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1992 BMW Columbus by ItalDesign

There was nothing mini about this minivan as the highly unusual Italdesign Columbus took the odd shape of an enormous seven-seater vehicle with a sizeable V12 engine of BMW origins.

Say what you will about minivans in general, but this one is not your typical family hauler. Like the Toyota Previa minivan, the Italdesign Columbus had a mid-engined layout. Still, instead of sending output only to the rear wheels, the BMW-sourced naturally aspirated power was channeled to both axles.

Like a McLaren F1 or the more recent Speedtail, the driver sat in the middle of the ample interior, which looks more like a living room than the cabin of a minivan. Thanks to its massive wheelbase stretching at 3820 mm (150.4 inches), there was plenty of space in the back for six passengers, each benefitting from a monitor hooked up to a VHS. The interior was adjustable in the sense that seating capacity could’ve been increased to nine (including the driver) or configured with fewer seats to turn the minivan into a commercial vehicle.

Described back in the day as a “sailing ship for dry land,” the oddball MPV was conceived with a carbon fiber body featuring a bulge in the roof above the front seat to free up more headroom since the driver sat higher than the passengers for improved visibility.


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