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14 Unique Car Creations That Challenged Design Norms

The most unique car designs ever created push the limits of imagination. But it’s not just about wild shapes and colors. These designs blend art and engineering in ways you wouldn’t believe.

For example, the Amphicar was ready for the road, and the water making it a dual purpose mechanical wonder. This isn’t just a list of cars. It’s a journey through time where each vehicle tells a story.

You’ll see how designers broke the rules to create truly iconic masterpieces. So, buckle up and get ready to explore the fascinating world of unique car designs! Some might have made it to the streets, others did not, but they all made it into our grease-filled hearts!

Stout Scarab

scout scarab in a museum
Hagerty

The Stout Scarab was an innovative and futuristic automobile designed by William Bushnell Stout in the 1930s. It featured a rear-mounted Ford flathead V8 engine, a unitized aluminum body, and an aerodynamic teardrop shape inspired by aircraft design principles.

With its spacious interior, independent suspension, and avant-garde styling, the Scarab was decades ahead of its time and is considered a precursor to modern minivans and MPVs. Despite its groundbreaking features, only around 9 Scarabs were produced due to the vehicle’s high cost during the Great Depression era.

Dymaxion

green dymaxion replica
Dymaxion Replica / Wikipedia

The Dymaxion car was a highly innovative concept car designed by Buckminster Fuller in the 1930s. It featured an aerodynamic, zeppelin-shaped body made of aluminum, a rear-mounted Ford V8 engine, front-wheel drive, and a unique three-wheel design with rear-wheel steering.

The car could transport up to 11 passengers, reach speeds of 90 mph, and achieved an impressive 30 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. But it was not without its faults. Known limitations prevented the car from being sold, and that was a good choice. A Dymaxion test driver was killed driving one of the prototypes. Only three prototypes were built, with one surviving today in the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

Oldsmobile Toronado AQC Jetway 707

oldsmobile toronado 707
Tumblr

The Oldsmobile based American Quality Coach Jetway 707 was an extravagant stretch limousine based on the 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado chassis. It featured a massive 28-foot length, a 185-inch wheelbase (stretched from the Toronado’s 119 inches), eight doors, seating for 12-15 passengers, and twin rear axles.

With its raised roof, integral skylights, and an enclosed cargo area, the Jetway 707 was designed as an airport shuttle limousine, though it lacked sufficient luggage space for that intended purpose. It is estimated that only around 100 examples were produced from 1968 to 1970, making it an extremely rare and outrageous vehicle that turned heads with its sheer size and audacious styling.

Amphicar

amphicar driving in water
Hemmings

The Amphicar was an amphibious vehicle produced in West Germany from 1961 to 1968. It was designed to be driven on land and operated on water, featuring a rear-mounted engine that powered the wheels on land and two propellers for the water.

Only 3,878 Amphicars were ever manufactured, making them a rare and quirky automobile that could transition seamlessly between road and water travel.

Hispano Suiza Dubonnet Xenia

hispano suiza dubonnet xenia car
Wikipedia

The Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia was a one-off luxury car built in 1938 by the Spanish manufacturer Hispano-Suiza for French aviator and racing driver André Dubonnet. It featured an innovative independent coil spring suspension system designed by Dubonnet himself, as well as an aerodynamic body with rear-hinged sliding doors and a tapered fastback design by Jean Andreau.

Powered by a large 8.0L straight-six engine from the Hispano-Suiza H6C model, the Xenia showcased Dubonnet’s pioneering work in automotive engineering and avant-garde styling that influenced future production cars.

Nimbo Timbs Special

norman timbs special on lawn
Conceptcarz.com

The Norman Timbs Special was a remarkable homebuilt sports car created by engineer Norman Timbs in the late 1940s. Inspired by the aerodynamic Auto Union racers, it featured a streamlined aluminum body hammered out by coachbuilder Emil Diedt, with no hood or trunk openings for better aerodynamics.

Under the sleek shell was a tubular chassis, Ford front axle, custom rear swing axle suspension, and a mid-mounted 1947 Buick straight-eight engine, showcasing Timbs’ ingenuity and craftsmanship. Despite being destroyed in a fire in 2018, the iconic Norman Timbs Special is currently undergoing a full restoration to bring this hand-built automotive masterpiece back to life.

Tasco

tasco car on field
Automobile Museum

The Tasco was a prototype for an American sports car designed in 1948 by Gordon Buehrig. It featured an aircraft-inspired design with unique controls and a sleek, streamlined body crafted by Derham.

This one-off vehicle was intended to be the basis for a new American sports car company called “The American Sports Car Company” (TASCO), but it never made it into production. The Tasco prototype showcased Buehrig’s innovative and daring automotive design concepts of the post-war era.

Peel P50

peel p50
Wikipedia

The Peel P50 is a three-wheeled microcar originally produced from 1962 to 1965 by the Peel Engineering Company on the Isle of Man. It was listed in the 2010 Guinness World Records as the smallest production car ever made, measuring just 54 inches long and 39 inches wide.

