How many times have you been this close to buying an old Lada sedan, but stopped yourself at the last minute because you just can’t deal with all that weather protection, you fear body rust, and you just can’t even with a traditional three-box design? If this sounds familiar, boy do I have the car for you: a Bohse Eurostar.
Just look at that thing! All the elegant Lada style, just with proportions that are 74% more awkward! I have to admit, I love the idea behind the Bohse Eurostar: take a cheap, if somewhat dull car, slap a plastic, open body on it, and boom, fun car.
It’s essentially the same basic idea that was behind the Citroën Mehari, or (even if they used steel instead of plastic) the VW Thing, Renault Plein Air, or the Mini Moke. This sort of a thing is something of a lost art among carmakers today, but at one time this was a cheap way of adding a fun, open car to a model’s lineup.
The Bose EuroStar was not made by a major automaker, of course, just a strange, tiny little company based in a small town called Dörpen (EMS), Germany. The company started in 1987 and the first few EuroStars were actually built from Golfs, but I suspect those proved to be too costly, since they switched to the cheaper Russian (shit, then Soviet!) cars pretty quickly.
Based on the one brochure for the EuroStar I’ve seen, there’s a few recurring themes that seem to come up over and over. They love to remind you that this plastic body is the hallmark of a truly modern car, and that the EuroStar is all about fun. They show how fun it is by filling it full of sporting equipment and showing a picture of it being driven by what looks like an 11-year-old girl:
Seriously, that kid can’t be more than, what, 14?
Also, they actually use the word “Fahrvergnügen” in their advertising materials years before Volkswagen jumped on that long-German-word bandwagon.
Let’s be honest, the Bose EuroStar isn’t exactly what you’d consider a good-looking car. It’s like a Volvo 240 drawn by a child who just took a tether-ball right to the face. I appreciate the liberal use of tape stripes, though, and there actually is one design element on the car that I think is actually, genuinely revolutionary: the trunk lid.
What makes the trunk lid so remarkable is that the EuroStar manages to combine the functions of a conventional trunk lid with a sort of shallow truck bed. Here, see for yourself:
Look how clever that is! You have a conventional enclosed trunk, plus a little bit of a truck bed-like area for bulkier stuff on top! Sure, some tie-downs would probably make it more useful, but I think it’s a really solid idea. This should be an option most sedans, I think.
If that’s not enough to convince you you need a EuroStar rightfreakingnow, the brochure goes all out to show off the best features of the car in a way that would convince anyone:
Look at these features! Air vents that move left and right! A hole where a radio could go! A mirror, for the viewing of those things that are now behind you! Also, the upper text takes pains to make it clear that not only is there an ashtray in the front, there’s two ashtrays in the rear! Think of all the smoking and driving you could be doing!
The EuroStar is fascinating because it may be one of the most dedicated and determined attempts to force a fairly utilitarian, stoic car like the Lada into becoming a fun car. It’s working hard at this goal: T-top, no doors, plastic body, tape stripes, you name it. This car is a forced, awkward vacation with your family, even though you’ve all been fighting nonstop for days. You’re at Disneyland now, and you’re going to have fun, or dad’s going to go apeshit on you.
Still, despite this forced-fun quality, I think the thing kind of works despite itself. It does sort of look fun. It’s a light, RWD, plastic-bodied, roofless car with a novel trunk lid. That sounds like a pretty good time to me.