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Interview with Daniel Simon, the godfather of the modern car.

The godfather of the modern car is a German. Daniel Simon started his career as a designer at Volkswagen before moving to California. Now he makes futuristic 3D machines. For themselves, but also for Hollywood.
Reading time 6 minutes

The car is a special case that combines art with heavy industry. Daniel Simon is a perfect example of this. He once debuted with Volkswagen , then started a freelance career. The independence and freedom that that entails is still embracing the designer.

Picture left: One of Daniel Simon's ultra-realistic creations for his book The Timeless Racer.

If you design a car for another galaxy, it must have recognizable retro features to be accepted as a futuristic vehicle

With this statement he drops a small bomb into a universe where this type of frontal attack is rare. And the fact that it comes from Daniel Simon, one of the most respected figures in the automotive industry, makes the impact even greater. Simon was born in 1975 in East Germany , Trabant-country, and today is one of the most acclaimed automotive designers in the world. He has the talent to create 3D creations of futuristic models and thus create a totally new universe. This resulted in two reference works published by himself: Cosmic Motors: Spaceships, Cars and Pilots or Another Galaxy (2007) and The Timeless Racer: Speed ​​Junkie (2013). 'A combination of Star Wars , Barbarella and James Bond, ' according to the British magazine Top Gear . "For Cosmic Motors, I needed a story that could fill an entire book and that would not just come across as a catalog," he explains. "So this became the story of an imaginary company, Cosmic Motors, and its founders. Individual vehicles come to life from the first sketch. And explanation about it ensures that non-existent creations come across as credible. But during the design process you have to let the story coincide with the design that you like, and that is where the fun comes from. This is exactly what makes the difference with a serious job as a designer in the automotive industry. '

Visual keys

Daniel Simon's creations are generally recognized by their small retro influences. "If you design a car for a different galaxy and you want the public to identify it as a car, you have to integrate certain recognizable visual" keys "of everyday life," he says. "This is pretty funny. If you want your creation to be consistent and look like it was made by hand, add certain rivets. This makes it clear, for example, where the driver is. A windowless car that is controlled by the brain with completely covered wheels will not be recognized by the public as such. The design must have recognizable retro features to be accepted as a futuristic vehicle. '

Strangely enough, Daniel discovered the work of George Lucas only at a later age. 'I would like to make a comment: my childhood played out without being aware of the existence of Star Wars', he says. 'Until I was seventeen I did not read any comics or watch science fiction film. But I think we are all interested in the unknown, regardless of the universe in which we grow up. My parents often took me to work at a huge shipyard. In all likelihood this place has had the most impact on me. I discovered Star Wars at the age of 24 and that film literally took my breath away. Since then I have been constantly researching science fiction, in the artistic and scientific field. '

Cruise fan

After graduating in transport design at the University of Pforzheim in 2001, Daniel Simon went to work at the advanced design department of the Volkswagen Group , where he worked on designing concept vehicles for Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen . He left the company in 2005 to start his own design studio in Berlin and then moved to Los Angeles to create the futuristic vehicles for the movie Tron 2 for the Disney studios. When the Hollywood doors were opened, he was also responsible for the vehicles in blockbusters like Prometheus, Oblivion and Star Wars Episode VIII. His expertise and know-how were celebrated. He shares photos, knowledge and passions on social media. The designer, from California dressed in jeans, T-shirt and trendy sneakers, keeps his finger on the pulse of time in terms of electronic evolution. His more than 70 thousand Facebook and 30 thousand Instagram followers are eagerly waiting for him.

At the age of 24, I discovered Star Wars. Since then I am constantly looking for science fiction, in the artistic or scientific field

volution. His more than 70 thousand Facebook and 30 thousand Instagram followers are eagerly waiting for him.

Among Daniels fans we find Elon Musk from 'SpaceX:' We love you and how you pursue your craziest ideas until they come out ', but also great drivers, like Jacky Ickx who wrote the foreword to The Timeless Racer. Racing is one of the

motives and passions of the designer. It was not for nothing that he designed the breathtaking models for the future Roborac Championship. They are electric vehicles with autonomous propulsion that will race on the same circuits as in the Formula E championship. "Once upon a time the worlds of car racing and artificial intelligence were miles apart, no longer today," he says. 'It's great to be part of this adventure because it brings together all my passions: motorsport, design and advanced technologies. My goal was to create a vehicle that would benefit from the absence of a driver without sacrificing beauty. " The machines of the most prominent autodesigner of the moment are examples of the perfect synthesis of his aspirations. And the future still has a lot of surprises in store. 'We are only at the beginning of a long creative journey. Believe me: the film industry that I'm dealing with now is a very fast and difficult world. The world of Cosmic Motors allowed me to express my fantasies and I have many new vehicles in mind. These fantasies come from a book, music, video or even extraterrestrial life. I can go in all directions and am open to all surprises and route deviations. ' We have been warned.

Text: PIERRE-OLIVIER MARIE ( caradisiac.com ) Photography: DANIEL SIMON

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