Concept cars mostly serve two purposes. They either show the direction the company will head in in the near future by showing supposed bleeding edge technology, or they have no goal at all and they're just the product of designers being let free to do whatever comes up in their evil heads. Then... there's the BMW Gina, a car that fit somewhere in the middle between realistic and clinically insane concepts. What is the Gina though anyway?
In short, it's a BMW Z4 where the body panels have been replaced by fabric. Yes, people, fabric. Like the sort of stuff you find on sleeping tents and cheap IKEA wardrobes. BMW said that the Gina was clothed in "elastic, water resistant, man-made, polyurethane-coated Spandex". You know. Spandex. The material from which every grandpa's swimsuit is made of that we're forced to witness on beaches every summer. But eye-wrecking uses of Spandex aside, BMW claimed that this material allowed the Gina to change its shape according to exterior conditions and speeds, since the material doesn't tear or shrivel. All very space age and exciting!
But the car had even more aces up its sleeve (see what I did there?). For example, upon startup, the fabric would unzip to allow access to the headlights and the engine. And we're not talking some cheap zipper here either. It was all handled by clever hydraulics. And what about structural integrity you say? The car had an aluminium wire frame structure and the places that needed even more beefing up, like the doors, the ducts and the spoiler, were made by using flexible carbon struts. No I'm not talking about an SR-71 Blackbird, I promise.
The Gina was comprised of 4 body panels, that looked seamless, and allowed for a very impressive smooth, almost metal-like surface that went uninterrupted from the very front of the bonnet, all the way back to the expandable spoiler, that allowed for more stability in higher speeds. The Gina was revealed in 2008, more than 10 years ago, yet it still looks incredibly futuristic, all thanks to its I- can't-believe-it's-Spandex clothed body.
As a concept car then, the Gina was very successful. It blurred the line between usability and insanity by making it look like it was realistic, while it was nothing more than BMW showing of. The technology that came with its clever skin is truly impressive to this day, even after we've seen hypercars use scary technology to reach silly speeds. Well done BMW, your cloth covered creation is truly one to remember... even if you don't give instructions on how to wash it in a washing machine..
What do you think of the BMW Gina? Is it actually impressive or does a fabric car sound like the brainstorming after a night spent with substances of unknown quality? Share your opinion in the comments!