Swiss car designer and tuner Frank M. Rinderknecht's latest creation blends precious stones with high-tech plastics and high performance.
The Rinspeed boss will unveil his zaZen concept car at next week's Geneva motor show. He says the roadster is his vision of the car of the future and is a kind of "automotive enlightenment" on four wheels.
The vehicle was produced in cooperation with Bayer MaterialScience, one of the world's largest plastics producers. Its transparent backlight can be turned into a luminous holographic area. As if from nowhere, a third brake light shines out of what looks like a floating transparent hardtop.
Rinderknecht says the zaZen, with its holographic brake lamp and smoothly contoured, transparent, one-piece roof dome made of high-tech Makrolon, marks the beginning of a new era in lighting technology for vehicles.
"Together with Rinspeed, our goal is to get people thinking about the car of the future," says Bayer MaterialScience's Ian Paterson. "We contribute our high-quality materials and the combined creative know-how of our engineers."
The car's name, zaZen, was chosen carefully. "After all, Zen – borrowed from Buddhist teaching – is a special form of perception," says Rinderknecht. "You only get there if you are prepared to give up preconceived ideas."
The vehicle concept was born at the Swiss engineering specialists, Esoro, from one single vision and many imaginative ideas. The entire roof dome down to the belt line is made of Bayer's transparent Makrolon polycarbonate. A glass-clear elastic sealant from Revoflex has been used to achieve an optimum joint with the body.
The hardtop is light in both senses of the word. Not only does it appear to float airily above the rather chunky body, it is also weighs many kilograms less than glass.
The lightness of the roof construction ties in with the surface coating of the zaZen – a white mineral shade based on the Bayer raw materials, Desmodur and Desmophen. It contains millions of tiny precious Swarovski crystals protected by a self-healing polyurethane clear coat. This crystal skin finish was developed and applied by the Austrian surface coating specialists, Karl Seelos. The Lesonal company was responsible for producing a perfect substrate.
Rinderknecht says the future driver can expect to find "a muscular body in a sophisticated, tailored suit – a suit that has been given an exclusive touch though Swarovski trimmings on the front, side and rear lights and the wheel rims. But the crystal manufacturer came up with a real masterpiece in the design of the seemingly never-ending 3D rear decorative panel."
The car's interior is also dominated by transparency and reduction to essentials, combined with strategically placed highlights. The transparent plastic seat shells of Makrolon fitted with Technogel upholstery were produced in cooperation with Recaro. A bright, friendly mango-orange colour was chosen for the rest of the leather/fabric interior trim. It was made by hand by Strahle and Hess, SC Schafer, OesterleSLR and Sellner. Together with the Luoro Faia plantation wood – also in the dashboard area - it creates an interior that radiates warmth and relaxation.
Porsche power for zaZen
The 1495kg zaZen is powered by a 355bhp six-cylinder boxer engine from the Porsche 997 Carrera S.
It has a top speed of 293km/h and accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Rinderknecht saysb that should the zaZen ever go into limited production, Rinspeed will consider – in line with its tradition – offering it with an environmentally friendly natural gas propulsion system.
At 6600 rpm, the engine develops peak torque of 400Nm, which is transmitted to the rear axle by a manual six-speed transmission.
Traction is provided by Dunlop tyres with Touch Technology (245/30 R20 at the front and 305/25 R20 at the rear), mounted on lightweight Rinspeed five-spoke rims (8.5 inches wide at the front and 11 at the rear) made by CW Fahrzeugtechnik.
The body – for which the molds were produced using Obomodulan modelling foam – sits on an adjustable chassis specially designed by KW automotiv.
Ralph Anderl, who runs Berling eyewear design company ic! berlin was so taken with the new Rinspeed concept car that he designed an eyewear collection specifically to go with it.
The zaZen runs KW adjustable coil-over suspension in made using inox line stainless steel technology.
KW now produces all of its adjustable suspension systems only in stainless steel. It says it offers significantly higher corrosion resistance than galvanised metal.
The zaZen's is a high-tech product developed by the KW engineers and can be completely adjusted to suit an individual driver's requirements. Everything is possible, from extremely luxurious to extremely sporty.
Version 3,a s used in the zaZen is infinitely height-adjustable on the front and rear axles, and has separately adjustable compression and rebound mode damping. The adjustment in compression mode is carried out at the bottom end of the shock absorber using a patented multiple valve. This suspension system provides the technically demanding driver with technology from the world of motorsport.
KW automotive offers a large range of adjustable suspension systems - from springs and sports suspension systems to adjustable suspension systems in three damping variants.
Zen influence on crystal colour
Zen Buddhist philosophy, which focuses on the essentials, served as the concept for developing the zaZen's Rinspeed K2 special effect colour.
Thomas Kalan, product manager for paint manufacturer, Lesonal, says the fine rainbow shimmer of what initially appears to be white is derived from Himalayan glaciers. "This special effect paint was inspired by the colour spectrum of the snow-covered K2 (mountain). Similar to the iridescence of glacial colours, the effect really comes to life when one takes a second, deeper look."
The zaZen project represented a major challenge. Using precious Swarovski crystals, the Crystal Skin effect was developed and implemented by colour and paint specialist Karl Seelos from Fritzens of Austria. The exclusive colour requires a perfectly smooth surface. Lesonal responded to that need by supplying the best possible surface.
Structure: Revoflex is an innovative company which works as a network to meet the requirements of our customers - rapidly, efficiently and sensitively. Our head office is responsible for the coordination of all production projects, and for the realisation of our innovative technological solutions.
The surface coating of thousands of Swarovski crystals is the brainchild of a Tyrolean company run by Karl Seelos.
Seelos, a specialist in auto modification, decoration and embellishment who names members of the British, Brunei and Saudi royalty among his clients, created the special Crystal Skin used on the Rinspeed car. The process involved integrating thousands of tiny crystals used on Swarovski's Crystal Fabric into the surface of the paint. The base colour, while being embellished with the crystal effect, remains intact and an additional transparent sealer covers the crystalline surface to result in a mirror smooth surface. The result is a glittering surface that still allows the beauty of the originally chosen colour to shine through.
Other crystalline features on the car include wheel rims using the Swarovski's Crystal Fabric in orange, the theme colour for indoor features, and a continuation of the clear crystal bodywork. The car's hubcaps are also crystal embellished in the centre and the latest crystal and LED lighting techniques have been deployed for the headlights, rear lights and the side indicators. The zaZen name plate on the rear of the vehicle is made up of a crystal panel with endless effect.
Rinspeed boss Frank M. Rinderknecht says a car's seats arwe the largest area of contact between the occupant and the vehicle.
Seat maker Recaro used seat shells made from Makrolon and bright, cheerful upholstery made from transparent Techno-Gel in the zaZen. Those materials allow the seat to adapt automatically to the occupant, establishing what Rinderknecht calls "a meditative link between man and machine. "Normal seats are transformed into relaxed seating based on zaZen, the Japanese word for seated meditation."
With the project, Recaro is implementing a new form of innovative technology and taking a major step closer towards to the ultimate goal of made-to-measure seating.