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Supercars, Gastronomy & The Death of Individuality

If it were in the English dictionary, the term "speedholic" would be defined as a person with a very strong passion for, nay - an addiction to speed.

There is no better term to describe my professional life spent designing countless high-performance vehicles for both racetrack and road use. I must thank SpeedHolics, who have kindly offered me a space to open up on the things I'm most passionate about -- speed, and the means to achieve it.

I trust you'll humor a brief historical excursion on my part, in which I'll draw a respectful parallel between supercars, and cuisine. I feel it sums up my view on car design quite succinctly:

While studying the classics during my youth, I read the words of eminent German philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach., who stated, "Man is what he eats." We've all heard this trope, but at the time it sparked a curiosity in me.

Years later, I'd called time on the period of my life in Formula One and joined Lamborghini Automobili. As part of my initial research, I began to study scores of cars designed by my predecessors, comparing them with competitors both foreign and Italian. It was then that, remembering the German philosopher, I pondered a technical-gastronomic theory: Whoever ate fish & chips and drank tea could only design Jaguar and Aston Martin; those who ate wurstel and drank "bier" were predisposed to designing Porsche and Mercedes. Those who appreciated tortellini and Lambrusco on the other hand, could only produce Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. Even Pagan, his for his supercars, left his native Argentina for a small town near Modena. It's not where you're from, but where you are, thus what you eat.

Evidently, the concentration of supercars in the Emilia area -- now widely recognized as Motor Valley, is due to factors far more important than food, but that's another article for another time. That article may be a mournful one, remembering all the brands born in the same territory that have not survived; De Tomaso, Bugatti, Stanguellini, Edonis, Cizeta, and even ATS.

It's difficult to talk about supercar brands these days though, without mentioning how the individuality and distinction between them has gradually faded.

This is much more evident in road-use cars, where the stylists conform by adapting to common standards required by the market. As a consequence, the everyday citizen has to stop and read the badge in most cases.

This didn't use to be the way. Even at a distance, you knew a Ferrari, you knew a Jaguar, you knew a Lamborghini. The same situation is also repeated in Formula 1: from the initial maximum differentiation (there was even a six-wheeled Tyrrel), we've arrived in modern F1 which, at first glance, are distinguished only by the colored liveries of the sponsors.

The phenomenon is clearly evident in the two examples below. In the 1970s, the Lamborghini Countach was completely different from the Ferrari Daytona, as well as from the Maserati Merak and the Jaguar. Conversely, the modern supercars, Ferrari SF90 and Lamborghini Aventador have begun to look increasingly similar.

Today, compared to the past, the increasingly stringent international vehicle homologation regulations and the most sophisticated aerodynamics push all supercars towards compliance. I for one think it's a questionable way of doing things.

When designers and stylists do not have to submit to coercive regulations, they can follow their creative fantasies, with greater personal satisfaction. That's good for every body. Just look at the things they've done when allowed to flourish.

Lamborghini Countach (© Daniel Olivares) - Ferrari Daytona (© James Editions) - Lamborghini Aventador (© Lamborghini) - Ferrari SF90 (© Ferrari)


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