OP-ED by the UK Desk
Ever notice how every car is special, at least according to how its marketed, they are after all mass-produced. So, it’s no wonder that many people desire to make their cars distinct, individualized in any number of ways.
Making your Car Uniquely You: The Basics…
Starting with the common add-ons. Many people add chrome wheels, spoilers and the like. We’ve covered that in other posts. It’s not hard to find an SUV someone has “ruggedized” with spare tires on the back, roof racks, and extra gas cans.
Some people cover their cars with strange material, whether it’s fur or AstroTurf or wallpaper or whatever.
Some innovators go for a known aesthetic, like steampunk. They use brass pipes and things to add a vintage style to a modernish car.
Other customizers strap something to the car’s roof, like a rubber duck or a hat.
Some go so far as to transform their car into a high-heeled shoes or a permanently grounded UFO or giving them the shade and texture of a gecko lizard. While these cars are uncommon there’s no difficulty finding them in a large city.
Others have jetpack boosters coming out of the rear or have the trunk region being turned into a Wendy House. It seems as if they make their imagination run riot.
The History of Extremely Custom Cars…
But there have always been strange designs. Hardly anyone nowadays has heard of the Special, also known as a Streamliner, named after Norman Timbs. Apart from its sleek streamlined shape what stands out is its strong plum color and the fact that it has no door, no trunk or even hood. A “streamliner” is a vehicle (more likely a railway engine than a car) which has been engineered in such a way to reduce air resistance.
Norman Timbs was a racecar engineer who worked on cars for the Indy 500. Though you might think of it as a concept car and possibly one with a market, only a test vehicle was ever made. Disastrously, it was all but destroyed in a fire in 2018 but fortunately the frame was saved. From these small pieces they managed to recreate the whole car creating a wonderful museum piece.
The Ferrari Modulo
Although many cars in the 1970s took their influence from jet planes, the Ferrari Modulo goes one step beyond and takes its design through the contemporary idea of spacecraft. It was first seen at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970. Adding to the extra-terrestrial appearance are the wheels which are slightly hidden. It could be a bit of a worry to see on a dark night, especially in middle America.
Pinnifarnia designed it, who are well known for designing coaches as well as more regular vehicles. Based in Turin, this design business works in Maserati and General Motors as well as Korean names of Hyandai and Daewoo. They even make other luxury items such as private jets and yachts.
Pinnifarnia’s work is worth going into a bit more. Its first HQ was in Turin in 1920, creating at first the chassis for Cadillacs and Rolls Royce. The biggest success the company made is arguably the Cisitalia 202 Coupé featured as did in the Museum of Modern Art.
Are these vehicles designed to be driven or should they be just treated as works of art? Whatever, they bring some color and joy into people’s lives. Possibly a bit of madness too.
By the time we’re talking about Professional Custom Designers like Pinnifarnia we’re into another class of customizer—one catering to those rich enough to order a truly custom vehicle. The most famous of this class of customizer are the custom Harley makers like Orange County Choppers, Jessie James and the like. They justify their own post…coming soon…