Rinspeed Mono Ego

Car of the Day #90: 1997 Rinspeed Mono Ego

Rinspeed Mono Ego
1997 Rinspeed Mono Ego • via Rinspeed

With head- and-tail lights from the Hyundai Tiburon and a paint scheme designed by French fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac — who goes by JC/DC, the Rinspeed Mono Ego is a far cry from Grand Prix racers of yore.

In fact, it’s more like a yuppie-infused nightmare of just how different our sports cars could have been.

When I feature a vehicle from Rinspeed, I’m generally appreciative of what was trying to be accomplished, but with the Mono Ego…I'm not so sure. I've always disliked its paint* scheme and oversized Hyundai lights. Its small wheels and chunky are very much of the late-'90s, just like Tim Allen and the Spice Girls.

*an earlier version had this as 'pain' scheme, and I prefer the typo…

The Mono Ego may appear to be a superficial conveyance, but it's probably just as fast—if not faster—than the '50s Grand Prix cars it apes.

Before I get into performance, I should share that some sources claim its V8 engine comes from Hyundai, which is not true…because it's impossible. The first V8 engine badged as a Hyundai was borrowed from Mitsubishi, only offered in South Korea, and first introduced in 1999—two years after the Mono Ego hit the scene.

Underneath its long, cigar-shaped nose is (pretty obviously) a supercharged Ford-sourced 4.6-litre V8 engine with 410 horsepower. Zero-to-100 km/h (62 mph) comes up in 4.8 seconds, and the company quotes a top speed of 258 km/h (160 mph). With an aluminum body, the car is a relatively lightweight 960 kg (2115 lbs) — it's no Lotus, but would compare well in outright performance to modern muscle cars.

Designed and built over a year to commemorate Rinspeed's 20th year in operation, the Mono Ego was first shown at the 1997 Geneva Motor Show. In typical Rinspeed fashion, the technology under its skin is from a number of different companies who are looking to showcase their latest wares: Dunlop supplied special tires, Eibach developed the adjustable suspension, Remus gave the exhaust, Philips supplied a CD player and navigation system(!), and a specially constructed golf bag came from Swiss leather goods maker nobody has ever heard of, De’Shama.

Rinspeed Mono Ego • via Rinspeed

While the car's original promotional video below makes my blood boil with the amount of yuppie it features (and there's only one yuppie!), the car's outrageous paint scheme has grown on me; I now see the car as a tri-coloured tube of artisan toothpaste…

Love or hate it, take comfort that there's only one Mono Ego, a truly single character car.

The soundtrack really is a combination of Buckwheat Zydeco, Svenska dansband, and a broken dial-up modem :/


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam G., Sam L., Wiley H.