How cool would it be to see a flying car on your way to work? Or drive past a car that has the ability to transform itself into a submarine?
If you grew up with an interest in cars, you probably imagined that these spectacular imaginations would one day become a reality, and in some respects, they really have! But we're not talking about your everyday Ferraris and Lambos. While you might see a sleek or expensive vehicle that's a little out of the norm, these supercars probably aren't too dramatically different from what you're used to. However, every so often, a car will make you look up and question if what you're seeing is even real.
Here we look at a few of these unique vehicles.
1. 1970 Ferrari (Pininfarina) 512 S Modulo
Esteemed designers Pininfarina are known for producing many stand-out cars over the years, but the Ferrari 512 S Modulo car wasn't even aiming for beauty, but it achieved it anyway.
Through sheer excellence, the sleek prototype, which was designed for the 1970 Geneva Motor Show by Paolo Martin, sees a canopy-style glass cover most of the front and sides whilst its V-12 engine allows for top speeds of 220 mph. The car has since been sold to the American entrepreneur James Glickenhaus, who plans to restore it back to life.
2. 1970 Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero
From one Italian giant to another, the Lancia models of the '70s were known for being characteristically stylish and eye-catching, but the 1970 Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero was a concept car that spawned the original Lancia Stratos.
However, while the automotive brilliance of this concept is visible, at just 33 inches tall, drivers only means of access was through the hinged windshield.
3. 1932 Ford Speedster
While the Model-T remains Henry Ford's most celebrated automotive invention, the 1932 Ford Speedster aimed to attract a different type of consumer. Upping the ante, the Speedster was decorated with a flathead V-8 engine and a now-customary sports car starter button. This feature was the first of its kind and it was decades before other manufacturers cottoned on.
This low-flung speed bemouth was imagined by Ford's son Edsel and designed by Eugene Gregorie.
4. 1959 Cadillac Cyclone
This glorious piece of 1950's design was one of the first cars to instal a system prevalent in many modern-day vehicles. Indeed, the pointy black cones weren't just a cool set of headlights. They had a useful- and back then- highly innovative feature. If you haven't already guessed it, they were actually the car's crash-avoidance system, a technology now known as cruise control.
If the car came within close contact to an oncoming object, it would trigger a series of warning lights and a loud-pitched beep. If that wasn't enough of a warning, the car even had the ability to automatically apply the brakes. Both in appearance and in design, this was a car that certainly ahead of its time.
5. 1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21
Now, this is one cool car. While today's supercars are often celebrated and revered for their sleek exteriors and powerful V-12 engines, they are often nothing more than eye candy for those who can't afford them, but the 1953 Firebird XP-21 was just one of many GM cars that went beyond the realms of automotive creativity at a time when cars where only just becoming a common form of ownership.
Just take the 1953 General Motors Firebird I XP-21, which was literally a jet fighter on four wheels, with a bubble cockpit to boot. With a turbine engine spinning a 26,000 rpm, this generated a remarkable 370 horsepower, a level of automotive force almost unheard of at that time.
6. 1942 Oeuf Electrique
The 1942 Oeuf électrique looks pretty much like the Smart Car, but this 1942 vehicle had had three wheels and was powered by batteries as opposed to petrol long before green visionaries like Elon Musk made them cool.
The designer behind this car, Frenchman Paul Arzens, painted railway locomotives before he moved into designing and painting cars such as the Oeuf, which is made of aluminium and a rare material of Plexiglass.
7. Phantom Corsair
This vehicle certainly looks fit for a Bond villian/1930's Midwestern gangster, but the model itself probably didn't intend to come across that way. Designed by Rust Heinz, heir to Heinz food empire, plans for prototypes of this car were thought to have first been drawn up in the early 1900s.
While Heinz probably wouldn't be best pleased with having his premier design be compared to a gangster's car of choice. he always intended to design something novel and unprecedented. However, Rust passed away in July 1939 before the car went into production.
8. Peel P50
Even those of a relatively small disposition would struggle to find comfort in the Peel P50, a car that was originally billed as the smallest microcar on the market. Designed to accommodate one driver and a small grocery bag, the Peel P50 was only manufactured in small quantity, so much so that there are only 27 of the original models in existence.
Due to such a low quantity as well as its unique size, Peel P50s can go for over $100,000 at auction. Its size was illustrated in the British television show Top Gear when it was driven into an elevator and around the BBC building.
Its relative size did have the issue of meaning that it lacked a reverse gear but it was so small, it could be physically picked up and turned around.
