Fueled by Passion

From a very early age I knew I had a passion for cars. Every day after school I would rush home to watch the Heathcliff cartoon and practice drawing the classic car driven by Iggy’s grandpa.

Day after day, I penciled the boxy cabin, the wheels and the squared off vented hood. I did my best to capture the Model A styled grill and radiator cap. It was tricky perfecting the shape of the headlamps, taillights and the oval side window. My paper would be covered with eraser and pencil marks from the numerous attempts. Next, were Model A’s and 32 Roadsters and from there I graduated to sketching modified versions of my ’94 Honda Civic and ’91 Miata. Admittedly, I was not the best artist and after all these years I’m sad to report there has been no improvement…not even a little bit. But had I known that there were schools that could’ve helped me marry my sketches with my automotive passion, I would have filled up every sketch pad I could find and attended a design school.

This is exactly what Sasha Selipanov did. Combining his passion, raw talent and desire to be in the automotive industry, he journeyed to America to pursue an education from one of the premiere design schools in Southern California – The Art Center College of Design. With names like Shiro Nakamura, Henrik Fisker and Peter Brock, the Art Center College of Design has graduated some of the best in the industry. Following graduation, Sasha blazed a trail of designs that have made him one of the most coveted designers in the industry today.

When Hyundai decided to establish their luxury brand Genesis, they knew they needed people in place that would think outside of the box and help them create vehicles that would put them on the map as a contender. They sought designers that were cutting-edge and capable of bringing forth designs that would validate them as a company deserving of a share of the playground amidst the big boys. Vehicles that showcased high-end luxury, styling, and refinement yet at a price point that is more favorable for that middle-tier Executive climbing the ladder of success. With that, Genesis needed the right person at the helm for their European division and in 2016 Sasha was hand-picked for the role of Chief Designer.

Sasha’s reputation precedes him as he has put pen to paper creating phenomenal eye-catching designs for the VW Group. His talents have earned him design credits for cars that went on to become concept and production cars – the Bugatti Vision Gran Turismo Concept, Lamborghini Huracan and the Bugatti Chiron. All of which make him a superhero of automotive design. His talents and practical knowledge of physics have served the VW brand well and Genesis looks to utilize that experience to help with their mission to create stunning show-stopping vehicles. Sasha and his team have recently created a concept car that is getting as much buzz as the exclusive Bugatti Chiron…the Genesis Essentia. A beautiful luxury coupe (concept) boasting a futuristic, yet modern take on style and elegance.

I was able to catch up with the very busy Sasha at the Car Classic 2018 being held at his alma mater – the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. This is one of the many worldwide stops for the Genesis Essentia and Sasha. Not only was he there to on behalf of Genesis, but also as a judge for one of the design categories. I have heard a lot about Sasha and have also done my research in preparation for meeting with him and I must say that what I heard and learned about this man was spot on. From his signature Sumac t-shirt and beard, he may appear intimidating at first glance, but upon meeting him he is social, approachable, and very generous with his time.

With 15 years in the industry he remains very humble in his demeanor. Talking with him was very easy and he represents himself and the Genesis brand with great professionalism. The man has a welcoming smile and energy that makes you want to immediately add him to your friends list. His love for cars struck a chord with me being that I’m a fellow automotive enthusiast, but I wanted to find out more about the man behind the designs. I arranged to meet with Sasha at the event and was lucky enough to snag him for a few questions before he was pulled in too many directions.

Perks Garage is happy to present to you:

“15 Questions with an Automotive Designer”

1. As a kid did you have any ambition to be an automotive designer?

SS: No, but I always drew cars and knew that I wanted to be in the automotive industry in some form. I think most of the designers in the industry come from 2 major directions. Either they are designers at heart and have a passion for cars or they are car guys at heart and want to be part of this car world. That is probably where I come from more. I always drew and doodled as a kid, but don’t think I had any meaningful interest or talent.

1b) When did you develop that interest and talent for drawing cars?

SS: It was just my passion for cars, I get them. Their like living creatures for me. There is a connection I have with them that I don’t necessarily have with another object like a toaster for example. The real heartfelt stuff only happens with cars.

2. Do you recall what your first design was as a kid?

SS: I kept drawing Ferraris as a kid…Formula 1 cars, mid 80’s forms. In a German automotive sport magazine in my grandfather’s old pile had I saw these 2 Ferraris on the bottom of the last page…revelation.

3. Out of your designs which is your favorite?

SS: As someone famous before me said, their favorite is always the one that comes next. I like how that sounds. Whatever is done, is done and look forward to the next big thing and wonder how I am going to get this to look even better than what I am currently working on. I am proud and fortunate to have worked on the cars that I contributed to, but I always look forward to what comes next.

