Gear: New Rallying Artwork From Niels van Roij Is Available In The Shop

New Rallying Artwork From Niels van Roij Is Available In The Shop

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
June 29, 2017
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You can find these and more of Niels’ work in the Petrolicious Shop

Niels van Roij is a dynamic creative; he’s able to create written and photographic histories that honor the design of the automobile, as he does in his book Il Coupé Dino Fiat, and maybe it’s to be expected that he is also an accomplished designer in his own right, for instance producing a series of illustrations featuring a mix of the ubiquitous 911 down to the weirdo Ferrari 400. Those past works are also available in the Shop too, but we are happy to add a trio of prints that are his best yet in my opinion. They are certainly the most captivating in their coloring and layout.

These rallying icons have been portrayed numerous times over the years—and how could they not, this was a period of time when the growth of technology and speed in motorsport was pretty much relentlessly accelerating—but Niels has given us a fresh take on these storied steeds, presenting them not as mere portraits but something closer to the less-definable feelings that they still evoke. They aren’t cartooned or exaggerated in their forms to achieve this either, instead it is the use of space and color that are deftly yet boldly handled in order to bring a static image as close as possible to the reality that was basically a boxy missile.

The use of unabashedly saturated colors from the famous liveries of Alitalia, Audi Sport, and Peugeot Sport, is just downright fun to look at it too. The way he’s chosen to leave the colors un-shaded and separate from the more three-dimensional renderings of the actual cars in the frame is also a bold choice. Mixing the flat, almost neon hues with the depth he imbues in the machines that wear them is an intriguing mix of mode that, if you’ll allow the analogy, is a lot like the contrast of econobox shapes and maniacal power and engineering that made the real cars so special. It was two worlds coming together in one car, and the graphic design of these artworks represents that combination.

The first (though there is no rank order of course, things just have to start somewhere) is the Group 4 Lancia Stratos HF, wearing the perfectly matched livery of Alitalia. The consecutive triple WRC champion nary needs introduction, and so there’s no real value in repeating the résumé of such a well-known machine as the Stratos, so instead let’s look at the way Niels has treated it in his art. It’s an angular car from the period that also saw the birth of Countach and other well-known wedges, and as such, this rendition is tilted and sharp and, if you trace out the outline, completely triangular. A very thoughtful job done here.

Now, into Group B. The Audi Sport Quattro S1 helped cement the brand as a major player in the all-wheel drive market, even if it was typically spinning all four wheels and sitting sideways more often than having its course in line with its heading. This was one of the most radical cars to exist on any racetrack, and often above them as well; we’ve all seen the footage of airborne Audis with their wastegate pipes and exhausts sending fire into the open space below them and above the dirt they’re about to land back on and promptly shoot out again in a muddy spray as the five-cylinder bangs and pops toward the next turn. This portrait of the white and yellow box-flared beast is depicts the thing in such a position: the off-kilter flight is shown simply by the clever and minimal use of bright yellow shadow beneath the car.

And while the Audi is commonly thought of as the poster child for this era, Peugeot won at the height of the classification before it was banned with their back-to-back championships earned with the 205 T16 and its evolution model the E2. During Group B’s short span, liveries were at their best in the sport, and all the top cars in competition were also looking their best before being covered in rock chips, dirt, rubber, and exhaust. It’s down to opinion of course, but perhaps none looked as pretty as the body-contour-matching colorway of the Peugeot works cars. With a predominantly bright scheme on top of a white base, it was at once simple and intriguing in the way the stripes enhanced and played off of the extreme bulges given to the humble shape of the 205 hatchback. In his work, Niels has mirrored the slightly curved chunk of blue that underlies the striping on the car, and has placed it behind the vehicle in a way that lends it a Tron-like sense of movement. Also, he takes advantage of the car’s distinctive red mud flaps, which in their squared-off and bright appearance in reality give themselves perfectly to his blocky usage of color here.

You can find these and more of Niels’ work in the Petrolicious Shop

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