One of the best things about the Geneva Motor Show is that it throws up the kind of car curiosities you rarely see at other global motorshows, like the Black Cuillin vision model, by UK start-up Eadon Green, for instance.
With a whiff of Richard Branson in his looks – and a rockstar-style earring in the shape of a musical note in one ear – the man behind the one-off (for now) Black Cuillin concept is Felix Eaton – who used to run a retail shopfitting design business.
Car Design News couldn’t resist finding out more. During our brief chat, we uncovered a man who loves his classic cars, had the good sense to get Concept Group International to help him build this one, and has a business mind to turn his dreams into reality.
With a background in shop interior design and fitting, what made you think you could design a car?
I have a very strong aesthetic sense. If you love watching ballet, opera and art, ratios and scales are very important. But looking around you see cars which seem to be significantly out of proportion, sometimes possibly for ergonomic reasons or manufacturing needs or legislation, I don’t know, but I find myself wondering ‘why on earth have they done that’?
What’s the donor car underneath for this body?
I’m not saying at the moment, because we’re talking to the original manufacturer about how we intend to market the car.
What’s your business plan?
Originally I just wanted to build a car for myself, but as it became apparent what the tooling costs were to build a one-off car in aluminium, I realised I might need to share my car with other people. So I brought it here to Geneva to see how many other customers there are in the world who share my desire for this type of car. If there aren’t enough it will just take me another three years to save up [the money] to make it.
You’re in an area of the Geneva Motor Show surrounded by coachbuilding and design legends like Pininfarina and Sbarro so you must have taken a pretty big punt on being right about your hunch, or do you have some investment behind you?
I wouldn’t say I’m taking a punt, the idea was always to bring the car to Geneva, so the whole world would know it existed. Then in 20 or 30 years time when I’m dead, someone might find it in a garage and instead of scrapping it, they’d Google it and know it was ‘that car’ and that might give it a value at auction. I think the cost of this exhibition would add at least as much to the sale price at auction.
What were your inspirations before putting pen to paper?
A large 1930s-style coupe in the vein of Delahaye, Delage and the Bugatti Type 57, those styles of cars that had passion and beauty and lines and emotion built into them, before practicality took over. Although this is a car where two people can sit comfortably, so there’s some practicality in it too.
Is it drivable?
It’s a Vision Model, but there is a real one too.
Who built it?
Concept Group International. I knew them from a couple of years ago when I got involved with the Envisage Group.
Is the interior from the same donor platform?
No, you might recognise a few components which weren’t feasible to make as one-offs, but all the major surfaces are absolutely new.
What’s your dream five years from now?
Well we already have a four-door and a cabriolet designed, in 3D CAD, but there’s no point going any further with those until we see if the idea has any traction. Do people want to buy it?
And what would be the price?
We don’t have one yet, but if 100 people wanted to buy one, it would reduce the price. We have to take the tooling, engineering and set-up costs and divide them by the number of cars.
Meantime, how’s the day job going?
My son’s taken over as managing director of the company and I devote myself 100 per cent to this project now.