For some time now, environmental friendliness has increasingly become the most important factor in cars. Electric, definitely, but also as compact as possible, economical in power consumption, and with the furthermost possible range. The Piëch Mark Zero doesn’t meet these requirements at all. The luxury sports car boasts more than 600 hp and a top speed of 250 km/h. The design also reminds us more of the extremely thirsty sports cars of the 1960s. So what were Anton Piëch and his Piëch Automotive co-founder and creative director Rea Stark Rajcic thinking when they wanted to “build a car that will transport the fascination of a sports car into the electric age?”
“It’s our aim to support the emotional experience that is part of driving with up-to-date technology,” says Raijcic. After attending art school in St. Gallen and training as a typographer and lithographer at the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, he worked as a designer at Panasonic, Sony, and Canon in Japan, among others. “It’s meant to help the driver but not distract them. And it’s about a real sports car feeling: that of driving, not of being driven! Of course, the vehicle architecture is geared towards autonomous driving, but we’ll keep that in mind for later models.”
What would Steve McQueen drive today?
First and foremost, it was about “making the coolest sports car out there,” chief designer László Varga emphasizes. “We took Steve McQueen as an example and asked ourselves what he might want to drive today. And we wanted to interpret the forms that were typical back in the 60s and 70s – clean, round surfaces – in a modern way.
But the car should not only be “cool”, it should also be timeless. And timeless means simple. Without too many bells and whistles. “It can’t be too brash. You can change the wallpaper on your phone or your outfits all the time to keep these fresh. But a car’s design is eternal. That’s why it was our job to come up with a design that isn’t trendy and that you’ll still like the look of many years from now,” Varga explains. As examples, the Hungarian mentions the 250 Ferrari GTO, the Jaguar E-Type, the Shelby Daytona, and the Shelby Cobra, which originally came from the racing industry and then were turned into road cars.
According to Varga, the design of the rear was also based on classic sports cars. “At first glance, it might look like we’ve cut it off – it’s a rather severe back end. Today, sports cars normally have those soft flowing rears. But here we were also looking at times gone by,” he says. “It wasn’t easy to come up with a classic shape that looks unique in the eyes of people, I can tell you that. It was important for us that people don’t look at it and say ‘that looks like a Ferrari or an Alfa Romeo’. We wanted them to know: ‘Ah, that’s a Piëch!’”
The designers experimented a lot over the course of the process. Alongside other things, they also experimented with the pop-up headlights that were so popular in the 1980s. However, that was another idea that was abandoned. “The pop-up headlights didn’t really sit well with the harmonic, round shape of the front end, which is why we went back to a conventional light design. The large round headlights in conjunction with the oval grille are a typical feature of sports cars from the 60s.”
In the end, the result was a dream car that everyone would go out and buy for themselves. “We have developed a sports car that we ourselves would really like to have,” Anton Piëch confirms. “And we talked for a long time with many enthusiasts about what was missing on the market. We want to offer a modern classic that isn’t subject to consumer fads. The driver of this sports car should enjoy every minute that they are able to spend in the car.”
Varga would also definitely buy the Mark Zero. “It’s a beautiful yet timeless sports car. Some cars are so overloaded with complexity and details that it’s almost impossible to understand why the designer put this line here and made that corner there. Instead, we prefer to make a car that is simple and has clean lines. Toni and Rea gave me the job to create a ‘timeless beauty’. And yes, I am very happy with the result.”
Varga would not describe the design of the Piëch Mark Zero as aggressive, but rather as “easy-going and carefree, like ‘I know I’m a cool and fast car. But I don’t have to prove it each and every time.’”