Aston Martin has nothing to worry about.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that Aston lawyers sent celebrity designer Henrik Fisker a letter warning him not to unveil his VFL Automotive Force 1 supercar in Detroit on Wednesday. They were said to have claimed that the car looked too similar to the Aston Martin DB10 and to have demanded that Fisker change the design in order to avoid conflict with Aston Martin's copyrights.
Following the VFL Automotive Force 1's debut on Wednesday, nobody would confuse Fisker's car with anything so beautiful.
Yes, the rear end has elements that, from some angles, could resemble that DB10, but the rest of it is aggressively differentiated. The massive, long hood has air vents like a rib cage with the arrogance of a Corvette; the carbon fiber wing sits so far up on the top of the carbon fiber roof that it looks as if it has been misplaced. (One man I know compared it to a poorly rendered lower back tribal tattoo; no comment.) The sides are cut out and low, like a radiator scooping the ground.
The car's best feature is its tiny, curved side windows, which follow the line pulling from the front nose through the side, ending in elegant wisps that point down toward the rear. Fisker said they’re a new element in keeping with the main idea of the car: to show off.
“This is an American supercar, and American cars are always about 'show what you got—be upfront,'" Fisker said. “European cars are more about what’s underneath. But this is all about showing the power.”
The long hood, too, is there for a reason. It makes up more than half the car in order to house a 8.4 liter V10, 745-horsepower engine. Force 1 will go 218 miles per hour and will hit 60mph in 3 seconds. It all makes sense, again, because Fisker says the car is an exercise in ostentation.
“We will have electric cars in the future, but just like we don’t want to eat salad every day, we want a steak very once in a while, or maybe a dessert. This is steak and dessert,” he said.
Fisker isn’t yet allowing test drives of this beast. But with a chassis supplied from Karma Automotive, a bunch of torque in the lower gears, and that V10 engine, suffice it to say that Force 1 will be extremely unique. (He told me proudly that it’ll be something you can “have a lot of fun in without breaking the speed limit.”)
One thing Force 1 really isn’t about: making money. Fisker said the reason he made this car is so wealthy men will have an American option for spending $268,000 on a car. (It will be sold globally, but I expect most buyers will be American.) He said he expects that these men will already own several other luxury cars—Land Rovers, maybe a McLaren—and will relish the opportunity to buy something born in the U.S.A. Better yet, he doesn’t really need to make that many of them—his new venture with GM icon Bob Lutz, VFL Automotive, is using preexisting design facilities in California and manufacturing facilities in Michigan to make the new model, not to mention chassis supplied by Fisker Automotive. That means their costs, even when they use such elements as that pure carbon fiber rooftop, are pretty low.
Fisker has a lot on his plate as it is. He will unveil a Benetti yacht in February at the Miami Boat Show, host a TV show with Esquire that will offer a competition among car designers, and develop an as-yet unnamed company that will deal with electric cars. (He sold the rights to make the Fisker Karma but retains rights to the name.) The Force 1, more than anything, is an exercise for a prolific designer who just loves cars.
“When I design a car, I want people to look at it and go, ‘Wow, that’s kind of interesting’ and do a second take,” Fisker said. “When you are pulling into a restaurant for dinner, you will be the only one to have this car. We want to be a little niche player with this company, to offer that to people.”
He’ll make only 100 or so of them this year. Production starts in April.
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