Interview with Frank Stephenson

My trip to McLaren Technology HQ and interview Frank Stephenson (Design Director of McLaren).

Firstly I would like to start with Frank. He is the design director of McLaren and worked in Ford, BMW, Mini, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and McLaren. You can find more information on interview. I had a great time with Frank in McLaren; he toured me around the building and showed every single place. The McLaren is really huge and I cannot define how it looks wonderful! After today, I can clearly say, Frank is a great designer and also a very nice person; and passionate with this work. When you listen to him, you understand the meaning of being a designer. And explain the designing a car with very simple words. I cannot ignore his passion to motorcycle. Honestly, after I had chat with him my perception towards motorcycle are changed. I never approach to them from the perspective Frank described me. You can find more about him in interview where you can find below.

Let’s go back to McLaren headquarters in Woking, UK. Woking is a very nice, small city, silent, relaxing and lots of green. Inside the green, there is the McLaren HQ. The structure of the building totally part of the nature, there is an artificial lake, precisely placed tree. While I was there, the view from the window was like a canvas. The building and nature so well integrated with each other and you would never think that McLaren is producing cars here, but they do.

I want to talk about the building a little bit more. It is a total perfection, everything is perfectly designed, measurement are precise. The air is in same temperature in each room, there is no thermal shock here. You don’t feel the cold weather from outside. And they achieved to isolate the smell in the food court from the rest of the building. By maintaining different air pressures.

The front part of the building is covered with glass and there are some curves. When it was first made, the wind was vibrating the glass. And McLaren F1 engineers designed a metal structure to eliminate this vibration through F1 technology.

And the corridors, when you first get inside you have the feeling that, I am in a James bond movie. Everywhere is perfect white, no dust or dirt at all. You go from tunnels, take lift with circular glass doors. There is nothing can annoy you with the building. Don’t think that, it is just limited with the management part.

I visited the manufacturing site of MP4-12C, where they produce the car. Manufacturing plant is usually involves with dirt, oil, bad odour. However, it looks cleaner than hospitals. I am extremely serious! The manufacturing site is so clean, and you started to question your personal cleanliness.

The paint shop? It is supposed to be dirty but it is cleaner than my five start hotels! Each car is painted by hand with people who are expert on their job. Perfection does not finish here, McLaren does not paint the parts of the cars separately. In order to sustain the same level of paint, all parts are painted together.

Later on, the rain test. I was expecting to see some water but no! They test each car with rain test and no single drop at all. And last, the high speed test inside a glass room. It is also supposed to smell exhaust gas but again there is no smell at all.

I saw manufacturing plants but I have never seen something like this on earth. And possibly cannot see in future as well. Even the manufacturing team wear Hugo Boss dresses from head to toe! They don’t have that ugly dresses like in other companies.

The MP4-12C, I witness to each stage of this car manufacturing. From naked chassis to ready for delivery. The manufacturing is so perfect, there is nothing wrong with the car. It is built like a luxury sedan. Parts are matching with no gap, the door is opened by sliding your fingers. The rear air brake works with hydraulic and acts as a proper air brake like in an airplane. One other example, navigation screen placed vertical to keep the car narrow!

The best part is the front head lights, at night you see the McLaren’s logo illuminated with LEDs and fins of sharks below it.

Lastly, McLaren is going to reveal more models! I don’t want to give more details. But I assure that, Veyron will not be alone anymore.

From what I see today, if you are planning to buy an exclusive sports cars. There is only one choice, McLaren MP4-12C. From design studio to customer delivery preparation, everything is perfect!

Is that all from McLaren, of course not ;) I want to keep some secret…

For more photo: Facebook Gallery

And here is my interview with Frank Stephenson


Frank Stephenson

A few hours ago, I found some interviews with Frank Stephenson on YouTube. If you don’t know Frank, I am sure you know his designs; BMW X5, Mini, Maserati MC12, Maserati Quattroporte, Ferrari F430, Ferrari 612, Fiat 500, McLaren MP4-12C and many other cars. In my opinions, he will be remembered as one of the most influential car designer in his era. Especially his interpretation of the new Mini and new Fiat 500 are the most remarkable cars of this century, and never getting old Quattroporte! 
We will find more about him on these interviews. And additional information to his Wikipedia page, he stayed in Istanbul, Turkey for six years!

