Sunday, June 20, 2010

Evolution of Design, Evolution of Thought

My chop of the Audi S5 coupe, the Stiletto, done just after the first press photos were released almost 3 years ago. I didn't think that Audi would actually produce a 5 door version of the coupe; the A4 already has the sedan and wagon markets covered, and Audi hadn't made a hatchback version of the it's larger mainstream cars. I used a straight beltline, a long-time Audi styling trait. Click each image to see in greater detail.

Not a chop, but rather a tuner version of the actual S5 Sportback introduced earlier this year. This bodystyle won't be sold in the United States, at least that's the decision right now. The rising beltline threw me for quite a while, I just didn't "get" it. (Photo from

My much earlier chop of an Audi sedan concept, made into a modern-day 100 coupe. The yellow coupe is the 1970 Audi 100 coupe, a bodystyle never sold in the USA, but one of the great looking moderate-priced European coupes of that era, in my humble opinion. I used the 1970 100 coupe's upward curving rear side window to deliberately place this new coupe squarely in the Audi design lineage. 

C H O P S — When I first saw the images of Audi's A5/S5 Sportback concept last year, I was surprised by the rising beltline, terminating in an almost BMW-like Hoffmeister kink sweeping up for the rearmost side window. Audi's longtime styling tradition of a flat beltline and an elegantly curved and arching roofline had been supplanted. 

The production A5/S5 2 door coupe, designed by Walter de Silva had introduced flamboyance into the Teutonic bodysides with gently waving and bulging bodywork, directly opposite of every previous Audi sedan and Avant going back to the late 1970s. It wasn't until I saw an A5 in person that it all made sense, and I was a convert. BUT, the Sportback's beltline really threw me for a loop. I just couldn't understand where it had come from, why the designers would go in that direction, so obviously "off" for the marque. The next Audi concept, the larger A7 Sportback showed the same design cue, and I still didn't get it. 

Looking through my Photobucket album to find chops to post in this blog, I came across my Audi 100 coupe chop from several years ago. In a rare nod to my inspiration, I included a 1970 Audi 100 coupe in the chop for historical perspective. Eureka! The rising beltline and curved rear side window was present in an Audi all the way back to the early '70s! I couldn't believe I hadn't 'gotten' the Sportback's nod to the past immediately. I should have trusted de Silva's design team, I should have had more confidence in their sensibilities, good taste, and intelligent design decisions. I won't be second-guessing them the next time I'm flummoxed. And I really hope they keep me on my toes with their next new cars!

If you 'read' the design images in the order I posted, with my chops on top and bottom, you'll see how the production A5/S5 fits in perfectly with once and future production models. Bravo, Walter!

A word about my chopping philosophy—Pushing Pixels, lol. . . 

Even though many of my chops are cars 'of the future' ie, an extension or addional bodystyle for an existing model, I don't really try to predict what the actual designers will do. There are a couple of awesome choppers out there that have made a career out of predicting what a future car will look like, and they have their work published in magazines and websites. Their workmanship is flawless and they deserve every success and then some. 

I take a slightly different direction with my car creations. While I'll try to guess which car might come next, I create cars I want to see in MY driveway, the cars I always doodled as a kid. For instance, I love the entire look, feel, and ergonomics of suicide doors, so you'll see me use them often—not just on Lincoln Continentals. I like cars that are low to the ground with low roofs, large wheels and tires, and I like judicial use of chrome. I'm constantly reading about the history of cars, at least an hour every day, and I make frequent use of each marque's historical cues in an updated fashion for a [hopefully] contemporary look. I tend to use tried-and-true old-school kustom kar touches such as sectioningchanneling and chopping (the last technique refers to lowering the roof on it's supporting pillars, not the act of photoshopping, see Wiki link below). This really couldn't be done for a production car's addional hatchback bodystyle, or wagon version, and keep the pricepoint anywhere near the original, but I don't limit myself since I'm not really trying to accurately predict a production car... Of course,  I've done several chops 'their' way as well, but my core chops tend to be more fanciful and dramatic...

So even though I start with a press photo of some carefully thought-out production car, I never limit myself to what would be technically possible for a facelift. I treat the production cars as just a starting point, and let my imagination, and my eye-hand-mouse coordination, run free as a bird. (cue Lynerd Skynerd's Freebird, lol).

For the Wiki on these old-school custom car techniques, click here.
For an interesting short history of the early Audi 100s, check the Wiki here.


  1. Casey,

    I'm loving the Audi chops, particularly the Stiletto. I think Audi is doing an amazing job these days by themselves, but you always seem to tweak things to make them even better. My only gripe with them is that they are replacing the S5's V8 with the V6 -- in my dreams I'd have an S5 cabriolet with the 4.2 V8 and the six-speed manual -- but it's not to be. Oh well.


  2. thanks! there is a black S5 hardtop in my town, and it literally takes my breath away every time I see it.

    I wish VW/Audi could get their act together with their electrical systems! I'd say 90% of cars I see with one head- or taillight out is one of theirs. I even saw a brand new A5 the other day with the 'eyelash' LEDS not working on the passenger side.

    I also saw an RS8 sedan last Friday in my grocery store parking lot, pretending to be a normal car, lol. It was the short wheelbase model, which I wasn't aware of being sold in the states. I almost fell off my bicycle doing a double take. Maybe it was a gray market car.

  3. Casey,

    They do (or did) sell the standard length car in the "hot rod" version that you saw (that has the V10, right?). I think they might have even sold it as a regular A8 but I don't think I've ever seen one. I believe the new one will be A8L only.

  4. thanks! oddly, and i'm only working on my first cup of coffee this morning, I can't find any specs for the large S8 in an RS version. I've found the 'regular' S8 with the 450hp V10, and the RS8 midengine sports car, but no mention of an RS version of the large car. It definitely had RS on the grille, and the grille had extra chrome vertical blades in it. The wheels were huge also, I"d guess 20 or 21 and the rear had quad exhaust the size of my upper arms and another RS badge. This just affirms I need to stick the small digital camera in my cargo shorts whenever I ride to town!

  5. Love the Stilletto Casey... The rear-end is AWESOME. I always thought someone would get the "premium sedan segment with a hatch" right. [I owned a Merkur Scorpio and it was the MOST functional car I've ever owned... when it was, er... 'functioning' lol]. I think the Stilletto would make a great A8! Once again Casey, you are the man!

    RW, -Scottsdale, AZ

  6. thanks again! you can be sure my Audis would have fully functioning electrical systems! I loved those Merkurs back in the day! Maybe I'll chop one soon...