Continuing the theme of colour, here’s a VW Golf from the 1997-2004 series.
It’s the cheerful metallic green I want to draw your attention to. The interior had cloth seats with panels of a similar hue. Presumably this was a special edition but the car had no badges to indicate this. This iteration of the Golf was the most neatly refined, in my view, the one where competitors gasped at the subtle refinements such as the legendary cloth covered a-pillars. Quite why people were so impressed with these I find hard to imagine.
Yet such details became totemic of the apparent attention to detail that hitherto cars in this class had not quite reached. Sure enough the 1983-1992 version had black plastic trim that seemed impossible to surpass for its bottomless depth and scathe-proof toughness. The car here moved on from indestructibility to a deeply cool, mathematical correctness and offered a kind of quality that married surgical precision to visible comfort.
Jet airliners didn’t have interiors this well put together; leather and wood luxury as you’d find in a Mercedes or Jaguar was shown up as being quite unnecessary to convey tangible quality to the customer. What’s amazing is that none of this can be drawn or modelled but has to get from the mind of the designer to the machine tools via prototypes indistinguishable from the real thing.
These are characteristics that can’t be written down, and thus are indeed purely about quality itself. Imagine if Alfa Romeo or Renault had stumbled on this formula. This car represented where the purview of the designer reached into the very dies and tools used to make the parts from which the car was assembled. Hitherto, designers lost control of their creations the moment the tool makers took over.