Drew Smith: ethnographer, strategist and host of Rising Minds

No, no, no! A V10 does not an Esprit make!


Although it’s only a rumour promulgated by Evo magazine at this point, the very thought of Toyota lending it’s new Lexus V10 to a future Esprit is enough to make me seethe with vitriolic outrage.

Lest we forget, the original Esprit was the ultimate road-going expression of Colin “to add speed, add lightness” Chapman’s fanatical obsession with elegant efficiency. He was obsessed to a fault perhaps, as demonstrated by the time, when upon returning from a GP race and having demanded more weight be removed from the prototype Esprit’s rear transaxle, he sort of fell on his own sword . He took off for home in the amended mule making it a short distance before the new “added lightness” tore itself free from the car, leaving him stranded on the airport exit road.

If this little anecdote goes to show anything, it’s that Colin would be turning in his fibreglass grave at the thought of a stonking great ten-pot in the back of his little supercar that could, no matter how much Lexus green-washing it may have had or the fact that Lotus may also produce an “eco Esprit”. Why not make all Esprits eco?

I have long thought that the future of maximum driving enjoyment lies in super-lightweight, compact and fuel efficient cars that are unencumbered by concessions to overt luxury or pretensions to practicality, in essence the Lotus approach. The new Evora, by all accounts, stays as true to Colin’s edicts as much as a 2+2 Cayman competitor can, but the Esprit should be the very essence of the company’s fabled light-weight history, not an offensive repudiation.

P.S The sketch in the Evo article makes it look like Lotus has decided to throw the baby out with the bath water, do an Audi and put the V10 in front of the front axle line. Whatever will they think of next?

Lost in Translation: The Running Joke


As I’ve stated before, having to rely on Google Translate can provide some pretty humorous moments in my daily web trawl.

The latest piece of translatory tomfoolery comes courtesy of Der Spiegel and the butt of the joke is that that braying, wounded beast General Motors and their new partner in Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, Segway.

The headline of the article is Der fahrende Witz which translates as The Running Joke.

It’s a harsh blow – one of a few on the tubes yesterday – to the new partnership which proposes a 2-seater Segway as an urban mobility solution (head over to Re*Move for more in-depth coverage of the product itself). Sadly, however, it neatly sums up GM’s PR probleme du jour: they can’t do anything right.

From the sidelining of Saab – the European brand with arguably the best claim to a progressive eco image -, rocking up to congress in the company jet, the soporific Volt launch schedule and even the cancelling of the EV-1 project (which is coming back to bite them in the bum as a reminder of how GM “hates” innovation and panders to the oil companies), there is such an air of desperate ignorance that when GM does get something right, it’s now seen as nothing more than a cynical attempt to polish the turd that is their corporate image. Travesties like the Terrain only add insult to injury.

Well P.U.M.A is one initiative we shouldn’t kick while GM is down. Even if it does smell (just a little) of a desperate “Here’s one we prepared earlier!” manoeuvre, GM needs to be roundly applauded for proposing such a decidedly non-car solution to urban transport. However, as my mate Joe points out, success will hinge on P.U.M.A’s implementation as a service, not a product.

So three cheers to GM for fighting on and leveraging innovation as a way out of this funk and let’s give them whatever encouragement they need to become a sustainable mobility provider.

Head over to Re*Move for the complete run-down and in-depth analysis.

[Cheers to BonBon for the tip] [Image: Segway]

Lost in Translation: Saving Saab


I have the Franfurter Allgmeine Zeitung in my feed list but my German skills are sketchy at best when it comes to journalistic language. Google Translate is my best friend/worst enemy in this case.

Today there’s an article about saving Saab and the translation of the by-line made me giggle so I thought I’d share it with you. Sometimes getting a little lost in translation is so much more fun!

Save Saab! 
Who little thought to its nature, drove Saab. The Swedish car maker insolvent kutschierte the liberal-left intelligentsia, the romantic and creative non-conformist establishment. What should architects, designers, editors please drive Saab even if it no longer exists? 

My thoughts exactly.

[Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Image courtesy of Saab]

About DownSideUp Design

I'm Drew Smith and I'm an ethnographer and strategist. By day I shape culture and strategy at Westpac. By night I sleep (mostly). And once a month, I help teams host an event called Rising Minds in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney.

DownsideUpDesign is a place for me to collect stuff that I like, often love and sometimes hate for safe keeping. All views represented here are mine and mine alone and do not represent those of anyone else.

Get in touch at drewpasmith (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet me (@drewpasmith) to rant, contribute or collaborate!

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© Andrew Philip Artois Smith and DownsideUpDesign, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrew/Drew Smith and DownsideUpDesign with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.