We were in 1995. The car show was in Geneva. The Mercedes brand. The car, a four-in-one puzzle. We remember the history of a curious concept car or the future idea of the German brand … more than 20 years ago.
At the base, the concept was at least curious. If we buy several cars, why not get only one that allows us to switch between a total of four bodies, according to the use we intend to make of it? That’s what Mercedes did in an idea that was part of a new concept of mobility.
Thus was born the Mercedes-Benz Vario Research Car. A two-door model, front-wheel drive, continuously variable transmission and a body made of reinforced carbon fiber polymer that came with the possibility of switching between: saloon; station wagon; convertible and pick-up. Between them the weight varied between 30 and 50 kg. Each movable part consisted of a structure that comprised the roof, the sides and the rear section, which would only have to be lifted and replaced in an operation that the brand advertised would take 15 minutes.
The car also incorporated a system equivalent to what we now know as traffic signal recognition. It was able to identify the speed limits and issue a visual alert to the driver.
However, the model was never marketed, because the concept, although interesting, could prove to be partly counterproductive. From the point of view of a brand, what is the advantage of selling a single model when four can be sold? Undoubtedly, its something to think about….