As Athos Confounded Xerxes

Old Concept Cars is a fine resource for people looking back at forgotten designs. This one is the 1998 Lada Rapan.

1998 Lada Rapan: source.

Not a lot of information exists on this one. What I can gather is that it is under 4 metres long and is powered by a 25 kW electric motor. It´s a concept and no series production occurred. The car could manage 90 kmph and got to 60 kmph in 14 seconds. Presumably modern battery packs could dramatically improve those figures. AutoVaz showed the car at the 1998 Paris motor show. 

1998 Lada Rapan: source

I had thought that the Fiat Multipla was the last truly strange car but it can´t really hold a candle to this science-fiction concept. I have suggested that design is an activity that relies on the norms of its members. They tend to work in teams and the teams inside firms are linked socially to their peers. Designers can imagine what their peers would find good or just too much.

This car is for me a demonstration of how the design team at Lada lacked connection to the norms of a wider peer network to guide their judgement. It is an outlier.

For better and for worse, there is consensus-seeking in design. The designer wants to impress but not alienate. Through education and social contact the designer finds out the norms of the craft and, ideally, gently stresses them. I contend that the team responsible for this were not anchored to a wider network. They may very well have seen the work of other designers but had not internalised their values. They could not imagine Karl or Else, say, frowning when they saw a drawing of this concept.

1998 Lada Rapan: source

As such the Lada Rapan is an interesting study, the kind of shape a production designer might conceive for a cinematographic presentation. It is very eccentric and also relatively internally consistent. However, the first impression is of visual chaos: then after a while one can discern the underlying structure of a passenger cabin articulated by the round outline of the door. It is made harder to see by the massive fared wing mirrors and the way the cell blends into the relatively conventional rear portion.

Did this inspire Citroen?

If the car is supposed to be aerodynamic it might fail due to the odd crest on the roof and the smooth corner at the rear which would lead to poor air separation.

Author: richard herriott

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

7 thoughts on “As Athos Confounded Xerxes”

  1. Wowsers.

    I hope this concept achieved immortality in a Russian sci-fi movie at least… it would be a shame to see such efforts go to waste.

    Is this the Lada museum? What other delights lurk within?

  2. Sweet (orthodox) baby Jesus! Yes, this looks like Colani letting loose. Or Art Blakeslee with a pen after a spiked drink. Or both collaborating on the production design of a remake of THX 1138, directed by Vincenzo Natali.

    1. “The little rascal has spiwit.”

      -Has what, sir?

      “Spiwit”.

      -Yes, he did, sir.

      “No, no, spiwit. Bwavado, a touch of dewwing-do”.

      -About 1 1 , sir.

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