Part 1

Part 2

Pictures’ Copyrights
Mini, Fiat, McLaren


Lancia in Venice Film Festival

Venice Film Festival started last week. If you expecting to read any commentary on the films, you are in wrong place. I am going to comment about the car, which took place during the red carpet. I cannot remember on which channel I watched the red carpet event, but the cars caught my attention!
As the event is taken place in Italy, I was expecting an Italian car brand for the stars’ logistical support. And I was right, Lancia is the sponsor! Venice Film Festival is sponsored by a stylish Italian car brand, nothing sounds wrong with this!
However, there is something going wrong during the event. The cars, which are transporting star to red carpet do not seem to be Lancia; from the back end they are resemblance to Maserati Quattroporte, but from the front they are exactly the same as a Chrysler. So, I did some Google research and I found out that, it is the new Lancia Thema.
New Thema is a combination of Fiat and Chrysler; looking American from the front and Italian from the rear. In other words, it is like a Pizza Hut in Italy! American company makes pizza in Italy :)
By the way, if you don’t from the front end Thema looks quite nice!

Pictures’ Copyrights

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Excellence of Fiat

Detroit motor show is a milestone for automotive industry. It will be remembered as an important turning point for Maserati. After the announcement from Fiat’s CEO Marchionnne, Maserati is not the old Maserati as we know.
For a quite long time, Maserati SUV rumour was buzzing in automotive world. And many people know that it was going to happen one day, because current Fiat CEO is so ambitious to turn Fiat into Volkswagen, an automotive empire. But he is doing it by ruining the brands! If you say this to him, he would say Porsche has an SUV also. But Porsche is not Maserati. Maserati is one of the most respectful brands in automotive industry and has a longer heritage than the Ferrari, therefore the products should reflect this cultural identity.
An SUV for Maserati and manufacturing it based on Jeep Grand Cherokee chassis is the worst thing you can do to Maserati. I don’t know anything worse than this, a Maserati based on Jeep! In order to produce SUV, Fiat will pour lots of money to this project and also Fiat has to compete with Land Rover, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, Audi. I can predict their point, Maserati is a niche brand and it will be a niche SUV! But it won’t be, because the competitors are the masters of SUV and they offer everything which consumers looking for. For that reason, Maserati SUV project will be a very expensive for Fiat. And also a big question mark for long term sales performance!
My opinion; instead of pouring cash into this interesting project, Fiat can focus on shifting the quality of Maserati vehicles and offer more technology. Maserati has an excellent design philosophy and if they offer a similar level of technology to Germans, nobody can keep up with it. Instead of spreading the energy of company into different projects, they should focus on improving the current projects.
Maserati SUV will receive high demand for short term but after the consumers lose their excitement towards the vehicles, everything will be the same!
Thanks to World Car Fans website for photos.
Pictures’ Copyrights


