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by Tim Beissmann

Australians have cleaned up at the 2015 Detroit motor show, claiming the top two design awards for their work on the Buick Avenir and the Ford GT.

The Buick Avenir concept was named the best-designed concept vehicle of the show by the EyesOn Design jury, while the judges voted the Ford GT the best-designed production vehicle.

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The Avenir concept was designed and built at General Motors Australia’s advanced design studio in Port Melbourne in collaboration with GM North America.

Former Holden designer and current vice president of GM International Design Michael Simcoe led the team behind the show-stopper, which included Holden designers Richard Ferlazzo, Warrack Leach and Martin Love.

The Buick beat fellow finalists the Mercedes-Benz F015 and the Chevrolet Bolt – that latter also designed and built by Australian talent in the same studio.

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It also won the award for the best use of colour, graphics and materials at the show, again beating the F015 concept, along with the Audi Q7 and the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE concept.

The judges said the Avenir was “something special that you could tell designers really liked doing… It represents presence, elegance, sportiness all rolled into one.”

They also praised the designers for their attention to detail: “The way its materials worked together… Its understated elegance, which was true to the brand.”

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Meanwhile, Hobart-raised Todd Willing was the main man responsible for the design of the Ford GT.

Willing, a Ford Australia veteran of more than a decade, was posted to Detroit for two years to work on the top-secret supercar project, and has since returned Down Under in the role of Ford Asia Pacific design director.

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The judges, who voted the GT ahead of the Acura/Honda NSX and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe, congratulated Ford’s designers for “capturing the original GT40 in a modern interpretation … and the optimism it showcases for both the Ford brand and the industry”.

The EyesOn Design Awards honour the most significant automotive designs as voted by North American and global leaders of design from automotive manufacturers, along with academic chairs of transportation design programs and design leaders from other fields.

 

Best-designed production vehicle
Winner: Ford GT
Finalists: Acura/Honda NSX, Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

Best-designed concept vehicle
Winner: Buick Avenir
Finalists: Chevrolet Bolt, Mercedes-Benz F015

Innovative use of colour, graphics and materials
Winner: Buick Avenir
Finalists: Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz F015, Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE

Best-designed interior
Winner: Audi Q7
Finalists: Buick Avenir, Infiniti Q60




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