Concept cars capture the artistic spirit of car design and stoke excitement
and passion among car enthusiasts. For designers, these projects are the ultimate
opportunity to create an object that can be sleek, elegant, futuristic, artistic – a myriad
of things – but nearly always “cool.”
As Carlos explains, “You don’t have to be a designer to know when a design is
intrinsically cool – you may not be able to articulate why but you simply know it.”
But if you are in fact a designer then you have to justify why a design isn’t just
cool, but will also sell a few hundred thousand cars. The hard reality of modern
corporate culture can quickly turn a concept car into a family sedan with a slightly cool
spoiler on the trunk.
Another reality of corporate life is that most positions are highly specialized by
task: designers design, engineers engineer. And even within these silos there is further
specialization, from the engine team to chassis team to body team. But if your passion
is cars – cool cars – you don’t want to be in a silo, you want a hand in every part of
the process from the shape of the door, to the dashboard knobs, to the number of
cylinders up front. Or maybe mid-engine….
BY THE TIME HE MOVED TO SHAKER IN 2013 HE HAD
THE DESIGN FOR THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF WHAT HE CALLS
SHAKER LIFE | SUMMER 2017 43
One of Salaff’s
projects, the 2006
crossover (top left).
Salaff was tasked with
sculpting the 2008
Mazda 3 hatchback
(top middle) with
similar themes from
the Nagare show car.
Salaff took part in
the early design
phases of the 2017
Mazda MX-5 Miata
2012 Carlos had a chance to set out on his own
to make those decisions, all of them. By the time he
moved to Shaker in 2013 he had the design for the
first in a series of what he calls “bespoke” cars, to
be called the SALAFFDesign Caden Collection – real
concept cars that would really be on the road. The first
model, the Caden, or C1, celebrates vintage cars with
a hand-formed aluminum skin and an analog, visceral
In The Caden Collection
As a prototype is meant to do, work on the C1 has helped to refine Carlos’ design
and manufacturing approach. A second line, the C2, is designed for production by
small batch manufacturers. It has an aluminum chassis, a 5.0-liter V10 engine, and
carbon fiber and aluminum body panels. This model – street legal like all of the designs
– can also be used for club racing. A third model, the C3, moves the engine to the front
and is also designed for a V10.
And this is where the massive 3D printer re-enters the story.