There’s no doubt about it, Rinspeed is one of the weirdest small automakers out there. Every few years they reappear with a new crazy car concept, then again disappear into obscurity without a trace. The company is the brainchild of Swiss designer Frank Renderknecht, and has actually been in business since 1977. The brand started as an accessories company before moving into the automotive tuning and concept markets, often working with partner companies to come up with their ideas.
Over the years, Rinspeed has built some of the most incredible cars ever, from a Lotus snorkeling car to a self-driving sports car with a backpack-mounted drone. After more than forty years in the business, they still seem to be going strong, even if many of their concepts are too crazy to put into production. Let’s take a look at the archive and revisit some of their most perplexing creations.
From the front, this Porsche 911-based concept doesn’t look very strange but take a look at the rear and things get weird. It’s designed to convert from an “all-road” four-seater to a two-seater pickup with the push of a button.
It will reportedly take less than ten seconds to shift and enable drivers to benefit from an instant switch between freight and passenger transport. It’s an interesting idea for sure, but its intricate set-up and contentious appearance mean that the idea never caught on with a major manufacturer.
Of all the company’s cars presented here, Σtos looks the most natural. This was a deliberate choice from Rinspeed, as the car was designed to show how the latest independent technology can be combined seamlessly with modern design.
The vehicle includes features such as a steering wheel that disappears into the dashboard on demand, providing additional space for passengers when Σtos is in self-driving mode. A DJI aft-mounted drone adds a dose of silliness to the concept and, according to Rinspeed’s website, is as useful an addition as possible, “quickly pick up a bouquet of flowers for the significant other ordered on the way home.” Because of course it can.
The Rone, or R-One as it is sometimes referred to, is an innovative concept in many ways. For starters, it appears to have been the world’s lowest sports car when it debuted, with an overall height of just 97 cm (38 in). It also works on biofuels, a new idea that dates back to 2001 but is now widely adopted across the auto industry.
It’s inspired by design from Formula 1 and Le Mans racers but offers what Rinspeed calls, “guilt-free fun,” thanks to the car’s powertrain environmental credentials. As crazy as it may sound, the basic ideas behind the car were undoubtedly ahead of its time, proving that Rinspeed is about more than just building the most ridiculous machine possible. Well, sometimes they are at least.
5 Xtreme MUV
The company may have produced quite a few truly visionary cars of its time, but it also had its fair share of howling, and this is one of them. The X-Trem Multi Utility vehicle was supposed to be a mixture of useful and futuristic design innovations, but it is simply as old as milk.
It featured a small cargo bed with a small winch that is supposed to make loading truck beds easier, but the idea never caught on. The “world’s smallest hovercraft” has also been loaded into the back of the truck to show how drivers can take short trips in the future. It’s also arguably one of the ugliest cars the Rinspeed has ever produced, which may explain why it wasn’t taken seriously when it was revealed in 1999.
If your first question looking at the photo above is, “Who drowned that lotus?” You won’t be alone. But the Squba concept is actually in its natural habitat, up to 10 meters underwater where it can be steered and steered like a submarine. It was also a fully functional road car, so it was possible to take it on a scuba dive and then drive it straight home again.
This realistic James Bond-like creation is made possible by an array of electric motors, water jets, and screw propellers, as well as extensive work to make sure the Squba remains completely weatherproof. It’s pretty amazing that they were even able to make the idea work at all, even if all those engines and modifications meant that the cost to produce one was probably a tearful number.
While the Presto concept is certainly unique, it is an answer to a problem that no one really needed to solve. Its distinguishing feature is the ability to make itself taller and make room for an extra row of seats, and then fold back into a compact city car when those seats are not in use.
It’s a lot of engineering, but it begs the question of who would really need a car like this. After all, even in the busiest cities like Tokyo, automakers have come up with much cheaper and easier ways to cram four seats into a small car by making K-cars. Presto’s sliding body may be a good new trick, but it’s a pointless one.
The strangely named concept of Tatooo.com was created at the height of the dot-com bubble when the world was crazy about the possibilities that the newly developed internet could offer. Oddly enough, this concept has nothing to do with the Internet, despite it being named after one of the websites.
Instead, Tatooo.com showed off a modified version of the previous year’s X-Trem MUV pickup bed loading crane and an underwater scooter with a motor called the BOB that was supposed to allow novice divers to move faster through the water. Why was all of this included in the back of a hot rods-inspired pickup truck concept? Who knows, but the car has earned some famous sponsors, including tire company Continental and technology giant Sony.
The Splash has to be one of Rinspeed’s craziest inventions, a concept that supposedly was designed as a sports car that also included a full aurora system if anyone needed to drive it across a lake in a hurry. It came with an ordinary car engine and a propeller borrowed from a speedboat, which enabled it to drive on land, float on water, and also “fly” in the air as a hydrofoil.
There was no slouch either, as it was able to reach speeds of around 50 km/h (31 mph) while in hydrofoil mode. It’s totally crazy and pointless, but it’s proof that there are always innovations to be made in car design even if they are funky. It’s also surefire proof that Rinspeed will never run out of weird ideas and will continue to make crazy cars in the future, and that can only be a good thing.
There are certain supercars that everyone knows about, but what about cars that no one has heard of? It turned out to be just as amazing!
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