It was one of those time when you do a genuine double take. I saw this car go past me – didn’t notice anything articular about it, just another 2002-08 Suzuki Lapin, a very common car here. Then it reversed into that parking lot, thereby revealing an unusual front-endecotmy that warranted further investigation.
I went around the block to allow the driver time to disembark and walk off – this seemed too good to pass up. So here, in all its monumentally incongruous glory, is a new BMW that I’m sure not many of you will have seen before: the BMW 660cc 3-cyl. “306i” Lapin. Love that rear spoiler, too.
Here is a regular issue 1st generation Suzuki Lapin for comparison. These were very popular kei cars aimed at women, hence the cutesy moniker (which is French for rabbit) and the generally cuddly and pastel-coloured appearance of the beast. This particular one has alloys and black paint, so it might have been ordered by a man – though not all Japanese women have fallen victim to the kawaii craze, thank Shinto.
Anyway, the Lapin, based on the Alto, came in several trim levels, including the “performance-oriented” SS version, which seems to have provided its distinctive front bumper for this BS-W. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to trace anything about this particular transformation or body kit online, nor have I seen any in the streets apart from this one.
There are body kits out there to turn your Lapin into a Renault 4. Those are a known quantity and, though I haven’t seen one in the streets myself as yet, I’m ready for that eventuality. This BMW kit, if it is a kit, is pretty amazing and very weird. It’s not too much of a stretch to turn the Lapin into a Renault 4, which is why the kits were made. But turning it into a Bimmer?
The interior seems like standard-issue Suzuki Lapin, though I’m not much of a connoisseur of those particular vehicles. The column shifter indicates an automatic gearbox – some SS models could get a floor-mounted 5-speed manual. The ample amount of “wood” finish smacks of a different kind of car than a BMW – Rolls-Royce, maybe? Stranger and stranger.
Could this be the work of a private individual, whose desire for all things Bavarian and Motorwerkerized compelled him to undertake this mammoth roundelification and double-kidney transplant? But why start with a Suzuki Lapin then, of all things? Why the Breyton advertising, when it’s obviously got nothing to do with that company? (Surely an “Alpina” would have made a better “Lapin”?) And what’s with the “306i” nameplate? So many questions.
This is possibly the most hilarious car I’ve seen in vivo. The square fog lamps in the round housings, the huge alloys (which might be Breytons, if they do them in 12 inches), the sheer chutzpah of the whole endeavour – this deserves some sort of award.