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In the 1960’s, “free thinking car stylists” weren’t restricted the the North American shores. Or, to put it another way, the rest of the world saw what was going on in the US and decided to join in.

Farina (now Pininfarina) wanted a concept car. But they were Italian; bunging four wheels on an outlandish body shape wasn’t going to be good enough for them. No, no, no. Well, actually, yes, they did bung four wheels on an outlandish body shape, but it wasn’t the number of wheels, it was how they bunged them.

Ever since Ugg pushed his cart down to the stone-age market, the traditional layout for a car has been one at each corner. Ugg was pretty confident in his basic mechanical layout and he and his ancestors stuck with it all the way through to 1960’s when Farina hired someone who wasn’t an Ugg descendant. Farina’s concept, you see, was to put one wheel at the front and back and two on either side. Four wheels, but not as common sense knew them.

You can make some arguments for this type of layout, the rear drive wheel doesn’t need a fancy axle to allow the two wheels to turn at different speeds in a corner. The two wheel (outriggers?) just idle away at whatever speed is required. Finally the front wheel handles the steering.

Thing is, as Ugg would have pointed out, when your velocity vector pushes the inertia towards one of the front corners, there’s nothing there to support it. This might go some way to explaining why there’s giant fins on the rear of the car, maybe they were for aerodynamic balance.

If the mention of vectors and inertia has you wanting to skip ahead and see if there are any more pictures, take a look at the Top Gear guys having fun with a three wheeled Reliant Robin.

Apparently, the car was twitchy and had unpredictable handling (much as Jezza found out in the Robin?). Probably why Farina stuck with a Fiat 43hp engine, nothing worse than someone dying at the wheel to put a damper on your chances of selling a concept car.

In the event, and much to the relief of hospital emergency rooms the world over, Farina couldn’t sell this concept to a manufacturer.

Ok, now I know you’re wondering what your retirement has got to do with this automotive disaster. Well, if you’re like me, your retirement savings have probably seen the effects “variable liquidity” and “market corrections” over the past couple of years. Or, to put it in words that relate to reality and aren’t an attempt to say “no” in a way that says “yes”, your savings have tanked. I think if I work to 103 and die at 87, I should just about make it.

But I have a plan.

You see, the Pininfarina X was put on sale for a cool $3,000,000. Now I can’t make out if it actually sold, but here’s my plan. I’m going to knock up some of the worst automotive ideas I can think of, put out a storm of advertising then store them in my garage. In 25 years time I’ll put them up for sale as “classics,” “quintessential 2011 styling,” or “lost automotive art.” One or two decent sales and my retirement should be sorted.

After all, it couldn’t be any worse than giving your money to a bunch of obscenely overpaid yahoos on Wall Street. What do you think, want to give it a go?


(Images courtesy and

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