Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tjaarda Design - part 9 - Rayton Fissore 2

In an additional note Tom Tjaarda wrote me about the Rayton Fissore MAGNUM / LAFORZA:

Designed in 1984 while I headed up the Rayton-Fissore Design Group, this project is significant in that it really started the era of the SUV type vehicle. It was the very first big off-road vehicle to use soft and rounded forms and to take this type of car away from the "truck-like" design concepts used previously.

More than 6000 of the MAGNUM / LAFORZA vehicles were eventually produced, starting in 1985, interrupted a few times and then continuing to 1998 - and put back into production with a revised design in 2003. The Magnum / LaForza Turin PSV features a 455 hp supercharged motor, driving 160 mph, luxury interior and a 2 ton frame. 
Available as a High Performance model or a fully ARMORED PERSONAL SECURITY VEHICLE (picture in front of the exquisite Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas). It is the only factory-built armored luxury PSV in the world.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tjaarda Design - part 9 - Rayton Fissore 1

Tjaarda got restless after four years at Fiat, one reason being that the design center suffered from weak management which resulted mostly in all the important vehicles not being designed in-house but rather outside at Italdesign, Bertone and Pininfarina.

A new challenge came along to set up a design center for a group located outside Torino in the historic town of CHERASCO. Gulio Malvino, who was married to the daughter of the famed coach building family Fissore, had created a small factory to design and fabricate prototypes and small production armored cars and trucks.
Also involved in this business was GIANMARIO ROSSIGNOLO, who was the president and managing director of Lancia for many years and a friend of Tom Tjaarda.

Many interesting projects resulted from this new company. The Spanish company of SEAT AUTO had recently split with Fiat and were on their own now, looking for design expertise.

Tjaarda's relationship with Ford and Mr. LEE IACOCCA, who was now CEO at Chrysler, resulted in a number of prototypes being designed and built in the town of Cherasco. Also personal armored cars were built for Lancia, a very special jazzed up truck tractor called "cowboy" produced for Iveco, and then the now famous RAYTON FISSORE 4X4 MAGNUM, considered to be the very first SUV type vehicle, was then produced for the following eighteen years!

Following is a complete list of the vehicles which Tjaarda designed while working at Rayton Fissore:

SEAT RONDA                                                        production                      1981

SEAT GUAPPA COUPÉ                                         show car                         1981

CHRYSLER LEBARON                                           concept prototype           1982

CHRYSLER IMPERIAL                                           concept prototype           1982

SAAB VIKING                                                        SHOW CAR                   1982 

TORINO TAXI                                                         prototype                        1983

RAYTON FISSORE MAGNUM                                PRODUCTION                 1984 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tjaarda Design - part 8 - Fiat Auto

The job offer from Fiat came about in the winter of 1978, and turned out to be an interesting proposition in that it was a managing position for the Fiat Advanced Design Studio.

Working for such a big organization was a bit different form Tjaarda's previous experience but it was here that he was able to learn the techniques of industrial giants internal methods of management.
It was a difficult period regarding automotive design, especially at Fiat with many strikes and adverse political conditions. On the other hand many interesting developments were applied to car design such as the use of the wind tunnel for aerodynamic efficiency and the use of color-coded plastics for integrated bumpers.

Working in a design office together with 15 designers and modelers, the four years at Fiat resulted in a number of interesting prototypes with Tjaarda working this time not as an individual designer but as group manager. Following are a few of the projects which resulted in prototypes and styling demonstration models.

TIPO 4 - LANCIA / FIAT - 4 door                           styling models    1979

FIAT POLAND - off-road vehicle                            prototype            1979

FIAT BRAZIL                                                      prototype            1980

FIAT BRAZIL - small car                                      styling model      1980

FIAT 124 - restyling                                             prototype           1980

LANCIA Y-10                                                      PROTOTYPE     1981 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tjaarda Design - part 7 - Sinthesis

While still working at Ghia, Tjaarda teamed up with a friend, Peter Giacobbi, to design and build a running prototype. Called the SINTHESIS, this concept vehicle was hand built over a two year period. Using the power and suspension unit of the LANCIA FLAVIA placed in a mid-ship position, a new chassis was designed by Giacobbi and a coupé sports car body designed by Tjaarda to complete this hobby project.

