Car designers look high and low for inspiration to fuel their creative needs. Some find aspects of nature to be the most titillating, while others choose more man-made forms to model their vehicles. The designers of the latest Lamborghini concept chose the latter route, taking styling cues from the Apache helicopter.
Appropriately dubbed the Egoista, the new Lamborghini was developed specifically for the company’s 50th anniversary. While the name — which literally translates to “selfish” in Spanish — could be taken in a variety of ways, in this case it refers to the concept’s single-seat nature as well as the idea that “the design was picked to allow its driver the ability to express their individual personality to the maximum.”
“This is a car made for one person only,” Volkswagen Group design boss Walter De Silva said at the official unveiling. Lamborghini is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen. De Silva also threw around words such as “hedonism,” “four-wheeled UFO,” and even “Never Never Land.”
Overall, the concept is as polarizing as concepts tend to be. A cockpit-style window lowers to enclose the driver in the cabin, and sharp, angular lines give the car the appearance of a space craft – not unlike something one would see in Blade Runner or The Fifth Element. The concept comes equipped with a 5.2 litre V10 — though virtually every other detail was left up to the mind of the observer.
“The cockpit represents a sort of survival cell, allowing the driver to isolate and protect themselves from external elements,” De Silva said.“We kept an eye on the future when designing the Egoista, with the idea that its cockpit could have been taken from a jet aircraft and integrated into a road vehicle.”
If you’re thinking, “My God, this sounds ridiculous,” well, you’d be right, because it is fairly absurd. However, on the other hand, Lamborghini has never been one to be afraid of making ridiculous, off-the-wall concepts either — and some of those even make it to production (check out the Veneno, if you haven’t already).
However, the new Lamborghini has raised an interesting question. The Europeans — notably the Italians — are enthralled by performance. Some of the craziest, fastest, wacky-looking cars are courtesy of our European counterparts. But almost as noticeably, America has let the ultra-high performance car market fizzle out, at least to the degree of production.
To hedge the comment above, America does certainly have a taste for speed, and a handful of firms can burn rubber like the best of them. Hennessey’s Venom GT is an ungodly display of power and raw engineering, and the SSC Tuatara is expected to show the world that the United States can go head to head with the fastest production car ever made, the Bugatti Veyron. On top of it all, America is home to some of the best tuning firms worldwide.
What is noticeably lacking is this type of performance from the established auto manufacturers. The two largest, General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F), each have their respective performance offerings — Ford’s GT (which is no longer in production) and Chevy’s top spec-Corvette.
There is also the newest generation of the SRT Viper, though the company is technically parented by Italian firm Fiat. Despite the occasional nutty concept that these companies pass through auto shows from time to time, America has largely lost its production interest in speed, leaving the market open to the ultra-high performing vehicles from Italy, France, and Germany.
It seems that utility and efficiency are at the top of the leading minds in America’s car industry, and while there is no question that these things are crucially important, they may have come at the detriment of the crazy-factor. Insane engineering isn’t intended to be a practical everyday solution, but it promotes a sense of fun in modern auto design and can ultimately lead companies to apply that factor to the rest of the lineup.
The Egoista concept, despite its “this will never make production” appearance and spot-on name, serves more of a reminder that the engineers at Volkswagen are not afraid to take a risk now and then.
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