Bertone Genesis

Some are worried about a modern Lamborghini SUV. I don't think it'd be a big deal, because there was once this, the Bertone Genesis—essentially a Lamborghini minivan.

By now firmly owned by Chrysler, longtime Lamborghini supporters (and stylists) Bertone had something exceptional up their sleeve for the 1988 Turin Motor Show. Atop a significant investment to create their very own working super van, Bertone sought to not create a stripped-out "demonstration" van with silly power and not much else…

…they wanted to create a "private jet for the road."

With five seats and overall dimensions similar to the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, the Alcantara-rich interior arrangement was rather unique. A row of two rear seats had a single mid-mounted seat in front of them, which actually sat just behind the engine placed over the front wheels. First class-like footrests, phone, fax machine, and a TV were fitted.

Two front seats were accessed by awkwardly-positioned Gullwing doors, with the mammoth structures mounted to a spine from the base of the windshield to the roof.

This meant that the windshield was, in fact, part of the doors—a show car concession to style—which would have made mounting wiper blades a real challenge.

Styled by Marc Deschamps, from the side, the red body-coloured roof and door trim makes the Genesis appear lower than it really is, but with perspective shifted up a bit it looks like the roof might be made from a big red paperclip. Sadly, Deschamps didn't see fit to emphasize the wide body, compact length, and long wheelbase; instead, the van's simple lines appear bulbous and boring today.

You know what it reminds me of? Almost exactly? 

A car-shaped VHS tape rewinder.

Ensuring it's the fastest-ever VHS tape rewinder, Bertone fitted a gigantic Lamborghini 12-cylinder engine from the Contact. With 455 horsepower, once up to highway speeds I'm sure it felt every bit like a jet for the road.

Sadly, this fully drivable concept shared its Achilles' heel with the rest of the Lamborghini range: Chrysler. That glorious V-12 engine was hooked up to a 3-speed Chrysler automatic transmission, chosen because it worked with the prototype's packaging…and not much else. With a weight pegged at around 1800 kg (3970 lbs), the Genesis was also a pretty chunky prototype, which wouldn't have made life easy for the engine or transmission. Still, Bertone quoted a top speed of more than 250 km/h (155 mph).

Today, I'd expect a new Genesis prototype to be a front-engined SUV, if only to improve the way everything is packaged. A Lamborghini minivan with crazy doors is a cool idea, but there are reasons why people love vans and SUVs—and it's not because of the styling or performance. 

When designing this "private jet for the road," Deschamps forgot that private jets have space for luggage, with the Genesis' cargo capacity limited to what you can stuff behind the rear seats—and it doesn't look like much.

Most importantly, I don't think Phil Collins' drum kit would fit.

 


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