The Geneva Motor Show is full of delightfully strange cars from automakers you’ve never heard of, but even well-known names show some wild sheetmetal. We walked the 2019 Geneva Motor Show to bring you a few of our favorite weird and wonderful show cars, plus a handful of Mansory’s latest.
Check out our Forbidden Fruit story here, and enjoy the Geneva auto show’s weird side, below.
Every year, one of our favorite stands in Geneva is this one, where disciples of Franco Sbarro’s Espera Sbarro automotive design school in Montbéliard, France, display their latest quickly conceived and built vehicles. Our favorite this year is this gorgeous reinterpretation of the famous Porsche 904 race car. Like the original, this one is powered by a mid-mounted flat-four engine, but in this case it’s a Subaru 2.5-liter turbo. That vulnerable bit of milled aluminum at risk of striking a curb stone when backing into a parking place is the shift mechanism. Hey, it’s a styling, engineering, and development exercise, not a production prototype. Relative to the original, it’s a bit longer and wider, but it roughly matches the original 42-inch height.
Lamborghini Centenario Tractor
That dapper dude in the bright blue blazer is Fabio Lamborghini, company founder Ferruccio’s nephew. To mark the occasion of his late uncle’s 100th birthday (April 28, 1916), the company built 40 Centenario cars (which we covered extensively), and it also built five tractors like this one—which we never saw until this Geneva show. (You know, of course, that Ferruccio’s successful tractor business funded the startup of his supercar concern.) Priced about like a Huracán, each is a work of art, finished in “metallo nudo” paint, which you can probably translate. The 2,193cc inline-three engine features an elaborate air-cooling system with a fan that looks like a turbine in front. And at least on these remakes, the six parallel pipes serve alternating purposes: one intake, the next exhaust. There must be some inadvertent exhaust-gas recirculation going on there. It even includes what looks like a fragment of an original license plate from Ferruccio’s home region. Super cool.
Devinci DB 718
This fetching 1930s-style roadster hails from Devinci Cars Manufacturer, a 2-year-old firm based in Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe, France, and is homologated as a “quadricycle,” or low-speed vehicle that doesn’t require a full driving license. Partially designed by Jean-Philippe Dayraut, a French ice racing champion, it features an incredibly intricate four-wheel independent racing-style suspension of inboard pushrods and coil-over shocks. This seems a bit overkill for an electric car that tops out at 68 mph and is not allowed on freeways. The rear-mounted motor is fed by either a 15.3 kilowatt-hour battery providing 93 miles of range or a 23 kW-hr one good for 143 miles. Alternatively, a range extender can add another 30 miles. These three trim levels are affectionately named Brigitte, Lucy, and Adele, with the pricier two getting sportier Ohlins shocks. Just 200 are to be produced. Pricing ranges from 39,600 to 49,500 Euros ($44,500–$55,650).
Citroën Ami One
Was the design brief, “Build us a tiny version of Cinderella’s pumpkin stagecoach”? That’s what this micro-Citroën reminded us of. The Ami One, whose name hearkens back to the uber-quirky Ami 6, really channels the zeitgeist of the original 2CV and boasts similarly low power output from its electric motor. Top speed is just 28 mph, and range is 62 miles. Naturally, it’s conceived as a future urban mobility pod that can be hired for five minutes or leased for years. It’s not likely to show up on our shores (if it ever gets built at all), but it was a highlight of the show in terms of its quirk factor.
Golden Sahara II
Goodyear restored this spectacular custom car from the mid-’50s, and it bristles with forward-looking technology as a means of drawing attention to the various future-tech concepts on its Geneva stand (chief among which was a large-diameter airless tire and hubless wheel that supports the vehicle weight using plastic vanes that can double as turbine blades, allowing the car to take flight). The king of custom cars, George Barris, bought a new 1953 Lincoln Capri and drove it to one of the early Petersen Autorama shows, and he totaled it on the way home. So he decided to make a custom car with the carcass. After having some fun with it, he sold it to a genius tinkerer on the scale of MT‘s own Kim Reynolds, named Jim Street. He further customized the appearance and set about outfitting the car with radar units in front for automatic collision braking, with by-wire control of steering, braking, and acceleration that allowed for joystick control of the car. He was also tinkering with an early voice command system that involved some elaborate look-up system on the reel-to-reel tape deck centered on the front seat. It’s believed that never worked but that he simulated its functionality using an early Zenith Space Command TV remote control. That four-button control struck rods to generate tones that the TV would use for volume or channel up or down, and the little gizmo at the front of the decklid received those four tones. So old Jim could stand by the back of the car shouting his four voice control commands while surreptitiously clicking the remote in his pocket. Can you beat it? The translucent Goodyear tires were illuminated by lights inside fed by wiring that connected to a slip-ring on each hubcap. The rears were easy: run the wire from the fender skirt. In front the spindles were rifle-drilled to route the wire out. No wonder MotorTrend featured the car on our May 1955 cover (in a slightly earlier design phase).
Bentley Continental GT
By the time Bentley retired the previous-generation Continental GT, the car’s age really started to show. Because of that, the beautiful design of the new Continental GT really stands out. But as for this Mansory-modified version—if you care that much about making sure people look at you, why not buy a Lamborghini?
Even if you like the Urus, you have to admit it already looks like it’s wearing an aftermarket body. But although the stock Urus isn’t really a looker, the Mansory version is just as over-the-top as you’d expect.
Something about this camouflage paint job feels especially bad. Haven’t we already learned our lesson about fashion camo? This isn’t a trend we have to accept is coming back. Also, it’s called the Star Trooper.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible
Taking an attractive but understated two-door, painting it an odd color, giving it a wide-body kit with garish carbon aero bits, and redoing the interior isn’t really our cup of tea.
Land Rover Range Rover
This Range Rover doesn’t look too out there, and Land Rover also offers multiple two-tone paint options, including the $23,460 Maribel White Duo Tone. But wide-body kit aside, we can’t help but think it looks like a knock-off Overfinch London Edition, only in this case, the color scheme carries over to the interior.
The body kit and paint on this Cullinan aren’t too outrageous by Mansory standards, but the name is. It’s called the Billionaire because it was done as a collaboration with the Billionaire fashion brand. The clothes are tacky, the name is obnoxious, and as Silicon Valley’s Russ Hanneman put it, those aren’t billionaire doors. They’re millionaire doors.
Smart For Two
Adding new wheels, a wide-body kit, a custom paint job, and a more luxurious interior to a Smart car assures that this car will appeal to an extremely narrow demographic. In theory, this could work for a wealthy person who lives in a crowded city and doesn’t have off-street parking, but would you sink this much money into a car with a starting price of less than a Toyota Yaris hatchback does in Germany?
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