Today finds us back on the hunt for special fabrics in vehicle interiors. And I can tell you it has been an uphill struggle to harvest these meagre gleanings.
The truth is that I did not find nearly as much as I had wanted to. The most easily found items are well-known examples such as the Gucci Cadillac Seville, the Joseph Aboud Buick Regal and the Fila Ford Thunderbird which have been discussed here before. I was really hoping to
find something else.
To start with there is the 2015 Zegna-edition Maserati Quattroporte, notable for its tweed-effect headliner and the use of silk-mix fabric for the seat inserts. The decision to use the Zegna cloth for the headliner is a brave one given the complexity of that particular part. Seat panels are relatively easy to do being fairly flat. Headliners are large and oddly shaped and may involve exploding parts. Notice also the door skins with their diagonally quilted details.
The end result is rather fetching yet also makes me think that this is exactly what a Maserati interior should be like. That means that maybe the standard interiors are not really making the grade. A special edition is supposed to be the best expected plus a bit.
If we go back in time to 2011 we can also gaze in wonder at the Maserati Gran Cabrio Fendi edition:
That is quite an effective combination of patterns and colours, no? “The seats are in Fendi’s finest Grigio Chrono leather embossed with the Fendi logo in the central section, while the headrests are emblazoned with the Maserati Trident logo embroidered in yellow. Fendi’s finest Cuoio Romano leather lines the instrument panel and the gear lever, with shift paddles on the steering wheel too. For an even more luxurious, exclusive interior, Pergamena Fendi wood inserts line the restyled interior, spanning the length of the dashboard and the doors, embracing the front and back seats.”
I am put in mind of an over-elaborate menu description: “Hand-cut, pan-fried, heat-seared olives paired with bespoke-crafted oak-smoked Lebanese organic goats cheese butter-layered pasty roillionettes…. etc.
The 2008 Bugatti Veyron Hermes (above) achieves the same level as the Zegna Maserati. it is quite restrained – quite probably the luxury level it attains is not easily visible in a screen photo. You have to sit in it to see where the extra gazillion euros have gone. For this car, Hermes got to do most of the trimming themselves on their premises rather than merely sending raw material to VW for them to glue it into position.
You can read a little more about it here. Before I get to the next car, I will admit that I skipped over the Land Rover “with” Victoria Beckham and the Versace Lamborghini. Neither offered me what I was looking for in terms of opulence or interest.
Which makes the Scion xB special edition by 686 relatively more interesting than either Beckham or Versace’s offerings. Toyota made the Scion for the American market and the brand is now dead- I think they were aimed at the younger demographic. The US is a place where a very great number of university students drive to college and supposedly this kind of car is designed for those who don’t want a mashed up Ford Laser or Honda Civic as their commuter car.
The xB was produced from 2007 to 2015 and was the vehicle for a number of cross-brand tie-ins. ” The 2015 Scion xB 686 Parklan Edition is a limited-run package that includes unique visual and functional tweaks inspired by the snowboard apparel company 686″ (Source)
As with most special editions, the exterior differences run no deeper than paint and badges though the metallic brown is pleasant. On the inside we find khaki camouflage detailing mated with cross-stitched leatherette patches on the upper seat backs, where wear is least.
The camouflage is something of a design solecism since the interior of vehicle is not where the camouflage might be needed; it ought to be on the outside of the car.
My survey ran out of breath right here so the next item is the 2014 BMW i3 interior, presented as a sub-concept i.e. this trim was not available to customers but shown at the car show launch. Bait and switch?
The pity about this is that apart from the wood, the whole thing looks a) delightful and b) wholly plausible. The warm tones are well in keeping with the geometry and I would have hoped that any customer willing to take the plunge and buy an i3 would have a higher tolerance for unusual fabrics than the normal 318i customer.
Bridge of Weir is the last port of call. Excuse my ignorance but they are not just providers of one-off interiors for unique concept cars. They do all Volvo’s leather. Unlike the interiors shown above, a BoW interior can be yours for the price of an S40. There is YouTube film clip of this which is rather interesting, showing how the panels are cut out of a hide. To get from a 3D model of a seat to the exact shape of hide needed to make it takes a fair bit of tacit knowledge, much that can’t be written down.
Early on in the film you can see the craftsmen and women positioning dies to cut the hide: even that single task can probably be done nine wrong ways easily enough. As marketing films go, it’s more compelling than usual.
I will have to leave this topic for another three years. The dearth of information and news indicates to me that interesting product tie-ins and novel uses of high-end fabric are far between and few. I see this as an opportunity waiting to be taken by companies near the upper echelons rather than more mainstream makers: Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati, Bentley (but not Rolls – curiously). Rolls do use high-level suppliers, of course. What sets them apart is that nothing should distract from the Rolls Royce brand hence the inappropriateness of a tie-up with Gucci. Maybe Kiton?
Lower order manufacturers probably have volumes set at too high a level to make limited runs of hand-made elements feasible. Once you have run a design past the checks needed to ensure mass production you have eliminated all but the most basic changes – maybe a cloth option could be chosen and not much more than that. Hence there is no Toyota Auris Purdy edition.
I am disappointed by this survey. I keep hoping to find some more gems. Where are they?