Soul Searching – An S2000 Owner Eulogizes Steve Jobs
My roommate at Dragon Ball Run XI, ofsalesmen, wrote this essay upon the passing of Steve Jobs. I trust that you will enjoy reading this as much as all of us at the news team did. Having read it, I am sure that you too will come to appreciate and possibly theorize, like we did, that had Steve Jobs been an automobile engineer, he too would have created something akin to the S2000. Without further ado click through and read what ofsalesmen has to say about his recent Soul Searching on the passing of Steve Jobs.
The recent passing of Steve Jobs has left the world reverently reflecting on his tremendous technological achievements. His creations not only epitomized the ability of technology to better our lives, but also the essence of design and forging a seamless interface between human and machine.
To quote the aesthete: “In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”
The S2000 perfectly exemplifies that particular definition of design. To most, automotive design may simply mean bodywork: the creases, curves, and cuts of body panels. Or, in Mr. Job’s words, the “veneer.” But for the S2000, the design goes much deeper than the skin. It pervades each and every inch of metal, plastic, rubber, and glass that constitutes the car. Every component on this vehicle fulfills the mission of the S2000: to deliver pure, unfettered driving pleasure.
Start with the heart of the car: the engine. Details like fiber-reinforced metal cylinder liners, forged internals, and even the bright red valve cover express the desire of the S2000’s engine to breathe and blow at stratospheric RPM levels. Move back from the engine and into the cockpit, an exercise in minimalism that Jobs himself would appreciate. No confusing array of buttons, no flashy radio/navigation display… no functional cupholders, even. There is no design excess to distract the driver and prevent physical and emotional integration between him and the car. Zoom out further and consider the sub-3,000-pound weight and near 50/50 weight distribution—the results of perfect packaging, again to engender the car’s purpose.
The soul of the S2000 ultimately manifests itself on the surface. It’s no surprise that we tend to anthropomorphize cars; headlights are eyes, fenders equate to hips, and so on. In doing so, we imbue machines with human attributes—a soul, in other words. Ask a group of S2000 owners what their favorite exterior design feature is and you’re bound to receive several answers, like the aggressive, intent eyes. The half-smiling, half-sinister mouth, perhaps. Or how the wide, sculpted shoulders up front taper gracefully into a lithe waistline. Some might even say the tight and attractive rear end (yes, you know who you are, weirdos). The point is: one look, and you know exactly what this car is about. Every single exterior surface on the S2000 communicates a sense of speed and ability. Every line, every shadow, and every shape evokes emotion, the anticipation of euphoria and excitement that occurs every time we press that big red button marked ‘Engine Start.’
The most immediate aesthetic impressions may occur visually, but the most powerful ones occur physically… especially in the driver’s seat of the S2000. It’s the forward push under acceleration, effortlessly transmitted from the contact patches of the rear tires to the driver’s backside via the monocoque chassis and double-wishbone suspension. It’s the embrace delivered by the deep seat bolsters when exiting a tight corner. It’s the slight rearward jerking of the head when that VTEC solenoid actuates and injects an extra burst of adrenaline into both the engine and the driver. (True beauty cannot always be seen… sometimes it just has to kick in, yo.)
Recently, at DBRXI, I had a conversation with Ron about driving the S2000 on the Dragon. He mentioned how a driver becomes one entity with the car, a cyborg that rides on rails. That phenomenon is surely the hallmark of a great product: when it seamlessly integrates into your life and brings you happiness. Many can say the same about their iPhones and Macbooks. Countless people have fallen in love with Apple products, just like how we have fallen in love with our S2000s.
I am completely smitten with my S2000 because I believe it has a soul. I can see it when the sunlight shimmers on the Suzuka Blue paint. I can hear it when the tachometer sweeps across the dash to kiss the redline. And I can feel it each and every time I get in my car. It’s all in the design…
Rest in peace, Steve Jobs. Thank you for helping me appreciate the design miracle that I am so fortunate to have in my life.
Images courtesy of ofsalesmen, energetic, Jalopnik and American Honda