To keep up with the foreign competition, American manufacturers experimented with some wild designs in the ’90s… and some were straight-up bizarre.
American brands are known to release some interesting concept cars every now and then. Examples of this include the Chevrolet E-10 electric pickup and the Cybertruck as made by Tesla. Some of these concept cars have been pretty out-there looking as brands play around with designs and engineering.
Yet, during the 1990s, there appeared to be an abundance of classic cars conceptually made by US brands that were either out-there or completely weird in terms of appearance, design, or functionalities.
This list looks at some of the weirdest concept cars made by American brands in the 1990s. From GM to Chrysler, and Ford, there were plenty of weird concept cars at the ready for us to look back on today.
Originating as a concept car as recalled at the LA Car Show in 1990, the GM Impact was eventually made into the GM EV1. The Impact was an all-electric car, which was much different from the cars that were being produced in the US during the late 1980s.
The vehicle was complete with a top speed of 183mph, which was amazing for an electric vehicle at this time. GM recalled all production EV1s and destroyed them all (a very controversial decision by the brand). The design was very unusual, with a departure away from the usual US styling around this time.
The Buick Cielo was launched in 1999 at the Detroit Motorshow. The reveal of this concept car was quite a surprise to car enthusiasts as Buick was renowned for making cars for older people, making the launch of this concept car quite odd.
The appearance of the Cielo was extremely different from what was mainstream at the time. In terms of appearance, the roof on both the convertible and saloon versions was very out-there and futuristic. Interestingly, the Cielo was one of the first cars to make use of the side-rear airbags. The Cielo was also equipped with a voice feedback service in the car, which, whilst not as weird today with the shifts in technology, was quite a bold decision in the 1990s.
Revealed in 1995, the Chrysler Atlantic was retro-themed and designed like a 1930s car. It was inspired by the Bugatti Atlantique, which is evident from the curves of the Atlantic. The vehicle combined two Neon I4s together, providing the vehicle with a Straight-8 engine.
Whilst the vehicle is still popular at car shows nowadays, it didn’t inspire any future creations of a similar vehicle. This is sad considering how interesting the car looked, but generally, the car is viewed as being a bit weird as well as a bit quirky.
7-Ford Ghia Vivace Concept Car
Ford based the Ghia Vivace off the Ford Mondeo and was a one-off concept creation. The car wasn’t actually functional either, with no powertrain or interior. Yet, the car was designed to showcase aluminum construction and helped to develop aluminum space frames (as used in the Range Rover 322).
The appearance of the Ghia Vivace isn’t standard either, with its aerodynamic looks and distinguishable style, the vehicle wouldn’t be easy to forget. Interestingly enough, the car sold recently, but as it isn’t actually useable, it didn’t go for an extremely high price.
Launched in 1996, Ford revealed the car for the auto show circuit. There were two of the car made, and one was functional. It looked like an F1 car and was a very unexpected car for Ford to make. Ford equipped the vehicle with a 6.0-liter V12, showing that the vehicle likely would have been very promising had it actually been launched, alongside over 400bhp and an aerodynamic look.
For such an odd-looking car from Ford, it would have been easy to accept mixed reviews. Yet, the car is quite often enjoyed in video games like Gran Turismo and by plenty of enthusiasts. Ford still owns the functional version of this car, with the other concept being auctioned off.
5-Plymouth Voyager 3
The Plymouth Voyager 3 was debuted to the public in 1990 at the Chicago motor show. Needless to say, it is one of the weirdest looking concept cars on this list. The unique car was a minivan that had a detachable cab on the back of the vehicle, allowing for more seats.
The car was definitely odd. The two-split vehicle was not really enjoyed by the public, and the vehicle never made it into production. Despite never being favored, the style did influence later Chrysler minivans so there has been some success for the car despite never being taken to. Some consider it ahead of its time, and some simply just consider it bad.
Infamously looking like a toy-car, the Plymouth Expresso was revealed in 1994. The vehicle was tiny, which was different from the styles of vehicles in the US at the time. Its appearance was fairly bubble-like and miniature. Various historians have believed that the Expresso was the first step to the ChryslerPT Cruiser, which isn’t surprising with their somewhat similar looks.
The Expresso also interestingly became a trim level on the Neon Dodge. A generally weird-looking car that was never taken to by consumers preoccupied with the trend in the US at the time.
In 1997, Chrysler built the Phaeton as a concept for the brand. The car used a V12 engine, which was surprising as the last production V12 American vehicle was the Lincoln Continental made pre-WW2. The car was very big and imposing, whilst being very space-age in its appearance.
The roof mechanism on the Phaeton was also used on the Chevrolet SSR launched in 2003. Despite its interesting looks, the Phaeton was capable of being rather influential in future designs that Chrysler built upon.
The Ford GT90 was revealed as the brand’s supercar of the 1990s. Unveiled in 1995 at the Detroit Auto Show, the GT90 was actually useable. The appearance of the GT90 was very interesting and very blocky. Capable of 230 mph, as measured by Ford, the speed that it would have been capable of on the roads was astonishing.
Performance of the GT90 would have been unquestioned too, achieving over 700bhp. Sadly, the vehicle was never made. The vehicle was definitely odd looking for the time, and wouldn’t really fit in with the appearance of current supercars. However, it certainly would have turned heads.
The Lincoln Sentinel debuted in 1996 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The vehicle was absolutely massive and used a V12 engine (which, as mentioned already, was pretty much unheard of in the US). The styling was definitely imposing, and almost inter-galactic. Also deriving from the Lincoln Continental, the Sentinel was a vision of the future of a luxury car.
The car didn’t really manage to influence any future Lincolns, but there is some unintentional resemblance between the Sentinel and the Renault Vel Satis. If the car had been made, it would have definitely been a head turner and would have suited the men in black.
Via : Hotcars