5 prototypes of the most extraordinary car designer of the twentieth century


BMW 700 Colani, 1963

In 1963, Colani created a sensation, having designed the world’s first road sports car with a load-bearing plastic monocoque body on the chassis of a small-capacity BMW 700. The spatial construction of this type was a real revolution for the early 1960s, because such technology had just begun to be used in Formula One and brought the team Lotus titles in the championship in 1963.

In addition to the body architecture, the Colani prototype featured a streamlined body with an aerodynamic drag coefficient of Cx = 0.22. The BMW 700 Colani weighed 440 kilograms, so despite the tiny 700cc 32 horsepower motor, the sports car could accelerate to 200 kilometers per hour. The project attracted public attention and surprised BMW, but the innovative concept did not become a serial one: the car was produced as a single specimen.

F1 Eifelland Type 21, 1972

Colani’s chance to prove himself in the “Queen of Motorsports” came in 1972. The German G√ľnther Henneriki, who had made a fortune selling camper vans and trailers, had decided to make his Formula 1 debut with his own Eifelland, and the team was in need of a specialist in aerodynamics. Colani was not a fully fledged designer: Luigi was only entrusted with developing the body on a ready-made March 721 chassis. For this reason, the revolutionary “wing car” concept had to be abandoned.

Even with such limitations, Colani managed to prove himself: Eifelland Type 21 turned out maximally unlike others and is in the top of the most unusual cars in Formula 1. However, design extravagances Colani badly combined with practicality: the car had problems with cooling, downforce and reliability. In the course of the season team Eifelland had hastily returned to its car traditional look. The team was unsuccessful: the best result of the Type 21 was tenth place.

Colani 2CV, 1981

In 1981, Colani launched a car with record economy: the Colani 2CV consumed only 1.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers! No outstanding budget was required: an ordinary Citroen 2CV small-capacity chassis was taken as the basis, and under the hood of the prototype the standard gasoline engine was located. The modifications were reduced to the creation of the original body of the “car-wing” type and replacement of regular tires with Goodyear tires with low rolling resistance.

Volkswagen corporation paid attention to Colani’s achievement and offered the designer to take part in joint projects to improve the economy of road vehicles. Twenty years later, the German auto giant will spend hundreds of millions of euros to create a car with a fuel consumption of less than one liter per 100 kilometers – the “one-liter hypercar” Volkswagen XL1 has in common with ordinary Volkswagens only the logo and a few details in the cabin.

Colani Mazda Le Mans, 1983

In the late 1970s, Mazda decided to try its hand at the 24 Hours of Le Mans marathon again. The Japanese were eager to win the famous race with a rotary piston engine and prove to the world the promise of the technology.

In 1983, the company Colani took over the design of the Mazda prototype for Le Mans. The artist drew an incredible body: the Mazda Le Mans concept car looked like a huge fish. Traditionally, Colani’s product was characterized by excellent aerodynamics and impracticality. According to engineers’ estimates, Colani concept car with a four-section Wankel engine with estimated power of 940-1400 horsepower could accelerate to 380 kilometers per hour on a straight Mulsanne of the Sarta ring. It was not checked in practice: Colani’s concept remained a mock-up, and eight years later Mazda’s victory in a day marathon came from a traditional design of a sports prototype.

Ferrari Testa d’Oro 1989

In the late 1980s, the Colani bureau was tasked with designing the body for the world’s fastest road car. Reference point was the record of Ferrari F40: in 1987, the supercar accelerated to 325 kilometers per hour.

Ferrari Testarossa was taken as the basis for the record-breaking prototype. Colani changed the angular sports car beyond recognition: the model presented in 1989 at the Essen show conquered the public by its radical look with smooth lines. Technical stuffing record prototype involved tuning studio Lotec: the power unit got two turbochargers, which allowed to increase power 5.0-liter 12-cylinder “oppo” from 390 to 750 horsepower. The engine manifolds were painted gold: an unusual touch was used in the name of the concept – Testa d’Oro (“golden-headed” in translation from Italian). Although the 1981 speed record (351 kilometers per hour) was set by a car with a different body design, the original Colani concept was not lost: the car sold for $1.7 million in 2015.

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