4. Is car design your only hobby and passion?

SS: By a large margin, yes. I am a big fan of metal music and science, reading books on physics. Car design, car racing as well.

4b) Do you race?

SS: I don’t personally race but have done a few track days and want to build up my skills. I bought a quick car and have all the ingredients. I am not terribly bad but wouldn’t call myself an expert.

5. What car do you currently own?

SS: Nissan GTR, it’s a big-time dream come true. I have always wanted one and have a Tamiya 1:10 scale replica and 1/8th scale diecast.

5b) Where does the GTR rank for you as a sportscars? Top 3?

SS: Pretty close to #1 for me. There are cars that are unobtainable and amazing, but then they are unobtainable. But the GTR is a sportscar that you can aspire to and one day own. You don’t have to be an elitist to own. A car that enthusiast can dream of having without winning the lottery or be a Silicon Valley success story. Just having a great salary and be still being able to afford a sportscar (GTR).

6. Are sports cars the only cars that you have designed of have you ever dabbled in sedans or economy level cars?

SS: Throughout my 15-year career, I have had to touch on a bit of other cars as well. There have been sedans for VW and Audi, SUVs and Rolls Royce size competitor cars. So, I’ve done it all, but my true passion is with sports cars. I have been very fortunate that through all my cars it’s the sportscars (Huracan, Chiron, Essentia) that have made it through to production or show standards. But the next car may not be a sports car, it may be something else.

7. As far as design what is your role?

SS: Head of design of the European studio for Genesis. Along with a few designers I have helped bring onboard, we work together as a team. I’m very hands on so there is still a lot of designing that I do. I think a lot of other Design Directors for the company are probably not as hands on. Probably in part due to my age as I am still a little bit younger than your average Design Chief. But also, the fact that the thing I enjoy most about the job is designing things.

8. With design being a collaborative effort, how much of a design is you versus the entire team?

SS: There is a certain moment in which everyone becomes a designer. Hierarchy doesn’t play a role when we are producing design work. Everyone puts up design work and everyone is judging it for what it is without thinking, “well our boss did this sketch, so it must be great.” I really enjoy this process. I like the fact that when I give critique to my team, they are more than welcome to return with critique of my work. Only when it comes to the decision-making process does hierarchy play a role. I do get to decide certain things, yet I have a boss that ultimately call the shots. But before the decision making comes into play, the creative process is very democratic.

9. Is there a signature design element that you put into every design?

SS: No, I hope that purity, simplicity and beauty and these types of overriding qualities show. What I like are things that sit well on the wheels, that are muscular, have a sense of direction and purpose but also have simplicity and clarity. All of which are very conceptual.

10. Are you inspired by anything when you look at a blank sheet of paper?

SS: Usually music plays a big role. I try to get a sense of tension and rhythm and purpose from what I’m listening to at that point. It’s very linear the transition from what I’m listening to and what I draw.

10b) What music are you listening to these days? SS: A lot of underground heavy metal

11. How do juggle your career and family living in Germany and being employed in Korea?

SS: Its very tricky, we travel a lot to Korea. I think about 2-3 times in the last month. It’s pretty taxing on the family. But on the other hand, the projects are very exciting and there is so much life in the company right now so it’s a sacrifice we make. My wife understands that when I am home, I try to do as much with the family as possible. Don’t do late hours, get out of the office by 5-5:30. Spend as much time with the kids. It’s a balancing act.

12. What drew you to Genesis?

SS: The opportunity of a clean sheet of paper. With the other brands that I’ve worked with – Bugatti, Lamborghini and VW group as a whole, they are made from these historic gems. You have as much responsibility to push them forward as to protect what is already there. So, in a way you are like an art custodian. You are not going to come in one day and decide the Mona Lisa is not the right thing and enjoy your own doodle area. With Genesis, it’s a chance to create something from scratch without the wealth and history that the other brands come with.

12b) So basically you can’t go wrong? you can push the envelope yourself?

SS: You very much can go wrong but it’s in you, you team and you boss’s hands to set the direction. It a really good feeling. we are getting things going in a new path instead of carrying on what was already been done before we arrived.

13. What is your favorite component of the Genesis Essentia?

SS: The sculpture of the body side. I like how it moves the light toward the rear. I love how it accentuates the muscles of the rear. Outside of the styling looking at it from a whole, something must be said about Genesis. It’s a brand that’s not scared of making dream cars. The Essentia is by all definitions a dream car. There is also the possibility to dream and have your dreams realized.

14. I hear that based on the design you and your team came up with, the Essentia Concept car is a car that might possibly go into production?

SS: There is no official discussion or communication about it, so let’s put a rain-check on that.

15. So, what’s next for Sasha?

SS: New projects. New opportunities. New post-production and show car ideas are floating around. I hope that something new for everyone to see with be there soon.

After the interview, I walked away thinking to myself:

• What if I had stuck with my doodles and sketches?

• What if I followed my passion in the same way that he did?

But I definitely have no regrets. I get to meet and write about people that share my same passion and enthusiasm for the automotive world. And on this day our paths crossed and I had the pleasure to meet and interview Sasha Selipanov – designer of the Huracan, Chiron and now the Genesis Essentia.

Perks Garage would like to thank Sasha for his time. He is true an inspiration!

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You’re really into cars, right?

What do you do when your boss ask you if you want to drive his First Edition Jaguar I-Pace back to the office? “You’re really into cars, right?”

Today we had our department lunch and on the ride over there we noticed the new Jaguar I-Pace roaming the streets of Costa Mesa with a cat like prowess. Silent, yet rather quickly, jumping in and out of lanes like…well like a cat. A very large and beautiful black cat.  The driver of the vehicle that I was in said that must be Bob’s new car.  We stopped at a light and from my vantage point of the rear seat all I could see was the front of the Jag and those amazing optional 22″ wheels with carbon fiber inserts.


When the light turned green, the Jag took full advantage of its 4.5 0 to 60 speed and sticky rubber and ripped a left turn through the intersection.  Tried as we did to keep up, Bob was showing off to his passenger what the I-Pace could do.  The all electric SUV maneuvered through the streets making use of its 394 hp and 512 lb-ft of instant torque. With that kind of power the Jag arrived at the restaurant minutes before us.  Lucky for us, actually lucky for me, there was an empty spot right next to where the Jag lay resting from the spirited drive.  I snapped a pic of it when we arrived. 

I’m relatively new to the dept, so my coworker was looking out for me when I heard her tell Bob that I really like his car.  It got better when after lunch Bob was showing off his new purchase and I struck up a conversation my team lead, who the passenger in the I-Pace.  My supervisor also drives a electric car, so I am sure they did all their EV talk during the ride to the restaurant.  I asked him what his thoughts were on the I-Pace and he said that he was actually more of a fan of the Tesla.  He likes its simpler interior design and the large screen. Being familiar with Teslas, I can say the Jag has a more premium look and feel inside and out.  Personal view of course, but it’s my blog so there.

My supervisor knows that I like cars and told me that I should ride back with them.  Also said for me to ride up front so I could check out the Jag first hand.  Of course he had to twist my arm for me to say yes 🙂 . When the sleeping Jag was awakened, the side mirrors unfolded and the door handles extended out like that of the Tesla Model S, making them easy to grab.  With a  slight tug the door opened right up revealing a very well appointed cabin. 

Once seated I was able to examine just how nice the interior of the Jaguar I-Pace First Edition is with its black leather sport seats, dark wood accents and the optional black suede headliner.  The headliner material isn’t much as it encompasses a large fixed panoramic roof.  The dash, steering wheel and seats have contrast white stitching and there are splashes of aluminum to help break up the black.

Just as I was admiring the interior layout, Bob looks over at me and says “you’re really into cars, right?  Wanna drive?”  In a moment of Neo and Morpheus Red pill or Blue pill decision making, I gulped and uttered “What?”  “You wanna drive?  This will be your only chance.” he says. Collecting myself and trying to suppress my excitement “Yes, of course.”  Once behind the wheel, I had to get my bearings. Adjust the seat, buckle my seatbelt.  I had to hunt for the start button as it rather subdued and not behind the steering wheel like other cars.  No giant red “push me” ignition button here.  A simple, almost elegant designed black button to compliment the very modern center console. 

Starting an electric vehicle takes some getting used to as there is almost no sound, well only the sound of the interior coming to life.  Setting off in the Jaguar, you simply push “D” for Drive and press the accelerator pedal.  No trans shifting into gear, no roll when you take your foot off of the brake.  Very simple when you think about it. 

I felt all kinds of nervous taking my boss’s $90k Jaguar I-Pace First Edition onto a public road.  “What if I pull out in front of someone?  What if I don’t break in time.  What if I hit the accelerator with my lead foot and break the tires loose on this AWD beast.” I was put at ease with the conversation we were having and threw those “what if’s” out the window.  Especially when my boss told me to “punch it”.  So you know I did and was immediately pinned to my seat.  With an electric vehicle, you feel the torque instantly.  And the I-Pace has plenty to go around. 

