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Revhead Ramblings: Innovation Gone Mad – Click’s Most Unusual Vehicle Features!

Vehicle manufacturers love to be at the forefront of innovation (even if unusual!), however technology comes and goes so quickly it’s often a shot in the dark to decide which cutting edge invention to bring to the automotive world next!

Sometimes they pull it off and they’re hailed as true innovators of the industry for a while. But the moments we tend to forget are when manufacturers get their research wrong and produce something unusual that they’d much rather see confined to the history books.

The 1984 Toyota Van

Unusual The 1984 Toyota Van

The 1984 Toyota Van was an all-round unusual vehicle, from the awful name to the engine access point under the driver’s seat. It’s design really did raise some questions. The highlight of all the optional extras though was only available on the LE trim… A shoebox sized icemaker. The option was only available on European models and was axed soon after its debut; a great tragedy.

The Volkswagen Beetle

Unusual Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle has gone down in history as one of the greatest cars ever produced. It was originally manufactured under instructions from Adolf Hitler to produce a cheap and simple car for his new motorway network.

Rather ironically the car gained notoriety for its symbol in the hippie movement. When Volkswagen debuted their new Beetle, they added a small flower and vase onto the dashboard of each car in an attempt to appeal to the erstwhile flower children.

But who genuinely thought it would be a good idea to install a standard feature intended to display long, tall, brightly coloured visual obstructions in an area where visual clarity is needed most?

Subaru Brat

Unusual Subaru Brat

We have America to thank for this next unusual design feature, not because the brand who made it hails from the land of the free but because of their war with Germany over chicken prices. As a result of the disagreement they imposed a steep 25% tariff on small imported trucks to hurt Germany’s export trade. This led to large companies opening factories in America to bypass this, however smaller brands didn’t have the resources to sidestep the issue so instead used an alternative method.

Subaru chose to bolt plastic jump seats in the load bed of their Brat pickup and market it as a passenger car. This plan was clearly discussed only briefly before going into production as Subaru failed to consider the safety aspect. They had to install ski handles in the load bed for passengers to attempt to hold on in extreme cases, such as braking and accelerating!

Volvo S80’s Unusual Fob 

Unusual Volvo S80

Volvo have always been leaders in safety equipment, one of their first innovations was laminated glass windscreens to protect the occupants from shards. In the early 2000’s however Volvo found a new safety feature that worked when the driver wasn’t actually in the car.

In the top range S80 model you could equip yours keys with a personal car communicator. It could tell you things such as if the doors were locked or if the car had been tampered with; both very useful features.

One extra feature that leaves a few questions in your mind however is the fob’s ability to tell you if there was a human heart beating in the back seat. That’s right. The personal car communicator didn’t rely on a mere motion detector, or heat sensor, but rather an electronic system that could listen inside of a human body. No word on how close you had to get to the vehicle before the terror completely set in!

Did we miss any awful innovations off our list? Feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below, we’d love to hear them!


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