Monday, July 13, 2009

Desolation Row

Pierre Beauregard on a ludicrous Alfa Romeo

From CAR Magazine, April 1978

Alfa Zagato Giulietta (by retromotoring)

EVERY MOTOR SHOW HAS ONE: that far-corner lineup of stillborn idiocies from hapless hopefuls who think that their efforts are going to attract fame, fortune and the unstinting admiration of nubile maidens, seasoned styling suprernos and awe-struck chief engineers, not to mention an adoring public which is, at long, long last, going to see the future of the car as it really ought to be.

At most motor shows these horrors are, thank goodness, put in the darkest corner with the rally jackets and the rust-removers. But for some perverse reason - it can‘t be humour; the Swiss have none - Desolation Row at Geneva is right there in the high-roofed, airy portion of the hall where Bertone and Pininfarina line-up face-to- face to let the world see that good design is not just a flash of brilliance but consistent year-in, year-out excellence based on taste, experience and hard work.

And the saddest, most awful of all the cars at Geneva this year - quite apart from the production Oldsmobiles and Buicks - was the tufted, padded four-seater Alfa Romeo bearing one of the proudest names in the history of the car as art: Zagato of Milano. Worse still, this abomination was perpetrated on the innocent young body of Signorina Giulietta, who'd scarcely time to appear in society before she was so cruelly raped.

Fiorucci is the name to remember, fashion stylists who do this sort of thing to us all every once in a while. Fiorucci's have chosen the visual image of four fuzzy chenille-covered toilet seats for the interior of the poor Alfa Romeo, have put a bathroom shaving mirror on the outside for rear vision and have given the body of the car that speckled- vomit finish one so often sees on the inside of an overflowing race-track toilet.

The instrument panel has been (sloppily) covered with an old bathmat, and the toilet seat theme further developed by putting a wooden toilet lid in the middle of the steering wheel. Rubber trim like that around the windscreen is all white vinyl, held more or less in place with white silicone. To complete the effect, the windscreen wiper arms have been twisted to lie horizontally, like a pair of spindly towel racks. I don't know what Fiorucci hoped to achieve when they told Zagato to so bespoil the Giulietta.

They say it was 'to demonstrate a new direction for the automobile which, by its perfection, would draw the industry after it.' One can but conclude that if it draws anything after it, it will be a swarm of small, annoying flying insects. What more is there to say? That the execution is execrable? That is self-evident. That the level of taste is possibly the lowest ever seen on an Italian car? That, too, is beyond remark.

But look at it this way: other aspiring stylists have suddenly been positioned very much higher than their miserable work warrants, if only because they are so much closer in spirit and execution to the real cars, and so very far away from this absolute nadir.

No comments: