An automotive futurist, Hollywood consultant and one-time Bugatti designer, Daniel Simon has emerged as a visionary when it comes to styling cars for this world and others.
Never heard of Daniel Simon? The German designer goes beyond styling cars. He’s known as an automotive futurist, dreaming up what cars could look like in the future – or one notable some case, an alternative past. After completing his studies, Simon went to work for the Volkswagen Group, where helped design Seats, Lamborghinis and Bugattis. He’s best known, however, not for the production cars he’s worked on, but for the racing liveries he’s penned and the futuristic cars he’s dreamed up. Here’s a sample of his finest designs.
Even if you never heard the name, you’ve probably seen some of Daniel Simon’s work on the big screen. When Disney remade Tron, it had Simon design the vehicles. That includes the jets and tanks, the car in which Quorra rescued Sam Flynn, the old light-cycle Kevin Flynn had in his sanctuary and, most notably, the new light-cycle Sam rode in the arena. Working with the film’s director and the rest of the production team, Simon undertook the ambitious task of reinventing the look of the original film but taking it in an even more futuristic division. And to our eye, he succeeded quite dramatically.
Tron Legacy wasn’t the only film Simon’s worked on, emerging as Hollywood’s go-to choice for fantasy car designs. For Captain America: The First Avenger, Simon was brought in to design a variety of vehicles for the fictitious Hydra division of the Nazi regime, including the jet-line submarine, B2-style flying wing and a giant tank. But most dramatic was the hot rod he designed for Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull. The V16-powered concept roadster featured ten wheels, a three-seat open cockpit and a design clearly inspired by the legendary Mercedes-Benz SSK, but taken to the extreme.
Perhaps the greatest pantheon of Simon’s work can be found in Cosmic Motors. The celebrated book incorporates his vision for what cars and other vehicles might look like in another time and a galaxy far, far away. When the 176-page volume emerged in 2007, it was met with critical acclaim by noted automotive designers. The book includes Simon’s designs for cars, motorbikes, trucks and flying machines of all kind – including racers and military equipment to thrill and defend the people of Galaxion, "blending cutting-edge technology with battle-proven crude mechanics, packaged in a sophisticated design aesthetic".
While Simon’s work has featured in other films, not all of his designs have been so out-of-this-world. Although he joined the Bugatti design team after the Veyron was already completed, he counts among his accomplishments the design of the Hermes edition. The Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermes emerged in 2008. The design was carried out by Gabriele Pezzini for Hermes and Simon (together with design chief Achim Anscheidt) for Bugatti, and incorporated new wheels inspired by the 1924 Bugatti Type 35, a new grille, two-tone paint scheme and of course a retrimmed interior with the finest leather France has to offer.
The third area of Simon’s work involves neither production cars nor fantastical concepts. His services have been sought by racing teams looking to add a bit of extra stylistic flair to their cars. The now-defunct Hispania Racing Team brought him in to help them drum up some sponsorship in 2011, and Simon draped the F1 car in a dramatic checked-flag and red motif. Arguably even more striking has been Simon's fresh take on the classic JPS livery for Lotus. The reinterpreted black and gold theme adorns the company’s latest LMP2 racecars in the grandest of style, making the rest of the Le Mans grid look rather boring by comparison.