Parts of the Whole

6 Beautiful Car Design and Engineering Details


October 31, 2019 Cars By
From Issue Seven of Gear Patrol Magazine.

It makes sense that a beautiful car would be made of beautiful parts. And while the smaller components of some luxury vehicles aren’t aesthetic masterpieces in their own right, they’re often interesting works of engineering (and proper middle fingers to design conventions). It’s only a bonus, then, that the following elements are attached to uniquely desirable automobiles. Here’s a handful of notable details that, in a sea of relatively homogenous vehicles, stand out as beacons of style and design.

Volvo Gearshift by Orrefors

Leave it to a decidedly Swedish premium automaker to offer an attractive yet understated crystal shift knob on top-trim levels of select vehicles. Volvo has been killing it design-wise as of late, with gorgeous new models debuting in rapid succession. But its attention to detail doesn’t stop at the sheet metal. Inside the spartan yet luxurious cabin of Volvo’s XC60 T8 is a crown jewel handmade by the Swedish crystal makers Orrefors. The brilliantly clear, stubby shifter in this top-end, four-seat SUV is as pleasing to the eye as in the hand. There have been many superb shift knobs and levers in the history of the automobile, but as modern examples go, this one is king.

XC60 Inscription T8 Specs
Engine: supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4; 9.2-kW-hr lithium-ion battery-powered electric motor
Transmission:8-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 313; 87; 400 combined
Torque: 295 lb-ft; 177 lb-ft; 472 lb-ft combined
Price: $57,695

Second-Generation Ford GT Buttress

At once aerodynamically functional and outrageous, this buttress is unlike almost anything else you’ll find on a road car. It connects the rear-wheel housing to the main cabin, giving what would otherwise be a relatively skeletal carbon-fiber body the appearance of having much more surface area. It also allows you to see straight through the side of the car. In addition to looking alien, the buttress diverts airflow, reduces drag and increases downforce.

Second-Generation Ford GT Specs
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch; rear-wheel drive
Horsepower: 647
Torque: 550 lb-ft
Curb weight: 3,354 lbs
0-60 mph: 2.8 seconds
Top speed: 216 mph
Price: ~$450,000
Total built: 1,000

Bentley ‘Organ Stop’ HVAC Vent Knobs

Bentley’s charming, stodgy British nature shines through in this detail. Instead of a small flip-style tab like you’d see in virtually any other car, these organ-stop pulls open and close each HVAC vent, giving an otherwise plain dashboard a lot of blingy texture. They also harken back to a time when everything on a car — whether it was on a coach-built Bentley or a Model T — was handcrafted and manually operated.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Specs
Engine: 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged W12
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch
Horsepower: 626
Torque: 664 ft-lbs
Curb weight: 4,947 lbs
Top speed: 207 mph
0-60: 3.6 seconds
Price: $214,600

Koenigsegg Dihedral Doors

Unconventional door hinges can be functionally necessary — there isn’t room in the real world for a wide supercar’s doors to swing outward — but sometimes their existence is nothing but ostentatious peacocking. The Koenigsegg dihedral doors are mostly the former, but with a tangible dose of the latter: they push outward horizontally then rotate around an axis, eventually settling at a 90-degree angle.

Koenigsegg Regera Specs
Engine: 5.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8; three electric motors
Transmission: Koenigsegg Direct Drive; rear-wheel drive
Horsepower: 1,500 (V8 and electric motors combined)
Torque: 1,475 lb-ft
Curb weight: 3,510 lbs
Top speed: 250+ mph (est.)
0-60: 2.8 seconds
Price: $1.9 million (est.)

Lincoln 30-Way Perfect Position Seats

Most rental-car seats adjust four ways (they recline and slide forward and backward), while your dad’s “nice” car may have an eight-way seat that also rises and lowers. Thanks to 11 separate air cushions, Lincoln’s seats are customizable in 30 directions, meaning you can almost literally find the perfect position for your posterior (and back). Their articulation and appointment are second to none.

2018 Lincoln Navigator Specs
Engine: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
Transmission: 10-speed automatic; four-wheel drive
Horsepower: 450
Torque: 510 lb-ft
Top speed: 115 mph
0-60: 5.5 seconds
Towing capacity: 8,700 lbs
Price: $72,555 (base)

Alpina B6 Gran Coupe Wheels

Alpina-modified BMW cars are hyperbole on wheels. Faster than a streak, these cars are big and brash, but they tend to feature minimal bodywork and solar additions. The wheels of the BMW Gran Coupe, however, are a dead giveaway that car has been magicked into something special. The 20-spoke rims look magnificent at speed, but standing still is when they truly shimmer.

Alpina B6 Gran Coupe Specs
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8
Transmission: either-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 591
Torque: 590 lb-ft
Curb weight: 4780 lbs
Top speed: 199 mph
0-60: 3.6 seconds
Price: $124,000 (base)

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe Tail End

In an homage to the inimitable 1960s Jaguar E-Type, the F-Type is a modern miracle of retro design. It doesn’t look hokey, as some other recent retro-inspired vehicles have, but instead offers a contemporary take on a very sexy shape. The rear end lifts to such a sharp point that it impinges on trunk space; the kind of impracticality only the most dedicated enthusiasts accept.

2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR Coupe Specs
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 575
Torque: 516 lb-ft
Top speed: 200 mph
0-60: 3.5 seconds
Price: $122,750 (base)
Read More in Gear Patrol Magazine


A version of this story appears in Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Seven. Subscribe Now: $39

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