The history of invention and innovation is full of bold attempts and subsequent failures or well, sometimes, utmost success. The automobile industry follows suit as there have been many attempts on the design versatility, functionality improvement, or simply, multi-dimensional application. So here we are, with an ode to the most unusual car designs and functionality factors ever made.
What happens when creators balance aesthetics, functionality, and their personal vision of the future is one reason we love cars. That’s especially true when the results leave us wondering, “How could anyone think this was a good idea?”
10) 1942 Oeuf electrique
The 1942 Oeuf électrique, which is French for “electric egg”, literally, was a car with a peculiar design that included three wheels and ran on batteries decades after gasoline became the dominant way to power cars. Designed by Parisian Paul Arzens, it is indeed shaped like an egg, or well, a bubble, to be precise, which is made of hand-formed aluminum and curved Plexiglas, a new material at the time and boasted of a minimalist two-person interior. For excellent forward and side visibility, the glasshouse included full Plexiglas doors and the Egg tapered to a blunt point at the rear, where the aluminum covered the third wheel and electric motor. Another good (or really?) characteristic of this car was its light weight as it weighed a mere 60 kgs, 90kgs with motor and finally just a 350-kgs after the addition of batteries, that is it! With its peculiar looks, it deserves to be on number 10.
9) 1955 Chrysler (Ghia) Streamline X “Gilda”
The unusual car got its name even more unusually, as it was named after a 1946 Rita Hayworth movie. With a plain 1.5 litre engine made for touring, this design was a forerunner to a short run of Chrysler turbine cars. It was showcased in the Torino, Italy Auto Show in 1955, where it was awed the onlookers with its beautifully designed aerodynamically streamlined body, jet age color scheme and the detailing that “provided a window to the future”, all thanks to its creator Giovanni Savonuzzi. After going to many European tour shows then staying at Henry Ford Museum followed by F. Harrah’s museum collection in Reno, Nevada, it was finally sold to the world renowned Mercedes expert restorer and Pebble Beach judge, Scott who bought the Gilda sight unseen, but the one of a kind design had long held an impression on Scott Grundfor as he says “you don’t forget that shape.” Well, sir, we won’t either!
8) 2008 Rinspeed sQuba
Have you ever wished for a car from the James Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the one that could travel on both water and land and even dive underwater like a submarine? Rinspped sQuba, an amphibious convertible concept car created by Rinspeed, is the car to make your wishes come true. The idea was taken from the said movie and true to its functionality; it can glide over water, swim in water like a submarine and go as fast as 120km/h on land. How it actually works? It is an all electric vehicle which uses three electric motors, one for land travel, and two for water as it drives on land powered by its electric rear-wheel drive powertrain and upon entering water, it floats on the surface until the operator floods the interior to submerge it. And it can be submerge till an impressive depth of ten meters! How cool is that!
7) 1953 General Motors Firebird I XP-21
The 1953 General Motors Firebird I XP-21, was one of the quartet of prototype cars that General Motors engineered for the 1953, 1956, and 1959 Motorama auto shows. It was indeed actual jet fighter, with four wheels, a tail fin, and a bubble cockpit, as the cars’ designer, Harley Earl, took his inspiration from the innovations in fighter aircraft design at the time. The turbine engine spun at up to 26,000 rpm to generate a whopping (for the time) with a 370 hp (280 kW) Whirlfire Turbo Power gas turbine engine, which had two speeds, and expelled jet exhaust at some 1,250 °F (677 °C). The weight of the car is 1,134 kg with a 100-inch wheelbase. General Motors never intended the cars for mass production and selling, but rather to showcase the extremes in technology and design that the company was able to achieve.
6)2006 Terrafugia Transition
While the previous entries entice to see a world that allows you to ditch the traffic and go by the waters, this car proves itself the most useful as it will help you in even the landscapes that do not have water bodies. Still guessing? Well yes, The Transition, from Terrafugia, is indeed the world’s first practical flying car. A folding-wing, two-seat, road able aircraft, it is designed to fly like a typical Light Sport Aircraft in the air and drive like a typical car on the ground. The Rotax piston engine powered, this car has a flight range of 425 nmi (489 mi; 787 km) using either automotive premium grade unleaded gasoline or 100LL avgas fuels and a cruising flight speed of 93 kn (107 mph; 172 km/h) while on road, it can drive up to 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) with normal traffic. So if you can afford this $279,000 car, go tensionless for entire life bidding adieu to the rush-hour traffic!
