Whether it’s wheels with wings, a one-off classic crafted by hand, or a driveable jet engine, there sure have been some strange cars created over the years. Don’t like how you’re car is always the same shape? Boy, do we have a car for you! Want to know what car the Pope rolls around Rome in? We’re going to tell you! One of the cars on our list even doubles as a submarine!
If you think you’ve seen it all, we’re here to blow your mind. These are the strangest cars ever made!
Nissan Deltawing: Tip Of The Spear
Designed to be the first of a new IndyCar series, this racing rocket was originally called Project 56. Doesn’t get more James Bond than that.
It showed its face for the first time at the 2012 Petite Le Mans. And although it placed fifth, the Nissan Deltawing definitely turned the most heads with its revolutionary design. If you ask me, it kind of looks like a futuristic arrowhead.
But the guys who designed it will tell you this strange shape serves a very specific purpose. The front track of this speedster is only about 1.9 feet across, which is tiny, even for an IndyCar. And with that and the Deltawings from which this whip gets its name, this car is extremely aerodynamic. If I were driving one, I might honestly be afraid that the thing might take flight, especially since it’s outfitted with a Nissan DIG-T 1.6-liter turbocharged engine capable of putting out 300 horsepower.
Eventually, the 2012 Nissan Deltawing would eventually be replaced by a coupe version of the vehicle in 2013 that included an Elan engine instead of a Nissan. But I think it’s still fair to give some credit to Nissan for helping create one of the strangest machines in IndyCar history.
GM Firebird XP 21: The Land Missile
I mean, come on, just look at this thing. Literally a cruise missile with some tires slapped on the side. I don’t know who GM was trying to market this car to. Astronauts? Ex-military generals? All I know is that I’m sure glad that the Firebird XP-21 exists in this world.
And this ride didn’t just break ground with its ridiculous body design, it was also the first car to be built in the USA with a gas turbine engine. And that engine cranks out 370 horsepower!
The idea behind this crazy car was basically to see if jet plane technology could be applied to a road vehicle. And if any of you out there are about to search the entire internet to see if you can buy an XP-21, let me save you some time. The answer is no.
This car was never intended to be street legal or even to compete in racing events. Nope, those mad scientists over at GM just wanted to see if sticking jet turbines on a car was even a possibility. And it worked… sort of.
The XP-21’s first ever test driver nearly lost traction when he shifted into second gear, and didn’t get up past 100 miles per hour. Maybe this street jet wasn’t built perfectly, but kudos to GM for trying.
2001 BMW GINA Light Visionary Model: Damnnnn Gina
If you’ve ever seen the second Terminator movie where Arnold has to fight the T-1000 cyborg who can turn into liquid and absorb bullets, well, BMW built the car version.
The GINA Light Visionary Model is sleek, silver, and shape-shifting. The body is made of polyurethane-coated Spandex that can be stretched into all kinds of different shapes by the self-adjusting frame underneath. The car adjusts its shape automatically to different speeds, different weather conditions, and can even be changed manually by the driver.
The middle of the hood opens up if you want to take a peek at the engine. And with butterfly doors, could this cruiser get any more badass? Well, yes, yes it could. They could’ve given it a cooler name than GINA!
This acronym stands for “Geometry and Functions In ‘N’ Adaptations” with the letter “N” standing for infinity. With such a creative concept for the car, how come they couldn’t come up with a cooler name? How about the Silver Surfer, or the Shape-Shifting SwagMobile. You can have those ones free of charge, BMW. You’re welcome.
L’Oeuf Electrique: The Electric Egg
The city of Paris is known worldwide for pushing the boundaries of art and design. And this time the French have brought this spirit of innovation into the world of cars. And while we here at Ideal are all for innovation, you have to admit… this car is a little weird.
Even if you don’t speak French, you won’t be surprised that this quirky car’s name translates to “The Electric Egg”. Seriously, the thing looks like it was popped out the back of a giant electric chicken.
But joke all you want about the absurd design of this mini driving machine, The Electric Egg was seriously ahead of its time. The prototype was developed in 1938, just before World War II, when electric vehicles were about as likely as living on Mars or your pet dog being a robot.
