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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
"Form follows function." - Frank Lloyd Wright

If you truly believe in those idealistic words, then you will agree that "style" as it pertains to automotive design is unimportant.

The shape of the car should aim to achieve some simple things:
  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Rigidity
  3. Interior Space Allocation
  4. Weight & Balance
  5. Compliance (Safety)
    [/list=1]The most "beautiful" sports cars in our history follow those rules relatively well, applying stylistic features only as they can within the rules.

    The Elise follows these rules well enough. My biggest complaints with the Elise design are as follows:
    1. Soft top (- rigidity and + turbulence)
    2. No fastback (+ turbulence)
    3. High nose (drag)
      [/list=1]Make the Elise a hardtop fastback with a lower nose and it's close to perfect!

      I guess that's why I love the Exige so much ?!?
 

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Why you keep insisting on the rigidity issue is beyond me. :confused:
 

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transio said:
"Form follows function." - Frank Lloyd Wright

If you truly believe in those idealistic words, then you will agree that "style" as it pertains to automotive design is unimportant.
The problem lies with the definition of function. What you say is correct, if you are defining the function of something as purely mechanical, as in a race car. The function of a car is often (generally) more than that. Most of us are not buying the Elise as a race car. If we were, we would probably already own an Exige or a Panoz, whose forms are pretty well defined by their function.

In terms of architecture, the function of a building is often not just to house people and things, but to portray a corporate image. That's style, but performs a "function" for the business.

Unlike many/most of the posters on this forum, many people will look to the Elise to function, not as a race car, but as a piece of art, a status symbol, a chick magnet, or whatever.

Function, style and taste are easier to define in the abstract than in the application of an object to an individual. Interesting presentation of it, though, transio.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

Chris,

Great post. I agree with most of what you say, but nevertheless I have comments (as always):
ChrisB said:
The problem lies with the definition of function. What you say is correct, if you are defining the function of something as purely mechanical, as in a race car. The function of a car is often (generally) more than that. Most of us are not buying the Elise as a race car. If we were, we would probably already own an Exige or a Panoz, whose forms are pretty well defined by their function.
I define function in this context as the intended purpose of an object. A "performance car" is a car intended for performance, and thus should keep performance objectives as its primary concern (IMO). I guess that's why I prefer the Exige to the Elise.
In terms of architecture, the function of a building is often not just to house people and things, but to portray a corporate image. That's style, but performs a "function" for the business.
A building's style is usually derived from its function or the function of its components. When the function of something is revealed in its form, it is considered good Architecture. When not, it is considered bad Architecture (for instance, an office building designed to look like a Mediterranean Villa for no functional reason). The same applies to cars. Would you want a mid-engine car with a long nose, for instance? No, because it wouldn't make any sense functionally and the short nose / long tail of a mid-engine car is innate to its beauty.
Unlike many/most of the posters on this forum, many people will look to the Elise to function, not as a race car, but as a piece of art, a status symbol, a chick magnet, or whatever.
Their opinion does not count.
Function, style and taste are easier to define in the abstract than in the application to an object of an individual.
I disagree with this. It's easier to define style, taste and function as they pertain to one thing (e.g. the Elise) rather than abstractly as they apply to everything. It's also more pertinent to the topic at hand. ;)
Interesting presentation of it, though, transio.
THANKS !!!
 

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Re: Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

transio said:
It's easier to define style, taste and function as they pertain to one thing (e.g. the Elise)...
But style, taste and function don't apply to one "thing". They apply to the junction of one thing and one person. If I were to design and build my own car, then I get to define the function and design the car to meet it. How well it meets my fuuctional requirements can be pretty well objectively measured. You may have different needs/desires and the function may not be as well suited to you, so you may not like the design.

