(from Rinspeed Press Release) World
Première at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show. Rinspeed Mono Ego –
the First Single-seater Car in the World that's Licensed for the Road!
To celebrate the twentieth
anniversary of the Rinspeed Design AG company, Frank M. Rinderknecht
(41) has come up with something very special: the Swiss automobile tuner
has created a vehicle that blends traditional beauty and forward-looking
technology in a most impressive way – the Rinspeed Mono Ego. Developed
in only a year, this distinguished vehicle is his company's anniversary
contribution to the Geneva Salon de l'auto, an eye-catcher that could
well generate active discussion among the visitors. As the name implies.
The Mono Ego is intended for men or women who are able to treat
themselves to something special from time to time, and allow themselves
the leisure to enjoy it. To drive the Mono Ego is to listen to the V8
engine's heartbeat, to watch the long engine hood cleave its way through
the countryside – and to have no other cares whatever!
In the words of
Frank M. Rinderknecht: "For me, the Mono Ego represents a means of
widening one's horizons and a fresh challenge. My goal was to satisfy
the demands of the law and the principles of good design at one and the
same time. I wanted the Mono Ego to be a totally exclusive car, but one
entirely suitable for road use. I also intended it to stand clearly
apart from the work of tuners who merely convert existing products. It
is a recollection of the great racing cars of the 1950s, but also as an
embodiment of state-of-the-art technology – and of course of Rinspeed's
skills in these areas." Rinderknecht has a convincing explanation of the
short period of time needed to develop the Mono Ego: "When the
pressure's on, development results are often better than if too much
agonizing goes into them!" In this case, certainly, this argument holds
One of the most remarkable features of
Frank M. Rinderknecht's latest creation is surely the fact that the
Rinspeed Mono Ego complies with valid European Union legislation and is
a fully-fledged roadgoing design. "We wanted to build an exclusive car,
but one that could be taken out on the roads as well as acting as a
pilot project at exhibitions." This ambitious target has certainly been
achieved by the Rinspeed Mono Ego – its luggage compartment can for
instance easily accommodate a golf bag. What this mobile work of art is
to cost, however, has yet to be finalized.
Frank M. Rinderknecht made use of the
very latest techniques in the design and development of this project,
including CAD/CAM methods. The CAD/CAM Computer (which in terms of
performance would not be out of place in a major automobile
manufacturer's development department) processes all the details of a
1:10 scale model with such accuracy that very few changes are needed
when the full-scale model is built. Rinderknecht: "By using CAD/CAM, we
achieve an unequaled standard of processing quality and can also
implement our ideas far faster than ever before. This naturally helped
us to get the Mono Ego project rolling in such a short time."
Even seemingly minor details such as
the turn-indicator and brake light holders are produced to very high
standards and neatly integrated into the body. "These are items that are
all to often added as afterthoughts," Rinderknecht (who is father of a
five-year-old daughter) comments. "For us, the real challenge was to
develop a vehicle with plenty of scope for design ideas, but with no
compromises in its suitability for road use."
Without the cooperation of various
companies of high international repute, the Rinspeed Mono Ego would not
have materialized as the successful design proudly displayed in Geneva –
a car with what it takes to rewrite a chapter in motoring history.
Fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who numbers champagne
producer Pommery among his clients, has transformed the Mono Ego into a
mobile work of art, gleaming in the colors of the tricolore and
decorated with miniature angels and other emblems created specially for
the Mono Ego. The leather seat, for instance, has a transparent cover
into which colored feathers have been sewn. A more exclusive sense of
style would be difficult to find on the automobile scene!
Frank M. Rinderknecht comments: "We
gave Castelbajac every possible artistic freedom, which may explain why
he, as Frenchman, chose to give the Mono Ego something of a French
flavor by using the colors of his country's national flag. One thing is
certain: between him and our Swiss Rinspeed company, a genuinely
multicultural work of art has been created." To which Jean-Charles de
Castelbajac replies: "It was a particular pleasure to cooperate on a
project like this one – I was inspired by the car's superb, flowing
The Dunlop company contributed the
tires: as one of the world's largest manufacturers of tires for
high-volume motor vehicles and also of high-performance tires, it
possesses an immense amount of experience. Frank M. Rinderknecht
explains: "At the moment, no production tires of the size we needed are
available, and so we had to approach a manufacturer capable of
responding flexibly and rapidly to our request. Dunlop certainly lived
up to its high reputation here." For the Mono Ego, Dunlop developed a
high-tech tire with an entirely new tread pattern, foreshadowing the
next tire generation. Its grip and wet adhesion suit the Mono Ego
exceptionally well. These tires were scheduled to appear in
series-production form in the Spring of 1997.
Antera took up the challenge of
producing wheels to carry these special Dunlop tires. An Italian
company, it is famous for its avant-garde wheel designs and for the
unusual technical principles which it adopts. For example, the tire
valve is hidden behind the hub cover so that the wheel's overall
appearance is not affected by the valve protruding from the rim.
