Categories 4 Wheels

Unique 1950s Cars Most Have Not Seen

Step back in time to the 1950s, an era of innovation and unbridled creativity in the automotive world. As the post-war boom brought about a newfound sense of prosperity and possibility, car designers and engineers pushed the boundaries of conventional thinking to create some of the most outlandish and eccentric vehicles ever to grace the road.

From bubble cars to jet-inspired cruisers, the 1950s saw a parade of peculiar and fascinating automobiles that challenged the very definition of what a car could be. Take a tour of some of weirdest cars from the 1950s, where imagination knew no bounds and the road less traveled was the only path worth exploring.

While some of these cars had small production runs, others were prototypes and never produced. But all are unique, and some seem to be ahead of their time with innovations.

1957 Smyk B30

smyk b30 with front door open

The Smyk was introduced in 1957 as an option for traditional Polish families. The unique design, created by the Automotive Industry Construction Bureau, had a front mounted door that when opened would keep the steering wheel attached. The front seats would completely fold down to allow children to climb into the back.

Powered by a motorcycle engine, the car generated up to 15hp with a maximum speed of about 44mph. Due to the extreme safety hazards the car presented, it was never put into production and work ended on it in 1959.

Hoffmann 1951

hoffman 1951 car
Lane Motor Museum

So, the Hoffmann 1951 is only three wheels, but we are going to throw it into the most unique cars category. The car was built and designed in Germany by Michael Hoffmann during a period where many people wanted to try and built their own cars. It was created with parts from a junkyard and hardware store. Since it did only have three wheels, no license was required to drive it. The drivetrain features rear-wheel drive and a rear-engine. A 200cc two-stroke single give this car a whopping 6.5hp and a top speed of about 28mph.

The car was restored in 1966 by Gottfried Gerhäuser and is a permanent fixture at the Lane motor Museum in Nashville, TN.

1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X “Gilda”

1955 chrysler ghia streamline x

Spaceship or car? Seems like it is hard to tell! The Gilda Streamline X was designed by Italian designer Giovanni Savonuzzi at the request of Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner. Virgil wanted to find a solution to crosswind resistance and rear-end grip as well as turbine power with the creation of this vehicle. Gilda features an aluminum body set on a square tube chassis.

In computer and wind tunnel modeling, it was estimated that the 70hp turbine could help the car reach speeds up to 160mph. The car is still in original condition and has a private owner in Pebble Beach.

1958 General Motors Firebird III

1958 firefbird III with doors open
General Motors

I owned two Firebirds in my life and neither looked anything like this stunner. Unveiled at Motorama in 1959, the 1958 General Motors Firebird III featured an aerodynamic design that was like something out of the Jetsons. Seven short wins, tail funs and the unique bubbles for driver and passenger definitely are a show stopper.

The technology was advanced for its time as well. It had an air suspension system that would vary the cars ride height and stiffness depending on road conditions. It also had an advanced guidance system. The car was powered by a GT-205 Whirlfire engine that was able to produce 225hp.

1955 BMW Isetta 250

1855 BMW Isetta micro car
Bonhams Cars

If you think this car looks familiar, you might have seen it. Steve Urkel from the 1990s comedy Family Matters drove on. This car was manufactured by BMW under license from the Italian company Iso who originally developed the auto. The rear features 2 closely connected tires and a single-cylinder four-stroke motorcycle engine with 247cc. The earlier features of the car included a roll-top sunroof, fixed side windows and a single hinged door on the front. Models after 1957 had the added luxury of sliding windows and offered a 297cc engine.

Production of the car was ended in 1962 after building 161,728 units. There were different levels of the Isetta including the 250, 300 and 600. The model in the image had two owners and was restored in 2001.

1959 Scootacar Mk I

1959 scootacar
RM Sotheby’s

The Scootacar Mk I comes to us from England. Designer, Harry Brown, had originally created another car called the Rodley 750 which was an epic failure due to the engine catching fire. He did not quit, and moved on to design the Scootacar which ultimately went on to become one of the best loved British Microcars.

There were 1,500 produced and the car measured just 7ft. 3 in. in length. It is technically a scooter with a body on top, but the unique design actually did allow it to handle well on the road. Although it does not look like it, the Scootacar did actually have room for 2 people.

Leave a Comment