Impressive 234 mile range for a vehicle of its size if you keep your foot out of the tank…well off the electric go pedal and let the regen-braking do it’s thing.  Can I tell you that the handling is terrific for a vehicle of its size? The steering is sharp and direct, which I am sure is assisted by the size of the performance tires.  My supervisor snapped a pic of me driving.  I’m sure I looked like a frightened child from his view.
I drove us back to the office safely and thanked Bob for the opportunity to drive his baby.  That takes some kind of trust to hand over you brand new car to anyone without vetting them first.  I guess it’s a car guy thing.  He was proud of his purchase and wanted to share that joy with me…another car guy.

The car is amazing and makes a strong case against Tesla.  It may not have “Ludicrous” mode but it drops the hammer nicely.  You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t consider Jaguar when cross-shoping against Tesla.

Sorry for the lack of pics this post but here are 2 of the shots I took at the OC Auto Show and the link to the Jaguar website to get a better look at what is offered for the Jaguar I-Pace First Edition.



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Getting Dirty

Now don’t tell anyone, but I kinda have a thing for off-road vehicles. And over the years I’ve been a spectator of off-road Motorsports – mainly motocross. Although I have never been a participant, I am a fan. I loved watching the rivalry between “Bubba” Stewart and Chad Reed as they fought for hole-shots and tore up “whoops” in epic battles to be #1. When televised I would watch rock-crawling. Sat in amazement of the driver/spotter teamwork using rope and hand signals to climb what looked like impossible crevices. I also tuned in to Trophy Truck racing when Deegan and the Metal Mulisha formed a team. These days I geek out whenever I see the King of off-road Ford Raptor roaming the streets of SoCal.

The other day I received a message that my buddy Blake (from my Who Needs a Golf R post) had purchased a new vehicle. He was looking for a replacement for his girlfriend’s Ecoboost Mustang. You know the Ford Mustang, a.k.a. the car event crowd wrecker. If you don’t know what I mean by that, please look up the videos on YouTube, pure insanity of people drifting uncontrollably into crowds or cars or poles as they pulled away from car events.

He was looking for something that possessed greater visibility and road presence than what the lowered Mustang could offer. Now like many of us, Blake has a passion for all things automotive. Spends countless hours on forums, researching cars, prices, styles and trends…he stays in the know. All of this came in handy in the decision making process. After plenty of research, they decided on a pick-up truck. Not just a truck but something with Off-Road capabilities. He began cross shopping a few of the popular trucks and landed on the Chevy Colorado ZR2.

Blake went on the Chevrolet website to build his perfect truck, a white over black 2018 optioned to the gills off-road package. After ticking the box on most of the options, as most of us do, it totaled up to be more than what he wanted to spend. That is what is known as sticker shock. As luck would have it, he was scrolling through the Chevy forum and found that a dealership was offering killer deals on the exact truck he spec’d out. So, without hesitation he hightailed it down to Santa Ana. Signed some paperwork and drove home with his new purchase.

With less than 1000 miles on the truck, I told him let’s get together. I figured I could get some shots of the truck in its natural element…by hitting the trails and getting dirty. Not only was I thinking is this will make for some great blog material but this will be an amazing adventure for me. I have always wanted to go off-roading and this was the perfect opportunity for me to do both.

Early Saturday morning I met up with Blake and Jon and was able to snap a few shots of a very clean Off-Road truck. I was blown away with the styling of the truck. I grew up back in the day with a Datsun pick-up and this is of course leaps and bounds above the basic grey king-cab pick-up I used to drive to the mall. The truck has a touch screen like most vehicles these days, leather seats, digital info screen between the gauge cluster showing things such as pitch angle, tire pressure, etc.

Admittedly with this level of creature comforts and good looks, I was a little skeptical of what the truck could handle. My tune changed after only 5 minutes of driving on the trail.

The trail is a fire access road but a good place to test your skills. Full of cliffside switchback, rocks and plenty of whoops to catch air at the right speed. Don’t ask me how I know. In the turns there are some banks if you feel the need to get a little sideways.

Great view

It was really great getting out there early as there weren’t many people on the trails. It allowed us to stop, chat and take plenty of pictures.

Riding the trails for the first time was a great experience and being with cool people added to the fun. It’s funny that the talk at the end was about who was getting a truck next? Who’s ready to ditch their current car or just add to their collection. I must say that I watched a ton of off-road videos once I made it back home.

