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It has always been important to stay ahead of competitors when it comes to sleek design and innovative features in a new car. Healthy competition is definitely a good thing. It can drive much-needed changes that greatly improve the overall driving experience. Unfortunately, some of the designs that have been implemented can be a bit questionable, leaving people scratching their heads.
The question of whether they “could have” or “should have” will inevitably come up when you take a look at our list of the 10 most unique foreign cars ever made. There is no particular order within our top 10 as they are all unique in their own way. We hope you’re ready to experience the best (or worst) of what decades of innovation have to offer!
As the title implies, these cars have a lot of interesting design choices that make them stand out from the crowd. It’s entirely up to you to decide whether they stand out in a cool and exciting way, or the exact opposite.
If you were to look up a picture of a clown car, it’s almost guaranteed that you would find a picture of the 2CV. This French-manufactured car was produced for an impressive four decades, with the production lines shutting down in 1990. Originally designed to be a replacement for the heavily relied upon horses of French farmers, the car was designed to be low-cost in all regards, from maintenance to assembly. Due to this being the case, the car was often referred to as “an umbrella on wheels” due to how light it felt to drive. Farmers had to drive these over their fields after all, so the car being lightweight was crucial.
Featuring a whopping nine horsepower, you won’t win many races driving this car, but you will get some amazing gas mileage. There are some truly incredible paint schemes and designs for this car, and you will be blown away by some people’s creativity.
This vehicle has one of the most truly bizarre designs that you may ever see. It resembles a submarine more than a car. To make matters even more confusing, the interior legitimately looks like the cockpit of an aircraft, and there is only one door for the entire car. The ‘door’ is a glass canopy that opens very much like how hatches on submarines do.
The German manufacturer, Messerschmitt, originally produced planes but was banned from doing so after WWII. They decided to experiment with a bunch of different vehicle ideas, largely to keep the business running but also, in part, to alleviate some boredom while they waited for their airplane embargo to pass. One of their inventions was this car, or Kabinenroller, which translates to “cabin on wheels.”
Depending on the model, there is room only for the driver or one additional passenger. Featuring a top speed of 56 mph and having just under 10 horsepower, we do not recommend taking this car up too many steep hills.
This three-wheeled wonder looks more like something you would see on a carnival ride than on the road, but hey, who are we to judge? The Reliant Robin, also known as the ‘plastic pig,’ is an iconic part of British culture. It often finds itself on the receiving end of jokes. You would be hard-pressed to find someone in the UK who hasn’t seen or heard of this car, and even if you live outside of the UK, you might have heard of some of its exploits.
The popular TV series “Top Gear” saw host Jeremy Clarkson attempt to turn the Reliant Robin into a spacecraft and launch it into space. He also attempted an iconic 14-mile drive from Sheffield to Rotherham, where he rolled the car several times. Both of these events are huge in pop culture, and clips of both are still used in memes to this day.
You may be asking yourself what this thing is, and if you are doing so, you have done exactly what you’re supposed to do. This car was initially created to be a cheap, mass-producible military vehicle for European governments to use on a large scale. Due to rapidly advancing military technology, this car was phased out rather quickly from service, so Volkswagen decided to try and test the vehicle in civilian markets.
With very few changes being made to the appearance of the vehicle, it looked quite different from other everyday cars. A few unique aspects of this car were that all of the doors were removable and interchangeable, you could fold the windshield flat, and you could take the roof off! If IKEA were to ever make a car, they would surely be proud of something like this.
Ferrari 512 S Pininfarina Modulo
The Modulo is a one-of-a-kind sports car — there was only one model ever made. Equipped with a V12 engine and capable of reaching an astonishing top speed of 220 mph, it can really put on a show. Outside of the internal capabilities, the car has an extremely unique design that would be difficult to find elsewhere.
