BBC Autos

The Roundabout Blog

Automotive inspiration drives product innovation

About the author

A recovering magazine editor who learned to drive on a Massey-Ferguson, David traversed North America on a Suzuki GS550 motorbike, and once executed two-and-one-half barrel rolls in a 1985 Jeep CJ5. He is an anthologised humour writer, a food and travel journalist, and the President of Dystacorp Light Industries. He likes satellite radio, but misses roadmaps.

  • Car-inspired products for better living

    Cars are, on the whole, good for driving, and for staring at when parked in garages. But it would be humanity’s folly to let all of that engineering and gorgeous design be used solely for getting from place to place. Fortunately, a few creative thinkers have turned to the automobile for inspiration as they create products for our less driven moments. What follows are nine of our favourites. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz VIN Jacket by Platinum Dirt)

  • Alfa Romeo IFD 4C Bicycle

    Launched alongside the mid-engine Alfa Romeo 4C sports car, the IFD 4C Bicycle by Compagnia Ducale shares construction innovations with its motorised sibling, including a frame of carbon fibre “semi-tubes” — C-shaped in cross-section — that bring strength without weight for supercar-class power-to-weight ratio. Assuming you’re pedalling hard. Price: 3,500-9,000 euro ($4,800-$12,400). (Photo: Compagnia Ducale)

  • Londono Bags Scuderia Collection

    If you buy the red Ferrari, you know to wear red shoes when you take it out. But what about your handbag? Based in Colombia, Londono Bags (the name refers to company founder Mauricio Londoño) makes the Scuderia, a bag with the same sharp edges as your supercar — and it is made of carbon fibre and leather to give you the full effect. Price: $550. (Photo: Londono Bags)

  • Lamborghini GP1 Limited Edition saddle

    There are times when they’ll settle for just one horsepower, but no Lamborghini owners would sacrifice the style and comfort they’ve grown accustomed to. So when they deign to dressage, you’ll find them doing it on the GP1 Limited Edition saddle, which bears the Lamborghini logo. You’ll also find them in an Aventador with a trailer hitch. Price: 7,259 euro (about $10,000). (Photo: Tonino Lamborghini)

  • Pininfarina Cambiano pen

    Behold, a writing instrument with "the traits of the Pininfarina style: elegance, purity and innovation.” The 4.EVER Pininfarina Cambiano (it shares its name with a Pininfarina-designed sport sedan concept from 2012) uses a metal alloy that leaves an indelible trail on a sheet of paper. Mysteriously, Pininfarina claims the alloy never wears down, which means the pen will never need a refill, unlike the car that inspired it. Price: TBA. (Photo: Pininfarina)

  • Bentley Home Collection

    When Bentley conquers home furnishings, one expects the results to be meticulously crafted and hyper-masculine. A $30,070 gunmetal sideboard — in leather, briar root or Ebony Macassar — seems the perfect place to drop a set of keys before settling into a double-shell leather and wool Richmond bed (pictured, $20,310) with conspicuous embroidered logo. Chairs and sofas are also available, for those rare moments one chooses to sit at home, rather than drive somewhere in the family Mulsanne. Price: $8,530-$30,070. (Photo: Bentley Motors)

  • Ford Mustang pinball machine

    As the Mustang turns 50, Ford has partnered with Chicago-based game-maker Stern to create a line of limited-edition pinball machines. Players can shift gears with specific ball combinations, and go drag racing, drifting, rallying or road racing at full tilt. Just like the real thing, it revs up noisily, boasts immodest styling and — one hopes — offers a bumper-to-bumper warranty. Price: $5,000 (Pro Edition). (Photo: Stern Pinball)

  • Fiat 500 refrigerator by SMEG

    The classic Fiat 500 — Italy’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle — goes from cool to cooler with the debut of a 500-inspired refrigerator from Italian appliance maker SMEG. Available only in Europe, SMEG’s little fridge is Energy Class A+ rated. It rolls in red, green or white, and joins a long list of Cinquecento-inspired home goods on the Fiat 500 Design Collection website. Price: 5,500 euro (about $7,500). (Photo: SMEG)

  • Urwerk UR-CC1 Cobra

    Consider a classic: the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, with groundbreaking features such as linear gauges and front-wheel drive. While only one of these technologies caught on in a big way, that fascinating instrument panel inspired Urwerk’s UR-CC1 Cobra wristwatch. Introduced in 2010 and limited to just 25 examples, it is likely to hold its value a bit better than its mass-produced inspiration. Price: $338,000. (Photo: Urwerk)

  • Platinum Dirt VIN Jacket

    Looking for a bespoke jacket? Why not pull the leather upholstery from a vintage (but unsalvageable) automobile, and cut and sew one yourself? You might even use the hood ornament for a zipper pull, and attach the donor car’s VIN to the chest. Platinum Dirt does all that from its base in Oakland, California. Price: from $1,500. (Photo: Platinum Dirt)