Sam Philip10 June 2008

His dark materials

Bangle's shape-shifting BMW Gina concept makes our heads hurt

When a shape-shifting concept car made of neoprene turns up, you can be near-certain that flame-surfaced BMW design fuhrer Chris Bangle won't be far away.

At least, we think it's neoprene. Some sort of stretchable textile fabric, anyhow. And it's not exactly a concept in the conventional sense, but... hang on, let's start at the beginning.

This is the BMW Gina. Ostensibly a two-seater roadster, it's actually more of a philosophical statement that has informed BMW's current production line-up and will influence future vehicles. Or something.

Built on the short-lived Z8 Roadster platform, the Gina consists of a flexible 'skin' stretched over a metal wire structure enforced with carbon fibre. It allows the driver to change the shape of the car 'on the fly' - the rear spoiler can be raised, for example, while the rocker panels can effectively be bodykitted out.

It's a similar story on the inside, where the steering wheel and instrumentation sit within the centre console and slide into position when the driver pushes the start button.

Bangle says that, in a decade's time or so, such flexibility could reach production vehicles, allowing buyers to create their car around their own requirement. Nice idea, but you really wouldn't want it to get keyed, would you?

However, there's no suggestion that the Gina will lead directly to a production car in the short term. Instead, Bangle says that its principles have influenced the infamous 'flame-surfaced' styling of BMW's current crop... and will continue to do so.

Expect to see unusual-looking Beemers for a few years to come, then.

Watch the BMW Gina video on YouTube:

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