A detailed explanation for the problem of German Cars

For very long time I was trying understand what is wrong with German cars. I didn’t make mistake while writing, German cars. There is always something missing with them, I could not understand but German cars never have the same taste with Italian cars. Of course, I am not licking cars to identify their differences. I am pretty sure that all German cars would taste the same :)
And recently I found the problem with German cars. The huge problem which irritates me for very long and irritates many other people, I am using sales figures of Italian cars as a proof! German cars are offering everything; perfection, design (not all of them), efficient, luxury, perfect, gray, very gray, light gray, very dark gray and this goes forever. Germans cars are doing what you told them to do! Actually if a German car goes wrong, it terribly goes wrong. This happened in 2003-2004 with Mercedes E Class, electronic brake system and electronic control modules of C Class. Anyway, they don’t cause trouble anymore. The main thing is German cars are doing what they are supposed to do and they do not questionize. They just are doing it!
A German car always handles well, the automatic screen wipers always works with the same amount of rain, engine always makes the same sound, all the parts inside the car have the same millimetric distance within each other. This combination of perfection obsession is not matching with human being because we are not perfect and we want things different. I think the best explanation for German cars is they are like trains. They are doing what they are supposed to do, trains cannot change travel anywhere else than railway and they always follow a route.
The Italian cars are like pizza, each pizza is a unique dish. It is nearly impossible to have the same pizza, even if you manage to have the same one you cannot eat in the same way. All the mozzarella cheese will try to go somewhere else, you will try to make some weird moves to eat the slice and some vegetables will fell on your trousers while you are trying to clean your trousers, your elbow will hit to pizza. Basically each time you try to eat an Italian food, you will have a new adventure like in Italian cars. Each Italian car is totally unique, I don’t know how they manage to do it but they are excellent at producing each car unique. There is no identical twin of a Ferrari 458 or Alfa Romeo MiTo or Fiat 500. Even if the factory is robotized, their supplier may not be robotized and their production technique might be influence the employees emotional conditions.
Therefore each Italian car is like a sculpture, you cannot find the same one. And Italian cars do not react as you wished, try to control a Ferrari 599 GTO. Jeremy Clarkson tried to do it in “Italian Job” and he failed, try to control an Alfa MiTo diesel. The electronic systems will help you but the car will control you. You will do what the car is ordering you!
And lastly British cars; very basic definition, there is always something is missing. In order to proof this, just look at British taps! They have separate taps for hot and cold water. You cannot find this in other part of the world. British engineers never connect hot and cold water together, you either burn your hands or freeze your hand. There is no balance and you can face with this ugly truth even in the most prestigious hotels or in houses. Everything looks excellent, suddenly you want wash your hand, and you burn your hands!
You can find this in British cars also, everything is excellent. Design, materials, engines but you cannot have a door closing aid in a Bentley Azure. This is a very basic technology from Germans, when your door is not fully closed the hydraulic system closes for you. But you cannot have this in a Bentley Azure! This car costs more than a country and you have to close your door properly by yourself. But still I like British cars they are combination of Mr. Bean and Paul Smith shirt!
Pictures’ Copyrights
Mercedes, Pizza Express, Aston Martin, Deutsche Bahn, Maserati, Paul Smith


Why we buy Italian Cars? That’s love pain!

Why we Love Italian Cars? This is the second unanswered question after what is the solution for love pain! Italian cars don’t have very good reputation in automotive industry, especially for reliability. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia created some questions marks in everyone had, especially Alfa Romeo and Maserati were the king of trouble making! Many people were complaining about their Alfa Romeo or Maserati and they were talking about how it broke down on that street, on the bridge and etc. Of course I cannot consider them as a royal customers, they would probably never bought anything Italian.
But did this change the attitude towards Italian cars? Of course no. If you love car, you should love one Italian brand even if you don’t buy it. I did not say even if you cannot afford it. When I had my old Ford Focus in 2004, I had chance to Alfa Romeo 147 but I didn’t! Because I was afraid. Now I would definitely buy an Alfa Romeo MiTo, it is very sexy.
Many people were saying, don’t buy Italian cars but none of those brand were bankrupted! Actually Fiat bought all of them and saved them. This is the reality and they are still in business, also they are more reliable. There is only a slight problem with their reputation.
Recently I read an academic article which was mentioned on newspapers. In Rutgers University in USA, some scientists decided to investigate love pain. I really don’t know why they did this. Anyway, they found some people and them inside machine and they spotted the place on brain. Yes, the place which makes us malfunction when we are rejected or suffer from love sickness. Unfortunately I don’t have right to publish the images but we won’t understand anything from that.
The important point which I found out from the academic paper, Italian cars have the same impact on people. They are touching the same spots in the brain like love and when we lost our Italian car, we cannot forget it very easily. From the research, as the time passes the pain is diminishing but you can see Italian car very easily and you can buy one also. So you will not suffer from the pain.
From the combination from the academic research and my observations; I can suggests that Italian cars is touching the love points in our brains and we fall in love with those cars. Even though we know that Italian cars are not reliable, we try our chance once in a life time. For that reason, they still make profit. I am proud to find the answer for this unsolvable question.

