Over the years, carmakers have built some seriously strange sports cars, and these are some of the weirdest of them all.
Over the last century, the automotive industry has given us some pretty iconic sports cars. Think of the Porsche 911 that’s widely considered the greatest sports car of all time, the incredible Dodge Viper that instilled fear in everyone that got behind the wheel, or the Lamborghini Countach that had one of the most outrageous designs, to name a few.
But, now and then, automakers produce downright bizarre sports cars that leave every gearhead wondering “what the heck is that?” Automakers use these sports cars to show off their advancements in designing, engineering, and technology, giving customers an idea of what might come in the future. The following are ten of the most bewildering sports car designs of all time.
10. Covini C6W
The Covini C6W is an Italian two-door supercar that looks like an ordinary sports car from the front or back. However, a look at its side profile reveals one of the most bizarre features in any sports car – an extra pair of wheels. Yes, there’s such a thing as a 6-wheeled sports car!
It’s hard to imagine what the designers were aiming for when they equipped the C6W with six wheels. Some theories say they were looking for more grip, while others say they wanted more braking power. Whatever the reason was, at a staggering $600,000, the C6W never took off.
9. Isdera Imperator
In 1978, Mercedes unveiled the CW311 – a concept car that a Porsche design engineer known as Eberhard Schultz had designed in his free time. Since Mercedes executives had no interest in putting the CW311 into production, Schultz asked them to allow him to put it into production under his new brand, Isdera. That’s how the Isdera Imperator was born.
The Imperator had a wedge-shaped design and gullwing doors – almost unheard of at the time. It also had a rearview periscope on the roof instead of conventional rearview mirrors. Isdera made only 30 Imperators over a nine-year production run.
8. BMW Z1
Introduced in the late 80s, the Z1 was the first car in BMW’s Z Series two-seater convertible sports cars. The Z1 was initially a concept car that BMW developed to test new ideas, but high demand forced the Germans to give it a limited production run.
The most unusual feature of the Z1 is its doors – instead of traditional out-swinging doors, the Z1 has vertically sliding doors that drop into the door sills. The Z1’s body panels can also be removed without affecting its operation.
7. DeLorean DMC-12
The DeLorean DMC-12 is one of the most famous movie cars of all time, having played a vital role in the movie franchise Back to the Future. But, before Hollywood made it famous, the DeLorean was considered one of the strangest cars of the 80s.
Penned by renowned automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, this stainless steel sports car had a wedge-shaped body and gullwing doors that made it look futuristic, but in a weird way. DMC produced about 9,000 DeLoreans before legal and sales issues forced it to stop production in 1982.
6. Yamaha OX99-11
Yamaha is best known for producing some of the fastest motorcycles and looking at the OX99-11, it’s clear why the Japanese company should stick to motorcycles. Unveiled in 1992, the OX99-11 was Yamaha’s attempt to rewrite the rules of what sports cars are, and a failed one at that.
Yamaha worked with its subsidiary Ypsilon Technology and British engineering consultancy IAD to bring the OX99-11 idea to life, and the result looked like no other car on the road. The OX99-11 has a canopy door, a cockpit-looking roof, and a tandem seating arrangement. Thankfully, Yamaha had to cancel the project after building only three of these atrocities.
5. Lotus Europa
As one of the first mass-produced mid-engined sports cars, the 1966 Lotus Europa holds a special place in history. Although the Europa came with a 78-horsepower Renault engine, it weighed just 1,350 pounds thanks to a fiberglass body, making it one of the better-performing cars of its time.
However, one thing stood in the way of its success – the design. Lotus thought it was a good idea to have a box-like engine compartment sitting behind a low-slung cabin. The Europa looks like the sports car version of a hearse.
4. Consulier GTP
The Consulier GTP is a classic American sports car that was special in many ways. Inspired by race cars, the GTP was the first-ever road car to have a carbon-kevlar body and a composite monocoque chassis.
Consulier then equipped the GTP with a 2.2-liter turbocharged engine from Chrysler, making it incredibly fast. This car had everything it needed to become America’s greatest sports car at the time, save for one thing – the design. Consulier left much to be desired in the looks department, which explains why it sold less than 100 GTPs.
3. Panoz Esperante GTR-1
Panoz is most famous for its incredible race cars, but the Georgia-based manufacturer also builds road-legal sports cars that not many people know about. One of the most interesting vehicles in the company’s lineup is the Esperante GTR-1. The Esperante GTR-1 has a long nose with a bulging air intake in the center, making it look like a road-legal Batmobile.
While this design has been a major source of debate among gearheads, everyone agrees that Esperante GTR-1 is extremely quick. A Roush-Racing-sourced 6.0-liter V8 engine paired with a carbon-fiber monocoque composite chassis makes the Esperante GTR-1 one of the fastest American cars ever.
2. Alfa Romeo SZ
The Alfa Romeo SZ is a limited production sports car introduced at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show. The SZ was the result of a partnership between Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Zagato. This car had an odd boxy shape uncharacteristic for 80s cars, but there’s a good reason for that – it was one of the first cars to use computer-aided design.
The Designers used CAD/CAM to develop the SZ’s controversial design, after which Zagato constructed the body using fiberglass-reinforced plastic composites and aluminum. Though the design was heavily criticized, some designers have defended its practicality – the low ground clearance and wedge-like shape apparently helped improve aerodynamics.
1. 948 Norman Timbs Special
In 1948, renowned automotive engineer Norman Timbs unveiled what he had been working on for years – the hand-built Norman Timbs Special. This car immediately gained a lot of publicity and was featured in almost every motoring magazine due to its design – it looked like a whale on wheels.
It has a long, swooping nose, a front-mounted cockpit, and curves leading to a raindrop-shaped rear end. In keeping with the ocean theme, the entire passenger compartment is a single piece, which means one has to lift it like a clamshell to gain access to the engine and fuel tank.