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2000 Geneva Show: Microbrands


It’s a battle for the heart, mind and pocketbook of the European car buyer, and over the last decade, a half-dozen brands, including Volkswagen, Renault, Ford and Opel, have neatly carved up the market. There are a number of significant, second-tier nameplates, including Citroen and Rover. But for those buyers looking for something truly unusual, the Geneva Motor Show offers a wide range of unusual, eccentric and downright odd brands, such as Morgan and T-Rex. Here’s a look at a few of the more interesting ones:

 

2000 Morgan Aero-8

2000 Morgan Aero-8

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MORGAN KEEPS OFFBEAT One of the best-known of Europe’s small brands, Britain’s Morgan made some news of its own in Geneva, with the introduction of the Aero-8. It might seem a bit of an oxymoron to think of the distinctly retro-styled Morgan as a technology innovator, but the Aero-8 will likely have a lot of people stopping for a closer look. Under its hand-hammered skin, it’s got an aluminum intensive space frame. But in keeping with the company’s offbeat tradition, that metal wraps wooden spars, like all Morgans. The power plant is a distinctly modern BMW-built 4.4-liter V-8.

 

2000 Rinspeed dot com

2000 Rinspeed dot com

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DOT-COM AT HIGHWAY SPEEDS? We’re not quite sure what this very American-looking hot rod has to do with the Internet. But here’s the Rinspeed Dot.com, a one-off that’s ready to provide transportation on land or sea, with its own wave runner saddled in the cargo bed.

 

2000 Bertone Slim concept front

2000 Bertone Slim concept front

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SLIM BEGINNINGS We’re not sure if Bertone was talking about the car or the two lovely models helping to catch the eye of passing showgoers, but this is the Slim Y2K, a tandem two-seater ready to negotiate the highway or a narrow, European alley. With its aluminum spaceframe, and aircraft-style canopy, the Slim is one way to shed curb weight. It’s powered by a miniscule, 505-cc two-cylinder engine mated to a CVT transmission.

 

2000 IVM C12 Carbon

2000 IVM C12 Carbon

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CARBON-BASED LIFE IVM Automotive’s C12 Carbon is another project aimed at getting the weight out, but in this case, the goal is to maximize performance. And the carbon-fiber sports car is clearly an Autobahn-burner. With a 5.7-liter, 440-bhp V-8, it logs 0-60 times of just 4.3 seconds.

 

 

 

2000 Caterham Super Seven

2000 Caterham Super Seven

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2000 Caterham Minelli

2000 Caterham Minelli

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SWISS MISSES While most of the classic British sports car brands have faded into memory, a few stalwarts survive. Morgan, as mentioned, is one. Then there’s Caterham, which displayed the track-worthy Super Seven. Its 1.8-liter in-line four engine may be small, but at 160 horsepower, it’s a performance package that churns out 0-60 times of 5.1 seconds. Then there’s Swiss-based Minelli, offering its own retro roadster, the TF 1800 Mk 1. It’s got a steel body and a 1.8-liter, 16-vave in-line four pumping out 115 bhp.

 

2000 T-Rex

2000 T-Rex

2000 Coggiola SUV

2000 Coggiola SUV

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BANG A GONG FOR THREE WHEELS Dinosaurs big and small? Two different makers had very different ways of interpreting the name T-(as in Tyrannosaurus)-Rex. Groupe Design offered up the Canadian-made T-Rex three-wheeler, designed by Paul Dutchman, the man who penned the Callaway Corvette. It features dual front wheels, outrigger cargo bags, and a 1.1-liter Suzuki motorcycle engine. The company hopes to see the unusual vehicle in Europe and the U.S. — where recent changes in the law now permit such three-wheelers on the road. Coggiola’s sport-utility vehicle is probably a bit more fitting of the T-Rex name. This massive SUV stands almost eight feet tall at the center roofline, and it can take a good bit of effort to climb into its back seat. But if you think a Hummer is just a bit small, it might be what you’re looking for.

 

2000 Ligier Dragon Fly

2000 Ligier Dragon Fly

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DRAGON FLY Finally, there’s the Ligier Dragon Fly, or, as the company prefers to bill it, "The Game Car." We’re not sure it’s a good idea to get young motorists thinking they’re in a video game, but this quirky little coupe could feel right at home in a video arcade. It’s aimed at teenagers who can qualify for a European moped license. It features a modest, 505-cc engine and an open-air body built on an aluminum space frame.

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