By Stuart Schwartzapfel
In a year of cool concepts, the Birdcage 75th -- by the famed Italian design house Pininfarina, Maserati, and Motorola -- stood apart. You didn't have to be a car freak to notice the sensual lines and sculptural form of this futuristic Maserati. With its 700-horsepower V-12 engine, the car had to be true to its racing heritage.
The passenger cell was designed as a teardrop and suspended in an inverted wing, as both forms are known for their aerodynamic efficiency, and the low body hugs the alloy wheels. While the exterior continues the Maserati tradition, the interior points to the future of the man/machine interface, with a transparent heads-up display, wireless payment systems, a mobile router, and other cutting-edge Motorola technology. The Birdcage, created to celebrate Pininfarina's 75th anniversary, was shown most recently at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Schwartzapfel, a certified car freak, writes BusinessWeek.com's Concept of the Week column. He has studied the automotive marketplace and worked as an advertising/marketing strategist for major manufacturers. He does not write about any car brands for which he currently works.