To stand out from the pack in the automobile industry, many designers go to bold lengths to differentiate their vehicle from others on the market. Some of these cars become iconic cultural symbols of the era in which they were manufactured whereas others fall by the wayside and are somewhat forgotten. As demand for different types of cars has grown and changed throughout the last one hundred years, many manufacturers have attempted to create 'cross-over' automobiles, which combine features from different classes of vehicles. Some of the earliest versions of these cross-over vehicles can be seen in several cars on this list. Here are 27 of the weirdest American cars that have ever been produced.
Ford Ranchero (1977)
Ford produced these unique vehicles for a couple of decades, but the Ranchero was discontinued after this model was released. This type of vehicle is known as a coupe-utility or coupe-pickup, and its lack of popularity between the 1950s and 1970s is why they are not seen on the market today.
Chrysler PT Cruiser (2001)
Once highly praised by the automotive industry, the PT Cruiser was produced from 2001 until 2009. The bold look of the vehicle enamoured consumers at first, but it was unclear if the vehicle was trying to be a 1930s mob car, a minivan, or a hatchback. It is certainly one of the weirdest cars from the 2000s.
AMC Gremlin (1970)
The little AMC Gremlin epitomized the designs of small economical vehicles of the 1970s and was built to compete with Volkswagen and Toyota. This car is based on an AMC station wagon with the back end chopped off. It was constructed like this because the small company could not afford to build a new model from scratch, giving the Gremlin its unique look.
Bricklin SV-1 (1974)
Malcolm Bricklin had a vision of a 'safety-first' sports car, emphasizing safety features over performance. The Safety Vehicle 1 or SV-1 is the result of this vision and the added features (such as a roll cage) that make this distinctive car slower than most on the road.
Ford Pinto (1971)
The Pinto may not be as weird as some of the other cars on this list, but it is another example of what happens when manufacturers rush a car into production and sacrifice safety and reliability. The Ford Pinto is one of the most well-known recalls in automotive industry history and had a negative impact on Ford financially.
Davis D-2 Divan (1947)
The Davis D-2 Divan shows how insanely unique and peculiar some American vehicles can be. This three-wheeled, four-seater looked like a bumper car from a carnival and will remain one of the weirdest cars ever made in the United States.
Pontiac Trans Sport (1990)
The Trans Sport was Pontiac's attempt at creating a futuristic minivan complete with a built-in Nintendo console, gull-wing doors, sleek lines, and a glass roof. This underpowered minivan was not quite the juggernaut Pontiac was hoping for, but the distinctive look earns it a place on this list.
AMC Pacer (1975)
The AMC Pacer looks like a driving display case with its gigantic front windscreen and fishbowl-like rear windshield. The innovative vehicle was a little too ahead of its time, but the Pacer is surely one of the most aesthetically remarkable cars in American history.
Packard Hawk (1958)
The Packard Hawk was supposed to represent the best of two manufacturers who had recently merged, Studebaker and Packard, but the vehicle was seen as an overpriced Studebaker by many. The rarity of these cars and the nostalgia surrounding the Packard brand make the Hawk a highly sought-after vehicle for many American collectors.
Rambler Cross Country (1957)
The Rambler Cross Country was a huge success, and many American families enjoyed road trips in them. With room for five people, roof racks, storage space, and great fuel economy, this vehicle pioneered the compact car in America without sacrificing passenger space and functionality.
Dodge Rampage (1982)
This two-door pickup had decent performance and fuel economy for the time, but its hauling capabilities were questionable. This type of vehicle never caught on in the United States as the Ford Ranchero also illustrates.
Chevrolet Malibu Max (2004)
The Malibu Max was marketed as an 'extended sedan,' adding a hatchback-like rear to a four-door body. This clumsy and odd hybrid vehicle raises many questions about the design team behind the Malibu Max. Nonetheless, it is one of the most unique vehicles of the 2000s when it comes to looks.
AMC Eagle Wagon (1979)
This four-wheel-drive compact wagon could be considered inspiration for modern cross-over vehicles. A surprising success, the Eagle Wagon can tackle many terrains with ease while maintaining performance and safety. It is a great family vehicle that also provided decent fuel economy for the time.
