Italy’s very own luxury Hummer was a three-tonne Hulk of Jurassic Metal. Story by Chris Rees.
OBSCURATI CURIOSITIES FROM THE AMAZING WORLD OF ITALIAN CARS
Coggiola T-Rex: Italy’s own Hummer
What happens when an Italian design house decides to reclothe a Hummer H1? You’re looking at the answer: a motoring dinosaur in more than one way. Welcome to the very odd gravitational field that is Carrozzeria Coggiola’s T-Rex.
Coachbuilding outfit Coggiola was founded in 1966 in Orbassano, Turin by ex-Ghia man, Sergio Coggiola. His company is one of Italy’s lesser known names, perhaps most famous for designing the Saab Sonett III. But the small coachbuilder really went big with the T-Rex, which debuted at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show.
And we mean big. Measuring 5.35 metres long, 2.22 metres tall and 2.28 metres wide, it weighed in at all of 3.2 tonnes. Fully loaded, that grew to more like five tonnes – enough to create a footprint so deep that future archaeologists might speculate what kind of dinosaur species had left it.
Underneath, the T-Rex was pure Hummer H1, including the American-built 6.5-litre turbodiesel V8 engine. This may have only had 195hp of power – giving it a maximum speed of a mere 84mph and 0-62mph in more than 18 seconds – but performance wasn’t really the point. The V8’s enormous torque (583Nm at 1800rpm) gave it the pulling power of a tree-pulling sauropod.
The only mechanical changes made to the original Hummer H1 were the exhaust system and the handbrake, the latter swapped from a lever (located on the central tunnel in the Hummer) to a pedal system.
Four-wheel drive was effected via a four-speed automatic gearbox, and off-road credentials were boosted by a huge ground clearance of 400mm (16 inches). Fitted with two fuel tanks totalling 159 litres, filling it up was dauntingly expensive (well over £200 at today’s prices).
The exterior design was much smoother and SUV-like than the militaristic Hummer, but perhaps not terribly inspired, looking like a bloated Jeep Grand Cherokee. Design details included a raised rear roof with a crescent-shaped glass panel, and running boards that came out of the sills automatically when the doors were opened.
Inside were six seats, arranged as per the Hummer H1 around an enormously wide centre tunnel. Coggiola trimmed it in true Italian-style luxury. Cream-coloured leather covered pretty much the whole cabin, including the dashboard, which was a swoopily shaped sci-fi-style affair. The raised rear roofline ensured excellent headroom for the rearmost passengers. Limostyle luxury touches included sat nav, reversing camera, handsfree phone, internet connection, DVD and passenger computer.
The only road test of the T-Rex was conducted by the Italian magazine Autoruote 4×4. It said: “Although conceived above all to deal with wide Saharan spaces and the fast desert slopes of the Middle East, this all-wheel drive giant is at home on any type of dirt road, including mountain tracks (dimensions permitting)…
It is necessary to act very gently on the accelerator since, if you push the pedal a little too much, the T-Rex is triggered suddenly with impressive torque.”
Coggiola declared that it would make 50 examples of its T-Rex, priced at around £500,000 apiece. While the prototype had a glassfibre body, production cars would have used sheet metal. In the end, just the one TRex was ever made; it was extinct before it got a chance to get going. Coggiola’s own fate had been sealed by the death of its founder, Sergio, bringing about a decline in its fortunes. As for the T-Rex, that was last seen in 2008 when it came up for sale on eBay in Italy with an asking price of £700,000.