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 By Ketan Patel View Comments

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Chevrolet WTCC Ultra Concept 2006

The exciting Chevrolet WTCC Ultra racecar study was one of the stars at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, which ended on October 15. The body language and the technical innovations of the visionary concept vehicle are fascinating – as is the story of how it was developed. The WTCC Ultra is the product of an outstanding logistical achievement, swept along by a wave of enthusiasm that literally spanned the globe: The spectacular touring car vision was developed and built by GM teams on several continents.

August 30, 2006. "JL 6437 all clear on runway 29. Wind from south-west, 15 knots". "Roger, JL 6437 ready for take-off." The Japan Airlines (JAL) operated Boeing 747 accelerates powerfully along the Tokyo-Narita runway and lifts majestically into the air. On board the eleven-hour flight to Frankfurt is the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra, a concept vehicle costing several hundred thousand euros. Chevrolet's surprise for the Paris Motor Show is safely stowed away, securely strapped into a sturdy wooden crate and carefully protected from curious eyes.
The Chevrolet team need not worry about their precious cargo: Inside the crate, the car is secured against any turbulence and the crate itself is anchored to a fixed rail system to prevent it from colliding with other pieces of cargo.
One of the 300 passengers on board the jumbo knows the four-wheeled traveler inside out: Teruhiko Iwahara, an experienced engineer from YDS, is accompanying the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra to Frankfurt. YDS, a company is located in the Kanagawa region south of Tokyo, specializes in the construction of show cars and prototypes and already built the Chevrolet T2X and S3X concepts.
One person in Germany is already waiting excitedly for Iwahara and his precious companion to touch down: Photographer Axel Wierdemann has been assigned by Chevrolet Europe to take pictures of the vehicle for the photo CD in the press kit. "To be on the safe side, I bought a Japanese dictionary because Teruhiko Iwahara apparently doesn't speak another language," Wierdemann says with a smile. "How am I supposed to talk to him if something doesn't work properly with this hand-made prototype?" As it turns out, buying the dictionary was an unnecessary precaution: YDS specialist Iwahara speaks English quite well and the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra does not cause any problems at all.
"With a futuristically styled car like the WTCC Ultra, it is particularly important to find the right angle of vision for setting up the camera," Wierdemann explains. The Ultra's clearly defined contours, the color and the finish must come across. Chevrolet's bowtie logo, for example, is painted into the front hood, it is not raised. Although it has a metallic shine, it must not create any reflections on the photo."
Together with Andreas Plass, who is making a video of the blue racecar, he gets to work as soon as the car arrives at a photo studio in Wiesbaden, Germany. In Paris, they are waiting eagerly for the pictures. The hostesses will give away more than 4,000 CDs to journalists during the two days of the show and numerous Internet users will log into the Chevrolet Europe media website to download the text and photos.
Flashback to November 2005: The first step is taken in the globe-spanning WTCC Ultra project. "The WTCC Ultra is the first truly global concept vehicle GM has ever developed," says Peter Bramberger, Design Manager at GM Holden in Australia. The way it was created is indicative of Chevrolet's international alignment. Based on the first design drafts from the GM Advanced Design Studio in South Korea, Peter Bramberger's team of specialists immediately get down to work. By December, the futuristic WTCC is taking shape on the electronic drawing boards. "Aggressive, muscular and dramatic" is how the 25-year-old senior designer Ewan Kingsbury, a graduate from the Transport Design course at the University of Coventry, describes the visionary appearance of the concept.
While the interior and exterior designers in Melbourne, Australia, are developing on the final styling details, highly skilled sculptors are refining the final shape on the full sized exterior clay model in the styling studios. Photometric scanners digitize the model's final contours. This is a technical prerequisite for all subsequent steps in the process that are spread right across the globe: On the basis of this data, the Japanese experts from YDS build the ready-to-drive show car. At the same time, the design data is transmitted from GM Holden Design in Melbourne via an ultra-fast data line to the GM Technical Center in Bangalore, India, where digital Sculptors use powerful computers to generate the math for the exterior surface model and the basis for a further part of the multimedia presentation: the animated film for the Paris Motor Show.
In the one-minute film shown on Chevrolet's stand in Paris, the concept car can be seen in action on a virtual racetrack. Filmed at top speed from various virtual perspectives and underscored with the real sound of the diesel racing engine, it arouses thrilling emotions. A Swiss animation company is responsible for the actual film production, based on the storyboard from Ewan Kingsbury. They adapt it to the European eye and put several thousand hours of work into the making of the energy-packed film on the WTCC Ultra. The animation experts rely on the same powerful "Maya" software used by U.S. director Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks animation company.
September 2006. While the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra is making its way to Paris, well-disguised in the back of a closed truck, a team of workers is already setting up the stand on the exhibition site. There, the Swiss specialists of Messerli, a company based in Wetzikon near Zürich, Switzerland, are awaiting the arrival of the sensational show car. Stand designer Daniel Burlet: "We naturally needed a multimedia concept to highlight the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra. By this I mean that the car had to be presented in a perfect interplay of music, light and animation. Overall, a European package had to be put together to satisfy the expectations and emotions of the European markets."
When creating the stand, the designers made use of a highly flexible modular system that gave them enormous variability and significantly reduced the construction time. Expressed in raw figures, the workers used 140 tons of steel, glass, stone and wood on the stand area of around 1,000 square meters. Lighting designers and sound specialists supplied the visible and audible emotions accompanying the racecar.
September 28, 2006. At the GM press conference at the Paris Motor Show, an invisible mechanism unveils the Chevrolet WTCC Ultra in a bold sweep. "The WTCC Ultra defines the direction in which we are heading with the Chevrolet brand," GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster tells world press gathered at the conference.
The WTCC Ultra passed its first test with flying colors. The global cooperation between the international design teams was certainly a logistical masterpiece.

Chevrolet WTCC Ultra Concept 2006

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