Model of the car: Rinspeed X-Trem, 1999

Strictly-speaking, the X-Trem is a pickup truck rather than a car. But an open twoseater with an on-board hovercraft would always be a vehicle that transcended boundaries. Since 1979, Switzerland’s Rinspeed Design has sought to enliven the motoring world with its way-out productions, but this one went further than most, and was, in Europe, fully road-legal.

1999 Rinspeed X-Trem
The lifting gear of the X-trem could hoist and deposit its hovercraft and act as a rollover bar if the radical workhorse flipped over

The company’s principal Frank Rinderknecht said he was impelled to create the X-Trem after noticing how cumbersome the load bays of pickups could be with their high-up flatbeds. To overcome this, he devised his patented multiplex “X-Tra-Lift” device, which could crane up and lower to the ground any item of equipment on board. Not so far removed from the lifting gear on a garbage truck, this was also designed to double as a rollover bar in the event of the X-Trem overturning in an accident.

So the X-Trem could frequent building sites during the week and beaches at the weekend. As “presentation cargo,” Rinspeed commissioned one of the smallest ever functional hovercraft from Japanese company Sorex—and the first ever “fitted” to any car.

Rinspeed called it a Multi-Utility Vehicle (MUV). The underpinnings were an extended Mercedes-Benz G-Class chassis, while the frontal styling paid tribute to both Mercedes and Chrysler models. Twin retractable screens shielded driver and passenger, and there was a computer, a cigar humidor, and waterproof upholstery.

“This vehicle can now be loaded swiftly, easily, and without effort and therefore can be used in every aspect of life.”

Frank Rinderknecht, 1999

Video: model of the car Rinspeed X-Trem

Specification: model of the car Rinspeed X-Trem

YEAR REVEALED: 1999
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Zumikon, Switzerland
HISTORICAL STATUS: prototype
ENGINE: V8-cylinder, 332ci (5,439cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 347bhp
LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving all four wheels
BODYWORK: doorless, two-seater buggy/utility
TOP SPEED: 150mph (241kph) (claimed)
NUMBER BUILT: one