In the case of the Elise, it wasn't designed to specifically meet either my or your functional desire. Which begs the question "What is its function?". Some people attempt to speak for Colin Chapman, which is interesting, but futile. In reality the function was probably to appeal to as wide a variety of "enthusiasts" as possible, to sell as many cars as possible, at the most profit possible. It seems to be doing that very well. :)
 

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Re: Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

transio said:
Chris,
Their opinion does not count.
:eek: Blah, Blah, Blah... Form! Blah, Blah, Blah... Function! Blah, Blah, Blah...Who cares!

The car is gonna look the way it does. I don't think Lotus will change it because you in your infinite wisdom has said they did something wrong.

People that have know clue are so quick to pass judgment.

What car company employs you as an automotive designer?

What makes and model cars are a result of your handy work?

How many professional racing victories do you have under your belt?

If the answer to all of the above is none, then you’re no better qualified to comment on the Elise engineering and design than you would be to give Tiger Woods golfing tips.
 

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transio said:
Am I not "flexible" enough on the rigidity issue? ;)
No, it's just that you frequently cite false information and generally don't know what you are talking about. ;)

But hey, I can tell that you might be one of those people that complain about the faults of any car they own. I fit into that camp sometimes. What I can't tell is whether or not you have driven an Elise, or any other raw sports cars.
 

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Hey BrianK,
Is that the picture of the 2007 Elise with the DOT approved bumpers? Schweet!!
Form following function. The hard top version is more rigid but the bear won't fit.:D
 

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Re: Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

transio said:
Unlike many/most of the posters on this forum, many people will look to the Elise to function, not as a race car, but as a piece of art, a status symbol, a chick magnet, or whatever.
Their opinion does not count.
This coming from someone who once said:
I'm not gonna tint my windows... I want people to see me driving it !!
You crack me up!
;)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Re: Re: Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

Ooooh.... I'm under the gun today !!!
Derek said:
The car is gonna look the way it does. I don't think Lotus will change it because you in your infinite wisdom has said they did something wrong.
Ok let's get something straight: I never said they did something wrong. Look at the title of the thread. I LIKE the car. The whole point of this thread was to counter the "Ugly" thread.
People that have know clue are so quick to pass judgment.
As you are doing right here. You don't know anything about me and yet YOU pass judgement on ME (in poor English "know" less).

Originally posted by Vantage
No, it's just that you frequently cite false information and generally don't know what you are talking about.
I think I'll quote George W. Bush in response to this: "I stand by all of the misquotes I may or may not have made." LOL. I know I'm generally misinformed with details and trivia, but I believe I know what I'm talking about.... the Elise, right? ;) I also know a little bit about physics and engineering and such. I'm not as dumb as you might think.

Originally posted by Dan
You crack me up!
Let's get this straight. I'm not buying the Elise for how I'll look in it. Because I joke about using it as a status symbol doesn't mean that's how I really feel about it. I've also claimed that I want to put 20" gold wire spokes on it for bling factor.
 

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transio said:
"Form follows function." - Frank Lloyd Wright

If you truly believe in those idealistic words, then you will agree that "style" as it pertains to automotive design is unimportant.

The shape of the car should aim to achieve some simple things:
  1. Aerodynamics
  2. Rigidity
  3. Interior Space Allocation
  4. Weight & Balance
  5. Compliance (Safety)
    [/list=1]The most "beautiful" sports cars in our history follow those rules relatively well, applying stylistic features only as they can within the rules.


  1. Great post! Agreed 100% except I am not sure that I agree re how well the Elise follows these rules.

    It seems to me that the Elise S2 definitely has style elements that are there for their own sake. Worse, it is my guess that some of the design elements run counter to function, i.e. less aerodynamic than the S1, etc. (I would love to hear someone in the know comment on the relative aerodynamic efficiencies of the two designs).

    ChrisB said:
    But style, taste and function don't apply to one "thing". They apply to the junction of one thing and one person.

