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2003 Geneva Show, Part IV Page 3


Moving up the market, Saab introduced its new convertible here in Geneva, but it is above the level of the new affordable drop-tops. Saab’s open car has always been at the top of the Swedish manufacturer’s range, and the new model stays firmly planted in that area. For the ultimate expensive convertible, the New Pagani Zonda Roadster takes the prize. Crouching on the show stand resplendent in ‘How Dare You Ignore This Car’ yellow, it was a magnificent example of hand-made quality and living proof of the fact that if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

 

Local Color

2004 Rinspeed Bedouin

2004 Rinspeed Bedouin

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Geneva would not be Geneva without something special from Rinspeed, the highly individual firm from Zumikon, close to Zurich. The company used to specialize in tuning Porsches, but as time has moved on its Geneva showpieces have become more technically adventurous. This year’s however, returned to the Porsche roots in the form of the Bedouin. This was proof that if the Porsche factory can go into SUV territory with the Cayenne, Rinspeed can take the brand into the owonderful world of trucks. Of course, since it’s Rinspeed, it’s not just a question of grafting a bed onto a 911. The Bedouin converts — automatically — from a four-seat wagon to a two-seat pickup by folding the roof over the rear compartment and splitting it in two. The forward part forms the rear of the newly-created two-seat cab and the rear part becomes the pickup bed, tempting the onlooker to wonder why nobody did that before. Power — 360 hp — comes from a twin-turbo engine running on natural gas, making the Bedouin environmentally friendly as well as driver friendly. Don’t expect to start seeing too many Bedouins on the road in the near future, but do be thankful for companies like Rinspeed who continue to inject some new approaches — and some fun — into the world of cars.

2003 Sbarro concept

2003 Sbarro concept

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Another Geneva Show standard is Franco Sbarro. For over twenty years now, this Swiss-domiciled Italian has been turning out off-the-wall projects that take a new look at the automobile and sometimes the motorcycle. This year is no exception, for Sbarro’s contribution this year is a super-wide wheel with an engine incorporated in it. Details are sketchy, as they often are with his projects, but at least this time he is working with a major auto industry supplier in the form of O.Z., the Italian wheel specialist that provides high-tech alloy wheels for some of the world’s most advanced race teams. The concept is shown in the form of a motorcycle, a three-wheeled streamlined single-seat vehicle that looks right out of Star Wars, and a high-performance road car. Road tests are not likely to be high on the agenda for the projects, which could, like so many Sbarro projects, sink without trace. But at least for two weeks each year he injects some fun and interest into the solid business atmosphere that covers the show.

 

Anything Ford Can Do, Russia Can Make A Stab At

Ford has become a specialist in drawing on its past models to influence modern concept cars. It’s an idea that has merit, and it’s no surprise it has been copied. The source of the copying is somewhat unusual, however. The spirit of J Mays is alive and well and living in Moscow, at the headquarters of A:Level, a company specializing in “exclusive car tuning and styling.”

2003 Volga

2003 Volga

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On a somber stand on the upper floor in Geneva, just a few yards away from the glittering stands of Cadillac and Chevrolet, A Level was showing the Volga V12, a 2003 rendering of a classic Volga GAZ 21 of the Sixties. Lowered and stretched, and with a BMW V-12 straight out of an 850 CSI coupe shoe-horned under the hood, it was uncannily reminiscent of the Ford Forty-Nine concept car shown at Detroit in 2001. The resemblance was intensified by the fact that the Volga was painted the same shiny black as Ford’s look back to its heritage.

The transformation of comrades’ car into classic coupe took 17 months and was displayed at Geneva to draw attention to A Level’s next project, named simply as THE BIG. This will rely on the same BMW V-12, but it’s to be hoped that the company’s engineering standards are higher than then linguistic efforts of its PR staff. The press release describing the projected BIG contains the following gem: “THE BIG’s design seems to convey the message: ‘This car is designed to fly over the highway like an iron slug.’”


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