You’ve seen the production-ready compact cars, the sensible crossovers, the wild supercars. But the Frankfurt auto show always plays host to a wild and wacky array of cars that boggle the mind. Here are some of the wackiest rides we saw at this year’s Frankfurt show.
Startech Range Rover Pickup
We’re not certain why anyone would want to mate a Range Rover with a Chevrolet Avalanche, but Germany’s Startech has done just that. Making the conversion meant designing and creating some 100 new components in aluminum, carbon fiber, or steel. The five passengers are separated from the truck bed by a metal bulkhead. The pickup bed is plastic-coated and roughly square, measuring 43 inches front to back. The tailgate can be opened from the dash or by remote control. The carbon fiber piece that runs from the C-pillar to the tailgate is said to be shaped to minimize turbulence.
A wider body kit and 23-inch wheels give the pickup a more aggressive stance. Engines can be stock Range Rover units, or run up to 526 horsepower and 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds.
We’re also not certain why one would want a five-passenger Range Rover pickup unless, perhaps, that meant transporting a string quartet and needing room for the cello. Or safe passage for your collection of stuffed giraffes. Or a grandfather clock.
Then Startech points out “…customers from the Arab region like to use the pickup bed also for transporting a securely fastened cage that holds their hunting falcons.”
We have to admit, we never thought of that one.
Honda Project 2&4
Is everything old new again? We understand (kind of) Honda’s desire to mix the joy of driving a sports car with that of riding a motorcycle. They’ve done that (presumably) with the Honda Project 2&4 roadster concept. Hence the outrider position of the driver/rider in a “floating seat.” Weighing in at 893 pounds, the 2&4 is powered by a 999-cc RC213V competition motorcycle V-4 detuned to 213 horsepower at 13,000 rpm combined, with a 6-speed dual clutch transmission.
It should go like the wind and that low outside driving position certainly would keep the driver’s attention. Slick and future thinking?
Maybe not. The little Honda reminds us of the 1964 Smokey Yunick Hurst Floor Shift Special for the Indianapolis 500. Same basic layout with the driver, Tommy Johns, hanging out on the left side. That side-sitter design didn’t make it past Turn 1 on its first qualifying lap. Happily, it didn’t go into the wall on the driver’s side.
We wish equal good luck to any driver of the 2&4 when that SUV runs the red light to his/her left. Ouch.
Mansory’s Tony the Tiger
Sorry, Tony, but consider the appeal of the burnt-orange wrap in contrast to the black carbon fiber on this Bentley Continental GTC. But that’s not the best part. Under that hood are a claimed 1001 hp and 885 lb-ft of torque, which is said to get the convertible to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph. Not sure if that’s top up or down, but it’s likely minus your baseball cap.
That performance meant a redo of the 6.0-liter twin-turbo W-12, with Mansory futzing with the turbos and replacing, among other things, the rods, pistons and camshafts. Also added are a carbon-fiber aero kit and 22-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 295/30 tires.
Toyota C-HR concept
There’s a legendary story in which the cover was whipped off a concept car, the crowd went silent and someone muttered, “Why didn’t they just give their money to the poor?”
Okay, we know Toyota is planning to get into the compact CUV market to duke it out with the likes of Honda’s HR-V, Jeep’s Renegade and Mazda’s CX-3. It could even be sold as a Scion in our market. But whatever it is, we’ll bet it won’t look much like the C-HR.
We’re often mystified why automakers waste the money to show us concepts that bear no relationship to a production vehicle. Nissan’s Gripz at the Frankfurt show does somewhat the same thing. At least when Honda and Acura show a concept aimed at production (and that’s not the Project 2&4) it hints strongly at what will finally end up in dealerships.
Mansory Rolls-Royce Wraith
The shape of the Rolls-Royce Wraith is already open to question, so it’s interesting to see what Mansory would do with it. How about a black carbon-fiber hood and grille surround? A new front splitter and rear diffuser, also in carbon fiber. Black across the roof, flowing back down to the rear bumper… all accented by the blue “chrome” along the car’s flanks. The blue/black theme is carried through in the interior. The Rolls rolls on 22-inch wheels and is lowered 1.6 inches. Sometimes all you can do is look at such a car and mumble, “Well, to each their own…”
There is added power, too, with 632 hp rushing the Rolls to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
Here’s the real problem: The Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament is also blue. If you know anything about Charles Robinson Sykes’ original sculpture and how it supposedly symbolized the secret love between Baron Montagu and Eleanor Velasco Thornton… blue just doesn’t work. Or does it symbolize the fact she was blue because society kept them apart? Or are we just thinking about this too much?
Thunder Power Sedan
What an interesting surprise. Dubbed the Taiwanese Tesla, the oddly named Thunder Power would seem to have honest promise. What we see is a Zagato-designed exterior that does bear resemblance to Tesla’s Model S. We doubt the claim that, “The instantly recognizable grille is also an icon in the making,” but this is a start.
Thunder Power (don’t they understand one beauty of electric power is the fact it’s quiet?) says it will be offering both 230- or 320-kW power configurations. The latter will power the sedan to 60 mph in under 5.0 seconds and have an ultimate speed of 155 mph.
That 0-60 time is quicker than a base Tesla Model S, but doesn’t touch the American automaker’s other models. Battery power is lithium-ion and there are also promises of a lighter battery pack and innovative charging systems.
Production is promised for 2017, with sales first in Europe, then China, and finally the U.S.
One curiosity: Thunder Power showed an all-wheel-drive race car, which looks very promising, but in what series would it race?