Let’s say you design cars for a living and this guy hires you because he wants to sell a car. Ostensibly, he hires you because you’re the expert in designing the thing whereas he’s the expert in selling them.

Sounds simple, yes?

You discuss what he wants and he tells you he’s looking for a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon. Okay, so that’s cool – you start with the basics, the things all cars have: wheels, engine, windows, steering wheel, doors … then you arrange them to suit the requested specifications: four doors, a boot, leg-room in the back … and then you add your own touch, the individual design elements which are both unique to this model but also are in keeping with your general style.

You deliver the design and he likes it. Not loves it, but likes it. It’s a good place to start … but he has a few minor suggestions:

  1. Does it need four doors?
  2. Does it need all that leg-room in the back?
  3. Why not have a sloping hatchback thingy instead of a boot?
  4. Will this car appeal to teenagers?
  5. Can you make it more sporty?

All of which sounds rather odd and you patiently explain why it is the way it is:

  1. It’s a four door saloon, four-door saloons tend to have four doors.
  2. It’s a family car, family cars need space for the family.
  3. A sloping hatchback thingy makes it a hatchback, not a saloon.
  4. Teenagers with children rarely have the money to buy a new car.
  5. Maybe. But do families want sporty family cars? It’s a debatable point.

But this guy is adamant, he knows all about selling cars and he knows what people will buy. To impress you, he reels off a list of cars he’s trying to emulate which have all sold really, really well.

All the cars on the list are fucking expensive, two-door, sports coupés … and that’s where you realise the problem. He doesn’t want to make a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon – he wants to make an expensive, two-door, sports coupé … he just doesn’t know what those words mean or indeed have any fucking clue which bits of the car any of those technical words you’ve been using (like ‘doors’) actually refer to.

Patiently, you try to explain to him the difference between what he wants and what he’s asking for but he won’t listen. Why are you getting so fucking uppity? He’s paying you, just do what he fucking asks!

So you go away and you try to design the impossible: an expensive, mid-budget, two-door, four-door, sporty, family saloon, hatchback. After many, many sleepless nights and a rift in your own family which will probably never heal – you manage to satisfy all of the bozo’s requirements … and the result is a fucking mess.

You can see it’s a fucking mess, everyone else can see it’s a fucking mess … but the guy who hired you thinks it’s a work of art and can’t understand why it took you so long to deliver. Still, fuck it, you’re getting paid and you’ll get a percentage  however many of these monstrosities are sold. Someone’s bound to buy one, there are a lot of idiots in the world.

Including the one you’re working for.

The one who’s now hired a guy to build your design. The builder takes one look at your design (believing it to be a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon – because that’s what he was hired to make) and sacks you. You’re obviously a fucking moron who can’t even count to four. He convinces the sales guy you’re a twat and hires his own designer. His designer thinks all this bullshit about a car needing doors and wheels and engines is just crap taught by people who can’t design cars themselves. It’s a bullshit formula which gets in the way of proper artistic vision and he turns in a design which appears, at first glance, to be a seven-foot long ashtray … but on closer inspection is just a God awful piece of shit.

He gets fired and promptly makes millions selling his revolutionary new theory on car design to the world in a series of books, webisodes and lectures.

Meanwhile, sales guy and builder guy hire someone who knows all the theories. Someone who’s been to every fancy lecture going, read all the books and got some mighty fancy looking letters after their name. They know exactly what goes into making a car and they turn in their design … six months late  – because they had a very understanding tutor at uni who allowed them to do that sort of thing. This new design has all the elements you’d expect to see in a mid-budget, four-door, family saloon. Doors, windows, engines, steering wheel, leg room, boot space … it’s got it all … laid out on the ground in a chalk outline of a car.

The builder guy points out it’s not a car, it’s a collection of car parts laid out in the general shape of a car but the designer doesn’t understand the difference. He avidly points out all the bits are there, so what’s the problem? And he gets fired.

By this time, the builder guy has had enough and either leaves or gets fired – depending on whose account you believe. A new builder is hired, he looks through all the designs and he decides your original one was the best – so you’re back on the project.


Still, it’s all money at the end of the day – so you agree to a few minor design tweaks.

Three years later, you’ve redesigned the fucking thing eighteen times. It’s been a jeep, a camper van, a 4×4, a moped and currently resembles a flowerpot on wheels. The original sales guy has had a nervous breakdown and has been replaced by a guy who’s realised that what the original guy meant by mid-budget and what the rest of the world mean by mid-budget are two completely fucking different things. He has a go at you for not being able to stick to the apparently non-existent budget and demands you fix the design so it can be made for four and a half pence.

Which can’t be done.

Never mind, he has some ideas – chief among which is cutting the number of wheels to three, the number of doors to one and using kite string instead of a steering wheel. At this point, the tight-arsed money men (who only invested in the car so they have something to tell girls instead of having to develop a personality) pull out and the car project dies.

Until the original sales guy comes back from the loony asylum with millions of pounds he won from some deranged billionaire resident in a game of ‘guess when I’ve shit my pants’.

All systems are go!

Everyone likes the design (which is now so close to the original as to be virtually indistinguishable) and the builder finally gets to do his job instead of spending all his time telling the press how he had to redesign the fucking car because you couldn’t do your job properly. It’s started! He’s actually doing the job he was hired for!

Spectacularly badly.

So badly in fact, you wonder why he even bothered with the fucking design in the first place since he obviously hasn’t looked at it at all and is just randomly making shit up. Eighteen wheels, in one corner! Cardboard diaphragms instead of doors! And the engine is so woefully underpowered its output is measured in mouse-power as opposed to the traditional horse.

And the only explanation he’ll offer? It’s symbolic. Symbolic of fucking what? His inability to build a car or grasp simple reading skills?

When the abomoination is finally finished, the sales guy fires the builder, hacks off all the bits he doesn’t think belong to a car (including all the fucking wheels) and puts the resulting mess on sale where (surprise, sur-fucking-prise) it fails to sell a single unit and garners rightly appalling reviews.

All of which blame you.

And you know the real tragedy?


Balls to the lot of you. I’m going to buy a car to cheer myself up.

Categories: Bored, Industry Musings, Random Witterings, Rants, Sad Bastard | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Cars

  1. Perez Christina

    interesting !

  2. I hear you brother! And even if you did build the perfect car, other people have to drive it and invariably will crash it!

    Oh, welcome back my friend!

  3. Paul Campbell

    So, do you design cars as well? I didn’t realise.

    That sounds interesting.

    It must be so different to your screenwriting work.

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  5. You think yours is the only job like it?

    Try designing software!

  6. How’s the new car Phill? 🙂

    I just bought one that was built in Edinburgh, it’s f*cking amazing! – – But then the guy that designed it also built it. (Sheer luxury!)

    New Town Killers – it’s worth a look.

  7. Eleanor, I had absolutely no idea what you were talking about for quite a few hours today – before I remembered what this post was about and realised you were using my metaphor.

    I actually have bought a new car though. It’s very shiny.

  8. This is a metaphor isn’t it? I catch on fast, me.

    Strangely, I think the legendary Lotus 7 was designed in chalk on the floor- they based it around the minimum amount of space it would take for 1 driver and 1 passenger… by sitting them down and drawing round them!

    Somebody crashed into my car the other day- they stopped suddenly.

    That’s not a metaphor… but probably should be.

  9. kaisavage

    A little bit of piss came out. I seriously haven’t laughed that hard at a blog for quite some time.

    Oh and ditto the software comment – I write and my wife designs software, what a stress-free household we have!

  10. I want to see someone design something more American than the car Homer Simpson came up with.

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