The best picture to define this love is from Diesel’s advertisement campaign! Italian car needs “the balls” to own :)

Pictures’ Copyrights
Fiat, Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Diesel and Enzo Ferrari Movie


The coolest driver’s sun glass

Jason Barlow who is a great automotive journalist and currently writing in GQ UK and CAR magazines. Recently I read one of this article about driving sunglass; as he is writing in GQ this means that Jason has a sense of fashion unlike Jeremy Clarkson. So we can trust on Jason’s choices and mostly he is very good at that.
But in recent advice for driver sunglass was terrific. He suggested a brand called Serenti, actually I never heard of it and made some research on internet. As far as I can say, they are very good at optic business and they also have very clever designs. But the one which was recommended by GQ UK website was the worst one. A sun glass which looks like it is covered with animal print and looks really bad.
I don’t think that you would like to drive your Italian sport car with this sun glass. For that reason I did some research and found a better option. Unlike Jason’s article I don’t whether it has spectra control or photochromic or some other things which I have no idea. My recommendation is Italia Independent! They are Italian fashion company with great sense of design. I don’t care whether it has sensotronic something or ABS or air brake like Serenti but it looks excellent. Also it is offering ten different colours and one carbon fibre option! Yes, there is a carbon fibre sun glass :)
Sorry Serenti, carbon fibre is more sexy than sensotronic reflexive ABS system. I know Italia Independent may not offer the same comfort in some conditions but you will look much much better with them. And it is bit more expensive, if you could afford to buy an Italian car you can afford to buy this sun glass!
For more detilas about Italia Independent, click the link
Pictures’ Copyrights
Serenti, Italia Independent, Maserati

Wrong message from Audi!

Audi and Quattro; they are like Pamela Anderson and her boobs. Like we cannot think about Pamela without her boobs, we cannot consider Audi without Quattro. Quattro is the sophisticated four wheel drive technology of Audi. When you buy Quattro model of any Audi model, you will have four wheel powered by engine. And also this means, you have more money than people who bought a normal Audi. Silicone free Audi.
Honestly, I like four wheel drive because the place where I live, it snows and I don’t like to drive a front wheel or rear wheel drive car on snow. If you have an Audi Quattro, you will go around without any problem on adverse conditions. This means; snow, rain and similar things.

But if you are living in Cyprus, Malta, South of France or anywhere without snow you will not need a four wheel drive car. There is no point to have a four wheel drive! Especially with Audi Quattro! As the normal or cheap Audis are front wheel drive and this means, your car will under steer. Under steer is short form of you could not afford to buy a Mercedes or BMW or Ferrari or Maserati. Front wheel cars tend to slide straight while fast cornering or under heavy acceleration during the corner and this is called under steer. You approach to a corner a bit faster with front wheel car and you end up with the tree from front. If you have a rear wheel drive car, in same condition when all other variable are constant you will again hit to tree from the back side of the car. The rear wheel drive slides its back and this is very enjoying. Reference Top Gear video! If you buy a Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari, Maserati or anything rear wheel drive; you can slide the back of the car with pure enjoyment.

With Quattro? As the Quattro is four wheel drive system, you might think nothing will happen, it will neutral. As I mentioned, Audi loves its cheap soul, Quattro cars under steer! They slide from front like a front wheel drive car and you won’t have any enjoyment. Why? Because, you don’t enjoy when your VW Golf is under steering! Very basic. Therefore, I am not a fan of Audi Quattros! But I would prefer a Quattro Audi, if I have to buy an Audi.
So, Audi interpreted and analysed this problem and they came up with a great idea. Sport Rear Differential. From the Audi TV video, many of you will not understand anything about Sport Rear Differential. Actually this optional extra costs about extra € 1500, turns the boring Quattro into a hard core Quattro. With this mechanical toy, your Quattro will slide like a rear wheel car, like a Mercedes. You can burn you rear tyres while cornering or when full throttle on corner, it will slides its end :) After this optional toys, I started to like Audi Quattros :)
I think Audi should mentioned this more simple on their footage. The cost of enjoyment in an Audi? Just around €1500 !

Pictures Copyrights;
Audi, Mercedes, Pamela Anderson Website


Smaller Maserati!