5) 2011 Superbus
As we said in our intro, we will introduce you to cars that have a marked a path of innovation by their very birth and by courtesy of a Dutch Astronaut Wubbo Ockels and the Delft University of Technology, we now have a version of bus that looks more like a highly advanced limo with butterfly wings as its door. We are talking about the “Superbus”, a 15-meter-long electric vehicle with seating for 23 passengers accessible from 16 doors that has a maximum speed of 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph) and a range of 215 kilometres. Questions were raised about it having a really low ground clearance for a vehicle to be used as a public transport and well, the creator gave an answer to that by giving the idea of ‘Super Lanes’ which will be geothermically heated in order to prevent icing in the winter season, exclusively to be built for the Superbus. Now that’s a stylish way to travel in a public transport.
4) 2015 Splinter
Wood is obviously a very practical construction material for various purposes like furniture. But can you imagine a car made out of it? Joe Hammon created a car that resembles a Lamborghini with a catch- you guessed right, it is indeed made of wood. So the “Splinter” (you got the name catchy brother), a high-performance sports car took five years of Joe and his team’s efforts. The unique machine is run by a Chevrolet LS7 engine and other than that and the drive train, gauges, fasteners, tires and rims; the car is made almost entirely of wood composites except the six-speed manual transmission, and six-piston caliper brakes up front and two-piston calipers in the rear. This car is made exclusively out of wood. The car has 700 horsepower and has the top speed of 368 km/h. But Joe, what about the fire, as well, you know, wood supports it?
3) 1962 Peel P50
Bikes allow us to easily wiggle through the rush hour traffic, but they might not be comfortable for everyone and to curb this, the creation of the Peel P50, a three-wheeled microcar originally manufactured from 1962 to 1965, happened by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. And to make the design even more peculiar, it had no reverse gear, but a handle at the rear allows the very lightweight car to be physically maneuvered when required (so much for an enlarged toy car). On the brighter side, this car can easily fit one person inside and have them rush through traffic at the speed of 61km/h at max with a very light weight of 56 kg and even though it is no longer production, the car holds the unique record of being the smallest car ever manufactured as it is mentioned as so in the 2010 Guinness World Records. Initially, it cost about £199, but today it is being auctioned at US $176,000 (because vintage?).
2) 2008 BMW GINA
The GINA Light Visionary Model is a fabric-skinned shape-shifting sports car concept built by BMW. HA! YES! You read right as the concept GINA stands for “Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations” and is designed by Chris Bangle. So does it mean transformers can exist in reality too? No, silly. It means that this is a state of the art car whose exteriors are made entirely out of flexible, stretchable water resistant translucent man-made fabric skin – polyurethane-coated Spandex, which resists high or low temperatures, does not swell or shrink and the movement does not slacken or damage the fabric. This enables the body to change its shape according to exterior conditions and speeds, and it also allows the driver to change its shape at will. Its steering wheel and seats can also change positions for an easy entry and exit of the driver. No more thinking about extreme weather conditions before planning a trip now!
1) 2015 Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury In Motion
How many times do you sigh and wish for a 24*7 driver who can take you back home after a long day at work? The tech giants at Mercedes Benz did the task for you! As per them, “The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research car and its immersive user experience is an innovative perspective into the future of mobility”. Innovating the modern day corporate environment, this car is incorporated with revolving seats that might turn the interior of the car into a small but extremely luxurious cabinet meeting place. But that then makes us think as to who actually will drive the car- well that is USP of this car- you can easily have meetings and have a good time with friends while the car drive itself through traffic and takes you where you want to be, effortlessly. It even makes sure that the people passing by are safe to cross from its front as the LED array in the grill glows blue to indicate that it recognizes your presence and a high-intensity laser mounted beneath the car’s badge can project symbols onto the road, including a green crosswalk, of sorts — another sign that it’s safe to walk in front of the car. Future is here fellas, future is here.
After reading about these amazing cars, we can feel your drool till here you guys as we know that drooling looked like the only reaction to these innovative designs and multi-functional cars. Seeing that some of them are concept cars we sure wish to scale the skies, row the waters or simply sit back and relax while the car drives itself effortlessly, it is just the matter of actually buying it, ain’t it (screams for a test drive)? (Still screaming).