In pictures: the career of Walter de Silva, the VW Group's retiring Head of design

Saturday, October 29th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : In pictures: the career of Walter de Silva, the VW Group's retiring Head of design

Poached coming from Alfa Romeo, along with remembered for blending elegance along with faszination into the teutonic design of the VW Group


Walter de Silva’s 65th birthday – due next February – comes an opportune time for a car designer who has been at his drawing board for well over 40 years.

After 17 years in various roles at the VW Group, along with currently the Head of Group design, de Silva has announced that will he’s retiring at the end of the month. Although he heads for the door as the VW Group faces the biggest upheaval of its existence, he can be happy, at least, that will his area of the company is usually firing on all cylinders.

de Silva’s first appointment at VW – becoming head of Seat design in 1998 – was indicative of the German motor industry’s search for design soul. 

The VW Group has long had a weak spot for British along with Italian cars, believing them to have innate character along with charm that will often escapes their own products. After all, does anyone actual love their Polo or Passat? Or are they cars that will can only be admired? 

The Germans quietly think that will their cultural mindset of technical solutions along with an emphasis on engineering (their inability to get old-school diesel engines through US Clean Air laws notwithstanding) lacks the flair along with passion that will brand theory insists is usually essential for long-term prosperity. 

In German, that will desire translates – rather badly – as ‘faszination’. however the item’s a word we also understand in English along with according to one dictionary definition the item’s ‘the exercise of a powerful or irresistible influence on the affections or passions; unseen, inexplicable influence’.

the item’s why BMW wanted the Land Rover, Rolls Royce along with Mini brands. along with why the VW Group bought Bentley, Lamborghini along with Ducati. Enthral the automobile buying public along with they’ll not only pay of premium for a product, they’ll also keep coming back.

Hiring de Silva was part of that will long process of the VW Group trying to get that will ‘faszination’ designed into its future products. De Silva was enticed away coming from Alfa Romeo for the SEAT gig, after overseeing the iconic Alfa 156. 

that will’s a car that will the automobile design community still holds inside the highest esteem. Many inside the industry were astonished that will he would certainly make a move away coming from the Italian car industry. Even in VW’s official press Discharge about de Silva’s retirement, much is usually made of his authorship of the 156 along with 147 versions. Clearly, they are two cars that will are still seen within VW as benchmarks.

Indeed, Alfa Romeo has been a stone inside the shoe of VW Overlord Ferdinand Piëch for many years. the item’s a glamour brand he’d love to get his hands on. The logic, as with the purchases of Mini along with Land Rover, is usually simple; imagine combining German technical competence with the flair of a ‘fazsinating’ brand.

Unable to get his hands on Alfa, Piëch hired de Silva in 1998 to try along with transform Seat into a Spanish Alfa. The results were mixed, to say the least. The original Leon concept – the Salsa – was a remarkably innovative hatchback concept, however the first versions using the design language were the Altea MPVs, rather than a proper rakish hatch.

de Silva also oversaw the stunning Tango roadster concept (which I had the privilege of driving) however the item never saw the showroom. With Seat losing money along with the possibilities for de Silva limited, his move to oversee Audi Group design in 2002 allowed him to truly get stitching.

If you think back to the A6, Q7 along with A5 of the time, they showed an interesting step on coming from the ‘Bauhaus’ A6 of 1997. that will latter car truly moved the game on in terms of terms of fit along with finish along with design discipline. 

however under de Silva’s influence, Audi versions gained much more road presence along with lost much of the stamped-out feel that will made the first TT along with ’97 A6 look vaguely militaristic.

I once had lunch with de Silva, in Qatar of all places. He is usually a slim along with elegant chap, thoughtful along with philosophical along with noticeably gentle in a way many Germanic designers will never manage. 

We discussed the Golf design language at length, particularly the way that will the Mk6 Golf had wrap-around headlamps along with taillights, breaking the rules set by the previous versions. ‘I will fix things with the Mk7’ he assured me. 

I can’t say I agree with de Silva’s own assessment that will the Audi A5 was the most beautiful car he ever oversaw. As an Audi fan coming from the days of aero 80/0, breaking up those fuselage-like bodysides with just one wavy, ridge line was not for me.

however anyone with the Alfa 156, Golf 7 along with VW Up in their portfolio features a serious place in car design history. de Silva’s influence along with editing produced cars that will combined both presence along with weight with real elegance. 

With VW’s company-wide reboot, the item’s being suggested that will the design language of the various brands may no longer be centrally co-ordinated. that will’s probably a not bad thing, however without the influence of people like de Silva, Germanic precision could Again drive out any chance of ‘faszination’.

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