Weird or Wonderful: History's Most Unusual Car Exteriors

In a world where mass production is king, queen and courtiers, do you long for something different? A stamp of individuality, an idea so out there that you can barely believe it’s real. Well, car manufacturers have strayed down this route from time to time, with varying degrees of success. Here are five of the most unusual car exteriors you’re ever likely to see.

Stout Scarab

In the early 1930s, American designer and engineer William Bushnell Stout came up with this very odd looking minivan. With its elongated design and plunging boot, there’s no doubt that it bears a striking resemblance to a car that also came out a few years later. The VW Beetle’s name is even linked to the Scarab, but it’s the iconic VW Camper that took on the minivan role. Later versions of the Camper look more like the Scarab, with VW set to bring back the infamous model in the form of the plug-in I.D. Buzz concept in the coming years. 

Weird rating: 6/10

Firebird I

Ever fancied piloting a jet fighter but feel like it might be a bit too much effort to learn how to fly then join the RAF for the pleasure? Well, in the 1950s, the General Motors Firebird XP-21 - later referred to as Firebird I - was the answer to all of your dreams. With a quite barmy jet fighter design, the Firebird I could speed past 200mph. However, those dreams soon came crashing down, as the range of Firebird concepts was never put into production. 

Weird rating: 9/10


Moving on from jet fighters to shape shifters, the GINA Light Visionary Model was a concept for a fabric-skinned shape-shifting sports car. BMW’s head of design led the team behind the concept at the turn of the millennium, which saw the car wrapped up in a flexible, man-made fabric skin that was water resistant, translucent and durable. Quite the sight to behold, you’ll find that the concept looks an awful lot like the BMW Z4. 

Weird rating: 10/10

Peel P50

The most unusual thing about the Peel P50’s exterior is that there really isn’t very much of it. Barely big enough to fit one fully grown adult inside, you might remember Jeremy Clarkson driving one of these around the BBC studios during an amusing episode of Top Gear. While this product of the swinging sixties was novel in its concept of minimising the size of our motors as much as humanly possible, the same could also be said of Smart cars. Perfectly formed for city driving and those who like compact cars, you can get a two-seater, four-seater, or cabriolet model in the current Smart range. 

Weird rating: 8/10

VW Polo Harlequin

If you’ve ever wanted to bring a splash of colour to your daily commute, this could well be the car for you. It doesn’t get much more colourful than the Polo Harlequin, which was released in 1995. VW only planned to build 1,000 of them, but the assortment of brightly coloured panels that made up the exterior proved popular enough for them to make almost four times that amount, as well as a Golf version. Weird? Yes. Wonderful? We’ll leave that to you. 

Weird rating: 7/10