The evolution of the E-Cruiser.
A casual collaboration of complimentary talents.
As exhilarating as McQueen’s charge across the green hills on Germany’s border with Switzerland was over 50 years ago, none of these guys were ever trail bikers. So the conversation evolved to a discussion about cruiser bikes. But it took a quantum conceptual leap when somebody suggested marrying a post WW2 design with today’s technology.
Wistful aspirations arose of a bike – not a motor-cycle but a lighter, electrically-powered pushbike – rendered in a post WW2 design theme, as a proper cruiser. Forget the green hills, how about something for riding along coastal pathways on balmy, languid summer days?
Everyone sat up and leaned forward as they warmed to the theme. Something lightweight. Strong. Titanium would be good. Hands gestured slowly, elegantly in the air to shape the imagined design as they talked it through.
From there, the E-Cruiser concept quickly became a passion project.
Within this quartet of idealists resided the skills to make such a concept a reality.
Years earlier, the FR-1 project had drawn these guys together and they had remained friends. As before, they brought diverse but complimentary skills to the build team for the E-Cruiser project: designer, engineer, craftsman painter and coachbuilder.
The guys all agree that, sometimes, the stimulation from a passion project like this makes you better at what you actually do for a living.
Meet the team…
Russell Gallagher. For a year, Russ has spent his spare time validating, design engineering and 3D printing a test frame for the E-Cruiser, while sourcing the right components from around the globe to suit Richard’s design theme. A mechanical engineer with a business degree, Russell has worked in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries. He led the design and build of Australia’s first carbon fibre composite chassis car, ‘Concept FR-1’. Russell’s unique design received industry recognition for the ground-breaking approach developed to reduce prototyping and final build costs. The FR-1 received coverage in Top Gear magazine, industry journals, magazines and on TV. It has even featured at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Steve Tupek: When the E-Cruiser is ready for paint, Steve will be the man. He’s a talented car builder and spray painter, with a world-wide reputation as an Aston Martin specialist. Steve restored and custom-built actor Eric Bana’s beloved red XB Ford Falcon Coupe, made famous in Bana’s documentary The Beast. Steve also worked through many complex problem-solving challenges in the development of Australia’s first composite chassis, for the FR-1 concept car, finishing it to a driving, functional working model. He’s in high demand by car collectors for concourse competitions on both the national and international circuits.
Mark O’Brien (special acknowledgement). Mark donated his time to work with Richard to scope out and shape the E-Cruiser’s signature feature battery cover and saddle. Mark works as a pattern maker and interior clay modeller at GM Holden Design. For 40 years, Mark has worked in clay all over the world. Mark’s favourite gig was in Wolfsburg Germany, where he was engaged to lead the interior clay study on the Bugatti Veyron.
Richard Ferlazzo. Richard designed the E-Cruiser, but his day job is Design Director at GM Holden Design Australia. Formerly Chief Designer, he was involved in the development of many Holden vehicles including the Commodore VT, VE, VF and the now iconic Monaro (marketed in the US as the Pontiac GTO).Richard has also lent his talents to other General Motors brands including Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, Pontiac and Buick, with stints at the famed GM Design Studio in Detroit. Richard’s Australian creative team works closely with affiliated GM Design Studios around the world developing production designs and advanced concepts for GM global vehicle programs. In 2005 Richard’s unique GM Holden Concept Car ‘EFIGY’ was voted by his international peers as North American Concept Car of the year.
Brian Tanti. Brian will be responsible for actually shaping the metal to realise Richard’s unique design. Working with metal is Brian’s first love and his skill has been repeatedly demonstrated over decades, in dozens of vintage and classic car restorations. His unique authority on all things automotive was showcased as the most popular in a quartet of presenters on the TV Series Car Chronicles, screened on Discovery Turbo Max in 2016 and slated to be broadcast in the USA in 2017.
The E-Cruiser journey in pictures.
This coalition of talented individuals continues to make the E-Cruiser a reality, in their spare time. From first napkin sketches to titanium sample frames produced on 3D printers, it’s been an entertaining ride. Follow the evolution of the project in photos, which will be progressively posted here for your enjoyment.