The Italian automaker DR Motor Company introduced the DR1 in 2009 at the Bologna Motor Show as a low-cost vehicle that could serve as an urban commute vehicle for crowded cities.
Massimo Di Risio was a former racing driver and the owner of a vast car dealer network in Italy. He had the idea to put together an assembly line and produce its own-branded vehicles, hence the DR name. He inked a deal with the Chinese automaker Chery, from which he acquired the rights to produce the DR1 from complete knocked-down kits (CKD) in Italy. As a result, he avoided the high customs expenses for vehicles imported from outside Europe. The car was sold in China under the Riich M1 badge and wore the Chery QQ3 nameplate on other markets. In Italy, DR Motori tried to sell the vehicle in supermarkets, but it dropped the idea since it already had a 90-dealers network. However, the world financial crisis affected the brand, and by 2014, Massimo Di Riso had to pull the plug on the DR1 project.
At the front, the DR1 featured a pair of big and rounded headlights that were swept back and incorporated the turn signals under the same piece of glass. Its bumper featured a split-grille design where the upper section was trapezoidal and sported the marque’s logo, while the lower one tried to mimic a smile. From its side, the DR1 showed its tall greenhouse and the black, unpainted door mirrors, handles, and window trims. Despite its short length, the egg-shaped vehicle featured four doors that eased ingress and egress to the cabin. Finally, at the back, the automaker created an abrupt drop for the tailgate flanked by round taillights.
Inside, the Italian automaker used the same components made by Chery for its QQ3 model in China. Most areas were covered with hard plastic, but the design was well-composed. In the dashboard’s center, DR placed the instrument cluster that featured a tachometer on the left, a speedometer shown on an LCD in the middle, and the fuel and temperature gauges on the right. The center stack housed the HVAC controls and the CD stereo. At the front, the high-mounted seats were slim but good enough for urban use, while in the rear, there was enough room for two adult-sized passengers. Unfortunately, the trunk was tiny, just enough to squeeze a pupil’s backpack and a sandwich.
The car’s platform was very simple. It featured an independent McPherson front suspension up front and a torsion beam in the back. That system reduced the development and production costs and helped the Italian car manufacturer build the DR1 at a low price. Under the hood, the automaker installed a 1.1-liter inline-four engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission that sent the power to the front wheels. The result was a car with mundane performance but still good enough for school runs.