This is just what the Lo-Res Car is: an intriguing idea brought to life in the form of an electric vehicle, elevated to status of modern icon. There’s a high chance you have never heard of it, which is understandable: the Lo-Res Car isn’t iconic for the innovations it brought about, but rather for the mere fact that it exists.
Art is subjective and relative, let’s get this out from the start. As such, art is open to countless interpretations and discussions. Its aim is to disrupt and challenge established norms, to venture onto unknown paths, and to not just ask but show “what if?” Under this broad definition, art is precisely what the Lo-Res Car is, and therein lies its iconic status.
In reality, the Lo-Res Car is a wedge- or diamond-shaped… something that moves under its own electric power, but is neither road-legal nor exactly safe. You could call it a glorified golf cart and you wouldn’t be wrong: it moves like one, it handles like one, and is just a tad less comfortable than one.
Designed by Rem D. Koolhaas of the Amsterdam-based footwear company United Nude, the Lo-Res Car is inspired by the iconic Lamborghini Countach. Its name explains the not-obvious similarity: this vehicle is the essence of the Countach shape, if you apply de-resolution on it. As Supercar Blondie explained last summer (see the second video below), it’s what the Countach would have looked like in an ‘80s video game, when everything had tiny squares and triangles.
The Lo-Res Car is the car of the future as seen from the ‘80s. United Nude commissioned it as a marketing gimmick, but in accordance with the styling guidelines of its 2008 Project Lo-Res. Four prototypes of the concept vehicle were built, with the last one, #03, currently offered at auction on Bring A Trailer (bidding sits at $45,000 as of the time of press). Proceeds will be split between the Drive H2 non-profit, which is the current owner of the vehicle, and the prestigious Petersen Automotive Museum, which has been hosting it for the past several years.
This being the last in the series, it’s also the most polished and, because of it, most famous. Despite the idea it’s based on, which could be described as pretentious or downright stupid, depending on who you asked, it’s been heavily featured in the media. The Lo-Res Car has won art design awards, been featured in industry publications, and been shown (reviewed?) by some of the most popular carfluencers out there, from Supercar Blondie to Doug DeMuro.
So what exactly makes it such a noteworthy vehicle? It’s certainly not performance. Or handling. Or safety. Or comfort. As you probably guessed it, it’s the idea of it, and the fact that someone actually went through with it and brought it to life.
The futuristic-looking vehicle has no doors: access is done once actuators lift the body at the press of a button. Seating is for two in tandem, on rigid, non-movable black leather seats, and while you get some head space under the canopy body, the rear seat will only fit a very slender and not too tall occupant. You get ambient lighting, mirror polished steel surfaces (including a chrome hexagonal steering wheel), and minimalist displays for battery charge and speed. The body is a steel frame with 12 tinted polycarbonate panels that offer 360-degree visibility. Inside and out, the Lo-Res Car is a fingerprint magnet.
Power comes from a USA ADC 5KW brushless motor in the back, paired to a 48V 120AH Li-ion battery. There are no gears, only forward and reverse, which the driver selects on the toggle panel on the right. You have front and rear lights, but no mirrors or turning signals. At best, the Lo-Res Car hits 30 mph (48 kph), but everything inside rattles and creaks even when doing half that, so maybe don’t get your hopes up in terms of being able to really push it.
You couldn’t even if you wanted to: the Lo-Res Car is not road legal and was never meant to be used as an actual car. It’s essentially a display piece, and its merits are related strictly to that. As a display piece, it’s a daring, intriguing and very cool vehicle that dared to be an icon – and succeeded.