German cars, they are the reflection of perfection. On their every bit, you can see their precisely calculated angles, perfectly designed fittings, easy to use state of art technology and a bit boredom! Exactly, Germans are built too seriously (by Clarkson) every kind of details, possibilities is designed in their ultra hygiene marketing department and precisely calculated and measured the competitors reaction. Technically; Mercedes, BMW or Audi have no weakness. From this point of view, we can consider anyone who is blond, tall and female as Karolina Kurkova! So this perspective is not working very well all time.
If you wish to buy a car on E Segment, you will end with Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 and Jaguar XF. All of these cars are excellent, they offer very different type of driving pleasure and comfort with wide range of engine options. Actually, they all have at least three pages of option lists. Heated seats, cooled seats, memory seats for driver, memory seats for passenger, automatic boot lid, iPod connection and many more! However, they lack of soul a bit. Okay, Jaguar can be excluded but still I cannot find an emotional motivation to jump on these cars. Mercedes E63 AMG, BMW M5, Audi RS6 and Jaguar XFR are the most powerful and great cars to drive. You will have lots of emotional power to buy them but again, you can see a E200 CDi diesel on street or an Audi A6 2,0 TDi manual! Jaguar is not offering small engines, not yet.
From this very accurately made analyses, I can say that there should be an Italian car on this segment. And there is going to be one! Small Maserati Quattroporte in 2015. Yes, we have to wait five more years for it. Probably, Maserati is testing the prototypes in the middle of nowhere right now. After 2015, this segment will not be the same again. The exquisite, the sexy, the mozzarella powered small Maserati will be on earth. I am not expecting similar sales performance like Germans and it will probably be more expensive but it deserves. And most probably, this Maserati will not be offering night vision camera or cross wing stability control or some other “I want to grab more money” options but it will have its soul of essence.
Pictures are taken from;
Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Maserati and Mercedes Websites

Forgotten beauty, VW Phaëton

Phaëton; for many of you this word does not mean anything, or you just remember something but that’s not clear! Phaëton is coming Greek Mythology, however VW decide to honour this mythological value with a car which cannot be remembered by many people. VW Phaëton is similar to brands which were forgotten in department stores. Places like Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue or Selfridges there are millions of brands and we cannot even remember many of them after we left the store. Sometimes those brands which cannot be remembered might be the best designed one. Like in automotive business, fashion business has its emperors and anything new to this jungle has to do much to gain a place!
In Phaëton case things are bit different! It was not the fault of Phaëton, it was being badged as VW. Unlike contemporary fashion brands, VW is very well known but its product is suffering to be forgotten. Unfortunately, VW brand is not perceived like Mercedes for luxury segment, therefore people don’t consider this as an option to buy. However this forgotten car had always very remarkable design, now with the face lift it became one of the best designed car on its segment. Actually, it is much better looking that Audi A8, sorry!
F Segment cars; Mercedes S Class, BMW 7 Series, Maserati Quattroporte, Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 are the players in this segment. As you can imagine, competition is really tough! Similar to haute coutre business! As you expected the king of this market is Mercedes S Class, despite it looks too traditional many people still adore this car. Maserati Quattroporte is the playboy car of this segment, actually this is the only car which has a proper soul in it. But it does not offer the sophisticated toys like in Mercedes. And we know the Jaguar, it is Jaguar :) Audi A8 is trying everything to compete with BMW and Mercedes but it does not have so much competitive power but there are many people who loves it. And honestly, A8 is very good car.
The Phaëton, I don’t know why since it was first revealed I liked this car. There was something different in this car, may be it was the new car in this segment, may be its unique technologies like human friendly climate control. But it could not compete with its rivals and became a icon for VW.
However the new facelifted model is totally something different. Actually it is more than face lift, this Phaëton look gorgeous! Especially the production quality inside is superb and the front grille is exquisite. Also it has many technologies put inside.
I think if you wish to buy something different and reliable, you should check Phaëton! It is really worth every word. Like the brand which we forgot in department store :)
Audi A8
BMW 7 Series
Mercedes S Class
Maserati Quattrporte
Jaguar XJ
Pictures are taken from;
Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, Jaguar and Maserati Websites