A couple of years ago I wrote about the Toyota Volta. I said that if Toyota would build it, I would take the very first one. And I was dead serious. But of course, just like every other car manufacturer on the freakin planet, they didn’t!
What is it with these car manufacturers that prevents them from building 3-seat sports cars? Seriously, they can just take a normal vehicle like a Corvette and widen it a little to fit the third seat. This would have the benefit of providing a wider footprint which would even help with performance. In addition, it would place the driver dead center in the vehicle for perfect left/right weight distribution.
Toyota wasn’t the first to disappoint me, nor will they be the last. Here is a list of other concept cars that I know of which have never come to fruition. If you know of others please let me know.
First of all, the Italdesign Quaranta hybrid is basically a little clone of the Toyota Volta – with one notable difference. There is actually a working prototype, and Motor Trend got to take it out on the road in Italy!
They even stole a Toyota hybrid motor to power the sucker!
Although the Toyota sport/utility provides its 3.3-liter DOHC V-6 engine, electric-motor assist hardware, continuously variable transmission, all-wheel-drive system, and a bucketload of electronics (including the IP-mounted display that shows when the power is flowing to and from the motors and battery pack), the rest of the Quaranta was designed, engineered, and built by hand from the ground up at Italdesign’s Moncalieri, Italy, facilities.
Here is a short video about it, but I hope you speak Italian! The video rocks! It shows the prototype being built and is worth the watch.
MB Roadcars in the UK also offered up a prototype of the MBR 3-seat supercar which, as far as I can tell, you can even potentially purchase today.
According to this brochure, you can pick one up for around 400,000 pounds (that’s about $2 Billion US dollars I think…), but I think that is a tad out of my price range. I’d go as high as around $120,000 but no higher.
Gizmag says that it has a 550HP V8, will do more than 200 MPH, and essentially shares the chassis of the MBR racing cars.
Volvo demonstrated the horribly ugly, but somewhat practical 3CC concept a while back, but were very straight about it up front that the vehicle was merely an excercise in futility, er, uh… design. Doesn’t matter anyway because this car doesn’t have three front seats, it’s a 2+1 design.
The version taken to Shanghai has zero emissions, running entirely on electric batteries â€” in fact, 3,000 lithium ion cells, the same batteries that laptops use.
The electric 3CC can reach up to 180 miles on a single charge, Volvo says, farther than earlier electric vehicles because of improved battery technology. On top of that, the company said, the charge time has been reduced, the 3CC can reach a top speed of 85 mph and get from 0-60 mph in 10 seconds.
Here’s a short little video about it:
I really like this next one, but in addition to the fact that it’s just a fictional vehicle… it’s not even an official fictional vehicle. The Peugeot Stylight is just an entry in a design competition. Although it looks like a fantastic vehicle, let’s not kid ourselves. They’ll never build it. And if they did, it would never come to the US (though I’d go to Europe and buy one to bring back home with me).
Designed by Ognyan Bozhilov the car is a small 3-seater city car perfect for a small family to drive around the city. Packed with a small 1.6 liter HDI engine and an electric motor, the engine is placed above the rear wheels. This ensures better weight distribution in the car and also helps save plenty of energy.
The Antro Solo is a marvel of engineering, and I’d be willing to drive it, even if I had to pedal… just because it’s so damn cool!
The Antro Solo is a three seat gas-electric hybrid prototype made entirely out of carbon fiber. This material choice allowed the graphic designers to lower the weight of the vehicle to a measly 270kg. This also allowed them to achieve phenomenal fuel efficiency and a pretty decent top speed of 87mph. All of this is impressive enough, but the Soloâ€™s designers were not content to stop there.
In order to maximize the efficiency of the vehicle, the designers installed solar panels on the roof. These solar panels store energy in the carâ€™s batteries which can be used for short 15-25km trips. If there hasnâ€™t been enough sun to power the batteries, each passengerâ€™s seat comes equipped with pedals that can power the vehicles generator. If you are by yourself, or everyone gets tired, the car can switch to its small combustion engine that is capable of running on petrol or ethanol.
Of course, I would save the best for last. There was actually one 3 seater car that made its way into production. And when it did so, it became the fastest 3-seater ever conceived – as well as the fastest production automobile on the planet. How fast? Would you believe 240 (that’s not a typo) miles per hour? Yes, 240! That car is the McLaren F1.
McLaren commissioned the design of an all-new 6-liter V-12 from BMW Motorsport, an engine specifically produced for the McLaren F1’s duties as a road car. The 60-degree, dual-overhead-cam engine is truly a work of automotive art. With 48-valves churning, this normally aspirated powerplant produces 627 horsepower at 7,400 rpm. Its torque figure is slightly less dizzying but still impressive: 479 pound-feet at 5,600 rpm.
All this power is applied to a vehicle with a curb weight of just 2,500 pounds. By way of comparison, that’s only about 100 pounds more than a current Mazda Miata weighs, but while the Miata has 142 horsepower to propel it, the McLaren has four-and-a-half times that. The result: from a stop sixty miles per hour arrives in just 3.2 seconds. Top speed is the aforementioned 240 miles per hour.
The only problem with the McLaren is the price tag. $1 Million when new. Even more now that they don’t make them any more. So, perhaps if I ever get so stupid rich that I can piss away $1 Million, I’ll pick one up on the second hand market.
Here is a video that explains exactly what we’re all missing: