Frank leaving McLaren? - McLaren Life
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post #1 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 01:27 PM Thread Starter
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Frank leaving McLaren?

This seems like a big deal

http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars...ephenson-mini/


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post #2 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 01:37 PM
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That would be unfortunate, but I guess we will have to wait to hear if is true.

p.s. Frank is a household name in my house!
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post #3 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 01:55 PM
 
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i dont know anything, but did anyone see Frank at all during the 720 launch? it was all Robert Melville et al
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post #4 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 03:07 PM
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"I'm flat-out not fond of modern-day cars," he [Frank] said. "They're going to where ugly cars are the new beautiful. Everybody loves the '50s and '60s in terms of what those cars were like. And we've kind of lost that romance of the design from that period, where the goal was to design a beautiful car, and people would love it at first sight. Nobody had to 'get used to' the design.
Kind of a funny quote relative to the 720
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post #5 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 03:41 PM
 
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My takeaway from a discussion at a McLaren event that I had with Mr Stephenson was that the BMW mini is a work that he is most proud of. He described how just prior to the clay model BMW mini reveal, he realized that there was no exhaust on the model--and how in the minutes available he modified a coke can and plugged it into the clay. And that had become an iconic feature on the updated BMW mini. This was accompanied with his typical 'accidental' genius modest laugh. He went on to describe how he had started with the original Issigonis mini, and gone through updates year by year incorporating modernizations that would have been made had the car remained in continuous production, to come up with his current BMW mini version.
So if it is true that Mr Stephenson is returning to BMW I wish him well. He is one of the most talented and gracious people that I've ever met. Big fan.
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post #6 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 05:35 PM
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i dont know anything, but did anyone see Frank at all during the 720 launch? it was all Robert Melville et al
I reached out to him at the time when similar concerns were raised about his absence and he informed me he had an important personal obligation which kept him from taking part in Geneva this year.

= = =

If the reported news proves to be true I'll be disappointed. There's nothing like having your favorite designer leading the design team within your most favorite car company. Of course the success McLaren have shown recently is attributable to a number of other great members of his team and I'm sure Frank's influence will live on in many of the other Track22 models we have to look forward to.

That said, one of the cars in my own garage is an R56 MINI Cooper S and I appreciate that Frank had significant influence in how that car looks. Since then MINI have strayed a bit from the great looks of the original 'new MINI' that brought Frank so much recognition, and I'll look forward to seeing what he can do with the brand if he does return.

>8^)
ER
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post #7 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 06:22 PM
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What cars is Frank fully responsible for at McLaren?

He outright made clear the 12C wasn't his nor to his liking.

The P1 I think is all his, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. To me it's only the 2nd car since the Countach to really blow my mind on what a car could be. Although, to his chagrin, it's one of those cars that took some time to fully appreciate (at least for me).

The 650 was a bit of a facelift, I guess that's his, but not sure I'd call it a full car.

The 570 was a great and all new design, but while it was under his tenure, was it his? I'm not sure.

The 675 was another facelift, not sure if it was his or someone else?

Same with the 720, it seems under his tenure, but not sure it's his.

So it seems the P1 is all his, and I guess the 650 are his?
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post #8 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 06:54 PM
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What cars is Frank fully responsible for at McLaren?

He outright made clear the 12C wasn't his nor to his liking.

The P1 I think is all his, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. To me it's only the 2nd car since the Countach to really blow my mind on what a car could be. Although, to his chagrin, it's one of those cars that took some time to fully appreciate (at least for me).

The 650 was a bit of a facelift, I guess that's his, but not sure I'd call it a full car.

The 570 was a great and all new design, but while it was under his tenure, was it his? I'm not sure.

The 675 was another facelift, not sure if it was his or someone else?

Same with the 720, it seems under his tenure, but not sure it's his.

So it seems the P1 is all his, and I guess the 650 are his?
Paul Howse was the lead exterior designer for the P1. You can see his signature on this illustration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpXdB-XIbWo
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post #9 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 07:04 PM
 
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No way! I was just talking to him. Great guy.

