Home » Here’s How It Would Look If The Scion iQ Revived The 1980s’ Bizarre Expandable-Car Concept

Here’s How It Would Look If The Scion iQ Revived The 1980s’ Bizarre Expandable-Car Concept

Bigger Scion Iq Ts
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“An amphibious vehicle,” some have said, “is a machine that is not a great boat and a pretty poor example of a car.” This is most often times true, but if you’re overlanding through the woods and come across a giant body of water you can’t get around, you might start to see how there are times when those compromises are worth it.

Though their vehicle modes were not quite so far down the opposite ends of the task spectrum as those of amphibious machines (or flying cars, for that matter) there are plenty of other cases where automakers have tried to make a car into a vehicular Swiss army knife. The modular Nissan Pulsar NX with its removable hatch that could be replaced with a station-wagon style cap is one of them. Jeeps have long since offered a multitude of body options from a hard-roofed cabin to a format so open that even the windshield folds down flat. Conceptually, manufacturers have shown us even more radical concepts.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

One show car that really pushed the boundaries of the multi-configuration idea was the 1989 Plymouth Voyager III concept. Most people use a car to carry noting but their own ass around for the majority of their life; however, there are times when you want that same car to carry one, two, or even six more people. To that end, the front of the Voyager III was basically a Geo Metro-sized car with three-across seating in one row, powered by some form of four-cylinder engine. This easy-to-park, efficient runabout mode would be your primary transportation.

Voyageriii 12 26 A
Chrysler

If you needed to carry more people, you would connect the little car to a caboose that turns this concoction into a minivan with the ability to carry up to eight passengers. How does it move? Per the concept, there was an additional four-cylinder engine mounted in the rear section that gave you sum total of eight cylinders. How everything connected and linked is unknown, and unless you had an available garage space, the camper-sized addition having its front end and attendant connecting bits open to the elements when not in use would surely be problematic. When in use, the add-on section also turned the thing into a rather immense six wheeled vehicle. Bob Lutz was with Chrysler at the time, and admitted that in the form shown the concept would have been horribly expensive.

Voyageriii 12 26 B
Chrysler

Mercedes Streeter showed me that the idea didn’t end there. Rinspeed made an add-on “backpack” for the electric Smart car in 2012 that they called the Dock+Go.  This bolt-on unit added an extra set of wheels, an internal combustion engine range extender, and different cargo carrying options from golf clubs to provisions for pizza delivery. Like the Voyager III, the idea was to give you extra car if you needed it, but the Dock+Go suffered the opposite problem from that Chrysler concept: the add-on component really didn’t expand the car that significantly. You be better off just getting a car the size of the two modules together and just being unable to fit into a few super-tiny parking spaces.

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Rinspeed

Let’s not just dismiss this idea as sort of silly, even if it sort of is. Is there some form of this concept that actually could work? The basic premise is there, but a dumbed-down version could still be worthwhile to explore. Let’s start with the car at the front; what ultra-small cars of the decade or two so could make a good starting point? Mercedes Streeter might choose a Smart, but the better option might be the equally-poor-selling micro machine from Toyota – the Scion IQ. A little larger than a Smart, the IQ has the advantages over the Fortwo of a tiny rear seat and front wheel drive, plus it’s a Toyota (I’ve owned one German car and one Toyota product for the last twenty years, so I know the advantage there). The driven front wheels also will help us with our concept, as you’ll see shortly.

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Toyota

The Q/Boose would be an add-on unit similar to the earlier concepts, in this case sliding into rail receptors that would be welded on or bolted onto the iQ’s undercarriage. I’m showing a pickup-truck style bed that could carry motorcycles or other items, and the total length of the two units together would still be around the length of a Ford Ranger. With front wheel drive, there are no complex mechanical additions that would be needed for the add-on, other than electric rear brakes similar to a trailer.

Scion Truck A

I see two options for the rear wheels of the Scion in combined form. The cheap solution would be to simply unbolt the rear wheels when adding on the bed; a more complex solution could involve adding air springs to the rear suspension of the iQ. Mercedes (Streeter, that is) claims there’s enough travel in the rear suspension to bring the tires a good four inches or more off of the ground; she also suggested that leaving the tires hanging down slightly would allow them to act a bumpers if you ever got high-centered.

Scion Iq 2011 1280 03 2

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The bed could have tonneau cover so it would like a big trunk. I see offering a cover for motorcycles as well. You could detach the Q/Boose from the iQ, roll it into a parking space, and store your bikes in it, protected from weather.

Scion Iq 2011 1280 04

We could, in fact, make an add-on module that would carry passengers. Possibly the rear hatch of the iQ could remove (like on the old Pulsar) and our enclosed passenger/storage space would connect; I’ve raised the roof a bit so possibly passengers could sit higher and see out Scenicruiser-style. Of course, we’d need to provide a cover of some kind so that if the back section was stored outside you’d be able to seal off the big hole on the front.

