After disappearing from sight for
several years the unusual Covini 6-wheeled supercar project is back in action,
now featuring revised mechanicals, more power, a new gearbox, and most
significantly it has now been turned into a fully fledged convertible. The
Covini C6W, as the unique supercar was designated, broke the mould when it was
first presented in public in 2004 with its four front wheels, a distinctive cue
somewhat reminiscent of the famous Tyrell Formula 1 cars from the 1970s.
The story of Covini starts three
decades ago. After constructing several
prototype cars as a hobby, in 1978 Ferruccio Covini founded Covini Engineering, a
small Italian company dedicated to the construction of static and automotive prototypes.
Built from a deep passion for cars and engines, the artisan company has been active
mainly with experimentation and innovation rather than volume production.
In March 2004, at the Geneva Motor
Show, they launched their most ambitious - and eye catching - project to date, the unusual six-wheeled Covini C6W, a car which they hope will continue to push the Covini name onwards.
The original idea was conceived in 1974, but the idea of
utilising a four front wheel design was not possible with the technology available at
the time. The project was shelved in favour of the Soleado prototype, deemed a
higher priority, and the plans lay dormant until the 1980s when hydro-pneumatic suspension
for the four front wheels was devised to optimise weight distribution under
various loading conditions.
However, high development costs and other contingencies, forced the project to
be delayed again. Its use of new ABS technology and airbags in the 1990s pointed
it in the direction of new research into active and passive safety. This aspect
encouraged backing from other company's to assist its development.
Over the last three decades Covini
have been busy pushing automotive thinking forward and honing themselves into a
skilled and innovative company. Their major projects to date include the T44
Soleado in 1978, a sports car offering four wheel drive and a cutting edge body
shell comprising of interchangeable panels, followed by the B24 Sirio four years
later, a two seat sports saloon which became the first production ready diesel
powered car to reach 200km/h (125mph).
The firm followed this up in 1986 with
the T40 Summit, a luxurious and elegant 2+2 coupe propelled by a 4-litre engine
and, last but not, least the C36 Turbotronic two years later, a coupé able to
shatter the 300km/h barrier (188mph). All these prototypes share the distinction
of being powered by diesel engines from Italian engine builder VM Motori. Covini Engineering has also taken
part in other projects, including the design and manufacture of the Dragon Fly
ultra-light 2 seat helicopter, and the Chevrolet Callaway C7 muscle car.
Following appearances at major
events, such as the Geneva Motor Show and Top Marques Monaco, in 2004 and 2005
the project quickly disappeared from sight. However the engineering team at Covini have
been busy in the meantime, chopping off the roof to create an open-topped supercar. More power
has been squeezed from its 4.2-litre engine, it now boasts 440 PS, along with
new wheels and tyres, a new gearbox and of course a soft top. At the moment
Covini is manufacturing this unique supercar on request, however the ambitious
firm plans to put it into limited production, of around 6 units per year, from
the end of 2009.