When Car Design News got wind of Smart preparing a concept car with fashion designer Jeremy Scott just after the Paris show there was considerable concern. Known for his outrageous designs for a plethora of popstars – including Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Beyonce, as well as winged high-top sneakers for Adidas – it didn’t seem like Smart and Scott were exactly a perfect fit.
But we’re happy to be proved wrong and say the resulting concept actually has way more substance than we were expecting. Firstly, significant changes have been made to the exterior and interior – it’s far more than a few lazy tweaks to colour and trim with exterior decals added, as is so often the case with such collaborations. Secondly, the changes have been executed with skill and care. The predicted wing additions aren’t flimsy like their Adidas cousins but bristling with LEDs and properly worked into the design of the wider track rear fenders; the new dashboard air vents really do look like Madonna’s conical metal bra, as intended, and the overall quality of the quilted leather seat finish and real chrome-dipped interior parts does resemble the look and smell of a designer handbag, as Scott wanted.
Thirdly, and perhaps most surprisingly, Smart is aiming to put the concept into small-scale production – maybe up to 200 – so not the usual cut-and-run one-off marketing ruse. Of course they’ll have to be some changes for safety and feasibility reasons, like 50 per cent smaller wings for a start, and a likely Brabus-sized circa £5000 price hike over the regular Smart fortwo, but still, there’s something solidly fun about this concept. And the fact that it’s already annoying traditional ‘car guys’ on internet chat forums makes it funnier still – and brave of Smart to follow through on.
As the normally conservative-with-a-small ‘c’ head of Mercedes Interior design, Hartmut Sinkwitz candidly told Car Design News: “When I saw his Adidas sports shoes I immediately thought we should use the wings. It has to be crazy enough to be provocative and more collaborative than just sponsoring fashion shows. A brand needs emotional highlights, it won’t be loved for reliability alone. This concept is about mixing the freedom of the fashion industry with the careful execution of the car industry.”
And done with conviction, fair play to that.
By Guy Bird