Chevrolet Monte Carlo (2000)
Chevrolet came up with this weird design, which can be placed somewhere between a sports car, compact coupe, and sedan. The 2000 Monte Carlo looked like a sports car and was marketed as one, but the front-wheel-drive configuration ruined the potential of the supercharged V6 engine.
Pontiac Aztek (2001)
After a decade of producing tedious and drab vehicles, Pontiac may have gone a little too far with this one. The Aztek is just plain weird in its appearance, and sales fell far short of expectations. Although it is somewhat of an exaggeration, the Aztek has become known as the car that killed Pontiac.
Mercury Cougar (1971)
Before the 1971 edition of the Cougar, Mercury had a niche market of buyers who enjoyed the Cougar for its European flair and its ability to rival the Ford Mustang. However, the 1971 version of the Cougar was redesigned, and the unique features that made previous models popular were abandoned.
Cadillac Seville (1980)
Cadillac was struggling to compete against German manufacturers during this time, and the 1980 Seville can be seen as an experiment in design. A sedan with the rear chopped, this edition of the Seville incorporates European Rolls-Royce styling into a diesel vehicle and is one of the most unique vehicles ever produced by the manufacturer.
Buick Electra 225 (1959)
The styling of the Electra, inspired by classic 1950s designs, may have come too late in the decade to produce a commercially successful vehicle. Although it never caught on, this luxurious vehicle is a beauty that is reminiscent of the golden age of American automobiles.
Lincoln MKT (2010)
The Lincoln MKT is a divisive vehicle, with many loving the bold design and others hating it. Lincoln certainly shook the market of crossover vehicles with a bold statement in the MKT, which combines features of a station wagon, SUV, and minivan.
Buick Skylark (1992)
The Buick Skylark looks like a bird with an elongated front end that resembles a beak. The struggling company needed an innovative design to grow sales, and this is the result. The style did not catch on, and the Skylark was discontinued in 1998.
Edsel Pacer (1958)
This peculiar vehicle was the brainchild of Ford, which needed a full-sized, entry-level car for the American market. Ford ended up losing today's equivalent of $2.8 billion on the Pacer, which was just an overpriced Mercury for many. Fewer than 10,000 Edsels survive in the hands of car collectors today.
Ford Thunderbird (1980)
When the Thunderbird was downsized and redesigned, it lost much of the character that had made previous models popular. The 1980 model was underpowered, and the design, although unique, was not embraced by consumers.
Ford Taurus (1996)
With nicknames like the 'submarine' and 'bubble Taurus,' this vehicle deserves a spot on this list. The Taurus competed with Japanese cars, such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, throughout the early 1990s. This odd design of the Taurus lasted from 1996 until 1999, when it was replaced with a more conservative look.
Cadillac Cimarron (1982)
Efficient imports, such as Mercedes-Benz, were cutting into the profits of Cadillac in the early 1980s, and the company needed an answer. Unfortunately, it did not come in the form of the Cimarron, one of the most rushed and overpriced vehicles of the early 1980s that was essentially a rebadged Cadillac Cavalier with leather seats.
Chevrolet Vega (1971)
This car was rushed into production, and the desire to keep price and design costs low compromised the safety features and eventually led to recalls. What seemed like a promising vehicle when released did not live up to the potential it once had. Chevrolet manufactured the vehicle from 1971 until 1977, and there is only a small handful of them left on the planet today.
Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare (1976)
This nightmare of a vehicle was recalled for no less than five mechanical problems involving the suspension, ignition, fuel system, brakes, steering system, and body of the car. By the end of 1977, the vehicle had been recalled eight times. The look of this vehicle is not as odd as that of other cars on this list, but its wonky mechanical problems earn it a spot.
Hudson Jet (1953)
The boxy look of the Hudson Jet was seemingly out of date even in 1953 when many competitors were opting for sleeker, rounder lines in their vehicles. Although the vehicle was well received by the automobile market, sales of the Hudson Jet would never rival those of their competition's equivalent. In 1957, Hudson was closed for good after being bought out and never produced any more vehicles.