Benoit Jacob's Renault Fiftie concept sketch

What’s the Point of Show Cars? (Part 2)

In recent years Italian design house Bertone had struggled more than most others to survive (now of course it has sadly gone completely), the company would arrive at the annual Geneva auto show with a new concept vehicle and people would wonder if this was Bertone’s last appearance.

Jaguar B99 concept by Bertone (2011)

2011 was no different. The company presented a Jaguar based car the ‘B99 Bertone Jaguar’. Journalists naturally asked Jaguar if this was a preview of a new large Jaguar saloon, could this also be the car to save the life of Bertone? Surprised senior Jaguar executives had to say that this was unlikely since they had first seen the car just the day before the show!

It is interesting to study the ‘first theme sketch’, ‘development drawing’, final illustration’ and actual car and wonder in what order these were done. But the previous year there had been a Jaguar concept car that could well have been an indication of the future: the C-X75 hybrid.

Jaguar C-X75 concept

This very fine looking car was described as having two gas turbine engines driving electric generators that would produce remarkable power, range and minimal emissions. Up until the technical marketing spin I was convinced that this was to be the forerunner of a new supercar from Jaguar. Yes, well maybe the front end was not the strongest part of the design but the car’s stance, roof form and the rear fender line were great.

Matthew Beaven’s sketches are still very restrained and expressive examples of how much can be conveyed with a simple line drawing. Now if only Jaguar had resisted the untried and, at the time, non-existent engineering fantasy and had instead gone with an ultra-modern, conventionally fuelled powertrain we might has been able to see this car on the road right now.

Jaguar enlisted the engineering help of the Williams F1 Group to develop the ultra-complex but necessary technologies required to meet the claims that Jaguar made for the car. There is nothing more expensive than chasing an unachievable target with unproven technology; Jaguar stopped the project after a very few (more conventional) prototypes were built and run.

There are yet more reasons for the building of concept cars, which will be discussed in a future ‘Part 3’.


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