Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/06/22

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Subject: [Leica] re" styling an M5 vs engineering
From: Thinkofcole at (
Date: Tue Jun 22 10:59:29 2004

     For Tony Salce of Melbourne, Australia, I'd like to take a crack at 
answering his query about the difference between styling and engineering, 
the Mercedes Benz as an example of how I believe the Germans do it. 
     In the ''old days,'' say in the Fifties and Sixties, Mercedes turned 
engineers loose on designing a car -- delivering a great engine, great steel 
bumpers, great steel body, beautiful wood interior, a marvel in every way. 
After the engineers got their car, ignoring how much it might cost, the 
people decided how much they could sell it for. 
     Today -- and perhaps for the last thirty years or so-- that way of 
designing a car proved to make the sales price much too expensive for many 
customers. As a result, the new Mercedes still has a great engine and 
leather seats, 
if you want them,  but the bumpers are now plastic, the body is much lighter 
steel , the interior is plastic and more plastic and, so, Mercedes is no 
regarded as one of the best cars in the world, except perhaps by long 
sufferers like me. [I have loved that three-pointed star for more than half 
a century.]
    I believe that that problem -- the need to keep a desirable product 
affordable while not exactly inexpensive -- is what has caused many 
not just Leica, to turn first to the stylists to create profitable products 
a price people can afford and to then assign the engineers to deliver the 
product . -- bob cole