What is Rinspeed? 25 years of the craziest concept cars

1 Jan, 2016 6:00am Tom Wiltshire

We take a look at some of the weird, wonder and crazy creations to come from Swiss concept car innovators Rinspeed

Rinspeed is a car maker whose name you might be familiar with but you're unlikely ever to see one of it's cars on the roads. The Swiss car design think tank doesn't see itself as a car manufacturer, but a 'powerhouse of ideas'. If that sounds a little overblown a description for a small and little known firm from Zurich, you really should check out the cars Rinspeed has conjured up over the years. 

Rinspeed was founded in 1979, but produced its first concept in 1991. Since then a new Rinspeed concept vehicle has been produced every year, ready to be exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show. The exception is 2016, when the new Etos concept will preview at CES in Las Vegas first.

Read on for a round-up of some of our favourite Rinspeed designs from the last 25 years...

Rinspeed's greatest concept cars

Rinspeed Nissan 300 ZX Speed-Art 1992

One of Rinspeed's first mad designs, the 'Speed-Art' was based on a Nissan 300 ZX, carefully tuned to race specification. The donor car's twin-turbo engine was tuned from 283bhp to 420bhp - and to remind drivers of this, what better than to let Swiss artist Rolf Knie loose to paint 420 horses directly onto the bodywork?

Rinspeed Roadster R+ SC-R 1995 

One of the only Rinspeed products ever to make production (albeit in highly limited numbers) the Roadster R+ SC-R was crafted from aircraft-quality aluminium and had a 218hp engine - which could be upgraded to a 305hp unit. The quirky design was intended to reflect 'a mixture of the classic shapes of the sixties'.

Rinspeed X-Trem M.U.V. 1999

Like many of Rinspeed's concepts, this was originally thought up on fairly sound principles - aimed at making the load bed of a pick-up more accessible to transport large items like motorcycles. But in typical Rinspeed fashion, it was equipped with a crane and a hovercraft, and painted bright yellow.

Rinspeed Tatooo.com 2000

'The first automobile ever with an internet address for a name' is surely a selling point for the hip young generation - especially with the three 'o's' that symbolised the new millennium. And of course, it wouldn't be a Rinspeed creation if it wasn't also an American-style hotrod pick-up with a V8 engine and deep sea diving apparatus on the rear.

Rinspeed Presto 2002

How do you have a four-seater car that can park in a space less than three metres long? Shrink it, of course - the Presto's rear end disappears like a drawer at the touch of a button, shrinking the car by over 70cm. Just make sure the passengers are out of the car before you press the shrink button.

Rinspeed Splash 2004

Perhaps the most well-known of Rinspeed's creations, this is an amphibious car with a difference. Instead of floating on the surface of the water, hydrofoils allow it to fly above. It's a lively sports car on the road, too, thanks to a turbocharged 140hp two-cylinder engine from a snowmobile.

Rinspeed sQuba 2008 

Inspired by James Bond's amphibious Lotus Esprit in 'The Spy Who Loved Me', the sQuba is built around another Lotus - an Elise - but unlike the prop used in the film this one can actually dive under the waves. Occupants will need scuba gear though - this isn't a submarine, more like an underwater convertible. 

Rinspeed Etos - 2016

The most recent of Rinspeed's creations will also be the first to be shown outside of the Geneva Motor Show. The Etos is based on a BMW i8, but features a landing pad for a drone, surround-view cameras, and fully autonomous driving tech. Read more about it here.

Which Rinspeed concept is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below...

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