Since the French government was rationing fuel for the war, the Electric Egg allowed its creator to zip around the Parisian streets powered only by batteries.
After the war was over, the electric engine was replaced by a single-cylinder Peugeot petrol engine. But even so, this little rolling egg definitely helped paved the way for the Teslas of today.
Rinspeed sQuba: Thalassophobia
Ok, list of known amphibians: frogs, toads, salamanders, and the Rinspeed sQuba. That’s right, this Swiss speedster can be driven underwater.
Remember how I said you couldn’t get more James Bond than the Nissan Deltawing? Well, I lied, because the sQuba was actually inspired by a James Bond movie.
Imagine this: you’re in a high-speed chase, trying to catch some villain with an eyepatch, silently weaving through traffic with that zero-emission all-electric engine, when suddenly the villain hops on his yacht and thinks he’s in the clear. NOPE! You send your sQuba off the pier and suddenly the twin propellers and Seabob water jets kick in, and the chase is back on!
Well, you might actually be out of luck, considering this street-legal submarine can’t go any faster than 4 miles per hour on the water’s surface, or any faster than 2 miles per hour under the water.
But you’ve still got to admit, a car that you can submerge in the sea without even getting your socks wet is pretty cool. And as if that weren’t cool enough, the exterior of this amphibious beast is sleek enough for 007 himself.
Norman Timbs Special: Timbs, We Off That
The Norman Timbs Special is truly just that: special. There’s only one that exists in the whole world, and that’s because its designer, Norman Timbs, built the thing entirely by hand. He ripped parts from old Mercurys, Fords, and Buicks and made this mobile amoeba that looks like it got sucked through a wormhole. And the whole thing only cost him $10,000!
Well, to be fair, $10,000 was more like $100,000 back in the 1940’s when this bad boy was built. But it was clear that Timbs knew a thing or two about car mechanics, because this surrealist sedan can get going up to 120 miles per hour, which was VERY impressive in those days.
The NT Special, however, has had a troubled past. In 2018, it’s body was melted to a puddle by the California wildfires, and it looked for a moment like this unique vehicle would pass out of existence forever. But luckily, the frame was preserved and the car was able to be completely restored thanks to modern technology and a whole bunch of money. Norman Timbs can rest easy knowing that this hand-crafted classic is safe and sound.
BMW Isetta: Urkel’s Choice
Here’s a riddle: what kind of bubble won’t pop? If you guessed a BMW Isetta, then you know your stuff. The BMW version was based on earlier Isetta models that “popped” up all around Europe in the 1950’s and became known as “bubble cars”. Get it? “Popped” ?
Anyway, BMW was the first to put the Isetta model into mass production, and while many of the original models only had three wheels, the BMW version added a fourth for stability. Probably smart, who wants to ride a tricycle in traffic?
And this magnificent microcar may actually be the reason you still see BMWs on the road today. When they released the Isetta in 1955, BMW was on the brink of bankruptcy, until a magical little bubble lifted them back into financial freedom. The Isetta became hugely popular and for a while they could be seen littering the streets of Germany.
If you’re looking for a souped-up muscle car, the Isetta will probably make you sick. But for scooting around the narrow streets of 20th-century Europe, you can’t get no betta’ than the Isetta.
Popemobile: Holy Rolly
Now, it’s always been my dream to have a car named after me. I’ve spent hours lying awake at night thinking about what the “Joemobile” might look like. But if you’re the Pope, that dream is a reality.
There have been many versions of the Popemobile over the years, but they all have certain things in common: they have to put the Pope on a pedestal so he can wave to all his fans, and they have to keep His Holiness safe. That’s why some of them feature an elevated back seat for the Pope to sit on, and some even have bulletproof windows.
While some of the past Popes have gone a bit more extravagant, pulling up in a G Wagon or a Mercedes M-Class, the current Pope Francis has chosen to go the humble route. He’s usually seen rolling around in a Ford Focus or a Renault 4.
Good for Pope Francis for being modest, but if I were the head of the Catholic Church, I’d be ridin’ dirty in a Lamborghini Diablo. Wait… maybe not.