Weird Wheels: United Nude’s ‘Lo-Res Car’ Up for Auction

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If anybody has a soft spot for wedge designs and the automotive future envisioned during the 1970s, it’s yours truly. While mainstream vehicles being manufactured during the Malaise Era often left a lot to be desired, the concepts were sublime and led to some of the most unique-looking production cars in automotive history. I’m talking about cars like the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, De Tomaso Pantera, and DeLorean DMC-12. Toss in the digital dashboards that were gradually appearing in standard passenger cars during the 1980s and you’ve reached the point where I would probably claim automotive styling reached its zenith after a few stiff drinks. But I’ve been told by those who can distinguish fetishization from appreciation that those designs weren’t perfect and kind of look the same when there’s enough squinting is deployed.

Apparently, someone took that premise and used it as a template for a modern prototype intended to help sell shoes. Though the company focused entirely on the basic shape of wedge cars, settling on a vehicle that resembles what a Countach might have looked like in a video game from two decades ago should the assets fail to load. Known as the United Nude Lo-Res Concept Vehicle, it’s probably one of the more-unique automobiles ever built and it’s yours for the taking now that the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t want it. 

Currently listed on Bring a Trailer, chassis number three (of four) is comprised of 12 tinted clear polycarbonate panels intentionally styled to embody the now-retro wedge design in the most literal way possible.

From the listing:

This concept vehicle is one of four prototypes commissioned by footwear company United Nude for promotional purposes. Dubbed the “Lo-Res Car,” the vehicle was penned by United Nude founder Rem D. Koolhaas based on an abstract, low-resolution version of the Lamborghini Countach. It features clear tinted polycarbonate body panels over a steel chassis, and power is supplied by a KDS 5-kilowatt electric motor paired with a single-speed transmission. Additional equipment includes an electrically-actuated clamshell-opening body, front and rear light bars, tandem seating, and a chrome hexagonal steering wheel. The vehicle was acquired by the Petersen Automotive Museum around three years ago and is now being offered at no reserve in Los Angeles, California. It is not titled or registered for street use and is sold on a bill of sale.

Inspired by the design of the Lamborghini Countach, the first prototype of the Lo-Res Car achieved a Wallpaper Magazine Design Award in 2016. Subsequent prototypes were featured in various music videos and were also displayed at the 2018 Grand Basel automotive design showcase as well as the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Disruptors exhibition in 2019.

Beautiful it is not. But the mere fact that someone turned this polyhedron into a functioning car is kind of amazing. It’s more Cybertruck than Cybertruck, except the Lo-Res offers the powertrain of a decent golf cart and the utility of a tricycle. These shortcomings are forgivable on what’s effectively a rolling piece of modern art, however.

On the inside, the polycarbonate panels (some of which look scratched) allow occupants to see out in every direction while the tint makes it nearly impossible to see into. Though there isn’t much to look at. Opening up the clamshell allows two people to climb into the non-adjustable seats and shows just how basic the cabin in. The driver has that odd hexagonal steering wheel, the necessary pedals, and some switches — most of which are used to control the vehicle’s numerous illumination options.

Instrumentation is limited to the state of charge and a basic digital speedometer. Air conditioning, a radio, or even seatbelts would be wishful thinking.

Considering you can’t legally drive the Lo-Res on the street (and it would be a deathtrap if you did) that’s all fine. While the model’s front discs can presumably stop it in time to avoid most accidents, I’ve heard it has a hard time reaching 25 mph when carrying a passenger and it looks like it would disintegrate the moment it made contact with a real car.

Listed with no reserve, the latest bid at the time of this writing was a modest (?) $45,000. But the Lo-Res is probably best left to art snobs, rather than someone who might actually want to drive their collectables. I would argue that there are better ways for an automotive enthusiast to spend their money. Still, the United Nude design is so damn weird that we couldn’t help but show it.

[Images: Bring a Trailer]

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