The Auge was a design concept by the highly talented Gioacchino Acampora as the basis of his degree in architecture at Politecnico di Milano in 1996.
With support from the then Maserati Chief Executive, Eugenio Alzati, and Fiat’s Nevio Di Giusto, Maserati supplied Acampora with the floorpan of a Quattroporte V8 ‘Evoluzione’ and a twin-turboed V8 engine boosted to 450 bhp by Italtecnica.
The Auge is actually a cold wind that blows along the Côte d’ Azure. It is a new breeze that announces a change of season. And this is an image that I would apply to my car when I designed it.
But the Auge is also a wind that fills the surrounding areas with the sweet fragrance of the hinterland. It is a message of renewal, that makes us aware of where we have come from to enable us to understand who we are now.
Therefore, the Auge is not just a modern answer to the style for a possible new taste of our times, but a careful analysis of history and what represents the traditional style one would expect in a luxury coupe. But my research would not really be complete without a serious analysis of methods that were used to govern the creative and productive process. If it is true that to designing always means to respect the ‘shape-function’ dogma, I think that nowadays it is indispensable to add the concepts of methodological and economic-productive planning to this rule. Without assuming to find a definite answer, the Auge is hence an attempt to answer the questions: ” What must cars that belong to a product group called ‘niche products’ be like?” and “How do they have to be made?”. To find out what such production would entail today, a method of examination is to analyse a niche group that is one below that in the automotive industry, a group of special-built cars that were very famous at the end of the fifties. It is not only a nostalgic inclination for the fantasy expressed in those years or the wish for some ‘dolce vita‘, but the conviction that to modernise methods for introducing a new product that fulfils all demands of today’s market in every respect, i.e. more and more diversified products but with the best guaranteed quality standard – in short: a high-quality product made in serious way.
In order to guarantee these aspects, Auge has had as a plan, right from the start, the phase of briefing. The plan was to take up the ‘carry over’ techniques, which have also allowed the team to control development costs, the homology for the use of the vehicle on road, that takes account of all ergonomic, functional qualitative aspects.
To arrive at such an aesthetic end result has meant to try to recover the naturalness of the creative walk. So computer-science devices were only used at the end of the process and developers did not avoid going to the drawing board to eliminate the risk of creating a shape that would be far too mathematical: Only the human touch can lead to natural dimensioning donating the magic of an object that does not age prematurely because is completely revealed in its appearance.
The desire to create a ‘Gran Turismo‘ which could be compared to the legendary 5000 GTs, with their special car bodies created by the Italian masters at the end of the fifties, has resulted in a saloon car with two long doors that allow easy access to four comfortable seats. A coupe with a recognisable shape as a car that takes inspiration from the small spyders of the post-war period, as for example the “Birdcage”, a favourite of all Maserati fans.
The body is made of aluminium and carbon fibre. Aluminium is used for the doors, the front and rear flanks, which are subject to reviews to suit perfectly one to the other, while carbon fibre is used for the cowlings and bumpers. The vehicle body actually “hides” the frame of a modern Maserati ‘Quattroporte Evoluzione‘ with its V-8 3200 cc. engine, automatic 5-speed gearbox, suspension and brakes (Brembo) directly taken from the race track.
The exterior is characterised by large wheels (MOMO), which due to their dimension (20 inches) help to slim the flank and bring the car as a whole into proportion. The straight belt line, a true dynamic sign, moves upwards and justify the unusual position of the rear lights. It also marks the transparent space of the interior: it is completely made of glass and it has two “blades” of brushed brass sheeting to cover the tubular structure of the roof. The intention of this design was to use it as a symbol for most skilful abilities of “panel beaters” who shape the metal material.
They represent, moreover, a look back on an artisan profession , but which is still precious today although almost completely dismissed. The large front and rear air inlets, which are technically necessary to control the temperatures in the motor space and to increase the performance of with the, so called, ‘ground effect’ are aesthetically strong features that enhance the character of the car. Two small reversed ‘NACA’ air intakes are placed on the flanks protruding the bonnet act as extractors for the hot air inside the engine compartment. But they are also a design feature that is pleasing to the eye. They furthermore match similar openings on the rear flanks of the car to get the engine warm.
The car’s new colour scheme is generated by the effect of the contrast from brass, a warm colour often used on specialist cars in the past, to the intense cold effect of employing a particular silver varnish, which has been developed specifically for this model (PPG). The aim was to put together a folder with a collection of typical colours to combine and test out other two-colour effects. As a result ‘Dragon Red’ was coupled with aluminum blades, and this combination was then used for the presentation of the race version.
The doors do not have any handles: they open by means of a remote control unit placed in the driver’s watch (La Vallée), in which furthermore a satellite alarm (Global Technology) is installed. For the design of the vehicle body two different technological approaches were applied, one linked closely to the past, the other to the future. And this theme was also applied to the car’s interior design. The four comfortable seats are made of very luxurious materials as is the entire interior: skins are made by Connolly handcraft material (Havana skin colour) and seats of woven Prima Classe material, walnut wood and glazed brass was used for moulded decorative parts.
Everything is made to respect the chromatic tradition of the brand. The dashboard is dominated by the typical instrumentation used in quality cars, here with silver settings to reflect a certain aeronautical flair: also the function control elements are made of classic materials used in the special cars during the thirties: ivory, cameos, coral and lapis-lazuli. These elements are carved by the most skilful craftsmen specialised in sculpturing such materials (La Vallée). Hidden, and only noticeable through the presence of three monitors, there is the second aspect of the duality of this cockpit, it is in fact state of the art of travelling: a multimedia system (Alpine and Philips).
Every passenger can make individual use or share the others occupants general information and functions like: audio, television, DVD, satellite navigator, telephone, connection to the internet, video games, portable computers, or a rear television camera. During long journeys, it is possible to use the refrigerator that is installed in the console between the two front seats. Even if you have started your trip in sunny weather and then find yourself surprised by rain, the pockets in the front door panels accommodate two small umbrellas (Prima Classe).
The cockpit is enclosed by a completely transparent cover allowing passengers to see the external panorama, a revival of that typical sense of freedom of the spiders. The transparent roof is based on “glass-room technology”, in other words a connection of two tempered glasses with a high absorption factor for infrared and ultraviolet rays. The air is removed to avoid the transmission of heat, noise and to eliminate the formation of condensation typical at low temperatures. The rear luggage compartment comes with a complete set of four suitcases and a porta abiti, a bag that holds a spare wheel (inflatable type) and another bag with tools for small repairs (Prima Classe).