Modern cars focus on a marriage of practicality and aesthetics. However, over the course of automobile manufacturing history, cars weren’t always so sensibly designed.
As cars evolved over history, so did designers exercise their creative freedom creating cars that were unique, quirky, and sometimes just downright strange. Have an eye for the bizarre? Keep reading then, as we round up the top 10 weirdest cars ever made.
1. L’Oeuf Electrique
Nowadays, we are all familiar with electric cars a la the likes of Tesla’s sleek and practical vehicles. But in the early days of the EV, designers tended to take some creative liberties with the designs.
In 1947, French designer Paul Arzens, known for his odd automotive designs, conceptualised this quirky little vehicle dubbed “L’Oeuf Electrique” (the electric egg). This strange-looking car had an electric motor that allowed it to reach up to 80km/h. It must’ve been quite the sight to spot this one on the road.
2. General Motors Firebird I
All 3 versions of the General Motors Firebird prototype cars built through the 1950s take travelling in the skies to land.
Essentially a miniature jet plane on wheels, complete with wings, a stabiliser and a ridiculously claustrophobic bubble “cockpit”, the GM Firebird I may not win any points for practicality but it sure is a winner for one of the weirdest cars ever.
3. Sunswift eVe
Solar power has really taken off over the last decade, and the Australian-designed Sunswift eVe is proof of that. On a single charge of its batteries, it can travel up to 500 kilometres or if powered by its own solar cells, over 800 kilometres.
The strange-looking solar-powered car even won the FIA Land Speed Record in 2014 for the fastest electric car over 500 kilometres, averaging 107 kilometres/h.
5. P50 Peel
The P50 Peel is listed in the Guinness book of world records as the world’s smallest car. The three-wheel microcar was originally made in the 1960s, and reminds us of those plastic toy cars kids ride in.
In fact, the size is pretty much the same too. It only fits one passenger, and even comes with a handle so you can pick it up and carry it around. Perfect for those who are young at heart!
6. Stout Scarab
The buglike Stout Scarab was initially made in the 1930s, and might just be the first minivan ever. While its chunky, top-heavy aesthetic may not be in fashion for cars anymore, some of its features like its backseat card table feature are now commonplace.
7. Mercedes “Popemobile”
The Pope’s custom vehicles he uses for public appearances have gone over a number of designs over the years.
Our top pick for the weirdest one is Pope Benedict XIV’s Mercedes-Benz featuring bulletproof glass windows and fold-out steps at the back for the Pope to climb in and out of the vehicle.
8. Rinspeed sQuba
Is it a car? Is it a submarine? The answer is: Both. The Swiss-made Rinspeed sQuba brings the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me to life as both fully land and seaworthy.
Based on the Lotus Elise, the sQuba can submerge as deep as 10 metres and comes with a very environmentally-conscious zero-emissions electric motor.
9. Chrysler Thunderbolt
Even though the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt was never mass-produced and frankly looks more like a hot dog than anything else, this innovative vehicle had a number of features that were quite before its time.
It boasted an aerodynamic aluminium body that hid its wheels, as well as a retractable roof, hydraulic-powered windows and button-operated doors which were still decades away from becoming staples in car design.
10. Cadillac Cyclone
The 1959 Cadillac Cyclone takes some serious inspiration from all things space exploration. The sleek silver body, removable bubble-top, and rocket-like silhouettes could easily have come straight out of The Jetsons.
These features aren’t all just for show though, as the missile-like cones in the front serve a more practical purpose with radars in them to anticipate collisions.
10. Norman Timbs special
This gorgeous streamlined vehicle was designed by renown automotive Indycar designer Norman Timbs. The exterior’s wavelike silhouette isn’t the only thing weird about this car: it also lacks doors, a trunk, and a hood.
That doesn’t mean that this car is purely an aesthetic piece, however. Its 1948 Buick straight engine allowed it to reach up to 120 mph.
Car designs throughout history have definitely progressed to be more practical, but it sure is interesting to see how playful and just plain weird some of them used to be, especially the ones which have influenced modern day car design.
Who knows, maybe this trend will pick up again and we’ll get to see even stranger cars in the future.