9. Stout Scarab
Constructed by William Stout in the 1930s and early 40s, the former Ford Motors executive was so enamoured with his design that he named the car after himself! But Stout had reason to be confident.
The Stout Scarab was the first of its kind to have an independent coil spring suspension in all of its corners. Pretty amazing stuff.
10. Davis Divan
A cartoonish three-wheeled automobile spawned by one of the innovative brains working at the Davis Motor Company of Los Angeles in the 1940s, only 13 vehicles of these prized cars were produced, a great shame when you consider the company became insolvent one year later.
Glen Davies was the mastermind behind the contraption of the car. It proved so popular that 300 preorders worth $1,500,000 were recorded. Sadly, the defunct company was unable to follow through on those orders.
11. Buick Centurion
A concept car from 1956, it had a backup camera installed in it decades before the idea would make it to consumer markets.
A bubble roof and sleek, curving fins gave it a Jetsons-esque feel as well as completely unobstructed views.
12. Terrafugia Flying Car
Although not in production yet, this flying car is in development and has significant backing from the American government. It looks a little cumbersome in its road legal form, but it would be cool to switch from roads to air.
The idea is to fine tune it, get costs down and see it on the market in coming years. We'll have to wait and see on that one.
13. Lightburn Zeta Sports
Lightburn was a company that manufactured washing machines and cement mixers, and so there next logical step was to move into the auto market so in 1963 they launched their Zeta car which was powered by a minuscule 324cc Villiers engine.
The sedan didn’t have a rear hatch, so if you wanted to access the rear cargo area, you had to remove the front seats. To select reverse the engine had to be switched off, then started backwards which actually allowed you four reverse gears, meaning you could go backwards as fast as you could go forward.
Lightburn then topped themselves with their sports model that was tiny and had no doors at all. Unsurprisingly, the last vehicles sold in 1966 with total sales of fewer than 400 vehicles.
14. BMW Isetta
Post-war Europe was in desperate need of cheap transportation to navigate congested city centres, and this led to the creation of certain 'bubble cars' which were tiny one or two-seater cars with small engines just for nipping around.
One of the most popular of these was the BMW Isetta developed by BMW in Germany and manufactured under license in Britain for local and export sales with over 136,000 made. The front of the car opened on a hinge with the steering being on that door.
15. Tucker 48
The Tucker 48 was an ill-fated car that came about in Post-War America after the big three car manufacturers had failed to produce a new design since 1941 and so Preston Tucker set about producing his Tucker 48.
Briefly produced in Chicago in 1948. Only 51 cars were made before the company folded on March 3, 1949, due to negative publicity initiated by the news media, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and a heavily publicized stock fraud trial This was later found to be baseless and was thought to be brought about by the big 3 automakers who felt threatened by this new, stylish design.
The Tucker 48 was noted for its sleek curves and became dubbed the 'Tucker Torpedo' but it was also recognized for its directional third headlight (known as the "Cyclops Eye"), which would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car's path around corners.
16. Toyota WiLL vi
The WiLL project was a marketing approach shared by a small group of Japanese companies who decided to offer products and services that focused on a younger demographic from August 1999 until July 2004 in Japan and Toyota took part by producing cars with innovative or strange designs.
One such design was the WiLL vi with the hubcaps designed to look like sand dollar sea urchins, a cutaway rear window, bench seats and the gear shift installed on the dashboard. It was not popular and was only in production for a year.
17. Delahaye 175S
Delahaye 175 was an automobile manufactured by Delahaye between 1947 and 1951, and the 175s was an aerodynamic coupe that had a beautifully elongated body, however, the custom bodies placed on these cars were often much too heavy for what the chassis had originally been designed and engineered for, leading to collapsing Dubonnet suspensions and sheared differential half-shafts.
Wet weather handling was also extremely perilous due to the shape and size of the cars, and although considered gorgeous luxury cars that were bought by a few stars at the time, they did not sell well. The company did not last much longer after these incidents.
18. Sinclair C5
Strictly speaking, not a car but we're not sure what else you would define this electric vehicle as so we've shoved it on the list. The brainchild of British tech inventor, Sir Clive Sinclair, it was essentially a battery assisted tricycle, steered by a handlebar beneath the driver’s knees and could be driven on the roads without a license.
As such it was expected to sell extremely well, but its low positioning made it hard to spot and very dangerous to use next to larger vehicles. It sold relatively well with a respectable 17,000 units shifted but it became a target for media fun and ridicule, it stopped production shortly afterwards.