Despite its diminutive size, the P50 was a fully road-legal vehicle powered by a 49cc engine and capable of reaching speeds up to 38 mph, though it lacked a reverse gear.

1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21

1953 gm firebird 1 xp-21
Hemmings

The 1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21 was a radical concept car that pioneered the use of a gas turbine engine, producing 370 horsepower and an estimated top speed of 200 mph. Its sleek, fighter jet-inspired fiberglass body with prominent fins and air intakes was designed by Harley J. Earl, while innovative cooling solutions were needed to handle the extreme turbine exhaust heat.

Despite being impractical for production, the Firebird 1 showcased cutting-edge technologies that influenced future cars and inspired GM’s later Pontiac Firebird muscle car line.

Glenfrome Facet

glenfrom facet on grass
Reddit

The Glenfrome Facet was a bizarre and unconventional vehicle based on a Land Rover chassis. It featured an extremely angular and boxy design with a targa-style roof, aimed at catching attention in the Middle East market. Despite its outlandish appearance, the Facet was a fully functional SUV produced in limited numbers during the 1980s. With its distinctive wedge shape and rear hatch reminiscent of the AMC Gremlin, the Glenfrome Facet has been dubbed one of the ugliest SUVs ever made.

Nissan Landglider

nissan landglider on road
Nissan Asia

The Nissan Land Glider was a futuristic concept car unveiled at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show. It was an electric tandem two-seater designed for urban commuting, with a narrow 43-inch width and 122-inch length to easily maneuver through congested city streets.

A unique feature was its ability to lean up to 17 degrees into turns, similar to a motorcycle, providing stability and agility for the compact vehicle. The Land Glider showcased Nissan’s vision for a new era of efficient and innovative urban mobility solutions.

Leyat Helica

helica propellor car at concours of elegance
Tim Scott / Concours of Elegance

The Leyat Helica was a bizarre early 20th century automobile designed by French engineer Marcel Leyat. Instead of a conventional drivetrain, it was propelled by a large wooden propeller at the front powered directly by the engine, essentially making it a “wingless airplane for the road.” This was one of several propeller style cars that were attempted over the years.

The lightweight plywood body was designed for aerodynamic efficiency, allowing the Helica to reach speeds over 100 mph despite having only an 18 hp engine. Between 1919-1925, Leyat produced around 30 Helicas, though the unconventional and potentially dangerous design meant only about 23 were ever sold.

The Carver

two carver cars side by side
Carver

The Carver is a unique three-wheeled vehicle that tilts like a motorcycle when cornering, but is fully enclosed and steers like a car with a steering wheel. It utilizes an automatic balancing technology called the Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) system to balance the passenger compartment under all conditions.

The Carver is powered by a small turbocharged engine, can reach speeds up to 115 mph, and gets around 40-45 mpg. Only around 200 production Carver models were made between 2007-2009, making them a rare and innovative vehicle that blends characteristics of a car and motorcycle.

Cadillac Cyclone XP-74

cadillac cyclone
Wikipedia

The Cadillac Cyclone XP-74, unveiled in 1959, was a futuristic concept car designed by Harley Earl with an aerodynamic bubble-top canopy and sliding doors inspired by aircraft. It featured a radar-based crash avoidance system, one of the first of its kind, which used sensors to detect objects and alert the driver – a pioneering technology that influenced modern collision avoidance systems.

Under its sleek fiberglass body was a powerful 350 hp V8 engine, making the Cyclone a fully functional dream car that showcased Cadillac’s vision for advanced styling and innovations during the Space Age era.

10 Fastback Concept Cars That Deserved A Chance At Production

The automotive world is filled with “what ifs” – stunning concept cars that captured our imaginations but never made it to production. Among the most alluring are the sleek, swept-back fastback designs that oozed speed and futuristic flair. These cars looked like they belonged more in the realm of science fiction than on actual roads. Yet for brief moments, we dared to dream they might become reality before cruel fate intervened. Let’s take a sad stroll down memory lane, revisiting some of the most breathtaking fastback concepts that cruelly teased us over the years.

10 Fastback Concept Cars That Deserved A Chance At Production

15 French Inspired Cars From 1902-1919

In a sad twist after the passing of museum owner Peter Mullin in September 2023, the Mullin Museum has closed. The doors of the museum closed for good on February 10, 2024. The Oxnard, California based museum was founded in 2010 by Peter and Merle Mullin. Their mission was to educate visitors about 20th century French automotive styling and design. The museum featured 47,000 square feet of space and showcased over 140 cars, art and artifacts. They had the unique edge of having the largest private collection of Bugatti’s in the world. Some of the vehicles on display will be moved to other museums, others will be auctioned off by Gooding & Company.

View 15 French Inspired Cars From 1902-1919

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