Once you understand the point of Rinspeed, the Tatooo.com becomes a little easier to digest. The Switzerland-based firm began as Rinspeed Garage in 1977, importing sunroof kits and converting vehicles for disabled drivers.
But that wasn't going to last, of course. Founder Frank M. Rinderknecht started showing modified cars at the Geneva International Motor Show—a turbocharged Volkswagen Golf GTI in 1979 was his first.
Nothing says "2000" like tribal face tattoos and mom jeans.
Keep in mind that the first production turbocharged cars were just starting to roll out; at first, the Oldsmobile Jetfire and Chevrolet Monza Spyder in 1962; the expensive Porsche 911 Turbo from 1974; and the more mainstream Saab 99 Turbo in 1978.
Of course, offering a turbocharger on a vehicle as inexpensive as the Golf GTI was virtually unheard of—it would be a further 21 years before the GTI would get a turbo fitted from the factory.
Being a part of the aftermarket gave Rinspeed a unique perspective on cars: If manufacturers are slow to adopt future technologies, well, why don't we show the world that a small Swiss company can produce some of the most advanced vehicles on the planet?
In the year 2000, the company's Geneva concept was this, the Tatooo.com. Based on a Chevrolet S-10 / GMC Sonoma truck, the Tatooo.com was a classically-styled truck that was somehow forward-looking and retro at the same time.
Outside, the styling is…well, nothing worse than you'd see in a custom truck magazine. Its chopped roof and shaved door handles are standard kustom fare, but around back there's a transparent and "indestructible" Lexan plate in the tailgate to aid with looks and visibility.
Sorry, but most of the press photos have at least one model posing on the truck…
But now we get to the future-forward toys. In the bed, Rinspeed's X-Tra-Lift system—the mechanism is disguised as a silver roll bar—is a loading platform that sits flush with the truck bed when not in use, but up, out, and down when heavy items need to be loaded into the back. It's now commercially available, and as the U.S. distributor says is perfect for loading motorcycles, appliances, and emergency equipment.
On the X-Tra-Lift is the Breathing Observation Bubble, or B.O.B. is a diving apparatus that's best described as an underwater scooter. Designed for beginner divers, it will descend to 30 feet, keeping the pilot inside a pocket of air that's less constricting when compared to a dive helmet.
Tatooo.com is powered by, what else, a tuned V8—5.7-litres, 409 horsepower, 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 5.9 seconds, and a top speed of 245 km/h. Performance you'd expect from a hot rod, of course. Underneath, an adjustable pneumatic suspension system is designed to keep it level at all speeds.
Inside, imitation African mamba snake leather, woven Italian leather in beige, teracotta-coloured plastic flooring, and chrome foil-covered trim. A 7-inch LCD monitor and Sony PlayStation complete the technology onboard.
Wait, no Internet connection? No. The Tatooo.com's name comes from the fact it's the first vehicle ever with its own Internet address.
Try it: Tatooo.com. Update, May 22: Here's the clarification: The truck's name is an internet address. It does not host servers, it does not have in-vehicle internet access. It'd be like Google releasing a GoogleRoadster.com or something. And, yes, it's technically a URI and not a URL. It's also since been redirected to Rinspeed.com. Sorry for the confusion.
Crazy, right? Rinspeed's other vehicles are just as mad, but they're stories for another day… Click here to subscribe to my Car of the Day emails. They're great, if I do say so myself.