1997 Rinspeed Mono Ego Concept

The idea

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 good.

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.

Development work

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."

The partner-companies

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 lines!"

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 optical illusion.

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.

Technical features

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.

The past

Serious Wheels