RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Two-headed Italian city car turns up again

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  March 3, 2009 02:51 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


As automakers cut costs, perhaps they should become blatantly, honestly cheap and follow the Fioravanti Tris.

The Tris, which uses the same bumpers, lights, and doors on all sides of the car, first debuted nine years ago and is showing again at the Geneva Auto Show. While not much has changed since, the Tris is still a robust lesson in trimming manufacturing costs through the use of minimalist, modular design. Provided, of course, that style and embarrassment doesn't matter to the driver.

If a car like the Tris ever came to production, traffic cops would constantly ticket it for parking in the opposite direction of the street. Perhaps Fioravanti could install a steering wheel in the back to clear that up.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

35 comments so far...
  1. I think this looks better than half the econo-crap out there (I'm looking at YOU, Aveo).

    Posted by Matt March 3, 09 03:43 PM
  1. Are you serious about the traffic cops???
    ANYBODY can see the hood of the car...
    While the bumper and the lights are the same, in what world do cops write tickets based on bumpers and headlights?
    I like the looks better then the Scions, and the new Smart cars...

    Posted by Grandizer March 3, 09 03:59 PM
  1. It's a flattering angle.

    Posted by josh March 3, 09 04:13 PM
  1. It's not a bad looking car at all ... only what is with the two door handles?

    Import this as a diesel hybrid and I'm all over it!

    Posted by Joe March 3, 09 05:22 PM
  1. Embarrassment ???

    For what ? For being smart enough to buy a cheap car that does the job instead of spending tens of thousands for "luxury" and "style" ?

    My boy, you are confusing embarrassment with pride and style with waste.

    Posted by HBX March 3, 09 05:42 PM
  1. Just shows you how far behind the US auto industry is. At first, I was in favor of bailing out Detroit just to save jobs. However, when you look closely, they won't have anything truly innovative for years. Pull the plug on Motown, save our money.
    By the way, it's a great looking little car.

    Posted by Decks March 3, 09 06:01 PM
  1. ....but can you cook with it?

    Posted by T in Boston March 3, 09 08:12 PM
  1. Parking tickets in Italy for facing the wrong way? Forget about it. I lived in Naples for 6 years. Italians park on the street, on the sidewalk, or anywhere else they can find a space barely big enough to cram in a car, facing in any direction they please. It's happy chaos. This car is perfect.

    Posted by Ron Glenn March 3, 09 09:47 PM
  1. it has two door handles because they only have to manufacture one door which can fit on both sides of the car (instead of having to make separate driver and passenger doors).

    Posted by bbobbo March 3, 09 11:10 PM
  1. But why does it need 2 door handles?

    Posted by Jaytorade March 3, 09 11:29 PM
  1. Josh is right, the photograph is from the only angle that looks good on the car. Look at the back - ugh -

    Posted by gber March 4, 09 08:47 AM
  1. I normally hate these types of cars. This one looks cool....

    Posted by Jhai02 March 4, 09 09:17 AM
  1. This car is going to be great 10 years after they discontinue them; like a Geo Metro. Before then, it's just bad.

    The two door handles are to confuse your dumb friend so they don't try opening the door before you can hit the button to unlock it. Smart Italians.

    Posted by Andy March 4, 09 09:28 AM
  1. Whre can i buy one........

    Posted by jones March 4, 09 09:35 AM
  1. The design does remind me of the AMC Pacer! A little smoother and newer of course, but still there is a Pacer (another car offering unique solutions) under there somewhere.

    Re. 2 door handles. Do people actually read? What part of "The Tris, which uses the same bumpers, lights, and doors on all sides of the car" is unclear? I am "only a girl" and I get that if you put the door from one side on the other side the door handle would be in the wrong place to have the leverage to pull it open - thus it needs handles designed at both ends so it works on both sides of the car. I would suspect the handle nearest the hinge on each side doesn't work - but then again I don't know.

    I am suprised it doesn't use the same hood for a deck lid and the windshield for back window - then it would really be a two headed car!!!

    Posted by Marie March 4, 09 09:43 AM
  1. The door has 2 door handles because it is used on both sides of the vehicle. Interestingly, the same door is used for the rear hatch - that's some very smart engineering when you think about it.

    Posted by NorthOfBoston March 4, 09 09:55 AM
  1. That's so the same production door can be used on both sides of the car - no need for a different driver's side and passenger's side.

    Posted by Spartop603 March 4, 09 09:58 AM
  1. someone should give the designer/engineer a big fat raise

    Posted by noslen March 4, 09 10:05 AM
  1. I can't speak for the rest of the car, but the thinking that has gone into the multiple uses for parts is commendable. I don't know how much it would really save, but speaking as an engineer, this is good engineering. And a cool looking car.

    Owner embarrassment? Confused traffic cops? I hope you are joking or tying to incite discussion, Clifford, but I am concerned that you are sincere. Please learn more about cars, design, and engineering so your reviews come across as more knowledgeable than those of somebody filling in from the gossip pages.

