By: Dave Abrahams
Poissy, France - This is the Coupé Corbusier, a tribute to the leading figure of a golden age when France, rather than Italy led the world in cutting edge design.
More a work of art than a car, it was created by the industrial design team at Groupe Renault to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of artist, author and designer Le Corbusier, regarded as the father of modern architecture, who died in August 1965.
Renault's design teams often work on future-looking projects that have nothing to do with the next generation of cars, but are rather an exploration of new ways forward and a bit of pure fun - with almost no limitations - for the creative staff.
In this case, however, the brief was to create a car for the 21st century inspired by Le Corbusier's modernist principles. The team began by investigating the topic of 'cultural objects' and that led them to the period between the two World Wars, when Art Deco, a quintessentially French design movement, flourished around the world.
It was also a golden age of car design, of Bugatti, Delage, Amilcar, Delahaye and Talbot Lago, and of coachbuilders supreme Figoni & Falaschi of Paris - and a period when the growth in car ownership had a huge impact on lifestyles.
Yet it was the simplicity and geometric elegance of Le Corbusier's design precepts that can now be seen as a sort of conceptual prequel to today's car designs.
And that's how the Coupé Corbusier came to be; it's not a 1930s retro - that's been done far too often, with varying degrees of success - but a tribute to the architect's eye for line, his mastery of light and his faith in the future, with a big jaunty grille, flowing lines that emphasise length rather than height and uncomplicated detail work that has to be perfectly proportioned if it's not to look like a cartoon.
OK, it will never make it into production and it doesn't preview any future design trends, but it is an extraordinary expression of what Art Deco car design could have become.
The Coupé Corbusier will be on display until 20 March next year as part of an exhibition curated by the French National Monuments Centre to mark the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier's death, with the theme “Cars for living: The automobile and modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries”, at the Villa Savoye in Poissy.
Take another look at the picture of the Villa Savoye in the gallery and remind yourself that Le Corbusier designed it as a holiday home - in 1929!