19. AMC Pacer
Not something the American market was used to (or still is), in 1975, AMC launched their Detroit American Compact, the Pacer which was noted for being wider than a Rolls Royce but coming to a rather abrupt end at the back of the vehicle.
Lacking cargo space because of this, the passenger door was longer than the driver's door to aid rear seat access, but they kept this feature when exporting to right-hand drive markets, which did not go down well.
20. LuAZ 969M
LuAZ (short for Lutskyi avtomobilnyi zavod which translates as Lutsk automobile factory) is a Ukranian automobile manufacturer that opened in 1951 with its first original design being the sturdy and simple LuAZ-967 off-road vehicle for the Red Army, which originated after the Korean War when the Soviets saw a need for small off-road vehicles comparable to the American Jeep.
Pictured is the 969M which is a further development on the theme but with a far more simplistic design than their American counterparts and was the first Soviet vehicle with front-wheel drive. Exports were limited, though it proved popular in Italy, where Martorelli also offered it with a Ford engine.
21. Bond Bug
The British motoring industry went through a strange period in the 1970s of producing three-wheeled vehicles that could be driven on a motorcycle license and had a tax advantage over other cars.
One such vehicle was the bond bug that had a hinged top to make entry and exiting 'easier'. It boasted a top speed of 125kph but due to its three-wheeled nature, cornering was notoriously difficult, and you would quite often end up on your side if you took a turn too sharply or at speed.
22. Ssangyong Rodius/Savic
The design brief of the Ssangyong Rodius (sold as a Savic in some regions) was to capture the essence of a luxury yacht, and they did so by making the largest vehicle they could, that handles like it is in water.
A people carrier that comes in 7, 9 and 11 seat configurations, it is a massive, unwieldy thing with a strange approach to aerodynamics (as in, none) and it looks like the rear portion was attached at a later stage of development.
23. Daihatsu Midget II
The Daihatsu Midget is a single-seat mini-truck made by Japanese automaker Daihatsu. Several vehicles have held the midget name down the years, but all have been utilitarian designs an enclosed or semi-enclosed cab.
The first generation was in production from 1958 to 1972, and it wasn't resurrected until 1996 and ran again until 2002.
24. Range Rover Evoque Convertible
We may live in 2018, but even the most ardent of Range Rover enthusiasts couldn’t have expected to see one of these on the road anytime soon.
Of course, Range Rover is an easy sell to those with more money than sense. And as the Evoque recently became the company’s fastest-selling model we can’t blame them for cashing in on this and selling a garish, convertible offshoot of the more tried and tested models.
25. Bugatti Type 57S Competition Coupe Aerolithe
Debuted at the Paris Auto Show in 1935, this car never made it to the roads, partly because the original example of it was lost immediately after the show.
The most popular explanation of this was that Bugatti disassembled it for parts to make the Type 57 production car that did hit the highways of the world but this has never been confirmed. This recreation was made in 2007 using original spec designs, photographs and an oil painting by a Bugatti engineer.
26. Voisin C-25 Aerodyne
Gabrielle Voisin started off designing airplanes but would move into car production post WWI with many of these designs having an aeronautical feel to them.
Only 28 of the 1934 Voisin C-25 Aerodyne were made, one of which won Best in Show at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The short-lived brand of The American Sports Car Company created a car with a name that was an acronym of the manufacturer's title. Designer Gordon Buehrig took inspiration from WWII fighter planes for his 1948 design.
The fibreglass coverings over the front wheels moved with the steering input.
28. GM LeSabre
The first car to ever have fins and a wraparound windshield, it broke new ground and introduced these staples of American car design to the world.
It also came with an inbuilt 'moisture detector' that would raise the convertible roof automatically, when it rained. An impressive design feature, given that the car was launched in 1959.
29. Chrysler Thunderbolt
One of the last art-deco designs seen in a production model car before aesthetics moved back toward futurism, the Chrysler Thunderbolt took inspiration from streamliner trains.
One of the first cars ever to have a retractable hard-top, it had button-operated pop-open headlights and power windows operated by hydraulic motors making it super sophisticated for its 1941 launch.
30. The Amphicar
The world's first amphibious car for public sale, the Amphicar was manufactured in West Germany and marketed in the United States from 1961-1967, with production having ended in 1965. Unsurprisingly, they didn't really take off as no one really needed an amphibious car, and they were quite costly.
The propensity to rust also didn't aid their sales, and only around 4500 were made. You can still find them on the market second-hand but be prepared to pay up to $100,000 for a good one.