By O. Lauter
If you're still struggling to get used to the idea behind Porsche's new Cayenne, look away now. This is the Rinspeed Bedouin and, for those who love the Stuttgart 911, it's likely come as a bit of a shock. The Swiss tuning company always pulls something special out of the bag for the Geneva Motor Show, and for 2003 it is this - a Porsche pick-up truck.
The Bedouin is based on a 911 and powered by natural gas, with a couple of turbos bolted on to the 3.6-litre engine to compensate for the subsequent power dive. Even so, the 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds lags behind the entry-level Carrera 2. But that's hardly surprising, as the Bedouin is much heavier. For a start, it features an unmissable bodykit which incorporates heavily sculpted front bumpers, extra-wide air intakes and flared sills.
However, what you can't fail to miss is the completely barmy profile behind the B-pillars thanks to the installation of a flatbed. Instead of the graceful coupé styling of the normal car, the Bedouin has what appears to be a corrugated iron outhouse bolted to its posterior, flanked by light clusters supplied by Swarovski Crystal.
The result is an acquired taste, indeed, but the cage does serve a purpose. When closed, it gives the 911 the carrying capacity of a small hatchback - but that isn't its party piece. Drop the tailboard, flick a switch inside the cabin and the whole roof disappears electronically to leave the load area completely open. That's all very well, but access to the engine is gained by pressing another switch. This causes the loadbay to shift backwards and reveal the familiar flat-six. The process is highly complex, utterly bizarre and really quite impractical.
Given the extreme nature of the bodywork, the 911's interior has got away relatively lightly from the Bedouin treatment. The top of the steering wheel has been replaced with some imitation gearknobs for no apparent or logical reason, and there's also diamanté covered door trims.
For now, the Bedouin is simply a show car to prove what Rinspeed is capable of. Having seen it in the metal, though, we doubt Porsche chiefs will be queuing up to buy the blueprints...
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