By way of advertising its continued health and vitality – or even its renewed health and vitality – Opel showed off its GT X Experimental the other day.
It’s intended as a design for an electric car and that’s going to be Opel’s engineering task in future.
Nobody hates television and talking-head You Tube rubbish more than this correspondent. Despite my loathing of the glue tube, I have to say that this little documentary showed what is not so clear in the static images which accompanied other articles about the GT X. After seeing the little video item I decided I absolutely had to write-up the GT X Experimental instead of ignoring it as more pointless eye-candy.
The pretty lengthy and very favourable video presentation of the car is most useful for showing a) Opel’s designers’ skills at subtle nuances** and b) that this car is rather petite and correspondingly pleasing.
The exterior is in a way what some readers here have been pleading for ever since strakes, swages and feature lines broke out of their zoo in 2009 and infested the flanks of most cars. The GT-X has a smoothly curving bodyside and it not ashamed of it. To add something new to the mix, Opel’s utterly post-modern trim has lost its chrome finish and become yellow. Formally it has changed from being a residual bit of garnish for a hole in the bodyside to being the intimation of a new surface between the roof and body.
You can see the idea evolving here on the 2106 Speedster (above). I feel that on that car it is still more more akin to the late evolution of DLO trim, as it is on the Opel Adam.
I really don’t care if anyone else likes the GT-X or not but people should understand that that yellow strip is an unusual instance of formal innovation in what is a rather hide-bound industry.
(I can only use the space between these two images to remind readers that what might have been given a chromed surface has a paint coat instead. The possibilities for customisation are broadened and it is a new space for colour in a mostly monochrome world. I haven’t even got to the small-big wheels.)
It doesn’t stop there. In the video linked above you can see the faceting of the yellow strip, there to catch the light. Nobody’s going to see that unless they see the car in the metal (probably no-one) but it’s there because evidently Mark Adams is going to do this on a real car very soon.
The other deeply intelligent thing about this car is that it also draws on Opel’s heritage. The GT-X is essentially today’s little sports car. If you see the car from the rear, the glass-house is really narrow in relation to the body, exactly as in the 1966 car car, above. The smooth flanks and the upkick of the DLO are also subtle references. Adams has not gone retro here though. The car also refers to very recent Opel styling tropes such as the black tabs over the wheel arch trims.
And notice how the trailing edge of the door meets the rear-bumper with no interevening fixed sheet metal. Is that possible in production?
Courage of convictions is a rare thing in car design. Opel, regardless of their new owner, are confident to refer to one of their recent polarising designs, the Adam in aspects of the GT-X. I salute that. I sit in the benches as a fan and consider the Adam to be a rare example of a joyful, finessed and jewel-like car.
Mark Adams has retained some of the Adam’s features and developed them – along with fusing the new, wider “visor” with the hockey-stick headlamp graphics front and back. He has done this despite some being a lot less than charitable about the same car.
Turning to the front you can see the visor in this image. It is not a grille since it’s a smooth single piece of plastic. What this does is acknowledge the very long heritage of grilles but repurposes the form.
The one thing I think needs to be dropped is the odd cone right under the Opel Badge. It’s hard to explain what it is there to achieve.
Boiled down, this concept car is serving the role once occupied by the small sportscar in the 1960s. What it is not is aggressive or loud. It’s also a rare instance of modern vernacular car design with some depth to it – which is pretty much what Opel have often done.
There’s a very interesting write-up of the 1965 Opel Speedster concept to be found here.
** Post-script: the way light is handled on the Opel shows the frankly wierd lengths Audi have gone to play with light and shade on their generally hideous CUV:
More later when I get my one detailed close-up images.