We look at a lot of concept and production cars during auto shows, but rarely does one make us laugh right out loud.
The special version of the 2012 Mitsubishi 'i' electric car on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show a couple of weeks ago, however, did just that.
Perhaps in honor of southern California and its place in cultural legend, the little egg-shaped Japanese battery-electric vehicle had relatively tasteful mock wood paneling, to evoke the old woody wagons used as surfer transport in the Fifties and Sixties before the advent of the Volkswagen Bus.
It also carried two of the tiniest little surfboards we've even seen, neatly mounted in a roof rack. We're not entirely sure who'd use them--Santa's elves, maybe?--but they completed the look.
2012 Mitsubishi 'i' electric car, special surf woody edition, LA Auto Show, Nov 2011Enlarge Photo
What made it particularly neat was that the wood pattern actually used circuitry diagrams for the horizontal "grain" lines, a detail only visible if you got right up close to the car.
In the background was a concept car from a few years ago, the SportAir, also built on the same electric-drive platform as the 2012 'i'.
Watch our video report, above, for a full rundown on the 2012 Mitsubishi 'i' electric car, the maker's plans to put it on sale next month, and what it's really like to sit inside--both in the front and in the rear.
In other words: Do six-foot adults actually fit into the 12-foot-long car?
Mitsubishi i MiEV Sport Air Geneva Auto Show 2009Enlarge Photo
The little electric Mitsubishi hatchback will be the second all-electric car to be sold in volume in the U.S., following the launch of the 2011 Nissan Leaf almost a year ago.
(There's also the Tesla Roadster, but with a starting price of $109,000, it's hardly high volume.)
The 2012 'i' will be followed in short order by the Ford Focus Electric and various other battery electric vehicles from a handful of manufacturers.
And just for the record, no, the Mitsubishi show car has nothing to do with the other plug-in car with a watersports theme, the 2013 Fisker Surf. Honestly.