To be able to go to a dealership buy a vehicle and drive it straight up a mountain is amazing to me. No modifications needed although Blake does plan of getting a set of larger tires. The Chevy Colorado ZR2 has the suspension, ground clearance, and the locking front and rear diffs making for a very impressive package out the gate. Based on how well Blake modified his GTI, I can’t wait to see if Blake can improve on what is already a great truck. All I know is that I’m ready for another ride.

Here is some video I took when I want too (butt) clinched to focus.

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More pictures you say!

Hi everyone, Perks Garage just joined the picture sharing platform Instagram. We will be dropping photos on a regular basis. This is just a quick way to get your daily automotive photo fix.

So, please give us a follow as we continue to provide you with the type of on-the-go content that you love.

https://www.instagram.com/perksgarageblog/?hl=en

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What did I just stumble upon?

Leaving my semiannual dental appointment today I noticed traffic being redirected through the parking lot. Being nosey, I had to check it out and here is what I saw. The Shops at Dos Lagos was hosting a microbrewery event along with a WWII veterans parade. The parade consisted of a military marching team, classic cars and of course veterens. I captured this video as well as a few photos below.

Enjoy.

The event: https://shopdoslagos.com/event/amber-waves-of-grain-2018/

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Car Classic 2018

Here’s a preview of an event that I recently attended. The Car Classic 2018 hosted by the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. There were many in attendance from spectators, media, exhibitors, students, alumni and special guests. A full post will follow soon as I have been a little busy working on a few upcoming stories. For now please enjoy these beauties. It’s just a little taste of what was on display on a beautiful sunny day in California.

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Tesla Roadster

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Bugatti Type57/59 Special Roadster

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BMW Z8 Roadster

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Beautiful Buick Riviera

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Sketches and artwork from past and present students were on display

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Best weekend yet

Lucky, fortunate, blessed…these are a few of the words people use when they are #winning at life. Whether it is a sporting event, winning the lottery, or an awards show people tend to lead their acceptance speech with one of these words. Well I didn’t win the big lottery this week, not from a lack of trying, it just wasn’t my turn. But I, well Perks Garage, had a winning weekend!

On Saturday, I had a great time hitting the Silverado Canyon fire access road for a review of the 2018 Chevy Colorado ZR 2 Off-Road pick-up truck with a few great guys that I’m happy to call friends.

That was a great experience for all of us, although I think we all might have peed our pants just a little during a few of those jumps.  A full write up is in the works as soon as I can edit the hundred or so pics and video I took.  Also took some video of me trailing behind Jon’s Civic Type R.  I finally got to see it in action as he devoured the road chasing down a Nismo Z.

The weekend fun didn’t end there as I made arrangements to attend Car Classic 2018 Iconic Design: 70 years of ArtCenter Influence, a celebration at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena for automotive design. The event was a collection of alumni and sponsors gathering to discuss and showcase automotive designs past, present, and future.  There were many cars on display, including several sought after concept cars from Tesla, Fisker, Hyundai, and the one generating a lot of buzz at the moment, Genesis.

Perks Garage was in attendance for an interview with Chief Designer for Global Advanced Design at Genesis – Sasha Selipanov.

Sasha is known for designing a few very low-key cars you may or may not have heard of: the Ferrari 612 GTO III, the Lamborghini Huracan, and the Bugatti Chiron.  Nothing too special (truly I jest).  Sasha is an amazingly down to earth, humble guy that represents his talents and the brand extremely well.  His latest design, the Genessis Essentia, is once again garnering major automotive concept car attention.  The Essentia is making it’s rounds globally and through a very coincidental work relationship with his mother-in-law, I landed here with Sasha and his latest design.

My article is being penned this week and needs to be approved before I can bring it to all of you.

The show brought out designers from some of the major manufacturers for panel discussions and one panel session was concluded by a surprise guest.  The legend himself, Mr Jay Leno was on sight!  He was a part of a birthday celebration for one of the designers but also showcased one of his many automobiles – a long V12 powered WW2 two-seater vehicle.

Not only was he there on stage, but being the approachable guy he is, he roamed around shaking hands and taking pics with fans.  Now, I’ve met celebrities in the past, but Leno is on a whole ‘nother level for my fanboyism.  I was able to meet, shake hands, and take a picture with him. Not only that, but he also took a picture with my wife, who was gushing as well.  Especially after he asked, “Who’s that, your dad?” #thisguy #onceaconedian #comedianperson

Here is the video of him driving away from the event.  If you watch the video you will hear Jay doing his signature double honk as he exits.

So you see, Perks Garage is making moves and I am lucky, fortunate, blessed and #winning all at once.  Above all I am thankful and very humble for the opportunities granted yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Peace.

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