The most iconic cars of all time are vehicles that don’t just stand out from the crowd but leap out, demanding attention. But from the dawn of the motoring age, manufacturers and designers have occasionally veered off the well-trodden path, leading to creations that some label weird looking cars yet others herald as innovative masterpieces.
There’s a fine line between strange car designs and the most paradigm-shifting cars in history, but where is it? Which cars delight at being different?
Since the start of the twentieth century, technological advancements and expanding engineering capabilities have empowered designers to push boundaries. New materials, aerodynamics, or efficiency goals can yield weird looking cars, like elongated cars for reduced drag. Meanwhile, cultural influences shape car designs, for example what would be considered outrageous in one era or region may be the height of fashion in another, like the audacious car designs of the 1960s.
This bizarre drive down memory lane showcases the weird and wonderful, unique car designs. The amazing automobiles which not only serve as a testament to the vast spectrum of creativity, but have also etched a lasting imprint on the rich and varied history of the car, fascinating both aficionados and casual observers alike.
Here are some of the funniest looking cars ever made!
Known colloquially as the Rambo Lambo, the LM002 was one of those unique car designs that stays long in the memory. It was originally built for military use but wasn’t well received. The huge three-box off-roader was fitted with the 5.2-litre V12 from the Countach and it was huge. Almost five metres long, two metres wide and weighed the business end of three tons, for clients that wanted a little bit extra, it was also offered with Lambo’s 7.2-litre V12 marine engine, more commonly found in Class 1 offshore powerboats. It may not be one of the funniest looking cars on this list, but it remains both a head turner and a head scratcher.
As weird looking cars go, the Peel P50 is right up there, but it’s also become somewhat of a cult classic. It was listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest production car. The original, built between 1962 and 1965 by the Peel Engineering Company, is much sought-after by collectors since only 50 were made. The 49cc, 4.2hp car is 137 cm long, 99 cm wide and weighs 59 kg. It has a single door and three forward gears. The marketing spiel from the 1960s said it was capable of carrying one adult and a shopping bag. If you wanted to reverse, you had to grab a handle at the back of the car and pull it.
Norman Timbs Special
Does the Norman Timbs Special fall into the category of weird shaped cars, or is it one of the most breathtakingly elegant cars ever made? Designed and built by influential automotive engineer Norman Timbs in the 1940s, and inspired by the 1930s Auto Union race cars – the predecessor of Audi – the mid-engined Special was also known as the Buick Streamliner. It was over five metres long and powered by a Buick Super 8 engine. Unfortunately, the one-of-a-kind car was destroyed in the 2018 California wildfires.
Designed to emulate the fuselage of a 1930s aircraft, the rear-engined, rear-wheel drive, Ford V8-powered Stout Scarab has been billed in some circles as the world’s first minivan. Called ugly, and ‘a fat insect’ at the time, today it’s considered by many to be an art deco masterpiece. Created by William Bushnell Stout, it had interchangeable swivel seats, an interior swathed in wood, leather and chrome and a revolutionary monocoque design. The 1930s were full of strange car designs, none more so than the Stout Scarab.
One of the funniest looking cars of recent years has to be the Chevrolet SSR. Part-roadster, part convertible cruiser, part-pickup truck, part muscle car, the SSR – Super Sport Roadster – wasn’t really one thing or another. Chevy took design inspiration from their iconic 50s pickup trucks and – despite later models being powered by GM’s astonishing 390 hp, six-litre V8 – it didn’t work particularly well as a convertible, nor a pickup truck, nor a roadster. The SSR can definitely be filed under ‘strange car designs’.
The man responsible for the jaw-droppingly beautiful Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster, the Cord 810 and several versions of the stunningly opulent Duesenberg Model J, also designed the bewildering TASCO. An acronym for The American Sports Car Company, the Gordon Buehrig-designed oddity is one of the unique car designs that never made it to production. The first car in the world with a T-top roof, it was a bizarre hybrid of car, motorcycle and aeroplane that never took off.
The Wonderful World of Weird
In the sprawling tapestry of automotive design, it’s the oddities, the outlandish, and the daringly different that often leave the most lasting impressions.
These weird looking cars, whether labelled as bizarre or brilliant, challenge perspectives and push the boundaries of what’s understood as conventional. Whether it’s unique shapes, innovative features, or divisive aesthetics, strange car designs may as easily innovate as fall flat.
So, whether they’re viewed as mere eccentricities on wheels or as pioneering trailblazers, these weird shaped cars, in their audacious divergence from the norm, have carved out a special niche in the annals of automotive history.