PARIS — Italian design house Bertone traveled to the 1988 edition of the Turin auto show (which was still a big deal in the late 1980s) to unveil a Lamborghini-powered design study. This wasn't unusual, as the two companies had worked together for decades, but the Genesis concept turned every head in the convention center because it was a van. Now it's turning heads again this week at the Retromobile Show in Paris.
Bertone's styling and prototype-building teams allegedly spent a total of 30,000 hours making the Genesis look more futuristic than the minivans many kids carpooled to school in during the late 1980s, and much sportier. It needed to tick both boxes. It was a concept car, so it had captivate the public's attention, and it was powered by a 455-horsepower, 5.2-liter V12 borrowed from the Countach Quattrovalvole, so looking the part was a must. The mighty, front-mid-mounted 12 channeled its power to the rear wheels through a rather lame three-speed automatic transmission provided by Chrysler, which owned Lamborghini at the time.
Sliding doors gave the rear passengers access to one of the more unusual interiors we've seen. There were two front-facing seats positioned over the rear wheels, and a single rear-facing chair in the middle of the interior. The front passengers faced forward, as you'd expect, but they could also move their seat cushion around to look at the folks riding in the back. Someone still needed to drive, so this configuration was best used when parked.
While naming the concept Genesis was a little bit optimistic on Bertone's part, putting a Lamborghini engine in a minivan with butterfly doors was a courageous move. It was ahead of its time, too, because blob-shaped vans are a dime a dozen at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and they're almost universally welcomed as the transportation of the future. Bertone may not have had autonomous technology to play with, but it had a V12.