the sheer amount of exposure these burgeoning companies receive every time it rolls out another questionable copycat – You couldn’t beg for that much Press coverage. The attention (be it positive or negative or indifferent) that Chinese manufacturer Shuanghuan received as a result of its blatant BMW and Mercedes design rip-offs back in 2007 was a potent example (yet, unfortunately for Shuanghuan, build-quality and low safety ratings squashed their worldwide attack-plan). Is it all intentional…? Does this increase overall sales…? Regardless, this inevitably brings about the age-old question of whether or not it’s illegal to copy a vehicle design and does intellectual copyright protect those designs…?

Is Chinese Changan concerned about....

I’m far from being any sort of design expert on cyclic or regurgitated tendencies within the design industry, but one thing we’ve definitely noticed is how some American car designs are now becoming re-interpretations of Japanese designs that were mainly influenced and re-interpreted from German and British manufacturers to begin with..! For heavens sake, the new Maserati Kubang SUV looks like it came straight from the KIA factory floor…

...the mighty, universal weight carried by Captain Picard's chest badge...?

My point being that everything is starting to look like, well… nothing in particular – just floating designs that are now being forever borrowed, re-interpreted and pablum-ised into a funnel of mis-matched dreck. I look at any number of  car designs on the roads nowadays from the Big Guns of the auto industry and yet, aside from the logo and name-badging telling me what it is, most of the time I’d have a right good head-scratchy moment of trying to figure out its identity.

Aside from placing a piece of tracing-paper over top of another design, are all of these modern-age near-copies a sign of naivete..? Or simply undiluted audacity…?

Your thoughts…?

-Blake J.






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