Basic black gets the souped-up superyacht treatment from renowned designer Martin Francis.
At first glance, this column may seem like it’s in the wrong publication--better suited to Motor Trend, perhaps, than a motoryacht magazine. But trust me when I say the images here do indeed relate to yachts. In fact, they’re from the drawing boards of some of the leading designers in the industry.
It all started when the yacht-management and -brokerage firm Edmiston held a competition last April along with the auto maker Land Rover in which megayacht designers were asked to fashion what they considered to be the ultimate superyacht Range Rover. (Edmiston clients are shuttled around a number of yacht shows in Range Rovers.) Seven answered the call: Dickie Bannenberg, Andrew Winch, Terence Disdale, Ken Freivokh, Redman Whiteley Dixon, Tim Heywood, and Martin Francis, and what you see here are the fruits of their labor .
Unlike many competitions, this one only had two simple rules: Incorporate the Edmiston logo in some small way on the SUV and ensure the vehicle reflects superyacht design elements.
And reflect them they do. Just as mega-yacht profiles and interiors run the gamut from sleek and sophisticated to sporty and even sexy, so do the Range Rovers.
Take a look at Francis’ all-black design on this page. On his presentation boards, he wrote, "A simplified palette of materials and a clear design intent create a more rigorous and refined interior." The dash, as well as the door trim, is in tones and textures you’d see in saloon and master stateroom furnishings. There’s even subtle application of these textures on the exterior; close inspection of the profile reveals two such interpretations.
Dickie Bannenberg added a shaded seat with beverage holders.
Just as megayachts have major expanses of glass, so, too, do the SUV designs from Winch, Frievokh, Redman Whiteley Dixon, and Heywood. On Winch’s the windshield continues up over the vehicle much like a full-beam sunroof, while Frievokh has the windshield wrap seamlessly around the sides of the vehicle all the way to the back door, interrupted only by a metallic styling element. Winch’s design further echoes teak decks by incorporating wood planks on the hood and running boards. Dixon and Heywood also designed expansive sunroofs, but Heywood additionally created a skylight effect over the engine. And what would a superyacht Range Rover be without a little flair, at the aft end of the roof, the way his yachts have rounded flair where the deckhouse meets the hull?
My two favorite submissions came from Disdale and Bannenberg. Disdale created what could be considered the ultimate Open Superyacht Range Rover: a convertible with an ocean-blue paint job and a high-gloss, wood-planked aft end. Bannenberg, perhaps keeping in mind how enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t always mean enjoying UV exposure, created a fold-out sun visor and chair--complete with coordinating holders for wine glasses or other barware--at the back door.
The winner was to be announced shortly after we went to press, during the Monaco Yacht Show in late September, where visitors were to be given the opportunity to order their choice of vehicle. Yes, even though there would only be one official winner for the contest, in a sense each of the seven designers would walk away a winner because his design was to be the basis for an actual, built-to-order SUV.
This article originally appeared in the November 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.