Four wheels and an engine? Not exactly
Bentley barber chairs, Peugeot pepper mills, Jeep prams, Lamborghini smartphones, Honda’s humanoid ASIMO robot and a Bugatti hooka pipe… These just scratch the surface of the non-motoring products produced by car manufacturers. We take a look at some others….
1. Porsche bicycles
Porsche began dabbling in bicycles when the company produced the one-off prototype, the Porsche Bike Spyder 9.85 in 1990. This mountain bike was made from lightweight aluminium, weighed 9.85kg and was showcased in the May 1991 issue of Christophorus (the Porsche magazine). In 1996, Porsche produced the Bike S, also a mountain bike, but this time with front shocks that went on sale to the public. Since then the sports car manufacturer has continued to bring out both high-quality mountain bikes and sleek and dazzling road bikes. The latest mountain machine is the 2016 Porsche Bike RX: a lightweight, high-end carbon-fibre-frame with 20-speed Shimano XTR gearing, a front air suspension fork, hydraulic disc brakes and 27.5-inch wheels. It retails for about R70 000 in Europe. The 2016 Bike RS, the Porsche road bike equivalent, is fitted with 29-inch wheels and sells for about R93 000.
The HondaJet is Honda’s first commercial aircraft, but it’s not a case of slapping some wings on a car, making it vaguely flyable and ta-dah! The Honda Aircraft Company, established in 2006 in North Carolina (where the Wright brothers conducted their flying experiments), spent years conducting research and development to create a cutting-edge product. The HondaJet was first revealed to the public at a business aviation show in São Paulo Brazil, in 2015. The private jet is in a league of its own and demand is high for the R60-million Japanese flying machine. It is described by the manufacturer as “the fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class”. Besides the snazzy glass flight deck fitted with the Garmin 3 000 – the first touchscreen glass integrated avionics system designed for light turbine aircraft – it also boasts technological design innovation. This includes the unique Over-The-Wing Engine Mount (OTWEM) configuration that dramatically improves performance and fuel efficiency by reducing aerodynamic drag. The HondaJet also boasts the roomiest cabin in its class, the largest baggage capacity, and a fully serviceable private aft lavatory. All in all, it sounds like a Honda that we would quite like a trip in.
3. BMW bobsled
At the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Team USA took home its first medal in two-man bobsledding since 1952, ending a 62-year wait. The bobsled was designed by BMW Designworks USA (a design consultancy owned by BMW). At first, Designworks creative director Michael Scully knew as much about bobsleds as Eskimos know about racing camels, but the team did their homework and came up with a smaller, lighter, carbon-fibre sled that was more aerodynamic than the rest. It was a winning recipe and the BMW USA athletes set several new track records, took 36 medals in the 2014/15 World Cup competition and captured half of all the Olympic medals in the men’s and women’s paired bobsledding in Sochi.
4. Bentley watches
Handcrafted luxury cars, such as Bentley and Rolls-Royce exude an air of wealth that has been handed down through the generations. Old money, not flashy new dough. Along with the ‘right’ car, a much-loved status symbol is a watch, with an Omega Seamaster or Rolex Submariner among the most famous. It’s no surprise then that British luxury car manufacturer Bentley has linked arms with Breitling to produce wristwatches that it describes as “achieving a fine balance between tradition and modernity”.With names like Bourbon, Aviator, Road Captain and Lady Bentley, the nomenclature of these timepieces is no doubt carefully considered to elicit the appropriate emotional response. Despite the way that one of these watches may make you feel, unless you have between R17 000 and around R3.5 million – for the Breitling Bentley Flying B – to spend on a watch, the idea will remain a pipe (and slipper) dream.
5. Peugeot piano
In 2012, Peugeot launched the Peugeot Design Lab (in a similar vein to BMW’s DesignWorks) with its first creation a futuristic baby grand piano. The streamlined instrument was designed for French piano manufacturers Pleyel. Although the design broke away from tradition, sound quality retention and even enhanced acoustics were at the forefront of this project. The lid and leg were constructed from carbon fibre but the body and soundboard are wood. The opening system of the piano top was borrowed from the design of a Peugeot tailgate. Search YouTube for ‘Peugeot Piano’ if you’d like to hear some concert pianists tickling the ivories.
6. Toyota houses
Yip. Toyota makes houses. They’re not just prototypes or artistic impressions either, the Japanese automaker has been producing real, liveable houses for the Japanese market since 1975. Toyota manufactures these prefabricated domiciles on robotic assembly lines and then homes are assembled on the building site by fitting six or more large cubicles together. There are about 12 designs to choose from, including earthquake-resistant and eco-friendly homes. In fact, since 2010 when the Prius debuted, Toyota has been ensuring that all its housing production is eco-friendly.
The raw materials and technology used reduce carbon dioxide emissions and the houses are longer lasting than traditional Japanese wooden homes that are rebuilt on average every 30 years. Toyota also maintains that the construction process reduces waste, increases water conservation and lessens its impact on global warming.
Text: Elise Kirsten