point of view by pablo deferrari 

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did a double take? so did I...
I had to put on my glasses for this one, because I swore my eyes were having a laugh at my expense. They weren't. What I saw was real, though, to the right of the 924 stood an imposter...the RX-7.
My respect for Japanese car design ended about the time production of the Nissan Fairlady Z (Datsun 240Z in America), Mazda Cosmo 110S and Toyota 2000GT ended, which was around 1972, the year of my birth. By that time, it seemed as if new management silently crept into the boardrooms of Nissan, Toyota, and Mazda, in unison, to usher in a new mantra for design...plagiarism. And there's no better example than what we're seeing here.
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didn't believe it the first time? here it is again.
Now before you cast this off as just another one of my rants, which isn't, stay with me for a bit.

You see the Japanese make it known that they have no interest in borrowing from their centuries of rich history to influence their designs fit for the western world. I know this because we had a very old Japanese cutlery firm named Seki come out to our University to sponsor a project for our Industrial Design department. 

And while some of us were busy taking a crash course in Japanese history to impress our guests and fuel our designs for them, they wanted no part of it. What they were after concerned our bits from our short but trend-setting history to come up with a design language they would run with and manufacture. It took that speech in broken English by a Japanese executive dressed in pink and green golf pants, neon orange Polo shirt, and bowling shoes to understand their shtick...after that, I knew everything about them. 
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Nissan Fairlady Z, or the Datsun 240Z as we'd come to know it.
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a westernized version.
The examples of cars I like are pictured here. They're original, if not a bit Italianate, cool, timeless, and very desirable...much like our vintage Porsches. This was Camelot to the Japanese designers hard at work sketching these creations. Then came the bean counters...and the writing was on the wall because 25 years later, Porsche begged them to teach their klan Kaizen.

That's when the game changed...forever. Designers were now expected to stuff 10 pounds of shit into a 1 quart sushi rice container. The idea was to provide the customer with "the look for less" version of luxury cars from Europe, and they won the game, temporarily, with cheaper manufacturing tactics and materials, a reduction in labor force, and sheer volume. And designers like myself know that one of the hardest things in life is to produce savvy, innovative designs at rock-bottom prices...a hard position to be in.

"...the Japanese employ groups of pimple-faced, video game playing dweebs with chronic masturbation syndrome and an addiction to Red-bull..."

So what Mazda did with the RX-7 was just that. They waited in the bunker for two years spying on what Zuffenhausen was cooking up with the 924, and took that concept a dozen steps further. The design was sort of copied, they've capitalized on another German's idea, Mr. Wankel, for their powerplant, and made the thing lighter, with better power-to-weight ratio, and iced the cake with a price under ten grand.

When all was said and done, their killer product was launched in 1978 to an eager audience who dreamt of owning a Porsche, but couldn't swing it on a bank teller's wages.
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looking slightly like an Alfa-Romeo Duetto with a Ford Thunderbird twist to confuse the masses a bit. the Mazda Cosmo 110S is a pretty car, nonetheless.
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this 2000GT has a splash of Ferrari 365 GTB 4, a pinch of Opel GT, and just a dash of Corvette Stingray...enough to fool everyone except the aficionados, but still original enough.
It's been said that copying is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don't buy that. It's a cop-out suggesting unoriginal thought and contempt of the hard work done by the pioneers. Cloning had become accepted into the language of our generation.

Luckily, for the moment, the Japanese employ groups of pimple-faced, video game playing dweebs with chronic masturbation syndrome and an addiction to Red-bull, who still live with their parents to design their latest cars. They're given carte-blanche to create shapes that mimic video game characters looking all the world like Transformers on steroids or Hello-Kitty with headlights and tires. At the end of the day, they're given a pat on the head for originality when other members of their game-playing ilk buy these cars in droves.

Am I a Luddite? Sure, but I know good, timeless design when I see it...

highball!
 


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