The Gina cloth-covered car is a prototype vehicle from BMW that is covered with fabric rather than metal. Like a living animal, its skin wrinkles a bit when elements are extended (like opening the doors).
The shape of the skin can be altered by the car's owner; it is stretched across flexible metal wires attached to the frame that can be moved with hydraulics.
The fabric itself is a silver expansion-resistant textile that is form-fitted to the car's structure. "The high-precision fit of the material to the metal mesh also allows surface changes without slackening the tension," a spokesman said.
I can't think of a cloth-covered car in science fiction; readers may have a reference. However, I think that sf writers could suggest some improvements on the fabric skin.
For example, I think you'd want to have a car skin that kept itself clean; impregnating the cloth with fabricules from Stephenson's The Diamond Age would give you a car that never needed to be washed. A Self-Cleaning Fabric With Polymer Film Sprinkled With Silver Nanoparticles demonstrates how scientists are working on this kind of fabric.
I think everyone would like to cover their car with Zetix Blast Resistant Fabric, which is a real-life analog to the super suits of comic book characters.
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of Technovelgy.com)
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