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 jalopnik.com and carstyling.run)
Investment doesn’t take any great skill. Will Rogers said, “If a stock goes up, have bought it. If one goes down, don’t have bought it.” What could be simpler?
The man was a genius. I wonder if there is a problem in the world that can’t be solved with that sort of thinking.
“What do you think, want to give it a go? ” No. If by “it” you mean a business venture of some sort I am always felxible. If by “it” you mean get near this vehicle while it is in motion then the answer remains no.
This vehicle has a feature that I have never seen before in a car. You are from the UK so I am trying to experiment with English here. Whilst a few other models of cars acheived the distiction of “designed instability while traveling forward and attempting any course correction” this model manages to acheive it when you are attempting to back out of a parking space as well.
I had not been aware of this model at all. Please continue with this series. The more I read them the more I feel like a pretty competent scientist. A few more examples like this one and I’ll start feeling like Einstein or Niels Bohr.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank the automotive industry for helping me with my self-esteem issues. I’m feling better now.
Whenever it’s time to pick on Italian engineers again please consider informing us about some of Italy’s early aircraft. I read somewhere that some of their earlier models required a gear shift and clutch.
Hi Holmes, I’m beginning to think you might have had the day off with all these comments!
Yes, this car puts a whole new spin on instability, so to speak. from an engineering viewpoint it must have been glaringly obvious that the thing would be a death trap, but they still went ahead and built one.
I’m still quite convinced by the investment idea. I even suspect that is Rinspeed’s reason for being. They’re not making cars, they’re a secret Swiss investment company that will turn a profit when they sell off all their barking mad ideas as “classics.”
An Italian plane with a clutch? That’s pretty interesting, I’ll have to look into it. As strange as it seems the US makes a plane with a clutch … wait for it … the F-35. The Marine Corps version has a vertical lift fan that is engaged via a clutch. Presumably its a big clutch, because the engine in this case produces 40,000lbf … that’s more six Bell X-1s!