With all the talk of the self-driving, steering wheel-less Google Car, my mind began wandering to every other commuter car concept designed, shown, and mothballed by major manufacturers.
Every single automaker—save for Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, and other supercar makers—at one time or another, challenged themselves with the task of creating a small, efficient, practical vehicle that was designed for transport and little else. Some focused on creating a fun driving experience. Others on fuel economy. And others on keeping costs down.
What irks me is that commuter car concepts are nearly never built. Even less frequently produced are three-wheelers, with Morgan and Campagna the only even remotely mainstream manufacturers who make them.
So to find a sporty, three-wheeled commuter car? Automotive startup Elio Motors will sell you one. Maybe. Eventually.
Turn back the clock, though, and you'll notice several major manufacturers have tried the concept. Today's car is one of those, the 1986 Volkswagen Scooter.
Tested extensively, the Scooter was one of Volkswagen's first attempts at an ultra-high efficiency vehicle.
The most recent article I found on the Scooter at Volkswagen Classic says the Scooter has a 1.4-litre engine, 90 horsepower, and would push it to 210 km/h (130 mph.) That sounds a little far-fetched, no?
At only 635 kg (1400 lbs.), however, maybe not. That recent article was part of a photo op where a gentleman named HP Baxxter got to take it from the Volkswagen Museum. Why? He was the frontman of Scooter, a successful German techno band and now a judge on the German X-Factor. (To get through one of his songs you'd probably have to be extremely high.)
That's who we have to thank for some of these beautiful photos, however. And thanks to a German TV crew there's also a fairly extensive clip where you can watch the Scooter run a slalom and tackle snow.
Even better? The presenter manages to break the auto show prototype, as shown in the .gif here.
Still on the fence about the Scooter? Its gullwing doors are removable. Boom.
Of course, the Scooter was never put into production but it was preserved, and currently lives out its days in the care of Volkswagen. They came close recently to producing an enthusiast-focused three-wheeler, the GX3.
But that, and other commuter car prototypes from other manufacturers are stories for another day.