-no McLaren...yet
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post #10 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 07:53 PM
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Paul Howse was the lead exterior designer for the P1. You can see his signature on this illustration.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpXdB-XIbWo


Hmm, so was Frank designer of any of the cars, or just more oversight and touchup on parts of the design?
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post #11 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 08:44 PM
 
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I not sure Frank actually sits there and does a lot of the designing himself these days, that is what his team are there for. He will most certainly oversee all of their work and steer the designs inline with whatever the project brief is at the time. You can tell he's made a massive impact on the McLaren design language too by bringing the idea of biomimicry to McLaren. This is something that is now seen in the designs of his team. Some examples of biomimicry that we know...

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He has clearly trained his staff well because the concept doesn't always work when others try it...

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I think that Frank's involvement in the design projects is bigger than the designs themselves. I know he travels around the world and gives talks on car design etc. This generates interest in the McLaren brand globally and depending on his audience can actually bring in new customers.

For me personally he will be someone that will be truly missed. Frank gave me my first real introduction to the McLaren Automotive brand by taking me out in the 12C Spider back when it was brand new. He was up giving a speech in my neck of the woods. We instantly got on as we not only had a mutual interest in exotic cars but I found out that he is big into his weight lifting also. Those of you on here that know me will know that I am too. He has since then given me a couple of tours of MTC and MPC and I have a lovely signed picture of the P1 now framed and on my wall. This was all as someone who just loved the McLaren brand, NOT as an owner (yet). This spoke volumes to me and made me realise that, from my experience, even though McLaren is considered a luxury brand there is nothing snobby about the people that work there. They're all just people with the same automotive interests as us on this forum which is fantastic.

If the rumours are true then I think BMW Group are making plans to give the Mini a new design overhaul. It's looked pretty much the same since Frank redesigned it back in 2001. As he made a success of it then I imagine they want him to come and do the same again. And looking at it from Frank's perspective why wouldn't you? McLaren has now established its design language and created an identity. The design team have a foundation to work with going forward. If the team are the ones who are designing the cars and the ethos is going to remain fairly the same for a number of years to come (i.e. biomimicry, form follows function etc.) then I can understand why Frank would want to go and get his creative juices flowing with a brand new project.

I kind of hope it isn't true for my own selfish reasons as I want my favourite designer to remain at my favourite brand. However I'm accepting that Frank needs to do what is right for Frank. I can only thank him for what he has done for me and wish him the best going forward with his career. I don't imagine he'll ever become a stranger to any of us that have met him before anyway
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post #12 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 09:00 PM
 
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I'm not familiar with the industry, but I thought his position was overseeing everything, not necessarily doing every single design.
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post #13 of 18 Old 05-16-2017, 09:14 PM
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I'm not familiar with the industry, but I thought his position was overseeing everything, not necessarily doing every single design.
I started a thread on this a few years ago -- Design Director vs. Chief Designer

Around that time, Melville had given an interview saying:

"Marcus Fairs: You've just been promoted from senior designer to chief designer at McLaren. What are your responsibilities now?

Robert Melville: I'm taking a more overall view of the department. I'm responsible for advanced design, production design, design identity, design research, strategy… and also within those elements I've got more of a control over the clay teams [who create full-size prototypes in clay] and the CAS [computer-aided surfacing] teams."

This prompted me to wonder if there was room for both Melville and Stephenson. It will be interesting to see if they replace Stephenson or if Melville just assumes the role.
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post #14 of 18 Old 05-17-2017, 01:11 AM Thread Starter
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Frank leaving McLaren?

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Originally Posted by ZombiePhysicist View Post
What cars is Frank fully responsible for at McLaren?



He outright made clear the 12C wasn't his nor to his liking.



The P1 I think is all his, and he deserves a lot of credit for it. To me it's only the 2nd car since the Countach to really blow my mind on what a car could be. Although, to his chagrin, it's one of those cars that took some time to fully appreciate (at least for me).



The 650 was a bit of a facelift, I guess that's his, but not sure I'd call it a full car.



The 570 was a great and all new design, but while it was under his tenure, was it his? I'm not sure.



The 675 was another facelift, not sure if it was his or someone else?



Same with the 720, it seems under his tenure, but not sure it's his.



So it seems the P1 is all his, and I guess the 650 are his?


570 was Robert Melville and the 720 was Paul Howse. I'm sure all of the design team is involved but I believe those two are mainly credited for those models.


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post #15 of 18 Old 05-17-2017, 04:26 AM
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Ok, so sounds like Frank was more managing the overall design group rather than inking his own designs. Although he likely contributed some flourishes here and there. Interesting if he goes back to mini, would he be doing the same, i.e., management oversight rather than penning designs?
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