There was no doubting the winner of the 2008 Wheels Young Designer of the year, right from the moment Johannes Collopy's HSV GT.E Electric Tourer hit the plasma screen. "Daylight has just appeared," nodded Cockburn. "It's really confident," said Strong. "There is a Santa Claus," ventured Beranger.
YDOTY, remember, isn't just designing a good-looking car. It's about designing to a brief — one that requires the vehicle's environment to be predicted, the vehicle's place in it to be justified, the technology to be researched and credibly utilised, the design to be innovative, the presentation to be evolved and explained. Oh, and finally, to look good.
In the event, Collopy ticked more of the boxes than any of the other 19 entrants.
Straight up, he places the GT.E in an oil-panicked environment, and expresses muscle-car rebellion with torque-laden (475Nm) electric power. His technology story explains, and then extrapolates from, existing technologies found in the Tesla roadster. He explains the predicted range of 400km with an understandable, Sydney-centric map.
The judging panel of designers, all of whom have had to pitch designs in front of upper management, were more than a little impressed.
Collopy's use and explanation of the GT.E's three-door silhouette and its choice of materials — primarily, an extruded aluminium chassis, with carbonfibre-reinforced plastic panels — put the GT.E completely in context as a four-seater muscle car of a dozen years hence.
Julian Quincey was quick to point out the HSV identity that began to emerge in Collopy's sketches. "And for once," Quincey said, "we're not sitting here saying that his final design is worse than his sketches."
Said Scott Strong, "In terms of some of the naïvetè we've seen in the surfacing of some of the earlier ones, this is much more professionally resolved." The clincher for him, he said, was "the content, not the visual."
Tony Stolfo added, "He's thought about the functionality and versatility of the car, not only the performance attributes. This is a young designer who's clearly passionate about it, he's researched, he's done the work. That's exactly what we're looking for."
Visibility from the GT.E's interior was likely to be an issue, and judges were also lenient on Collopy's one, true oversight: the absence of an interior drawing.
"Within an organisation," Stolfo ventured, "you do have designers who tend towards interior or exterior. This guy's passion is for the exterior of the car."
And this guy has just won a ticket to indulge that passion in the best way imaginable.
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