In general, modern cars are quite “good”. People say there’s no such thing as a bad car any more, and they could be right – every model now provides adequate comfort, safety and performance.
But the side effect of all this adequacy is that the market is quite dull. There are innovations, yes, but they’re all in relatively boring areas like fuel efficiency and tyre treads. Where is all the excitement?
This is a list of the ten most unusual cars (and notable, too) – unusual because they break at least one boundary and notable because they do it in a way which is impressive rather than merely wacky.
They’re in no particular order, but the flying one is obviously the best.
There needed to be an amphibious car on this list, and here it is. The Rinspeed Splash does what the others have consistently failed to do – both jobs satisfactorily. This sporty but strange vehicle uses hydrofoil technology to attain a top speed of 45 knots in the water, while back on dry land it can reach a respectable 124mph.
Self-driving Google car
This is just a boring old Lexus with a natty roof rack, but the implications this car will have on the automotive industry will be huge. Google’s self-driving car project is exactly what it sounds like – an attempt to make a vehicle drive itself on public roads. With twelve of these machines out on the streets in the USA at any one time, you’d expect to have heard of some accidents – but in fact, their only accidents have been at the hands of human drivers.
Grinall Scorpion III
This is one of several three-wheelers on the list. Cars with any number of wheels other than four are unusual in their own right, but this one is particularly fun. Built in ‘reverse trike’ formation (two wheels at the front, one at the back), the Scorpion reaches 60mph in around 6 seconds. The vehicle can be sold as a complete kit rather than as a built car and starts at under ten grand.
The Terrafugia Transition is a joyous flying machine. It’s probably the most genuinely progressive vehicle on this list, combining surprisingly fuel-efficient (35mpg) motoring with cross-country flight. Strong interest from investors means that this car might actually progress from prototype stage.
Not yet in production, the Transition is expected to retail at around £180,000. When that day comes – after the next prototype – our skies might start to look very different indeed. And so will our bank accounts.
Although it joins a queue of concept cars that will probably never materialise, this design shows what otherwise-sensible manufacturers can do when they put their mind to it. The EX1 has two electric motors – one for each axis – with a combined power output of 340HP. That is impressive!
As well as being the coolest Batmobile, the Tumbler is one of the most impressive working movie vehicles. It is the brainchild of Christopher Nolan and Chris Corbould, the latter being a British special effects guru with a string of James Bond films to his name.
The Tumbler weighs 2.5 tonnes and has a 5.7 litre V8, which results in a phenomenal soundtrack.
Aixam Coupe S
The Aixam Coupe S is a very compact machine, but that’s not why it’s unusual. Officially a ‘light quadricycle’, this tiny car can be driven on British roads by 16-year-olds.
The top speed of 28mph makes it considerably slower than the Corsas and Fiestas that share its £10,000 price tag, but as unusual cars go, this will be of particular interest to anybody reading this article instead of revising for their GCSEs.
The Ariel Atom is a strange, exoskeletal performance car that was immortalised in this Top Gear clip. A kerb weight of 612kg enables the Atom to reach 60mph in 2.89 seconds.
The tiny firm manufactures fewer than 100 Atoms each year at their Somerset facility. They’re road legal and even crop up on eBay from time to time.
The Top Gear Reliant Robin Space Shuttle
Ah, the Reliant Robin… It almost deserves a mention here in its own right, being the most snigger-inducing machine to have rolled down an English street. This one (or rather, the one this is a replica of) was different.
The Top Gear boys set out to replicate NASA’s Space Shuttle in what would be the largest non-commercial rocket launch in Europe. Culminating in a fireball, the project was one of the most gratuitous uses of the BBC2 budget ever.
Morgan is known for tasteful two- and four-seater vintage roadsters. Often found in small groups outside pubs on sunny afternoons, the four-wheeled variety is a rare enough breed in itself.
Rarer still, then, is the three-wheeler. The firm started out producing vehicles like this in the early 20th Century, founder H.F.S. Morgan having first produced a single-seater in 1909. In 2011, the modern Morgan Three-wheeler was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, sporting a 1983cc S&S engine and a 5-speed manual gearbox. The Gulf edition is particularly fun.
Have you ever driven one of these unusual cars? Maybe you even own one? Or perhaps you can rival them with an even rarer model? Share your favourites with us in the comments below!
This article was written by Alex, a freelance writer and motoring enthusiast based in Oxford, writing on behalf of MORE TH>N motor insurance. Please note that MORE TH>N – or any other insurer! – may not be able to insure you on these cars (if you’re lucky enough to get hold of one, that is!).
- Lead image from popculturegeek
- Image of Rinspeed Splash from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Google’s Lexus from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Grinall Scorpion III from Flickr
- Image of Terrafugia Transition from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Peugeot EX1 from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Tumbler Batmobile from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Aixam Coupe S from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Ariel Atom from Wikimedia Commons
- Image of Reliant Robin Rocket by Oast House Archive
- Image of Morgan Threewheeler from Flickr