Peter Stevens On Concept Cars

Here is Peter Stevens on the concept car and here is his second article on the subject. I think we can say we covered the topic more thoroughly in October but it nice to see what a professional thinks.

2011 Jaguar B99 concept.
2011 Jaguar B99 concept: why didn’t they make this?

It’s nice to see that Peter Stevens agrees with my analysis of the Ford Probe concept car: “Ford Motor Company’s European arm presented a concept vehicle, the Ford Probe III, at the Frankfurt show in 1981 for totally different reasons. Its new mid-size family car, the Sierra, was to be launched in 1982. It was a fairly avant-garde design that, within Ford, suddenly caused the senior management to become concerned that customers would be put off by its appearance.

Ford’s plan was to show a very extreme aerodynamic research version of what was, underneath, the forthcoming Sierra. The idea was that when people saw the production car they would be pleased to see that it was actually quite conventional.

Ironically the Sierra had very poor aerodynamic stability in side winds and, after a series of well publicized accidents, small vertical fins were added just behind the rear side windows. In July 1983, the UK’s Labour Party leader, Neil Kinnock, was lucky to escape uninjured when his Ford Sierra overturned on the M4 motorway after hitting the central crash barrier, having lost control due to this instability. During its production life the Sierra gradually became ever more conservative as Ford attempted to attract more mainstream buyers.”

 

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

11 thoughts on “Peter Stevens On Concept Cars”

  1. I had a closer look at the B99 and I have no idea how I didn´t spot this at the time.
    You can get more images here: http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/02/jaguar-b99-concept-bertone-geneva-reveal/#image-17.
    The proportions and detailing are really smart. The car is obviously a Jaguar without being retro and it has some lovely elements like the grille lighting and the tail lamps. Compared to what Jaguar actually are goint to make there is no question they walked the wrong way when they turned their backs on Bertone´s idea. Loonies. Add this to the Lancia Kayak concept in the long list of nice ideas Bertone generated to no avail. Giugiario has done nothing this good in years.

  2. The B99 is odd. I agree that it’s quite a good design and, had Ford had the sense to contact Bertone when they were planning the X350, this would have been a much better ‘evolutionary’ style. But by the time the B99 was made, it must have been obvious that, rightly or wrongly, Jaguar was using a clean sheet so, as a calling card, it was futile. Then they re-jigged it as a ‘racing’ version which was patently ridiculous.

  3. As a replacement for the X-type, something based on the B99 concept would have had the potential to fit in nicely below the F-type and add another distinctive design, instead of the very generic small saloon they’re just about to release.

  4. Absolutely right, Sam. This car has the image of a hand-grenade on wheels. It’s simple but rich. The small saloons a hard nut to crack and if I was doing one I’d be thrilled if it looked this good. Maybe this was what Lawson was trying to get at. It is very British (amazingly so given it’s an Italian design). I’d love to see it in proper daylight.

  5. B99: neat, neat, neat!
    But there is no way to disagree with Sean, that the racing version is way off the mark.

    1. You’re probably referring to the R-D6 – which I happen to consider a minor masterpiece. Unlike the B99.

    1. That’s right. I don’t actively dislike it, I just consider it a bit of a cul-de-sac.

      In theory, it embodies great many traits I find commendable. I am, for example, eagerly awaiting the renaissance of classic three box proportions, complete with an upright cabin. That elongated boot should also add a healthy dose of elegance lost on modern cars.

      Alas, it just doesn’t work for me. It’s like a Lawson era design done correctly, from a craftsman’s point of view. But there’s something jarring about the enormous wheels – whose appearance is a bit X300 like – and the C-pillar (or is that a b-pillar?), which is slightly better than the dreadful X350’s, but still not good enough.
      In brief, I don’t believe in the very concept of the B99. There’s an air of resto modding about it I find unappealing.

      To me, the perfect modern small Jaguar would be an R-D6 with the current jet engine grille. In contrast, the B99 serves to highlight that some wonderful stylistic elements of yore simply cannot be replicated in satisfying fashion without being thoroughly re-interpreted. Hence my ongoing hope for a return of small pillars, upright windscreens/windows and long boots in some new shape or form.

  6. I’m inclined to agree with Kris on this one. As much as I admire the traditional Lyons Line, it was butchered and debased so badly during the Lawson years that anything that even suggests it now appears tainted. The B99 was quite nice. However, it remains a design I don’t feel I can get a definite grip on. It’s interesting (to me) that it is almost impossible to find any decent photos of it, and certainly nothing that shows the design in natural light, which suggests a certain lack of confidence in the style on the part of its creators who must have realised Jaguar had definitively moved on. After all, it was shown in 2011!

    I will contradict myself now by stating that I believe there is space within Jaguar’s future range for something more contemporary in appearance that nods to this aesthetic. I’d like to think that is where the next generation XK comes in…

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