Rinspeed has always been well known for taking comparatively tame Porsches and transforming them into wildly styled rolling sculptures. While always unique, they are not always the most beautiful vehicles. But at this year's Geneva show, the Rinspeed zaZen, which the company calls "automotive enlightenment on wheels," will stop crowds, and for the right reason.
The car was created in cooperation with Bayer MaterialScience, whose major contribution was the stunning Makrolon polycarbonate roof. The material is stronger and clearer than most plastics, but lighter and more easily shaped than glass. Implanted at the rear of the massive dome is a holographic third brake light that completely vanishes when not illuminated. Rinspeed promises this feature to bring about "a new era in lighting technology." A bright orange interior designed with help from Recaro lies under the Makrolon dome, and the body is covered with a "crystal skin" finish created by the Austrian surface coating specialists, Karl Seelos.
Power comes from a Porsche 997 911 Carrera S motor, but the real inspiration driving this car is in the name: "After all," says designer Frank M. Rinderknecht, "Zen - borrowed from Buddhist teaching - is a special form of perception: You only get there if you are prepared to give up preconceived ideas." This concept is truly Zen-like.