The car was shown in the TURIN AUTO SHOW in 1972. The public showing of this one-off prototype turned out to be shocking and created dramatic speculation as to who did it, where did it come from and what was its purpose. Even DeTomaso called his friends at Fiat to find out if they had engaged Tjaarda to work for them !

The ashes settled when both Giacobbi and Tjaarda produced all the evidence that it was indeed - a hobby project.

The SINTHESIS was awarded the PEOPLES CHOICE AWARD in the 2011 LA QUINTA DESERT CLASSIC CONCOURS d'ELEGANCE (scroll furter down), in the 1992 CONCORSO ITALIANO  and was also displayed at the 1997 PEBBLE BEACH  CONCOURS d'ELEGANCE. The car is now in permanent display in a Automobile Museum in southern California.

The divided circle selected as THE LOGO for Giacobbi's and Tjaarda's one-off GT coupe, Sinthesis, tells the whole story: "The Yin and Yang of it", to use the owner's words.

Giacobbi and Tjaarda have accomplished an ambition that most of us have merely fantasized....they have had a car built to their own specifications. By that, we don't mean anything so prosaic as ordering from some manufacturer's lengthy list of options, powertrains and colors. Anyone could have done that, at least up until a few decades or so ago. Engineer Giacobbi and designer Tjaarda spent two years creating a one-off GT solely for their own personal gratification, a car they intended to drive daily as his "beater". Built in 1970, Synthesis was the first car to be fitted with air bags - for both driver and passenger.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tour along the magnificent Croatian Adriatic coast 2

As mentioned in my previous post, the initiator of the tour in Croatia along the Adriatic Coast is Sany Antonio and can easily be recognized by one of his 8 (eight!) Fiat Spiders as you may see HERE.
And a number of his Spiders HERE.

Sany wrote earlier about his passion for the 124 Spider: 
Myself, I am an Italian sportscar collector. My 'Spider-connection' and involvement with the 124 Spiders started 40 years ago. I had and enjoyed many of them. In the late 60' I lived in Bavaria, when I bought my 1st 124 Spider, a 1400 ccm AS model. I remember driving my Spiders even during the winter, when going skiing in the Alps!

From the late 70' I lived for 7 years in South Africa and there, I have found and also bought the only 2 Spiders available (in the whole country). Of course, I did restore them too, and drove them all over. I made few long trips in South Africa and several times I visited even the Cape of Good Hope with my black 1968 AS Spider.
In 1984 I moved to California and of course, soon I have found new Spiders and drove them all along the Pacific coast from Mexico to Oregon and all across the USA.
In an 1983 DS Spider I drove from Los Angeles, along the Route 66, all the way to Chicago and Detroit. I was close to the Niagara falls, have crossed America from North to South, to Georgia and Florida. And at all times I had at least a few Fiat 124 Spiders in my garage.

Then in 1996 I did move my vintage car collection back to Europe. There were 11 cars, those that I 'could not' leave behind and 'had' to ship from Los Angeles to Bremen. Later, one by one, I drove them down to the Mediterranean, back to the roots, to Croatia. Since then, I have sold a few of them, as the storage/ parking space has become a problem here.
Soon after I moved here, in 1997 I founded our Spider Club Croatia.

Details about the day-to-day Adriatic Coast / Croatia round trip program you find HERE.

About the approximate costs of lodging during the tour Sany Antonio reports:
If you would choose an accommodation in a private apartment you would have to spend Euro 80- for a very good & clean apartment per night for 2 persons. That does not include breakfast, as one can get things in a nearby store and prepare breakfast in the apartment or just have in a nearby café a coffee, tea, juice & a croissant for just a few Euros. 
And those are the prices in the SELCE region (in the North on the Croatian coast) and in Split we have a nice lodging in a little private hotel right by the water for about 45- Euros per person, including a nice breakfast too. In Dubrovnik I have also found good , nice and clean rooms for Euro 50- per night for 2, included breakfast. This lodging is right down by the water, in a little beautiful bay , just 5 km in front of Dubrovnik.
Anyhow, if you prefer individual lodging in hotels...then there are many in Selce, Split, Dubrovnik and all over the coast...and you can find and book them on the internet in advance.