By Shaun Keenan
If you’re one of the over 28-million Internet users in this country and frequent a lot of automotive blog sites, you may have stumbled across this exotic-looking concept car when it began appearing online in February.
It’s called the Lamborghini Insecta Concept and if you’re a fan of the Italian super car brand like myself, it most likely got your attention for a few reasons. First, its buggish name flies in the face of the company’s long-standing tradition to use bullish ones to identify the mark. Second, it looks like real. As real-looking as the Gallardo it’s based upon at least.
For me, April’s Fools Day came early this year. But, eventually I too came to accept the reality that this vehicle exists only in the virtual space and will likely never see the light of day. Though, to look at some of the renderings, you’d swear it has seen the Sun.
Anyway, to be a bit different this month with the Design Showcase, I was so moved by the fact I’d been duped, that I wanted to grill the 27-year-old Romanian designer Iulian Bumbu with a few burning questions. One blog had his e-mail on it, so I fired one off not sure what to expect. A few days later, our man replies, willing to answer any questions I may have.
In 2008, Bumbu completed a one-year Transportation Design Masters Course at the renowned Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milano, Italy – the Capital City of Design – which included a three-month internship at the Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. He’s also received a degree from the National University of Art Bucharest for Product Design in 2004 and has three years experience as a 3D modeler and texture artist for AMC Studio – a leading video game developer – in Romania’s capital Bucharest.
“The original purpose of my design was to try something different for this brand,” explains Bumbu, who lives some 70 kilometres north of his hometown of Bechet, Romania in a larger city called Craiova. “It was an experimental project. I was really interested what people’s reactions to this car would be.”
Judging by the response so far, I’d says it’s been a success. Though, it’s still important to point out the Insecta is not an official Lamborghini design concept. While Bumbu does not work for the super car maker, he claims his design has generated some positive feedback from them.
When I asked Iulian about his name choice for the concept, he calmly replies: “What can I say; being an atypical project and more of an experiment, I thought why not break away from the bull names tradition and use the name related to the inspiration source instead. I know that many people hate it, but my goal was not to please everybody.”
To this end, the Order Coleoptera – or common beetles – should feel proud of the distinct design they have inspired. The choice to design a Lambo was a matter of inspiration too, according to Bumbu. “I simply considered that, in that moment, this is what I wanted to do, and I didn’t think about it too much.”
The Insecta is such a departure from traditional Lambo designs that it was very important to include the trademark scissor doors. Were it not for these, the angular and tough-looking shell could be easily construed as anything but a Lamborghini, though still something thoroughly bred Italian.
His concept sits lower, is wider and has a wheelbase that’s slightly longer than a Gallardo. Length is about the same, and power comes from the same five-litre 90-degree V10 mill as in a 2008 Gallardo, which when combined with Bumbu’s lightweight full carbon-fibre body, makes 500 hp and 380 lb-ft feel more like 550 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque – a significant power-to-weight boost. Theoretically, of course.
“Though this project is focused more on the exterior, three cool things about the interior are the virtual appearance of the watch panels, the shape of the dashboard more related to a Star Wars ship than a car, and the centre panel, which integrates another (navigation) screen with an unusual shape.”
Sporty bucket seats, a U-shaped sports steering wheel and the unique greenhouse, which seamlessly blends into the glass engine to provide a striking view of the mid-mounted engine, are some other nice touches. Personally, I think he should have considered a three-seat centre-drive setup like the mighty McLaren F1.
Like it or not (I’m for the former), it took some time to put this design together. How long, you ask? “It typically takes me about one month to complete a 3D rendering for this type of car,” says Bumbu.
As for specials. “Really, I only need a pen or pencil and some paper for the sketches and the 3D software to complete the work.” At this point, a stylus and digital sketch pad are also quite handy.
“There can be anywhere from just a few views to 10 to 20 sketches in some projects before I start working with them in the computer. I use a program called Maya,” he clarifies, adding “I started using this software when I was working in the video game studio. This is where I perfected my skills.”
On the topic of Lamborghini’s latest official concept – a four-door sedan with a high-powered hybrid powertrain no less – “I think the Estoque is a really nice car and I really like the way they’ve integrated the muscular appearance into the geometrical style of the brand. I think it will be a success.”
To date, none of Bumbu’s masterpieces has seen the light of day. But, who’s to say that it won’t happen? “Right now, I’m collaborating on a few projects for some small car companies,” he says. “Ever since I was a little boy, I had a great passion for cars, but I also like to design home interiors and science fiction characters and vehicles.”
And, who knows where all this will take him? Maybe he’ll end up at BMW like his favourite automotive designer, American Chris Bangle, did. Perhaps he’ll be asked to move to Sant’Agata Bolognese near Bologna to continue his work crossing insecta with bovine.
“My goal is to one day own my own design studio,” he says. “That would be great!”