… Now You Don’t. We look at the GINA, BMW’s attempt to produce a literal shutline
However much he might have railed, an engineer of Dr Piech’s standing knew that, even by calling it a shut line, it would always be, in reality, a shut gap. Expansion, engineering tolerances, sag and the possibility of damage means that the shutlines of a solid bodied car will always be measured in millimetres, not microns. Even those uniformly narrow gaps on modern VAG products must have been an irritation to him until the end.
But the BMW GINA Light Visionary Model sought to address this. Produced under Chris Bangle, the GINA’s shape is apparently attributed to Anders Warming about whom, despite having being handed the poisoned chalice that is MINI, we at DTW still have high hopes. But the styling was really secondary to a radically different construction. Flexible, polyurethane-coated, lycra-like material was stretched over a complex frame of wire and carbon fibre. Sections could be controlled by hydraulics and electric motors to open panels or to close them completely, leaving a surface where a gap really did become just a line.
The whole car had an appealingly organic feel to it. The treatment is obviously more suited to a sports car than the many gaps of, say, an SUV and, as with many concept cars, how much of this nascent technology actually worked seamlessly is hard to know. The concept was said to be intended to provoke discussion (or publicity) rather than hinting at a new design and construction direction for BMW. However there is nothing here that couldn’t be developed, and the idea of getting your car fixed by a tailor rather than a body shop is quite appealing. But seven years on there is no sign of its influence.
There is, of course, one last question mark hanging over GINA. Possessing one of the most tenuous car acronyms ever, supposedly standing for “Geometry and functions In ‘N’ Adaptations”, others have suggested that the name was a BMW in-joke referring to its open bonnet resembling a female orifice. Even leaving J.Clarkson and his chums sniggering behind the bike sheds, we still must ask ourselves – was GINA the concept that prudishness killed?