Car designers are often inspired by product design. Luxury goods, cutting edge technology and new materials frequently find space on the mood boards in a studio. French watchmaker Bell&Ross has turned this figurative one-way street around by creating a concept car inspired by the world of aviation and grand tourers from the 1950s. It’s called the AeroGT.
The project began in April 2015 when Bruno Belamich (Bell&Ross co-founder and creative director) and designer Sebastien Gobert decided to create a new supercar inspired by the aeronautic world that would inform the design of a new range of watches — the BR 03 AeroGT models.
“The design of this concept car took just over one year,” says Belamich. “To obtain optimal results, we worked with specialists in car design. It was very important for us to create a high-performance car with realistic characteristics.”
The AeroGT is an all out supercar powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V8 engine and halted by heat-resistant ceramic brakes. It is said to achieve 62mph from a standstill in less than three seconds and reach a top speed of 200mph. The carbon fiber body is built atop a monocoque chassis for an overall weight of 1320kg. All of these figures are hugely impressive.
Belamich and Gobert assembled a team of automotive designers that included design managers Adrien Séné, Valentin Fuchs, Patrice Minol and digital designer Julien Debras from ISD-Rubika as well as digital design manager Eric Guertzmann and executive designers Francois Carpentier and Celia Huart (also ISD graduates).
“We started the project with an immersion inside the Bell&Ross world, with the idea to broadcast the aviation lines and sensations inside an aerocar,” says Séné. “We decided to take the Rafale, an iconic [aircraft] for France, as our main inspiration for the AeroGT.”
Once the design was fixed, the designers worked on tape drawing with the help of Form Trends contributor Nick Hull to evaluate in 1:4 scale the side view proportions. “This exercise allowed us to modify a little bit on computer the global proportions before beginning the 3D model,” Séné says. “We also worked with the digital designers to build the perfect volumes and make sure the AeroGT [was] faithful to the sketches.”
The project then went through a refinement phase from July through September 2015, with Séné and Guertzmann working together to push the design of the AeroGT and establish a more coherent design theme.
“The main change was [in the] proportions and the front design language. We had to add more details on the bonnet to get something more aggressive and characterful,” explains Séné. “The rear was something very interesting to work [on] because of the fact that we had to give an identity to it by working on the horizontality and the incorporation of the two enormous exhausts.”
Standing just 1090mm high, the AeroGT’s design incorporates pointed forms, sharp angles and short overhangs as well as razor thin mirrors that have been inspired by the small ‘canard’ wings on the nose of a fighter plane. It measures 4696mm in overall length, is 2072mm wide and has a 2884mm-long wheelbase.
The aviation theme is also present in the two large exhaust outlets that resemble turbojet engine exhausts; the turbine-style rims that imitate the vanes of supersonic aircraft engines; the drop-shaped roof that calls to mind the glass cover of a jet cockpit; and the rear longitudinal aileron — reminiscent of an aircraft’s vertical stabilizer – placed over the smoked backlight.
“Following the success of our B-Rocket motorbike in 2014, I wanted to go even further and design the Bell&Ross car. The aim was to produce a car that can ‘hold its own’, even amongst automotive professionals,” says Belamich. “But above all, this real challenge was a great joy.”