FailCar’s Geneva trip: Lights fantastic

FailCar has been to Geneva and has been writing copy ever since. The seasoned pro that he is, FailCar flew in and out of Geneva in one day, therefore negating the need for tedious stuff such as trains and hotels. But in true PetrolBlog style, he has a different take on the motor show, choosing to focus on the array of lights on display. Follow FailCar on twitter @FailCar.

While I was at the show I noticed one of the top industry designers hastily snapping pictures of a couple of car lights. I won’t say who he is but he used to do Volvo stuff and has a funny beard.

Anyway it just so happened that I had also been taking a bit of an interest in car lighting units and for some reason this year found them all quite fascinating. I assume it’s all to do with new developments in lighting but for those of you not operating heavy machinery here are some of my favourite lights from the Geneva Motor Show 2012.

First up it’s one of the few angles at which the Bentley EXP-9F looks acceptable. Just check out this funky light and tell me you would not want it on your desk as some sort of cool lit sculpture. Or even in a bathroom hanging from the ceiling in some sort of open-plan Grand Designs style house. Say what you like about the big turd but this light is cool.

Bentley EXP-9F light unit at Geneva Motor Show 2012

Just around the corner was the Porsche Boxster which does look very nice indeed. One of my favourite details though was the way that the rear lights integrate with the rear spoiler. It’s just quite a cool little touch and I bet someone had to argue tooth and nail to get that through to production. Correct me if I’m wrong but I would have thought something like that would cost a fortune to design and manufacture.

Porsche Boxster rear lights at Geneva Motor Show 2012

I’m not sure if these from the Audi A1 Quattro suit the car particularly well. I mean red headlights on a white car is a little odd but close up these lights do look pretty special. As the lights on the new A3 are of a similar design I assume that the plastic strip is interchangeable. Maybe this could be on the Audi options list in the future. Hot pink lights on your new violet A1? Not a problem, Miss Price.

Audi A1 Quattro front lights at the Geneva Motor Show 2012

Now Toyota had some very cool concepts on their stand this year despite everyone just wanting to play with the GT86 and sit in the back of the Prius+ and play with the seats. As a preview of the next-gen Prius the NS4 concept looked pretty funky and just check out the rear lights. Nice.

Toyota NS4 concept - rear lights

I was not a huge fan of the Toyota FCV-R concept but up close the internals of this light remind me of the interior of the cave that Superman came from with all the funky crystals and stuff.

Toyota FCV-R concept lights

The Honda NSX concept does have something of the R8 about it round the front but these lights are totally unique. I reckon these would work really well as some sort of strip lighting in a trendy art deco wine bar.

Honda NSX concept - front lights Geneva Motor Show 2012

The little Honda EV-STER concept looks like something that could actually go into production. I love the way the lights look like some sort of fuel rods that have been loaded in individually.

Honda EV-STER concept lights - Geneva Motor Show 2012

I really hope the production version of the Mazda Takeri looks half as good as this. The lights on this make me want to re-think my hatred of DRLs. I’m fairly sure that inside those headlights is a mini portal from Stargate.

Mazda Takeri front lights - Geneva Motor Show 2012

I’m not quite sure if I like the V12 Zagato but the carbon fibre rear lights on it just look cool, like giant carbon fibre bug-eyes staring out from either side.

Aston Martin V12 Zagato concept lights

The Citroën C4 Crossair concept looks pretty much ready for production which means these lights are probably good to go. With the curves of the rear ¼ and the way they sort of drop down I think they look a bit funky/expensive to replace when they inevitably get reversed into a supermarket trolley park.

Citroën C4 Crossair rear lights at Geneva 2012

The Citroën DS5 just looks properly good in a ‘it’ll never sell but I want one’ sort of way. The way the front lights have the swoosh that goes up the front ¼ is very cool and although I hate to say it reminds me of the swoosh on the MK1 Vectra that used to join into the wing mirror. For some reason at the time in 1998 I thought that was a bit cool. *Hides under table*

Citroën DS5 front lights at Geneva Motor Show 2012

Any Halo fans? Peugeot 208 rear light looks like the plasma pistol.