    In the case of the Elise, it wasn't designed to specifically meet either my or your functional desire. Which begs the question "What is its function?". Some people attempt to speak for Colin Chapman, which is interesting, but futile. In reality the function was probably to appeal to as wide a variety of "enthusiasts" as possible, to sell as many cars as possible, at the most profit possible. It seems to be doing that very well. :)
    Now, we are getting really interesting. What do we, as owners/drivers, add to the functional requirements of the design. I guess that we can agree that we add ergonomic requirements, sight lines, control placement, etc. But, not in any other way if the car is defined to be an ultimate performance car. When functional rules as dictated by the laws of physics are broken in order to create a "style" that will appeal to more possible purchasers, I have a problem. Are we talking about an ultimate performance car or not!

    As you have mentioned, if the function is to sell as many cars as possible, then ignoring physics for sales is acceptable. But, when designing the ultimate machine, it is not. Besides, I think that people intuitively recognize and accept pure designs that follow Mr. Wright's maxims. As an example of this I present the 1953 Studebaker Starlight by Mr. Loewy.





    Simple, clean and elegant; and, also, a huge sales success.

    Obviously functional requirements change depending on the intended use of the machine. How many people must be carried, etc. And this functional issue, i.e. number of people, is a huge problem when trying to design the ultimate performance machine. The problem is that most performance machines are purchased by men, and, being men, we want room by our side for a woman. Thus, our ultimate performance machine must carry two passengers. But putting two passengers side by side goes against the packaging and layout requirements of a modern suspension. The best suspension design would use the longest possible wishbones which, for a given track, need the narrowest amount of chassis between the left and right wishbone attachment points. In other words, an ultimate car, by definition, should be a single seater. Two ultimate cars addressed this issue. The McLaren F1 and the Yamaha ??? (the Yamaha was never produced). They placed the driver in the forward center, and passengers behind and to the sides.

    I'm not sure if much of this is relevant. The F1 was designed to be the best possible road car that modern technology could produce. I am sure that in the past I read statements re Colin's thoughts on road cars, but I have forgotten them. Besides, he is no longer with us. Clearly, the current owners of the Lotus name are more interested in selling cars than Colin was. He was interested in winning F1 races and the current Lotus organization does not race. And, I suppose that even this is not relevant. Does the average person that intends to buy this car care about Lotus history - probably not, nor should he. Hopefully, he/she is looking for the most absolute performance possible at a fair price. And, that is exactly what Lotus should design and sell. Certainly, the other more mainstream manufactures are ready and willing to sell watered down sports cars that cater to style and comfort. But some, sometimes, venture into this more elemental arena. Such as the Mazda gen 3 RX-7. You couldn't get much more basic than it (also, Miata and S2000). I think even Colin would be proud of it. Many years ago Mazda built a mid engined prototype. If they produced it today what would the impact be on Lotus? If Lotus wants to compete with the "style" purveyors, they will have a rough road ahead. My suggestion and hope is that they will stay with the elemental designs that Lotus is famous for.

    Oh, by the way, I don't think that the Elise S2 is actually ugly. I was being provocative to see what kind of reaction I would get. I do think that the S1 design is better than the S2. But, as many have pointed out that it looks better "in the flesh", I will wait until I have actually seen it.
 

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Re: Re: Beautiful !!!

PurpleLion said:
It seems to me that the Elise S2 definitely has style elements that are there for their own sake. Worse, it is my guess that some of the design elements run counter to function, i.e. less aerodynamic than the S1, etc. (I would love to hear someone in the know comment on the relative aerodynamic efficiencies of the two designs).[/B]
One of the reasons for the slightly different S2 shape is because the engineers have been 'tweaking' it :)

Aerodynamics have played a big role here.

The S1 design (even after they added the little 'spoiler' at the back during the design, freaking out the designer) has some downforce at the front, but still some lift at the back.

The S2 design, in contrast, has small amounts of downforce at both ends of the car. Not enough to really add to cornering grip, but enough to make the car more stable at high speed.

Other design changes like the lower rollbar on the S2 also come from this direction.

Some things like the curved shape of the car's sides are still a pure design issue though, as a flat-sided car would have been slightly better for aerodynamics and the effectivenes of the air-scoops at the sides.

Bye, Arno.
 
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