In the running-gear area, Rinspeed was
able to call upon the services of the Eibach company, the leading
international manufacturer of suspension components. Eibach Suspension
Technology, which as its name implies specializes in such matters and
supplies the world's top motor sport entrants including the McLaren
Formula 1 team, undertook to develop the suspension struts and
stabilizers for the Rinspeed Mono Ego. Eibach certainly justified its
reputation: for the Mono Ego it designed competition shock absorbers
with four adjustment settings – a world première. These hi-tech
components were developed and manufactured at Eibach's R & D center in
England, and utilized the company's experience as a global supplier,
which extends back many years and entitles it to claim an equally
significant position as a specialist running-gear developer on the
markets of the future.
Austrian specialist company Remus
developed an free-flow exhaust system for the Rinspeed Mono Ego. Here
too, the Remus name is closely associated with both high quality and
ingenious technical solutions to clients' problems. Throughout the motor
sport scene, from touring-car racing and rallying to Formula 1 (Damon
Hill), this exhaust systems manufacturer feeds its immense know-how back
into its successful range of products.
The Swiss company Rieter Automotive
Systems provided the floor carpeting, of truly magnificent quality, for
the Rinspeed Mono Ego. Although this firm has a low profile among the
general public, integrated noise and heat insulation materials and
interior trims for motor vehicles are purchased by just about every
leading automobile manufacturer throughout the world.
To display the artistry of
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac in its full splendor, Burg Design digitized
all the design material by a special high-tech process. This Austrian
company concentrates on decor requirements for special-series vehicles
and on high-tech interior applications. Among the processes it has
developed is Evotec, which gives decals a three-dimensional visual
effect. It is used on the Mono Ego to render the close-fitting fenders
almost invisible; a cleverly simulated tire tread effect adds to the
The headlights, rear lights and
mirrors are among the few components not crafted by hand for the Mono
Ego. They are taken from the Hyundai Tiburon Coupé, a product from a
Korean manufacturer that has worked its way up to Number Ten in the
international statistics within only a few years.
Deserving of special mention is the
golf bag, which is made by the Swiss De'Shama company, a specialist in
the field of luggage and travel goods systems.
The German Classic Interiors company
took on the task of finishing the interior to the highest possible
standards. German Classic Interiors specializes in the restoration of
historic car interiors.
Thanks to a hi-fi radio and CD
installation from Philips Car Systems, the open-topped Rinspeed Mono Ego
none the less achieves high standards of audio reproduction. Nor does
the driver have to feel that he or she is alone in the wide, wide world:
Carin is a sympathetic companion on the longest journeys. This is the
name given to Philips Car Systems' first class navigation system. Carin
guides the driver reliably, without stress, to the chosen destination.
Philips, the giant electrical and electronics corporation, is among the
leading original equipment suppliers to the automobile industry.
Last but by no means least, TLC
Carossiers Inc. Took on the task of building up the complete Rinspeed
Mono Ego. This company is situated in West Palm Beach, Florida (USA) and
performed a similar task with great distinction when building the
Rinspeed Yello Talbo.
The air-freight specialist Lufthansa
carried out the safe, reliable and timely transport of the Mono Ego to
make a flawless and on-time debut in front of the world press in Geneva.
Under the dramatic body, power is
supplied in plenty by a 32-valve aluminum-block V8 engine; it is
supercharged and develops no less than 410 bhp (maximum boost pressure
0.35 bar). This engine whisks the single-seater Mono Ego from a
standstill to 100 km/h in only 4.8 seconds, with a top speed of 258 km/h
attainable when conditions permit. The aluminum body gives the Mono Ego
an exceptionally rigid structure and a gross weight of only 960
kilograms, with the result that its power-to-weight ratio would be the
envy of many a driver of exclusive Italian sports cars. The
power-to-weight ratio is all the
more remarkable because the Rinspeed
Mono Ego is 4623 millimeters long, almost equaling a Mercedes-Benz 500,
for instance, yet about 700 kg lighter. It has a 5-speed manual-shift
gearbox, and independent suspension all round with 16-inch wheels and
tires of unusual sizes (245/65 at the front, 275/70 at the rear). The
Rinspeed Mono Ego sets a new trend by echoing earlier racing cars in its
outline: high sided, with a broad area of exposed metal.
It was in 1977 that Frank M.
Rinderknecht set up Rinspeed Garage, which initially imported sunroofs
and produced vehicles for handicapped drivers. But only two years later,
Rinspeed caused a sensation at the Geneva Motor Show by exhibiting a VW
Golf Turbo with rectangular headlight units. As Rinderknecht recalls:
"These rectangular headlights soon attracted a great many imitators."
The company's first breakthrough on the tuning scene was the Rinspeed
Aliporta, a VW Golf with gull-wing doors. In 1988 became the first
company to feature poly-ellipsoidal (PES) headlights on a motor-show
car. At the 1991 Geneva Salon it presented the Porsche Turbo Speedster,
the fastest version of this model available anywhere in the world. In
1995 Rinspeed launched the Roadster R and SC-R, the first models offered
under its own brand name. In 1996 it cooperated with the Swiss
basic-technology group Yello on the Rinspeed Yello Talbo. Now the most
recent Rinspeed creation has appeared: the Mono Ego, with design by
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.