This week in London, BMW hosted an event showing off their latest concept vehicles from its motorcycle division, Mini, BMW, and Rolls Royce. It was a celebration of the past, the present, and a prediction of the future in personal motoring.
Concept cars are always a treat; it’s one of the few times when auto designers are let loose to create what they want without engineers or accountants imposing their will on the final product. It’s a chance, if you will, for a brand to show their full range of abilities in designing and building cars. It doesn’t always matter if the car is a one-off and will never come close to seeing a production line; rather, it’s a way for us to imagine what the future may hold.
Rolls Royce’s concept, the 103EX, has become the cover photo on all the main auto sites this week because of its radical design. A hyper-luxury, fully electric, autonomous super car. The most common word I have seen used to describe this car has been “striking”, which is accurate, but I will go one further and say it’s gorgeous! It reminds me of Preston Tucker’s concept design of his Torpedo from the 1940’s.
The front fender skirts make it look like the 130EX should be on highway in the city of Tron rather than on a plain black asphalt road. This isn’t a car, it’s a true land yacht. Powered by two-electric motors for a total output of 670 hp, or 500 kW. And since its autonomous, the cockpit is more of a two-seater lounge with a loveseat in which to commute. Since the seating is positioned at the far back of the sleek fastback rear, the luggage space is a compartment hidden in-between the front wheels and the doors. It opens up and you think you are going to see some James Bond or Green Hornet type of weaponry, but instead you see a set of luggage ready to be taken by someone who works for tips.
Ironically, this car reminded me of a cartoon from 1951. Tex Avery’s Car of Tomorrow was, and still is, one of my favorite cartoons. There, Avery showed big cars with wacky gadgets that offered very little practical use, but are in the car to justify its luxury. In a way, Tex Avery’s vision of the future of cars – 60+ years ago – wasn’t far off.
The 103EX is beautifully sinister. Yes, some people can say it’s too much and looks vulgar, but it doesn’t matter because it’s a concept car. It’s supposed to be over-the-top and exciting to look at. All concept cars want to make a statement and with the 103EX the message is “money can buy happiness.” I think it looks like the perfect car to cast for a futuristic villain. Put it in a modern remake of the 1977 cult classic The Car, since rehashing old movies seems to be the Hollywood cash cow for this decade. I hope Rolls Royce keeps some of the details from the 130EX in their future production designs.