Every car manufacturer wants to be on the cutting edge when it comes to safety features, technology, and general advances in comfort, style, ergonomics and innovation. But what happens when these car companies have ambitions or ideas that make you wonder just what they were thinking? This list takes a look at the results.
ICE MAKER – 1984 TOYOTA VAN
Toyota decided it would be a good idea to use a cab-over design for its Space Age-looking escape pod of a minivan (unimaginatively titled simply the Van), making it so that to access the engine you simply lifted up the driver’s seat. Also among the designer’s “brilliant” ideas was to include a small refrigerator in the center console area, just above the automatic transmission stem. Said refrigerator also had … an ice maker. The shoebox-sized cooler was kept frigid via air conditioning refrigerant lines. Because what you really need to be paying attention to as you drive is trying to crack that last, stubborn ice cube that won’t pop out of the tray.
GLOVE BOX MINI BAR – 1957 CADILLAC ELDORADO BROUGHAM
This car has mostly been relegated to the annals of history (largely because Cadillac hasn’t ever brought back this particular variant of the Eldorado. At its advent, though, the Eldorado Brougham was known as “The Frank Sinatra Car” because, well, it was the car Frank Sinatra drove. Well, cars – plural. Sinatra owned two of them, purportedly shelling out about $13,000 per vehicle. It had all the amenities that one would expect from a Cadillac, though one expects the feature which most caught Ol’ Blue Eyes’ fancy would be the magnetic mini bar stashed away inside the dashboard glove box.
There’s not a snowball’s chance that something like this would ever even be seriously considered for placement inside a modern vehicle, but this feature certainly does summon a hearty chuckle or two of disbelief that it ever was. This kit came with four steel cups that were magnetized so as to stay attached to the fold-down tray, as well as one small, complementary bottle of booze.
FLOWER VASE – VOLKSWAGEN NEW BEETLE
Though it was widely popular for decades, the original Volkswagen Beetle become the de facto vehicle for hippies and “flower children.” When Volkswagen reintroduced the iconic car for that generation of hippies now all grown up and facing retirement, it was seen as something of a brilliant move. However, Volkswagen may have gone slightly too far in attempting to appeal to these erstwhile flower children when it installed a flower vase on the dashboard of every New Beetle that rolled off the assembly line.
And sure, who doesn’t want to spruce up their car with a few things that look and smell nice. But who genuinely thought it would be a good idea to install a standard feature intended to display long, tall, brightly colored visual obstructions in an area where visual clarity is needed most?
How far will you go to make an impression on other motorists? Some go as far as painting their car wild colors, or outfitting it with all manner of visual accoutrements such as oversized spoilers, ground effects and hood scoops. Some buy stylized wheels or even modify the vehicle’s horn to project a distinct sound or song. Goodyear, back in the 1960s, wanted to get in on this customization action and did so by introducing illuminated tires, which would light up via colored bulbs mounted inside the wheel rim. That’s right, the geniuses at Goodyear, a company devoted solely to making tires, thought it would be a good idea to combine rubber tires and breakable, sharp lightbulbs.
STARLIGHT HEADLINER – ROLLS-ROYCE