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The Automotive Retrofuture

At this year’s Geneva Motor Show, what’s old was new and what’s new felt old

by Josh Rubin
on 10 March 2017

The Geneva Motor Show stands out from the other car shows in the circuit for its high concentration of super cars, specialty coach builders and generally esoteric automotive presentations. It’s for this reason that we love the show and also consider it a glimpse of what might come next for the industry at large. The curiosities of this year’s show were inarguably dominated by a blurring of the line between old and new. We saw models from the '80s reincarnated with the latest technology, well-known coach builders clinging to classic forms and all-new hypercars given 1950s details. Here are five examples of what we mean.

RUF CTR

Paying homage to their famed 1987 “Yellow Bird” rebuild of a Porsche 911, RUF’s 2017 CTR is now entirely their own—aside from the classic form. The carbon fiber body is made in-house and sits on a custom chassis. Their engine design also references the original Porsche version, but now with significantly more power. While it’s still a six-speed manual and has analog gauges, features like head- and tail-lamps have been appropriately modernized. Only 30 units will be produced; deliveries begin in 2018 and a price has not yet been announced.

McLaren 720S

Succeeding the 650S, McLaren’s latest masterpiece introduces their newly evolved design language for the Super Series—their core products. While nothing about the styling is superfluous, head designer Rob Melville’s sculptural “double-skin” aerodynamic form creates airflow channels that hug the cockpit with beauty fit for outer space. Inside the 720S classic materials and the smell of saddle leather counter-balance the thoughtfully designed infotainment system, whose technological capabilities rival the largest auto manufacturers. And the thinly caged greenhouse affords 360-degree visibility reminiscent of George Jetson’s flying saucer.

David Brown Speedback GT

The DB in many of Aston Martin’s classic and contemporary model names stands for David Brown; a different David Brown from the creator of this Aston-ish tourer. Holding on to his love of classic '60s form, but leveraging modern advanced technologies he and a small team have created the Speedback GT, a hand-built touring coupe that looks classic at a glance but is remarkably contemporary. Imagine a 1963 DB5 elongated and kitted out with power seats and full infotainment.

Techrules Ren

Chinese manufacturer Techrules presented the Ren, an electric supercar with a gas turbine (read: jet engine) range extender. The coach is designed by Italdesign’s Fabrizio and Giorgetto Giugiaro and features a fighter jet-like glass canopy that opens up and back from the seating area. While the car feels very Speed Racer, the bubbled (one for each passenger) top suggests interstellar adventures. Meanwhile, the denim seats bring a bit of the '70s in to the mix.

Artega Scalo Superelletra by Superleggera

German sportscar-maker Artega collaborated with Italian coach builder Superleggera to make an electric version of the Scalo called Superelletra. While the overall design follows Scalo’s language its longer, wider and lower stance feels even more '70s muscle car than before. An ironic twist for their first electric vehicle.

Images courtesy of their respective brands

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