Pure engineering design, or pure industrial design, is a rare beast in the world of mass production, though you see flashes of it in some products.
The idea that if you engineer something purely for its intended function, the perfect form will spontaneously appear is seductive, but rarely true. And when it does happen, it’s rarely popular.
Hard-core modernist architecture – flat-roofed, glazed, boxes in effect – were translated into mass-housing with disastrous results. Such intellectual purity will always be an acquired taste.
Which is why pure modernism has rarely found expression in the automotive industry. No manufacturer can take the risk of producing a purely engineering driven but stylistic dud when every single sale counts.
The original Fiat Panda had some purist touches, including the flat glass (to reduce manufacturing costs) and the simple and cheap hammock rear seat.
The original Range Rover was probably the first car exhibited as an exemplar of industrial design, because its basic layout was driven by engineers with the stylists just stepping in for some surfacing and detail work.
Murray’s T25 is arguably the first real attempt in recent years at building a purely engineered car, one so focused that it is also shaped by its streamlined and simplified manufacturing process. We don’t know the full thinking behind the T25, but I know that doors are one of the most complex and expensive parts of any car.
Perhaps that’s why Murray as decided to engineer a single ‘door’ and merge it in with the front crash structure. The number of parts and the number of manufacturing processes could have been slashed.
But the result is stylistically uncompromising. It might well appeal to those with a design and engineering bent. And there might be enough people like that in Western Europe to sustain a couple of factories.
Personally, though, I wonder how the T25 will go down in developing nations, were it is arguably more relevant.
Quite a few car designers regretted that the Tata Nano wasn’t more of an uncompromising piece of pure industrial design. But Tata himself knew that aspirational middle class Indians wanted something that looked as close to a grown up Western supermini as possible.
The T25 might find resistance to its purist post-industrial lines in just the sort of booming mega cities in which it would excel.
Western governments are edging towards restricting car use in cities. Eastern governments aren’t and they might welcome the T25 with open arms. Whether style conscious first-generation Asian consumers (from all points of the compass will do the same) is another matter.