Interview with Jon Sibal

Last month VWvortex joined Privat Wheels in challenging its readers to design their idea of the perfect GTI. .The one catch was that the designs had to include an original wheel design identified in the renderings as a Privat wheel. Three finalists were chosen from the many submissions, and readers cast their votes.

The winner by a landslide was Jon Sibal, and his design has been translated into a poster that will be handed out at Waterfest 2007 at both the VWvortex and Privat Wheels booths. We decided to take a look at the man behind the winning design. Here is what we discovered.

Vitals- 36-year-old comic book artist from Southern California

What cars have you owned? A BMW E36, a BMW M Roadster, a Mini Cooper, a Honda Accord, a Honda Prelude, a VW Rabbit, and a VW Baja Bug.

What’s your dream car? Owning a Mclaren F1 would be a dream. But I just can’t get over the sound of the Porsche Carrera GT.

If Volkswagen produced your winning design as a special edition, what would you want them to name it? A good name I thought might be “S GTI”. The “S” can stand for “Sport” or “Sibal”… Just kidding.

What is your favorite real-life Volkswagen? Well the W12 is a Concept car, so I would say the Golf R32. It seems like a well-balanced car.

Are you a first-generation enthusiast? I am a 2nd-generation enthusiast. My father worked on a VW Beetle (the old-school Bugs) and I just helped out when I could. He certainly influenced me.

Tell us about your design background- I have been involved in the art industry since 1992 as a comic book artist. I‘ve worked on titles such as X-Men,Superman, Spiderman, and Tomb Raider. I’m also a freelance artist that has worked with Disney, and illustrated some video game magazine covers.

Any previous automotive design projects? Since I am not in the automotive design field, I have only worked on my personal car. I have designed a front bumper, and put together different parts from different manufacturers to make them look like one kit. I have also helped a friend visualize his widebody kit for his BMW E36. I feel that having a picture of the final product helps the body shop more than simply describing what you want. I also find that it saves money by having an actual picture of the car. This way I can see how it would look before I spend money on it; less headaches and less returns.

Who is your largest design influence? I’m not sure if there’s one specific person, but there have been a lot of great artists who have influenced me. Artists like Bernie Wrightson, Frank Frazetta and many others. In terms of automotive design, I find that studying race cars, whether they are DTM, BTCC, JGTC Drift cars or even tuner cars, has influenced the way I apply my design. Functionality and form are what I look for.

Favorite part of the design process for the car? My favorite part of the design process is the journey of being creative, doing tons of sketches, and the satisfaction in seeing the project completed.

Briefly explain your design process for this car- I usually will stare at the car for a good amount of time. I try to visualize in my head how the kit would complement it. Then I go to my drawing table and do some rough sketches. I do this until I get a clear idea of how everything flows. After that, I use Photoshop CS to basically draw over the base image of the car. I use the air brush, pen tool, lasso tool,etc., to give the design some depth. I also show it to my wife and my brothers to get a 2nd opinion. They usually can pick out things that escape my eye. After everything is done, I go back and enhance the image.

What was your inspiration for this design? The inspiration for this design was a combination of the R GTI with some mild BTCC race car cues. I liked the front end of the R GTI, so I wanted to have a bumper that maintains the same family lineage, but with some tweaks that can give it an identity of its own.

What makes your design the “Ultimate VW”? I wanted to design a car that looks fast even while parked. But it had to have the performance to back up the stance. The widebody kit allows the car to have wider wheels, and the suspension can be adjusted further under a modified wheel well. This gives the car better handling. The front bumper also has the enlarged mouth opening to help with the flow of ambient air to the intercooler. The spiltters on the front and sides, and the diffuser in the rear helps with downforce, but are removable for street driving.

What challenges did you encounter while designing the car? I did not want to design a kit that already exists. I also wanted to make sure that the kit was proper for the car itself, and was true to the car’s origin. I had to modify the design many times as I thought it looked too much like a “JDM “car.

Was there a certain look or theme you were going for? I wanted a Track/Tuner style car. I was going for a really aggressive look but still wanted it to be clean looking. The look is certainly a tuner style but would not be out of place on the track. Those cars appeal to me the best, and I tend to use that theme a lot.

If one piece from your design were developed and produced, what would you want it to be? The wheel design that I did would be great to see produced and developed. I can see myself actually running those on my car. But if that’s not possible, the body kit seems to get a lot of interest and had a great response when I showed it to some friends.

What drew you to this particular contest? My brother who drives a Mk V GTI told me about the contest. I always enjoy a good challenge and this was a good opportunity.

What set of Privat wheels are you eyeing as your winnings? Since I’ll be giving the wheels to my brother for his Mk V, we’re looking at the Rennstadts. It just depends on the available offset. If that doesn’t work out, I think the Gassen looks great too.

I just want to also say thank you to VWVortex and Privat wheels for the opportunity and thanks to everyone who voted.

For more discussion on this story, click on the link to our discussion forums at the left.