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Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Modern Classic - Steve Harper Interview

Thu 24th March 2016

In late 2015 Keith Adams of Modern Classic interviewed Steve Harper in his Studio about this past...

volvo c70 2010 concept sketch

Managing the Design programme, Steve Harper began in the October of 2006 to redefine the designs for both the 2010 C30 & C70.

Utilising the feedback already received from the Press & customers from the early cars, in conjunction with the Vehicle line management, a ‘wish list’ was created of technical, aesthetic & usability improvements for both cars.

One of the key elements was a need to create a greater differential between all of the P1 platform cars.

We had successfully developed the 2008 S40 & V50 to have key ‘cues’ with the larger cars (S80 & V70), and with the evolving new design language, as seen on the XC60, a concept was soon defined by Steve and his team.

The previous C70 had very strong links with its fellow S & V versions, so the design for the new car was themed to once again reflect more of the new S60 Concept, which was then under its early development.

Unlike previous designs, the need to create as much change as possible meant that more than the skin alone of the new car would need to be redesigned.

The ambitious plan was agreed, but with only a € 65 million Tooling & Resources budget to produce both the new C70 and the C30, it was a tough challenge. It required a major effort by the whole project team, to balance out the key elements in order to address customer suggestions, and to ensure the best overall effect.

From the earliest sketches, it could be seen that the radical redesign featured a much larger bold grille and new wrap-around headlamps. This then would require new front fenders, and more critically a new front cross-member (G.O.R).

At first this was seen by the engineers to be one change too far. But gradually, the design team, was able to illustrate how the whole build quality would benefit from the result of this change, and so the design was accepted (once we’d also fathomed out how to assemble the headlamps).

Working in-parallel between the clay model, sculpted by Graham Liles, and the ALIAS computer model built by Richard Swift, Steve Harper’s design was ready for theme selection by May 2007. The computer based model was further refined in ICEMsurf by Johannes Melen, Anna Risberg & others, and engineered by Niclas Lindblom, for final ‘frozen’ design by February 2008.

The bold new front design featured the new larger corporate grille & ‘Iron mark’ emblem, a new expressive ‘softnose’ and the new headlamps, which were integrated into new more sculptural front fenders, around an unchanged hood panel.

At the rear, by making use of lessons learnt from the development of the XC60 tail lights, Steve Harper, together with the Automotive Lighting in Italy, created the LED based lamps. These extenuated the cars ‘broad shoulders’, which was matched with a new more sculptural rear bumper, to complete the design.

For the interior, in conjunction with designer Andreas Friedrich, a new Instrument Panel was created on a very small budget, working within the restrictions of an existing under structure armature and the tight limits of the foam & ‘outer skin’ materials technical constraints.

The crisp edge IP design, with a new more refined surface texture, and a new instrument pack completed the area in front of the driver.

Together with a new range of colours and upholsteries, developed by designer Jenny Deimer, this then created a vast improvement to the overall ambience of the vehicle.Completed on time, on budget, and with zero increase in overall product cost, the combination of the changes to the Exterior, Interior & Trim designs helped propel the C70 upmarket, and has been well received by all.

In fact, many have said that this has been Volvo’s most successful facelift to date.