Theme : Shutlines – Now You See It …

… Now You Don’t. We look at the GINA, BMW’s attempt to produce a literal shutline

Gina 03

However much he might have railed, an engineer of Dr Piech’s standing knew that, even by calling it a shut line, it would always be, in reality, a shut gap. Expansion, engineering tolerances, sag and the possibility of damage means that the shutlines of a solid bodied car will always be measured in millimetres, not microns. Even those uniformly narrow gaps on modern VAG products must have been an irritation to him until the end.

But the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model sought to address this. Produced under Chris Bangle, the GINA’s shape is apparently attributed to Anders Warming about whom, despite having being handed the poisoned chalice that is MINI, we at DTW still have high hopes. But the styling was really secondary to a radically different construction. Flexible, polyurethane-coated, lycra-like material was stretched over a complex frame of wire and carbon fibre. Sections could be controlled by hydraulics and electric motors to open panels or to close them completely, leaving a surface where a gap really did become just a line.

Gina 04The whole car had an appealingly organic feel to it. The treatment is obviously more suited to a sports car than the many gaps of, say, an SUV and, as with many concept cars, how much of this nascent technology actually worked seamlessly is hard to know. The concept was said to be intended to provoke discussion (or publicity) rather than hinting at a new design and construction direction for BMW. However there is nothing here that couldn’t be developed, and the idea of getting your car fixed by a tailor rather than a body shop is quite appealing. But seven years on there is no sign of its influence.

There is, of course, one last question mark hanging over GINA. Possessing one of the most tenuous car acronyms ever, supposedly standing for “Geometry and functions In ‘N’ Adaptations”, others have suggested that the name was a BMW in-joke referring to its open bonnet resembling a female orifice. Even leaving J.Clarkson and his chums sniggering behind the bike sheds, we still must ask ourselves – was GINA the concept that prudishness killed?

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8 thoughts on “Theme : Shutlines – Now You See It …”

  1. Humans are pattern-seekers and are designed to recognise and compare. Context matters too. My view is that the resemblance to body parts of parts of this car aren’t glaring unless someone decides to be mischievious. And even then it’s not a problem, is it? If so, let’s cover up E-types forthwith.
    Apart from that this concept is ready for further exploration and it would be a challenge to explore the possibilities of the surface material.

  2. I admit that I never considered this at all when I first saw the concept. But i’m not sure which of my preconceptions that challenges?

    Is it the one where many car people belong to the Clarkson school, remaining at heart smutty schoolboys who can’t wait to crassly manifest their Freudian urges? Or is it the one that views design teams like Chris Bangle’s as a bunch of humourless nerds in freshly laundered chinos all fretting about achieving perfect shutlines and little else?

    As you suggest Richard, being grown-up, it really doesn’t matter if it was intentional or not. For me, GINA was one of the most interesting concept of the past 20 years.

  3. I agree that this was one of the most intriguing concepts of the recent past. The body panel shapes created by the fabric over the frame structure very clearly influenced the BMWs that followed (the concept was shown after most of these had bee launched, almost like a post-script to that era), most notably the 5 Series. It’s further evidence to me of Bangle’s inspired leadership of the design department at BMW – now much missed.

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