Freaks of Automotive Inbreeding
years North American International Auto Show has given me a
lot of material to think about over the past few months. We saw a
lot of retro, a lot of innovation, but, most interestingly, a lot
of hybridization of vehicles. And this latter trend promises to grow.
The reason for this is that as cars become more expensive and technologically
advanced, we expect more from them: more room, more power, more style.
no further than your own garage for proof. No longer do we have the
70s- or 80s-style two- or three-car garage that features,
say, a stylish sedan to drive to the office, a van to take the kids
around, and a spunky sports car for weekends. Now we find our driveways
bearing perhaps a performance sedan, fulfilling both the commuter
and sports car roles, while in the other spot a sport utility takes
the family-hauler and weekend-warrior recreation duties.
we know it or not, we are already driving hybrid vehicles, the results
of automotive inbreeding that can only get weirder. So let me propose
SL-Camino: Inspired by the great pickup cars of the
60s and 70s, Mercedes could wave its magic wand and produce
a sassy and luxurious variation on the car-truck hybrid theme. A folding,
re-tractable hardtop would be a nice touch and would certainly bring
it into the M-B family with flair. Using the wide-eyed CLK coupe front
end as a start, I think we may have something here. Dont rule
out the possibility of a big-block SS model with a hood-mounted tachometer
and racing stripes. Cool, dude.
Oldsmobile Aurora-BOREalis: No, thats not a typo but rather
just a hint of what lies under the hood of this potential super-sedan.
A response to the existing Ferrari-humbling E55 Mercedes-Benz and
BMW M5, Oldsmobiles offering would (somehow) marry the swoopy
and luxurious Aurora body to a bored-out version of the legendary
454 (7.4-liter) engine currently found in GMs big trucks. Get
it? Big bore? Anyway, lets say about 8.0 liters? Sounds good.
How about 500 horsepower? Do I hear 600? With that kind of output,
not only would the E55 and M5 crowd be left behind, but so would most
anything else on the road. It picks up where the 87 Buick GNX
left off hell, it would pick up where Lamborghini leaves off.
Chevrolet Disturban: Chevys Disturban would be a new, super-sport-utility
vehicle that would more than leapfrog the new 19-foot Ford Excursion
in size and annoyability. This truck, Id say, would have to
be at least 25 feet long and eight feet wide to ensure that it would
not be driveable or parkable, anywhere, without greatly disturbing
traffic. Hence the name. And just forget seeing around this thing.
No one but the most emasculated men and women need apply for the necessary
Class A tractor license required to purchase this beast. And consider
the possible Disturban Amphurban spinoff model that can not only go
off-road (if you can find a trail wide enough) but also blaze through
waterways in waves up to ten feet. The ultimate off-roader. Itll
have HUMMERS winching for their lives.
Audi-Do: Being yet another car-truck-wagon-sport-utility multi-brid,
the hypothetical Audi-Do stands apart most notably by its programmability.
Its the veritable Rubiks Cube of vehicles that you can
program, via its mobile-office control module (read: drivers
seat), to be all kinds of vehicles in one: It can serve as a classy
techno-sedan or grow a rear deck and rise a few inches to become a
conventional sport ute, then fold itself origami-style into a pickup
truck, and then shed its skin and office supplies to become a minimalist
roadster when the sun comes out. Note: If anybody can pull off this
kind of vehicle, design-savvy Audi can.
BMW Tree-Series: An environmentalists best friend, the BMW
Tree-Series would be based, of course, on the 3-Series, but would
be powered not by gas, but by, say, high-efficiency batteries that
are rechargeable by running on a treadmill at home. Most parts would
be recycled from other cars, while innovations would include seat
fabrics made from recycled paper and a direct link of the GPS system
to Greenpeaces local activist center. An integrated peace sign
would replace BMWs traditional blue-and-white propeller badge
for the first time in corporate history.
Mercury Cougart: Forget the oddly named Mercury concept car shown
this year in Detroit; the even more oddly named Cougart is the hybrid
they need to make, and just in time for those summer shopping binges.
Mercury could simply graft on a stake-bed-like rear deck to its cute
little Cougar sports car and presto! A vehicle that would all but
live at the mall. Imagine all of the groceries, clothes, and furniture
that could easily fit into the bed of this tight-handling, super-size
shopping cart. And if the right materials are used, the stake-bed
approach could enhance rear-end collision and rollover protection.
Interesting thought, eh? So are you listening, automakers? Fusion
is fun! Theres so much to discover beyond the hybrid horizon.
I just cant wait to see whats next.