Whoever said not to re-invent the wheel had no creativity! Luckily, the auto industry hasn’t listened to that advice. Their inventions led to the good, bad, and downright bizarre when it comes to designing new cars. These weird cars pushed the limit on what it even means to be an automobile, simultaneously dazzling and puzzling spectators with their otherworldly looks. Here are 10 cars that you won’t believe ever existed!
1986 Lamborghini LM002
One of the more grounded picks for this list is still sure to raise some eyebrows. While we all love Lambos for their paper-thin profile and godly performance, we don’t usually associate the brand with much else besides sportscars. In comes the “Rambo Lambo”. The supercar brand was trying to branch out into the military sector around this time and tried its hands at off-road vehicles. The LM002 was the one available for civilian purchase. While its limited utility kept it from being a regular in Lamborghini’s lineup moving forward, it’s still one of the most exotic off-roaders to date.
The Tasco helped set the trend for several other oddities on this list. Cars work best when they’re aerodynamic, and designers wanted to capture that fact by getting inspiration from one of the most air-friendly vehicles around, the airplane. Tasco took this literally by making their prototype’s body look like a literal airplane. Its T-top roof later helped inspire the Corvette and Firebird, so in a way, it did take flight after its skeptical reception.
2014 Volkswagen XL1
The most modern pick on this list looks like it’s from the future. While hybrids are becoming commonplace now, this car rocked it before it was cool, with an unusual diesel-electric blend. VW claimed this oddity could get 261 miles per gallon, a whopping five times better fuel efficiency than a Toyota Prius. Who knows, if the diesel scandal around VW didn’t kill it, this coupe could’ve been a commuter regular. Maybe it is in another universe.
1959 Cadillac Cyclone XP-74
The plane theme returns with the Cadillac Cyclone. One of the last cars designed by Harley Earl, this concept takes the popular, plane-like car body style of the 50s literally by basing the Cyclone off a fighter jet. This abnormality did introduce some prototypical safety features that define many of our modern cars. The cones around the headlights would flash a series of warning lights if it sensed an approaching object and could even automatically apply emergency brakes. Primitive cruise control helped the Cyclone to give off a feeling of an autopilot, making it even more plane-like than you’d realize by looking at it.
1953 General Motors Firebird I XP-21
Here’s another plane-car for you. GM has historically been at the forefront of auto innovations, but there’s none other in the company quite like this. This car-plane-thing was designed to see if the gas turbine could be a viable option for future vehicles. So, they did the logical thing and made a fiberglass plane body to try it. The idea was such a hit that three other prototypes were made after it. I’m still waiting for this design to come back around so I can break out the aviators and queue up some Kenny Loggins.
970 Ferrari (Pininfarina) 512 S Modulo
Step aside planes, spaceships are on the menu now! Designer Paolo Martin put a rocket-inspired body on the 512S race car and created something that looks like the shuttles from Star Trek (anyone else see it?). This Ferrari did play a big influence in introducing the wedge-shaped body that many supercars today replicate, so maybe it lifted off after all.
1942 L’Oeuf Electrique
While EVs are on the forefront of modern car design today, it took a while to perfect the technology. One of the first attempts came from L’Oeuf and was known as the Electric Egg. The three-wheeler had a novelty plexiglass bubble windshield and came from the mind of Paul Arzens. While he was a bit before his time, you can clearly see how his ideas helped to inspire the modern body of golf carts.
1936 Stout Scarab
William Stout brought luxury into the air by coming up with the idea of in-flight meals and flight attendants while on an aircraft. His idea for an ultra-luxurious diner car didn’t quite get off the runway, though. This was mainly because the vehicle required a stretched aluminum body that would’ve cost roughly $90,000 today, far above the average Cadillac or Packard back then. Conceptually, he wasn’t too far off from the Maybachs of today, but it did help to inspire the minivan of all things, in practice.
1974 Vanguard-Sebring CitiCar
Another EV that came about before its time, the Citicar was designed to be a compact vehicle for the metropolitan dweller. Vanguard based the idea off a golf cart and tried to be a Prius before the Prius. While we can appreciate the forward-thinking concept, the triangular body and electric engine didn’t quite catch on with many consumers. With 2,300 in production, it was the most sold EV in America until the Tesla Model S took its place. You can’t say that the Citicar’s legacy didn’t play a key role in paving the way for electric vehicles (even if it resembled a doorstop).
1962 Peel P50
Who was this car made for? No seriously, I want to know. These three-wheeled things are the smallest automotive model ever made for mass consumption. Being the size of a toddler’s car-styled shopping cart, the one-seater was designed to fit “one adult and a shopping bag”. Funny enough, this tyke is still street legal in the US and UK. If you want to be the rebel who rocks one of these on a street full of behemoth SUVs and trucks, more power to you.