Car Culture 11 8 Weirdest Cars From Major Automakers Everybody loves an oddball from left field.

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            8 Weirdest Cars From Major Automakers
        

        
            Everybody loves an oddball from left field.


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8 Weirdest Cars From Major Automakers

8 Weirdest Cars From Major Automakers

Jul. 27, 2022 7:00 PM ETby Ian Wright

Car Culture

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Everybody loves an oddball from left field.

It’s a lot harder for a weird car to make it to production nowadays, particularly from one of the major automakers. Between modern market research and accounting, it’s hard to get something from the left field out to market. Occasionally it still happens (the 2023 Toyota Crown and Hyundai’s Ioniq 6 may qualify in their own ways), but we’ll mainly be looking back into the annals of history here. To lay the groundwork, we’re not going to define weird here as just strange looking. Weird here includes strange choices of drivetrains, oddball assemblies, and ideas that make little sense in a big way.

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CarBuzz

AMC Eagle Kammback

In 1981, somebody at AMC had the brilliant idea of combining the off-road capability of a Jeep with an everyday road car. Then, likely somebody else, decided that the everyday road car should be an AMC Gremlin. Somehow, it got approved, and the AMC Eagle Kammback was born. The idea of something with the all-weather ability of a 4×4 but without the initial cost and running costs of a big body-on-frame vehicle was on point, but the execution was debatable. Initially, it was aimed at first-time buyers and as a fleet vehicle, but it was a sales flop. The Eagle Kammback went extinct after the 1982 model year.

Barn Finds

Barn Finds

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Buick Reatta

Back in 1988, Buick wanted a two-seater personal luxury car as a halo model in the same vein as the Mercedes-Benz SL. Buick’s answer to the luxury sports car was a parts-bin wonder based on a shortened Riviera platform and using its slow-revving 3.8-liter V6. The blame for the front-wheel-drive oddity can’t be laid squarely at Buick’s feet, though. Buick came up with a concept, but its parent company, General Motors, saw it and knew Cadillac needed a car to go up against the Mercedes SL. The concept became the Cadillac Allant√©, and Buick was left to figure something else out. When Buick’s Regatta launched, it arrived with plenty of modern luxury and cutting-edge tech of the time, like a digital cathode-ray tube (CRT). It sold reasonably well, but sales declined quickly enough that a convertible version couldn’t save the car. The last model year was 1991.

Bring A Trailer

Bring A Trailer

Bring A Trailer

Bring A Trailer

Chrysler Turbine

In the 1930s, Chrysler started a turbine engine program that culminated in a half-century of turbine-powered cars hitting the road in the 1960s. Chrysler built a total of 50 Chrysler Turbines in 1963 and 1964 for a user testing program but never sold them as production cars. The Turbine had a complicated starting procedure, unimpressive acceleration, lousy fuel economy, and a cacophony of noise accompanying it. Still, the potential was there as the cars could run on diesel, gasoline, kerosene, and JP-4 jet fuel. The user program ended in 1966, and all but a few of the cars were destroyed. However, the turbine engine program continued until 1979. The program ended as the engines couldn’t meet emissions standards and fuel economy was still poor. A government loan may have kept the program going, and we could all be driving multi-fuel jet cars now, but that fell through.

Hemmings

Hemmings

Hemmings

Hemmings

Plymouth Prowler

Towards the end of the last century, automakers were churning out retro designs with varying degrees of success. The weirdest retro design that made it to production was the Plymouth Prowler, which later became the Chrysler Prowler. It began as a concept, but following a positive reception, a production version was shown in 1996. Love it or hate it, the Prowler was something completely different. During an era of American cars shaped like pebbles, Chrysler showed daring in its design. Chrysler was on a money-making streak with its K cars, but that didn’t mean an unlimited budget. Most of the money went on the chassis and then advanced aluminum bodywork for the factory hotrod. Without money left for an engine, Plymouth raided the parts bin and came up with a disappointingly powered V6 rather than a V8 that would suit a modern hot rod. Only 12,000 were made, but Chrysler considered that a success for such a niche product.

Chrysler

Chrysler

Chrysler

Mercedes-AMG G63 6×6

Mercedes is a go-to brand for luxury sedans, coupes, convertibles, and SUVs. That’s why it was such a delight when, for a few years, Mercedes-AMG produced and sold a completely bananas six-wheel drive with over 500 horsepower. Mercedes didn’t mince its words when describing the vehicle as the “most effortlessly superior and extravagant off-roader ever to be developed and built by engineers.” Not only does the extra axle and features like a tire pressure control system added to a G-Wagon chassis contribute to its off-road prowess, but the interior shows off Mercedes at the top of its luxury game. Weird but super cool.

Mercedes

Mercedes

Mercedes

Mercedes

Tesla Cybertruck

We debated whether the Cybertruck should make this list as there appears to be only one in existence and, despite fresh news, we’re not convinced it will look like the concept. Or, frankly, that it’ll ever arrive. However, it is one of the weirdest things an automaker has revealed in so many ways. When Elon Musk showed the truck off, Tesla already had a successful run of cars with consistent design language. However, the Cybertruck looks like it was drawn by a child in the 1970s and built in dad’s metal fabrication shop down by the railroad tracks. Musk claims the Cybertruck can withstand a 9-millimeter handgun round, which is a strange selling point for a truck. Tesla is still advertising it and taking deposits based on the concept design, which almost certainly will not pass safety standards here in the US.

Cybertruck Owners Club

Tesla

Tesla

Tesla

Aston Martin Cygnet

Like Mercedes, Aston Martin has brand recognition for particular styles of luxury vehicles. They are usually fast, stylish, and reassuringly expensive. However, the Aston Martin Cygnet was only expensive. Thankfully, Aston hadn’t completely lost the plot, as the small Toyota-based city car was a result of legislation requiring the brand to produce some ultra-economical cars. Essentially, the Cygnet is a rebadged Scion iQ with unique headlights, taillights, front grille, and interior. 300 sold globally at around $50,000 each, with the cars only available to owners of “real” Astons, which has now made them collector’s items. In fact, 301 were made in total, as a one-off V8-powered Cygnet was made from a skunkworks project inside Aston Martin.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin

Aston Martin

Aston Martin

Fiat Multipla

The end of the 1990s saw two of the ugliest ever cars made go into production. One was the Pontiac Aztec, the other was the much weirder Fiat Multipla launched in 1998. The Multipla name goes back to the 1960s and was brought back for the oddball two-row, six-seater. As it’s wide enough to seat three people across the front, the Multipla had a shot at looking passable or even good. Instead, Fiat festooned the people-mover with random design features like the extra facia under the windscreen with additional lights. According to people that have driven the Multipla, visibility is excellent with all that glass, and the two gloveboxes are useful. The second generation was slightly better-looking, but it still wasn’t sexy enough to stick around beyond 2010.

Fiat

Fiat

Fiat