Vehicle manufacturers are always trying to produce something innovative, exciting and new to stay ahead of the game. The main way they do this is by creating prototype and concept cars then show off the latest ones at upcoming car shows.
The newest versions of many practical cars can be found but it is the unique and unusual concept cars that always catch the eye. Since the first ever motor vehicles, automotive technology has been advancing and heading in many different directions. Here are some of our favourite weird and wonderful prototypes from the past century.
It looks like a giant razor. There’s no other way to put it but the Peugeot Egochine is a one person, three-wheel drive that features two wheels either side at the front and one at the rear. Its shining black and silver metal exterior doesn’t help, and the low seat does make it seem more like a futuristic F1 car crossed with a razor. Created by Paolo De Giusti, the idea is that a hydrogen fuel cell in the fuselage in the rear powers electric motors at the front.
Translating as ‘the electric egg’, this was a vehicle constructed in 1942 by French industrial designer Paul Arzens. It was an electric car that ran on batteries in a time well before the current trend for green automotive technology was so popular. The bubble that creates the egg shape was made from hand-formed aluminium and curved Plexiglass which wasn’t used widely at the time. In many ways it probably helped pave the way for some of the modern electric cars we have today.
General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21
There were four Firebird prototype cars in total that appeared at the Motorama car show in the 1950s. The first was the Firebird 1 XP-21 in 1953 that was basically as close to a jet plane on wheels as General Motors could achieve. It featured four wheels, a tail fin and a bubble cockpit with just one seat. Its streamlined design and unique concept helped it generate a massive 370 horsepower (remember, this was over 60 years ago).
Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero
The Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero concept car actually laid the foundations down for the later Lancia Stratos and the New Stratos which was a one-off model commissioned in 2010 by rally driver Michael Stoschek. Looking like a futuristic wedge that had landed from outer space, it was incredibly streamlined with a triangle-like, angular shape and so low down it was only 33 inches tall. It meant drivers had to get in through the hinged windscreen.
Japan is often associated with producing a lot of automotive technology that takes a risk, some of which pays off and some of which does not. Honda’s Fuya-Jo did not, although it is a strange vehicle. Its name translates as ‘sleepless city’ with the car designed to appeal to people on nights out. It featured standing seats with an interior designed around a disco theme, so passengers could somehow continue to dance while going from bar to bar, and it even had a dashboard like DJ decks.
The Splinter is the first ever supercar that uses wood as its primary construction material. Obviously elements such as the internal engine are still made mainly from metals, but even parts like the wheels are made from rotary cut oak veneers. It is not a vehicle designed for mass production, like the majority of concept cars, so it features a 4.6 litre, twin supercharged V8 engine.
If you’re going to a car show in the near future be prepared to check out some even stranger prototypes and concept vehicles.