Icons Get a Makeover: the FERAT vampire-mobile comes back to life

Icons Get a Makeover: the FERAT vampire-mobile comes back to life

ŠKODA WORLD DESIGN

ŠKODA’s history is full of unique cars. But the car known as FERAT holds a special place among them. It became a film star, and now it has inspired a young designer to create a modern version.

24. 8. 2021

Originally conceived as a sports concept and prototype for the ŠKODA 110 SUPER SPORT, the car was eventually transformed into the star of a Czech horror film called The Vampire of Ferat. And the story of the ŠKODA FERAT’s rebirth, which is the brainchild of French designer Baptiste de Brugiere, proves that it can still captivate the imagination today.

“About three years ago I had the opportunity to visit the ŠKODA Museum’s depository for the first time. It was there that I first saw the FERAT, which I found fascinating. So when I heard about the Icons Get a Makeover project, I immediately volunteered to create a modern interpretation of it,” says Baptiste. And one of the reasons he got that chance was the fact that ŠKODA is a partner of this year’s Prague Comic Con 2021, the comics and sci-fi festival, which will celebrate 40 years since FERAT’s premiere on the silver screen.

In his own words, Baptiste said he tried to capture the first impression the car left on him with his idea of a modern-day “vampire-mobile”. “It’s that half a second before your brain starts to analyse the design. That’s when some of the features impress themselves on you, and it was these features I tried to preserve,” says Baptiste. So the basic proportions, with the car’s low height, the “pointy” roof and the giant rear spoiler, were important, he says. “I took some of these elements to the extreme to give the car some more modern touches,” he says.

Not an easy task

But it wasn’t an easy task. One of the things that Baptiste decided to carry over into his modern interpretation to preserve the character was the descending lines that run from the front bumper to the rear of the car. “That’s something that won’t necessarily look good in today’s perception of dynamic design. Today, the desired dynamics of a car’s looks are modelled a beast ready to jump, hence the muscular lines of today with a more muscular rear end,” says Baptiste, describing one of the design problems he had to contend with. 

So he spent some time tweaking the lateral lines and figuring out how to balance them and make them look modern. The result is fantastic: a chiselled-looking car that clearly references the FERAT while looking like a supercar of the future. “It was only after I managed to get these basic proportions together that I started working on the other details,” explains Baptiste.

And they’re definitely worth noting too. In the pointed nose with its large radiator grille, we can clearly sense a reference to the design language of current ŠKODA models. Most notably, Baptiste incorporated one typical feature called the “ŠKODA Power Dome”, i.e. the raised bonnet moulding, which is again very prominent here. And the original set of four LED headlights? “That’s a reference to a vampire’s fangs, of course,” laughs Baptiste.

ŠKODA FERAT 

This unique sports car was created for a starring role in the Czech film The Vampire of Ferat. The car was originally created as a prototype in 1971 as the ŠKODA 110 SUPER SPORT and remained a one-off. Later, the appearance of the prototype was modified for the film by Czech painter, graphic designer and car enthusiast Theodor Pištěk (who won an Oscar for his costumes for Amadeus, among other things). Under his guidance, the car was given a black paint job, new front and rear lights and a massive rear spoiler. Under the bonnet was a 1.1-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 54 kW. The car premiered on the silver screen in 1981, forty years ago.

Sketching the template from memory

Baptiste began work on his concept for the ŠKODA FERAT by sketching the original from memory. “I tried to capture those initial impressions. So I sketched the car as I remembered it from the first time I encountered it, and only when I had managed to capture these emotions and proportions from my memory did I proceed to work on my new interpretation,” says Baptiste. He made these sketches on paper, which remains a popular starting point for designers despite the increasing use of digital artwork. 

With the historic car in front of him, he kept looking for various details and interesting features to incorporate into the design of his concept. “I only worked on the computer in the final stages, especially in the colouring phase,” says Baptiste, adding that the traditional “vampire” black and red combination was an absolute must. “It was about two weeks’ work in the evenings,” he says. It was the initial sketches and finding the right shapes and details that took the most time. “The resulting illustration was pretty quick, but that only came after a lot of painstaking work,” explains Baptiste.

And the result is well worth it, even though we can’t get a glimpse of the interior, which in the original was accessed by tilting upwards the entire front section of the cab. “We might take a look at that if there’s a chance to take the project further,” smiles Baptiste, though he’s aware his beautiful creation will probably remain an exercise in free design.

Baptiste de Brugiere

French designer Baptiste de Brugiere is another member of the ŠKODA Design team who graduated from the renowned Strate École de Design. He started working in Mladá Boleslav almost immediately after graduating from this elite design school. “I really wanted to work at ŠKODA, it’s a great car company and a very nice place to work. I am very happy that I managed to get a job here in 2017,” Baptiste says about the start of his career. “My father was a car enthusiast, amateur painter and illustrator, and I picked up a passion for cars from him immediately. I started sketching cars pretty much as soon as I picked up a pencil,” says Baptiste, adding that his career has therefore essentially made a family dream come true. Projects he has worked on at ŠKODA include the VISION iV study and the transformation of the CITIGO into the electric CITIGOe iV. The latest mass-production model he has worked on will be launched next year.

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