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Highlights from the 2001 Detroit Motor Show: BMW’s Flame Surfacing and Nissan’s 350Z

From the archive: game-changers storm 2001 Detroit motor show

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BMW’s Flame Surfacing and Nissan’s 350Z: Highlights from the 2001 Detroit Motor Show

The 2001 Detroit Motor Show was filled with excitement and anticipation as car enthusiasts gathered to witness some groundbreaking concepts and previews. Among the highlights of the show were BMW’s Flame Surfacing design philosophy, Nissan’s preview of the 350Z, Volvo’s first foray into the SUV market, and Volkswagen’s revival of the iconic Type 2 bus.

BMW’s Flame Surfacing: A New Vibe in Car Design

BMW’s chief designer, Chris Bangle, unveiled the Flame Surfacing design philosophy at the Detroit Motor Show. The concept showcased BMW’s new panel-making technology, which enabled the creation of compound curves with a single pressing. Inspired by deconstructivist architecture, the Flame Surfacing design gave body surfaces the freedom to turn in on themselves, creating a series of concave and convex design lines. The X Coupé concept, based on the chassis of the X5 SUV, showcased this new design language and hinted at what was to come with the Z4 in 2002.

Nissan’s 350Z: Bringing the Z-Series into the 21st Century

Nissan’s Z Concept was another highlight of the 2001 Detroit Motor Show. Designed as a successor to the dated 300ZX, the concept represented a modern take on the Z-Series. The design team aimed to honor the Z’s heritage while giving it a contemporary twist. The concept featured a 3.5-liter V6 engine, rear-wheel drive, and impressive performance figures. True to their intentions, Nissan created the 350Z, which became one of the best-handling and best-performing sports cars on the market.

Volvo’s Adventure Concept Car: Paving the Way for SUV Success

Volvo showcased their Adventure Concept Car at the Detroit Motor Show, signaling the Swedish automaker’s entry into the SUV market. The concept combined Volvo’s handsome design ethos with rugged off-road cues, setting the stage for the future success of the Volvo XC90. Since then, Volvo has sold 1.3 million XC90s and has become known for its impressive lineup of SUVs.

Volkswagen’s Type 2 Revival: A Missed Opportunity

One of the most anticipated concepts at the 2001 Detroit Motor Show was Volkswagen’s Microbus, which aimed to revive the iconic Type 2 ‘hippie bus.’ With its high waistline, wraparound windows, and nostalgic design cues, the Microbus concept captured the hearts of many. However, disappointingly, Volkswagen decided not to put it into production and instead introduced a more mainstream Multivan. It took Volkswagen 21 years and several more concepts before finally bringing the Type 2 back to life as the ID Buzz.

The Takeaway

The 2001 Detroit Motor Show was a memorable event in the automotive world, featuring innovative designs and previews of future models. From BMW’s groundbreaking Flame Surfacing to Nissan’s modern take on the Z-Series, these concepts paved the way for future trends in car design. Volvo’s Adventure Concept Car foreshadowed the brand’s SUV success, while Volkswagen’s missed opportunity with the Microbus taught us that sometimes, even the most iconic designs can take time to come to fruition.
Original article:https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/from-the-archive/2001-detroit-motor-show

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