Friday, March 8, 2013

Designers on Design: McLaren’s Frank Stephenson on Ferrari LaFerrari

Designers on Design: McLaren’s Frank Stephenson on Ferrari LaFerrari

On day one of the 83rd annual Geneva Auto Show, I spoke with McLaren design chief Frank Stephenson on his new P1 supercar. An hour later, I ran into him at Ferrari’s busy booth where he and P1 program chief engineer Paul Mackenzie were taking a close look at the LaFerrari flagship.

Motor Trend: What are your first impressions?

Frank Stephenson: I think it’s pretty good actually. I heard all kinds of rumors and likes and dislikes…and these cars should be like that anyways. But I think it’s very nice. They’ve made a Ferrari out of it, which is good. Definitely moving on from the Enzo. This looks like a real Ferrari! I do like it…beautiful sculpture…

FS: [Pointing to an arc along the rear flank] I don’t agree with that line because it doesn’t do anything. That’s something we would have never done at McLaren. That line has no reason to be there.

MT: How did you get in here?

FS: [Laughs] I walked in! I used to work here!

MT: Yeah, but how did you get [Paul McKenzie] in here?

FS: I asked Luca!

Interestingly enough, later that night, I was chatting with Robert Cumberford, Automobile magazine’s automotive design editor, about the cars we had seen at the show and he echoed Stephenson’s thoughts on the Ferrari – including his dislike of the character line on the flank. Great designers do think alike.