    Posted by nmc March 4, 09 10:40 AM
  1. nmc,

    I'm speaking tongue-in-cheek, and hope you didn't read too deep. As a concept, the Tris can afford to look wacky and its design is laudable, but as a driver on US roads, I really would be embarrassed.

    Posted by Clifford Atiyeh March 4, 09 10:49 AM
  1. I don't agree with the author of that article who says that if one drives the Fioravanti Tris, "style and embarrassment don't matter to the driver." I find the car extremely attractive. I love the styling. And, I think it is brilliant to use the same lights, bumpers and doors all around car. I would be delighted to drive this vehicle. If the US car manufacturers thought this creatively perhaps they wouldn't be in the financial mess they are in now.

    Posted by Arthur Donaghey March 4, 09 11:01 AM
  1. With a car this small, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have suicide doors - opening from the handle closest to front. Or, even a van type sliding door would be good to help those over 16 or over 5-4 to get in and out.

    But can you imagine this car in a crash with an SUV? Death trap. That's why Gov. needs to impose very strict mileage standards to get rid of all the SUVs and other gas hogs, and levy a luxury or business tax on them. I'll bet 8 out of 10 SUV drivers today could fit spouse, kids and as many groceries in this as they need. If not, get a roof rack.

    Posted by ste March 4, 09 11:45 AM
  1. For a good part of the population it seems if it's not big and fancy it's embarrassing. Sure, it's not a Porshe, but it's at least as good as most cars out there. Remember a few years back Mumbles Menino got a SUV Hybrid and used it for just a week because he was teased by city council members and staffers? It's all part of this weird menatality in the US. Even scooters are laughed at, especially in Boston, even though, weather permitting, they make the most sense and are actually fun.

    Posted by TK March 4, 09 11:52 AM
  1. This looks a little like an AMC Pacer

    Posted by Derek Rubinoff March 4, 09 12:39 PM
  1. folks are missing the point about the second handle toward the front of the car. it is important to have the space claimed for the handle on the other side, but you don't have to actually put a handle in there. there could be a simple metal plug which I would think would be chaper than an actual door handle. i'm sure that there isn't a second latch & catch mechanism under that front handle. maybe even this could be the spot for the mirror? anything would be better than a second handle.

    Posted by lites5150 March 4, 09 12:47 PM
  1. Is it me or has the AMC Pacer been reincarnated???

    Posted by Al March 4, 09 12:47 PM
  1. Clifford,
    Knowing that you speak tongue-in-cheek helps, but I would suffer no embarrassment driving in this car.
    For too long, Americans - and American car companies - have pursued some intangible 'image' , and look at some of the auto styling-over-substance trends that are laughable in retrospect, like rectangular dash gauges, fender skirts, and fake wood siding - and yes, the Hummer.

    The appeal of functional design is far more long-lasting. And what product is better suited to form-follows-function design than a car?

    Posted by nmc March 4, 09 12:54 PM
  1. I would drive it

    Posted by m March 4, 09 12:56 PM
  1. Guess who also did this cost-saving idea of similar parts?

    AUDI - Their TT roadster concept of the first generation model was a great example of this method of similar pieces. But the Audi TT is attractive and was/is a great car. This concept seems to be a characiture of the green idea. It's goofy. I'm sure there will be a few fans.

    Designers need to take it down a notch with green innovations. Before you know it people will be rolling around in giant hampster balls.

    Posted by Andy March 4, 09 01:46 PM
  1. Audi TT was/is agreat car? Apparently you've never owned one. Great car when it's not in the shop waiting for parts to come from overseas. Or dead on the side of the road.

    Posted by Anonymous March 4, 09 04:47 PM
  1. Embarrassment? Are you kidding? I think it looks great. It's certainly nicer looking than the Smart Car.

    Posted by CH March 5, 09 08:14 AM
  1. its a terrific looking car. How many can it seat? better than any u.s. small car. how about mileage? incidentally, does it go forward and backward on the same tank of gas? what's the price and when is it going to be available here!!!

    Posted by rahard March 5, 09 10:16 AM
  1. It looks really nice. My problem is if you get involved in an accidents (head on collision, being hit by a SUV or truck) what are you chances of survival? Mmm

    Posted by Duke Nukem March 5, 09 02:12 PM
  1. Notice that this is an ITALIAN car. Has anyone seen a Fioravanti dealer in the US lately? Anyone who has driven in Italy (or most of Europe for that matter) knows that the narrow roads, limited parking and high gas prices force most everyone to opt for a small car. You don't need to worry about colliding with SUVs, only lorries.

    Posted by Chuck March 5, 09 04:58 PM
  1. It actually looks better than most of the other stuff out there. Nothing to be embarrassed about in this case.

    Posted by Mike March 5, 09 06:05 PM

About Boston Overdrive reports the latest trends, auto shows and wrings out the newest cars in our city's hellish maze — and across the great roads of New England.
Follow Cars on Facebook



Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
archives racing coverage

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shocked by Juan Montoya's departure from No. 42
By Michael Vega, Globe Staff LOUDON, N.H. --- Dale Earnhardt Jr., like most of his NASCAR brethren, was surprised to learn Tuesday that Juan Pablo...

More on Cars