It’s been a while since I pulled out my Big Atlas of Places That Aren’t So Much Real and looked to see what sorts of cars they built, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on, I was reminded of the Korvid Republic’s long battle with the Grouse Grippe epidemic, and the strange sorts of cars they ended up building as a result. I know it seems silly to rehash the Korvid Republic’s story to most of you, but, if you will, indulge me.
From 1973 to 1989 the Korvid Republic, a Constitutional Socialist Monarcho-Republic sandwiched between the Adriatic Sea to the South and the Duchy of St.Marzipan to the North, was completely saturated with Grouse Grippe, a virulent airborne strain of influenza that was originally an avian strain of flu that just affected the local grouse population, and was spread to humans as the result of a short-lived but very intense fad for people to attempt sexual intercourse with grouses in a sporting context.
The Korvids had a whole national league for team grouse-boning, which briefly became their national sport, and is also why the most common derogatory term for a Korvidian in Europe is still grouse-fucker.
When the Grouse Grippe first jumped species and began infecting humans, it proved to be incredibly contagious, being an airborne virus that could linger in the air and on most surfaces for over 12 hours.
The Grouse-Boning league was shut down, the stadiums closed or repurposed, but it was too late. Grouse Grippe became an epidemic, especially in Ravennella, the capital city.
While Grouse Grippe was technically a pandemic, as the virus quickly spread all over the world, mostly thanks to the Korvidian coming-of-age custom where a 19-year old Korvid would attempt to travel as far across the globe they could while spending as little money as possible, but very rarely actually became symptomatic in anyone but Korvidians, thanks to generation after generation of inbreeding.
The Korvidian automotive industry was very robust, boasting some of the best engineers in all of non-Matterhorn Europe; in 1975 the Korvidian Ministry Of Health and Timekeeping established their moon-shot project: the Korvidian automakers would work together to make a pandemic-proof transportation system, including both passenger cars and rail.
After four years of intense R&D and a lot of prototypes and testing, the Korvidian automotive alliance presented the car known as the GG2200, but most people just called it “the Pandemic Car.”
The Pandemic Car was really more of an overall transport system. as it was modular, consisting of hermetically-sealed passenger pods and a “motor platform” designed to accomodate four pods.
The pods were key to why the GG2200 was effective at its job, which was moving people around while minimising any chance of spreading the Grouse Grippe virus.
The pods were completely sealed, and had a very advanced HVAC and air filtration system. The front of the pods had a grille for a filter that today we would consider HEPA grade or N95 grade, possibly better. The Korvids used both man-made fibres and a naturally occurring lichen to achieve excellent filtration results.
The system allowed each passenger to remain completely separated from other passengers and to receive only filtered air. Pods could be had with driving controls or not, which connected via a very early drive-by-wire system with physical connections at the base of the pod.
Doors were rear-hinged, and rear-seat passengers were facing backwards, so the doors would help to block close contact with passengers if both disembarked at once. Pods also had internal intercom systems to talk to the other pods they shared a vehicle with.
The “motor platform” used a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine derived from Alfa-Romeo’s 1500cc boxer, bored out to 2.2 litres, and making around 125 horsepower. The Korvid Motor Works had been building these Alfa engines under licence since the early 1970s and knew them very well, with many motor journalists insisting they were better than the Alfa originals.
A CVT transmission was licensed from Volvo, who had bought the Dutch company DAF that developed the transmission.
The design of the car was—and here’s a fun bit of trivia—partially designed by AMC’s Dick Teague, and you can see a little bit of Teague’s Pacer design in the front end. One of the most clever traits of the design was the trunk setup, which had a pair of lids designed to open from the sides, facilitating the curbside pick-up and delivery retail culture that dominated Korvidian retail and food service in the pandemic years.
Because the GG2200 was always thought of as a system, a parallel project was undertaken to develop a railcar designed to use the same passenger pods as the motor platform.
A railcar designed to hold 18 passenger pods and provide them with the 12V power needed to drive their HVAC/filtration systems and other electrical needs was developed, along with the infrastructure needed to lift pods from parked motor platforms and onto the rail car.
Motor platforms were available for rent at all Korvidian railway stations, allowing for a very streamlined mass-to-private transit system where you could drive your personal motor platform to a rail station, have your pod (and any pods you were travelling with) placed on the rail car, and then placed onto a rental motor platform at your destination.
This system allowed the most complex and expensive parts of the Pandemic Travel System, the passenger pods, to be privately owned and maintained, giving the Korvidian rail system the ability to build many pandemic-safe passenger cars quickly and cheaply.
The GG220 and associated rail systems are often credited with being the main reason the Korvid economy was able to function during the pandemic, allowing extensive travel abilities to the Korvid people while keeping safe from the airborne Grouse Grippe virus.
A vaccine was finally ruled safe for human use in 1988, and the distribution of the vaccine to the 14 million Korvidians remains a record for the mass production and near-simultaneous use of suppositories (the preferred vaccine delivery method) to this day.
Now free from the Grouse Grippe um, grip, the Korvidians rapidly moved on to other cars that were less claustrophobic, enjoying opening windows and communal passenger space for the first time in years.
Some simply Sawzall’d off the roofs of their passenger pods, or adapted the motor platforms into open cars, but most simply bought new conventional cars, especially convertibles, which the Korvids owned more of per capita than any other country throughout the 1990s.
Today, only a few intact GG2200s with passenger pods survive. In America, actor Danny McBride owns the largest collection, five passenger pods and two motor platforms, all in fully restored condition. He also owns the largest collection of Korvidian Competitive Grouse Fornicating memorabilia in the world.