Albar Sonic


Just in case you think I've gotten soft with this whole #bcotd thing, no—after nearly a year we're just getting started.

My aesthetic compass is usually OK with scoops, louvres, and, well, anything from Luigi Colani, but in the case of the Albar Sonic I'm going to have to make an exception and say it's horrid.

Introduced in 1982 as Alois Barmettler was graduating from Volkswagen Beetle-based buggies to Beetle-based sports cars, the Sonic started life as, well, a lowly Beetle. I grew up fascinated with the red zig-zag antennas, yellow wiper blades, and WeatherTech floor mats in the back of Road & Track (some things never change) and it seems as though the Sonic is a mishmash of styling cues from the mind of a kit car builder.

In period, it was proclaimed the ultimate "Beetle-based" car, which damns it as a sports car before turning a wheel. Albar, Barmettler's firm, seems more interested in posing than performance—after all, those are seven individual headlights hidden by a single flap. Some models have red-painted side strakes and, as you'd expect, vertical doors.

The fly in my ointment is that Albar, even considering how janky the car is, developed it from its Beetle floorpan and 1.3-litre coupé roots into a version a car with a tube frame chassis and 2.5-litre turbocharged V6 engine from the Renault Alpine.

Its first appearance at the 1982 Geneva Motor Show presented a very different vehicle from the one presented at the 1990 Geneva Motor Show—and in the interim, Albar made some 15 different versions of the Sonic.

If you'd like one of your own, they shouldn't be too difficult to find—and I'd drive it, if only to confirm suspicions that this is more a fibreglass toy than car.