Peugeot 208 rear lights at Geneva Motor Show 2012

I shall finish up with the M6 coupé. Hey BMW, the ’90s called and they want their ‘Angel Eyes’ back.

BMW M6 coupé front lights at Geneva Motor Show 2012

While lights might not be hugely fascinating it is interesting to look at how they are taking a bigger role in car design and manufacturers seem to be getting more adventurous with the plastics that I assume can only be a result of technological improvements to both lighting and plastic moulding technology.

It’s also interesting to note that possibly the most identifying marks of a car design when people are playing guess the test car and of course #clusterbuster is the lighting units.

So in an effort to fully endanger any of those still operating heavy machinery – what are the greatest lighting units of all time?

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PetrolBlog’s very own Stig. Only a select few people know the true identity of FailCar, but his forthright and strong views on automotive matters have won him fans the world over. Like MajorGav, FailCar has a love of 80s cars and has spent the best part of 2011 painstakingly restoring a Peugeot 205 GTi using nothing more than a toothbrush, a lint-free cloth and some Creeping Crack Cure. Some say he lives in an ark-shaped barn in the middle of the country, surrounded by two of every single car made during the 1980s. All we know is, he’s called FailCar.


  1. March 9, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Great to see (boom boom) another interesting take on the show. Believe me you’re not the only one who enjoys these details. Can’t beat a nice Square 8 though.

  2. March 9, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    That’s a toughie, though may I just say that at Geneva, the Pug 208’s front lights were pretty snazzy too, as were the Honda EVster’s rear units. Tata Megapixel also had cool fronts. Best rear lights of the show had to be the Renault Zoe though – concentric blue diamond shapes.

    As for all time then? Well, the light units themselves are nothing special (just typical early circular units) but the flap-up covers on the late-60s Mercury Cougar are brilliant. Citroen SM has cool units behind perspex, and I like the Alfa SZ’s six little square lights. Classic rally Minis are good too, more for the collection of spotlights than the designs. And I like the dainty circular tail lights on classic Ferraris.

    As for more modern stuff, the Ford Puma has some great lights both front and rear. As does the current Jag XF. There are probably plenty more but I’d need a good dig around on the internet…

    • March 9, 2012

      Mmmm – Alfa Romeo SZ lights – stunning! Agree re Ford Puma too.

      Big fan of the MK1 Cortina rear lights too.

      • March 10, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        Yes! I was just thinking about the Cortina tail lights today, had you not mentioned it, it’s one I would have added.

      • March 10, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        Oh, and the indicators on the Ferrari Daytona (/Rover SD1…)

  3. March 9, 2012

    In no particular order, Paulo Cantarella’s boomerangs at the rear of the Maserati 3200GT, the rear lights of the Ford Cortina Mark I, those really slim headlamp units on the Vauxhall Calibra, the hockey sticks on the back of the Hillman Avenger and the tail lights of the Citroen C6. I only mention these because Lucas P100s bolted to the front of some Bentley 8 Litres probably don’t count as mere ‘lighting units.’

    • March 9, 2012

      Ah yes, the boomerangs!

      And another mention for the C6 is fine with me! 😉

    • March 9, 2012
      Simon Hingston

      But are the P100’s original or has it been Stanley’d 😉

  4. March 9, 2012

    It might be a bit odd but I remember when the Fiat Brava came out I thought the rear lights were amazing.

    Totally with you on the Cortina and SM behind perspex is bang tidy.

  5. March 9, 2012
    Peter Counsell

    I would argue for Fiat Bravo ahead of Fiat Brava.

  6. March 11, 2012

    Bravo > Brava

    Also, Alfa Romeo Giulietta (newest one) look pretty good from the rear. Citroën DS (faceliftet) was a design great, as was the DeTomaso Mangusta – just plain mean-looking.


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