Scion Iq 2011 1280 05 Copy

Could the iQ really carry the extra weight? Well, with just 97 horsepower, we’re not talking about the power of a Cummins RAM here … but the 1984 Toyota Van (the one that looked like it had escaped from the Disney monorail) only had 90 horsepower to push seven people around. The Fiat Multipla offered more oomph but a still modest 92-120HP. Toyota offered a supercharged, 120 horsepower iQ at one point as well so the output would have been available. If we got ambitious, we could look at putting an electric motor and batteries into the rear module to create a hybrid that is sort of the opposite of the Rinspeed idea, since the gas motor would be with the main car.

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As with amphibious cars, there are sacrifices and compromises that this modular car will present. Remember, though, that the Q/Boose would take care of your boring, practical commuter needs and your dreaded hauling requirements in one vehicle. That leaves the rest of your money and garage space for what you really want: a sports car.

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Dr. Asteroid
Dr. Asteroid
3 months ago

That Plymouth concept car might be the single coolest car I’ve ever seen in human history. The add-on for the Smart is kind of neat.

However, as a fellow owner of a 2012 iQ, I can’t get behind add-ons for the car. No thanks on those. However, I like your creative thinking!

David Escargot
David Escargot
3 months ago

I first read Q-Boose as Q-Booze which sounds like a limo conversion… wild times

Adam Rice
Adam Rice
3 months ago

I’m thinking that if you want an expandable vehicle, make it like an extension-leaf table, where the extra space drops into the middle, rather than being tacked onto the rear end.

W124
W124
3 months ago
Reply to  Adam Rice

If the car had the extension hanging around all the time, it wouldn’t give any benefits when it comes to weight, and so there wouldn’t be any real benefits beside the shorter length when the vehicle is unerected.

SparkySparkington
SparkySparkington
3 months ago

My favorite “expandable car” Rinspeed concept is the 2002 Presto, which uses an electric motor to transform from a sub-3-meter 2-seat roadster to a 3.74m four-seater. It used the 1.7 L turbodiesel from the contemporary A170 CDI, running on a 40/60 mixture of natural gas and diesel. I would drive the absolute crap out of that car.

The same goes for the Q/Boose equipped iQ – an iQute (pronounced I-Cute), if you will. Toyota had better get on it 🙂

JKcycletramp
JKcycletramp
3 months ago

I have a small lightweight enclosed aluminum trailer that can easily be towed by pretty much anything. I can confirm that motorcycles, building materials, bike racing gear, and whatnot are easily transported in there. I find it much easier to use than a pickup.

W124
W124
3 months ago
Reply to  JKcycletramp

That’s the sensible answer, but for some reason it seems that many people tend to think that one must have at least two and a half ton truck to tow anything.

Thomas The Tank Engine
Thomas The Tank Engine
3 months ago

Mercedes Streeter showed me that the idea didn’t end there. Rinspeed made an add-on “backpack” for the electric Smart car in 2012 that they called the Dock+Go”

And she doesn’t own one??

Maybe she and David Tracy can build one as an Autopian project

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
3 months ago

Hear me out on this idea…
What if a mass-market manufacturer built something like this on a big scale, and the buyer was able to purchase any additional pods as they saw fit…?

BUT ALSO… sell the add-ons to Avis (or maybe U-Haul) as rental units? So you drive the basic city car around as a commuter, and that’s all you need to own and store. But then you have family coming to town, or want to buy a big-screen TV or some plywood?

Then you pop over to the rental agency, and for $29.99 per day your city car becomes a minivan or pickup truck. No worries about where to store those add-ons if you don’t have the space (or park it in the city).

Maybe it’s a crazy idea, but if someone does it, I want royalties of $0.50 per rental.

UnseenCat
UnseenCat
3 months ago

OK, I nearly sprayed my drink when my eyes landed on the “Popemobile” compartment description. 😀

Everyone should have their own personal Popemobile!

Last edited 3 months ago by UnseenCat
Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
3 months ago

This would be a fun Autopian project! If only there was someone at The Autopian whose spouse just got an Scion iQ…

Brett Stutz
Brett Stutz
3 months ago

Reminds me of the AMTronic kit I built as a kid. I think it came out in 1969.

The concept included special tracks allowing operation like the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop.

RKranc
RKranc
3 months ago

Remember actually seeing the Voyager III concept car at the Washington D.C. auto show in 89. Twelve year old me was really impressed by it; if I remember correctly, the display had the front and back ends on a platform going back and forth between the two modes. For a kid it was the coolest thing in the show.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
3 months ago

How would you like a bigger say what now

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
3 months ago

Love these flights of fancy, especially when they’re good ideas. I’m thinking electric cars will make the idea of modular vehicles more practical in the long run.

Look, a Volvo!
Look, a Volvo!
3 months ago

Calling all California Customs employees:

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