With head- and-tail lights from the Hyundai Tiburon and a paint scheme designed by French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac—who goes by JC/DC, by the way—the Rinspeed Mono Ego is a far cry from Grand Prix racers of yore.
In fact, it's more like a yuppie-infused nightmare of just how different our sports cars could have been.
When I feature a vehicle from Rinspeed, I'm generally appreciative of what was trying to be accomplished, but with the Mono Ego, I'm not so sure. I've always disliked its paint scheme and oversized Hyundai lights. Its small wheels and chunky tires are of the late-'90s, just like Tim Allen and the Spice Girls.
The Mono Ego may appear to be a superficial conveyance, but it's probably just as fast—if not faster—than the '50s Grand Prix cars it apes. But before I get into performance, I should share that the Wikipedia entry on the car says that its V8 engine comes from Hyundai, which is not true…because it's impossible. The first V8 engine badged as a Hyundai was borrowed from Mitsubishi, only offered in South Korea, and first introduced in 1999—two years after the Mono Ego hit the scene.
Underneath its long, cigar-shaped nose is (pretty obviously) a supercharged Ford-sourced 4.6-litre V8 engine with 410 horsepower. Zero-to-100 km/h (62 mph) comes up in 4.8 seconds, and the company quotes a top speed of 258 km/h (160 mph). With an aluminum body, the car is a relatively lightweight 960 kg (2115 lbs)—it's no Lotus but would compare well in outright performance to modern muscle cars.
Designed and built over a year to commemorate Rinspeed's 20th year in operation, the Mono Ego was first shown at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show. In typical Rinspeed fashion, the technology under its skin is from a number of different companies who are looking to showcase their latest wares: Dunlop supplied special tires, Eibach developed the adjustable suspension, Remus gave the exhaust, Philips supplied a CD player and navigation system(!), and a specially constructed golf bag came from Swiss leather goods maker De'Shama.
While the car's original promotional video below makes my blood boil with the amount of yuppie it features (and there's only one yuppie!), the car's outrageous paint scheme has grown on me—I now see the car as tri-coloured toothpaste on wheels…or maybe a stylized, V8-powered Tricolore.
Love or hate it, take comfort that there's only one Mono Ego…and only one ego can drive it.