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Sep 5, 2012

Photography By: Jordan Donnelly

Words By: Andy Carter

Visual Perfection: Vertex Ridge S15 Silvia


It can be said that all design is rooted in the struggle of form and function.  Each decision that a creator makes is a tug in one direction or the other. But good design never lies on linear scale.  That is, success isn’t found in the ability to defeat one side or the other.  Form at the expense of function is useless, an object d’art that can be discarded annually as the prevailing trends change.  Function without the consideration of form, however, is nothing more than a tool or applicance.  Good design, rather, is weaving these elements together in concert with one another, allowing each decision, regardless of purpose, to support one another.  American architect Louis Sullivan writes, “Ornament and structure were integral; their subtle rhythm sustained a high emotional tension, yet produced a sense of serenity. But the building’s identity resided in the ornament. It was the spirit animating the mass and flowing from it, and it expressed the individuality of the building.”  Form, therefore, becomes the eyes through which we are drawn into the function of the end result.

The Silvia (and it’s 240sx twin) is a car that has been dragged by heavy hands through the art of custom vehicle design. A car of undeniable purpose, the Silvia’s place as the prime choice in the drift community has left many as tools for getting sideways; a drifting appliance, in other words.  So in the interest of form (if any is there at all), owners reach over to the far end of form to pull garish color schemes, obnoxious stickers, and cartoonish additions to their car as if the law of averages would somehow place them in the middle of good design.  And while this aesthetic is a notable segment of our larger community, it is temporal at best.  Shock and awe can only travel so far, and if the extreme ornamental approach to the design of the vehicle isn’t backed up by an equally wild purpose, it can only come off as disingenuous at best.

David Ramsen’s Silvia is a perfect example of a drift-style car that doesn’t err too far on the side of outlandish aesthetics.  The authentic Vertex Ridge body kit, installed by Peter at Bodyform Aero, gives the car an aggressive demeanor that suits the enhanced performance of the turbocharged engine. With the addition to the 18″ TE37SL’s, the identity of this Silvia is solidified as car with true presence that remains respectful to the already sleek factory lines. The function of the car follows that same path, utilizing the stock SR20 motor with upgrades from Trust, Defi, and HKS.

Trying to find that balance, that “subtle rhythm” that Sullivan refers to, with a car is never easy.  I believe that there is a fine line between simple and trite, and that there will always be a place for pushing the envelope (both with form and function).  And, like everything in the world of design, success is ultimately subjective.  But I do believe that a there is a certain undeniable je ne se quois that is present in successfully executed projects.  I myself, am a diehard fan of all things spicy. Like the struggle of form and function in design, the world of spice centers around the fragile relationship of taste and heat.  So how hot can a dish get before the chef has destroyed the flavor? There is a huge difference, for example, in a perfectly seasoned bowl of pho, kicked up with fresh cut Thai peppers,  versus pouring Dave’s Insanity sauce on a Saltine cracker.  Design is much more than a simple balancing act of form and function. It’s not about how much hot sauce (or pink sparkle decals) you can add. There is no linear scale where one simply meets in the middle for success. The relationship is much more complex than that. True design is a merging of the world of function with the world of form.  This Vertex Ridge equipped Silvia’s form perfectly matches its functional identity, with nothing more and nothing less.





Editor: Andy Carter