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Book Review: Masters of Modern Car Design

Fri, 07 Dec 2012

Authors Bart Lenaerts and Lies Del Mol
Publisher Waft
ISBN 978-9081482042
Price €60
Available from

There are surprisingly few books dedicated to car designers and fewer still that scratch below the surface of the slick, sharply-suited PR messages that have elevated today's top creatives to front men of many brands.

The guys from Waft see things differently. They first came to our attention with their book Belgian Car Designers, profiling the surprising number of their countrymen holding top design seats. This time charming husband and wife team Bart Lenaerts and Lies Del Mol have looked beyond the Belgian border for their latest title Masters of Modern Car Design.

The 252-page hardback's cover reads "Ever since I was a young boy I've been drawing cars", perfectly encapsulating the tone of the book. It's a fascinating insight into the personalities and career journeys of nine of the most powerful men in car design – Walter de' Silva, Ed Welburn, Lorenzo Ramaciotti, J Mays, Peter Schreyer, Jean-Pierre Ploué, Adrian Van Hooydonk, Laurens van den Acker and Gorden Wagener.

From a photograph of Laurens van den Acker driving a toy truck across the dining table as a young boy to the tale of how Ed Welburn, when handed a drawing of a car by a kid in a restaurant asked his design team to develop them into a series of 3D renders, it's packed full of new and unique perspectives. A group of more different men would be hard to find, yet at their cores they are all, it seems, car guys.

It's not all gushy childhood stories either, these mens' character quirks are laid bare in black and white too. Wagener, for example is described as "Ambitious and very self-confident. Polarising as well," backed up by his quote: "I'm quite confident I will never draw something ugly". Peter Schreyer, meanwhile is "A loner at heart. Mysterious. A Man in black". It's as if you were sat across the interview table from them yourself, peering through their designer specs.

Beyond the personality insights this book is also a fantastic compendium of the life's work of these men, meticulously detailed and fastidiously researched, not to mention beautifully designed and reproduced.

As you may be able to tell, we're big fans of this unique title. At €60 it's also somewhat of a bargain.


By Owen Ready