Volume II, Issue 11, Page 5

4 heads are better than one

11/15/07

’ve just returned from SEMA (the aftermarket trade show held annually in Las Vegas), where a lot of people with opinions looked at my most recent car.   I heard a lot of , “what color is that”, and “are those billet door handles?” Simple questions that I tried to answer completely and helpfully, no matter how many times they had been asked already. Some liked the car, but others weren’t so nice, or maybe they didn’t know I was standing nearby.

I got some good questions too, and one in particular: “How did you come up with the styling on your car?”  There’s no simple answer to that, except that I wanted to keep the colors to a minimum without a monochrome look, and all chrome was banished to Nova heaven.  As my project evolved, and advanced beyond fabrication to styling (grill, headlight bezels, bumpers, front air dam, rear wing, etc.), I started to have difficulties in figuring out the look, color, and materials. Years before, I had Jamie Seymour do a rendering to give me the basic look I wanted, but I found it difficult to make the look of the rendering appear in the car. 

So I convened a Styling Committee.

I asked three friends (one a photographer, one a marketing guru, and one who knows everything about every car ever made) to review my style decisions.  I started with my grille, which was a custom one-off.  With hoots of derision, I left my first attempt at the curb.  I quietly cut apart the second one for its raw materials. The real debate began with my third grille.  The Committee weighed in with thoughts on material and color, but it was the fourth grille that finally worked.  It was a give and take process that ultimately resulted in a structure that captured the original OEM lines, with a dash of NASCAR mesh, and a fabricated flair that blended and coordinated with the painted headlight bezel and flat black hood.  It took months, but the end result was way better than what I could have done on my own. 

I repeated the basic approach on all of the primary styling elements for the car.  My friends (you have to have friends to pull this off, because polite acquaintances will only tell you what you want to hear, and real friends will work for free) told me what they liked, what they didn’t, reminded me of previous decisions we’d made, and kept me on a reasonable path that made the car’s appearance reflect its purpose. 

I started out with this project thinking I could do everything myself, and actually did most of the time.  As my project pressed on, I came to realize that a small team was so much more capable than any one person, especially when nobody on the team cared whose idea was adopted, just that it was the best. 

Next time, we need to find a way so that I don’t have to make four grilles to get the one we like the best.    


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