It’s Bizarre, it’s a Car but it Might Not Go Far
Somewhere along your travels, you’ve probably seen a bizarre car. A giant hot dog cruising down the highway, for example. Or a plane with wings folded up driving to the airport. If you’re lucky, you’ve seen the old Amphicar driving down the boat ramp, right into the water, and away among the waves. Those are not the weirdest cars you might see these days. The vehicles in this list sometimes barely qualify as cars — one looks like a tiny mars rover, for example –and are always quite creative. While many people are inspired by classic cars, restoring them and showing them off, these designers take another tack on the theme of “what is a car?” From artistic statement to fruit-based inspiration, you probably wouldn’t find either James Bond or John Wick driving these!
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The Big Banana Car of Kalamazoo is part of a burgeoning “art car” movement originating in the midwest. It’s a pickup truck done over banana-style, and after a few years turning heads around town it was ready to go see the world. It took off from Santa Monica Pier in April 2018, stopped at Burning Man in the Nevada Desert where it wasn’t considered particularly bizarre and continued traveling on its “The World Needs More Whimsy Grand Tour” into 2019. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for being, quite specifically, the “longest custom banana car.”
Cute, petite and something like the more practical bubble cars, this small dinner vegetable on wheels is officially called the Birds Eye Pea Car and was created in 2005 by Asylum Models and Effects in the UK. It includes a go-kart chassis, Honda engine, VW Beetle headlights and Lancia turn signals plus some custom items.
17Giant Radio Flyer Wagon
The town of Trinidad, Colorado has a parade called the Art-o-Cade in early September, and this huge childhood memory was one of the participants. There are several which have been built on platforms ranging from an old pickup truck in Wasilla, Alaska (it’s street-legal and does 70mph on the freeway) to an ambulance converted by a collector in Biloxi, Mississippi which was in the Houston Art Car Parade. By the way, Trinidad has built a permanent exhibit of art cars with about 25 of them to start.
16Steampunk-style Snail Car
It’s a beautiful rendition of a snail but, in car form, it moves fairly quickly. This decades-old VW Bug has been turned into an artist’s dream called “The Golden Mean.” It glows in the dark, seats six, and shoots fire from its feelers. If you wake up screaming, maybe you shouldn’t use that dream as an inspiration to create?
Warning, seeing this one is probably not going to give you any points on Pokemon Go. It is, however, a beautiful yellow rendition of Pikachu. There are actually several in Japan, where there are also Hello Kitty vehicles and many more varieties. Perhaps the most popular version of Pikachu is a limited edition of about ten cars based on the Scion xA platform with lots of cute embellishments.
A little like a Salvador Dali painting, this car hardly looks roadworthy. It’s hailed as an example of “extreme negative camber (wheel tilt),” usually in all caps. In Japan, it’s a thing, known as “oni-camber” or “demon-camber.” For more insane mods like this, check out the “bosozoku” style of tuning which embraces larger-than-life car updates.
13Fuzzy Fur Interior
Redefining luxury and maybe not in a good way, this is the kind of opulence that Liberace or Elvis would have enjoyed in moderation. This car, however, goes well beyond moderation. Fluffy interior car design is now a thing, creating an immersive experience with plush. It’s now available in kits for DIY as well.
It doesn’t look at home in the sky or on the road, but it does take to both depending on where you want to go which a lot to say about a vehicle. This is the Terrafugia Transition, one of several “flying cars” designed over the years, due to be available in 2019. It will likely cost in the range of $300,000, which is well worth the look the neighbors will give you when they see you pull it into your driveway.
Surviving models of this car require quite a bit of bodywork to stay afloat, but it is a real thrill to see the Amphicar, produced in the 1960s, making the transition from land to water as if it’s no big thing. Just drive on it, the water’s fine! It looks like a typical sporty car of the time, somewhat like a Sunbeam, but with twin propellers under the rear bumper and a few other special features to support operation afloat.
10Hydraulic Lift Jeep
Just another variation on the sport utility vehicle, this Jeep Grand Cherokee was built for a Verizon marketing campaign. An extra 3,000 pounds of equipment including a Honda generator for power allows this vehicle to rise above the traffic, widen if necessary, and keep on rollin’. Yes, the generator goes in the engine compartment so you won’t be “passed” overhead on the highway by this Jeep.
The only thing that’s right-side-up on this pickup truck, it seems, is the license plate. Looking like one of those “hold my beer and watch this” misadventures, the truck is on its top but ready to drive away. Rick Sullivan, a mechanic, was inspired by a wreck he was towing and took the parts from two Ford pickups to assemble this project. Apparently, he did the project in secret as a surprise for his wife.
Strangely, some commercially produced recent model Toyotas look like Imperial Stormtroopers from Star Wars, but this Jeep was an intentional homage to the legions under the Emperor’s command. It features the helmet details including black, vacant eye sockets for headlights and ventilation grilles on the sides. As one fan said, imagine a traffic jam of these on the highway!
7ETV Electric Supercar
With gullwing doors and a shape a little like a Dutch wooden shoe, this futuristic car has nothing to do with Area 51 but looks like it might. It actually comes from a car customization company called The Car Factory which, in addition to electric parts, can use drivetrains from the Porsche Boxster, Toyota MR2 and Honda Insight hybrid. The end result is street legal, they say. On which planet?
61955 Chrysler Streamline X
In the 1950s fin design was all the rage and Chrysler took it to its logical and absurd conclusion in this singular custom-designed car. Ok, some call the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X “Gilda” the coolest car Chrysler ever made and they may be right. Belatedly, though — it was only brought to its full glory later, by a collector, who added the gas turbine engine it was designed to have in the first place.
5Men's Dress Shoe Car
The first question some people have is, do you go to a cobbler if it needs bodywork? This amazingly realistic shoe on wheels sits on a three-wheeler chassis similar to a Morgan which could have earned the owner tax savings in the UK since it could be registered as a motorcycle.
4Lego Bugatti Chiron
Currently available in the Technic Lego Shop for substantially less than the real thing, this beautiful reproduction is claimed to teach young builders about the beauty of engineering, including aerodynamic bodywork, an active rear wing for those intense track sprints and a W16 engine complete with moving pistons — all sixteen of them.
Along with his pushmi-pullyu, double-ended creature Doctor Dolittle had one of these to drive the to market, perhaps. A parade favorite, these double VW bugs have the hallmarks of the artcar movement including sculpted “legs” jutting out the bottom of the top and people trying to adjust to being upside-down while others relax and enjoy a normal perspective.
Remember when your weird Uncle arrived at your birthday party in one of these? Hopefully not, but there’s still time. The successor to the tiny P50 microcar, the bubble-hatch Trident was built in a small lot of 45 during 1965 and 1966. Thanks to lots of TV mentions over the years including on the BBC’s Top Gear and Dragon’s Den, the P50 went back into production in 2011, and the Trident has, as of 2019, also become available to the public. The two-seater Trident now comes with engines from 49cc with a top speed of 28mph and 110cc which makes 45mph to a dual-motor electric which hits 55mph for quick and eye-popping trips to the market. Listed prices, in UK pounds, start at just under £10,000. A bizarre car you can buy!
1Messerschmitt KR175 Microcar
When the war ended Messerschmitt wasn’t quite sure what to build so they settled on this car which looks more like an aircraft cockpit on wheels than anything earthbound people would drive. The company built 15,000 of this 1952-vintage design wonder and engineering disaster, with a host of safety and operational compromises – such as manual windshield wipers and a very confusing control arrangement- that would have made consumer advocate Ralph Nader’s hair stand on end.