When it comes to building cars that you can fall out of, European automotive industry has quite a bit of experience. It started with the Mini Moke, which was just a glorified golf cart, continued with several French efforts and now the movement is topped with a brand new model – the Rinspeed BamBoo by the famous Swiss designer Frank Rinderknecht. It recently made a debut but has already managed to stir quite a bit of controversy. The thing is that the BamBoo is made of, guess what, bamboo!
Nomen est omen – the name says it all. The body of this electric car is made of high-tech bamboo fibres. But Rinderknecht wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t equip his new creation with a bot or a pod or something else that sets it apart from other vehicles. A golf ball dispenser? No, it’s an onboard foldable three-wheeler ready to go an extra mile. Quite literally. If your car runs out of juice – after all it is an electric car, hop on the three-wheeler and do the missing mile.
Fiat 600 Ghia Jolly
So what does the history say about it? Very few people remember the first open vacation car Fiat 600 Ghia Jolly. It made a debut in 1958 but because they were produced in strictly limited numbers, the car failed to make an impact.
The whole “fall out of me” car movement started with the Mini Moke in 1968. The idea was to create a light military vehicle similar to the American Jeep. It didn’t quite work out because it was considered not suitable for battle action. The project was about to be scrapped but the Moke was given a chance to be “civilized”. It was the beachcombers who catapulted the funny little car to a cult success and created a precedent.
Soon the French discovered the joys of an open-body vehicle and came up with the Citroen Mehari. Almost 150,000 cars were built between 1968 and 1988. Thanks to its low weight (1300lbs) it was a very efficient and capable vehicle. Some of the cars were even equipped with doors and a soft top.
The Rodeo was Renault’s answer to the Citroen’s challenge in 1970. It was based on the Renault 4. They kept churning out the Rodeos till 1987. The cars became popular with the Police, especially the four wheel drive variation.
Although hundreds of thousands of different beach vehicles have been made during the last 50 years, they haven’t established themselves… at least not as something that car manufacturers would consider a profitable niche. Mainly due to the fact that there are a limited number of beaches worldwide that permit vehicles in the recreational zone. Will the Rinspeed BamBoo manage to make an impact?