It looks like it was pulled from the set of “Star Wars.” It’s hard to believe that this thing is an actual working car, and a high-end one at that. The car won a plethora of awards despite never going into production, leaving us wondering why it was never given the green light for the general public to enjoy. Maybe Ferrari knew that none of us were ready for a car of this caliber yet, or maybe they just wanted to keep it for themselves.
Combining the best aspects of two or more different concepts usually produces a popular end product. The concept of a hybrid is nothing new, but sometimes, the way a hybrid is planned and executed can be unusual. Below are a couple of examples when perhaps the engineers took some concepts a little too far.
Holden HSV Maloo VS
If you cut a sedan and a pickup truck in half, then directly welded one half of each together, you would end up with this car. It looks quite odd, with the abrupt transition from sedan to pickup truck happening exactly in the middle of the vehicle. The Australians developed this vehicle, and it is decently popular down under. This car attracts attention, so if you’re looking to stand out, this is without a doubt one of the most unusual foreign cars to buy. Don’t forget that the steering wheel is on the right side!
Known better as the “Rambo Lambo,” this truck/SUV hybrid is certainly an interesting vehicle to behold. Similar to the Volkswagen Thing, the LM002 was originally designed for use by the U.S. military. Equipped with an engine similar to what power boats used at the time, the car was designed to be very powerful and capable of holding lots of cargo. Ultimately, the car was not well received due to stability issues, so it was made available to the general public where Lamborghini upgraded it with luxury packages.
Very few of these hybrids were ever fully produced, and Lamborghini scrapped the project quickly after the failure to appeal to the military. The move to attempt to make a vehicle like this surprised many people as it seemed to branch significantly away from what the brand is known for. It’s important to keep in mind that Lamborghini has its roots in breaking away from traditional norms, though. The company got its start making tractors after all.
The Fun Sized
These cars were designed specifically to be small and compact, perfect for those who lived in the city. As long as you aren’t tall and you’re looking for something economical, these may be the perfect option for you—if you can get past their crazy designs.
This Italian microcar can be considered as one of the ancestors of the modern-day smart car, as it was one of the first cars to have such a small build. Featuring a hatch-like door, a decent amount of storage space, and a jaw-dropping 78 mpg, this car is a prime example of how ‘slow and steady wins the race.’
Having only been manufactured during the 1950s, the Isetta and its various spin-offs were popular in parts of Europe, as space can come at a premium on the crowded continent. Given its cutting-edge innovation and subsequent performance, the Isetta has cemented itself as one of the most unique foreign cars ever made.
The Peel P50 is impressively small, so much so that it holds the Guinness world record for being the smallest production car ever made. To get an idea of just how small this thing is, it was marketed to hold only a single person and one shopping bag. What’s better is that the original models didn’t come with a reverse gear, meaning that you couldn’t back up your car. Their solution? Get out of the car and pick it up. That isn’t a joke — the car is so small that you can pick it up and move it.
Aston Martin Cygnet
You may not typically associate Aston Martin with microcars, but their attempt at one certainly kept up with their high standards of luxury. It was designed to be a solution for those who struggled with urban mobility, as this car was supposed to seamlessly combine both practicality and elegance. Unfortunately for Aston Martin, the car was a massive failure, and they sold fewer than 300 models.
It seems that people wanted a more economical option with microcars, and the higher price points of Aston Martin cars made this vehicle a bit redundant. With so few produced and sold, this car would make an awesome addition to any collector’s collection.
A Legacy of Curiosity
Widespread innovation and experimentation led to the creation of these cars. We will inevitably see more crazy inventions and car conceptualizations in the future, the likes of which may be hard to imagine now. As car lovers, we can’t wait to see where the future will take us, and what kind of wacky inventions it will bring.
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I’m a kid at heart disguised as an auto researcher and business owner. I’ve always enjoyed providing insight in the form of reviews (anime, video games, autos, etc.) When I’m not researching, I’m spending time with my family, driving my Dodge Challenger, riding my motorcycle, and finding new entrepreneurial pursuits.