First, let’s start with the Horsey Horseless created by Uriah Smith from Battle Creek, Michigan. As you can see from the picture (and it wasn’t “fixed” in Photoshop) this (let’s call it) car had a wooden head attached to the front in order to make it look like a horse and carriage. Smith suggested that this horse head should be hollow in order to contain volatile fuel, another brilliant idea in our opinion, wouldn’t you say? I for one would like to see this so-called car for real, if there are any left as it isn’t very clear if it was actually built. Also, I would like to meet someone that purchased this “car”.
Ford Model T
Here is a car that 99% will not agree as being suitable for this top – the Ford Model T. Yes we know that this is the car that put American on the wheels and so on. The “Tin Lizzy”, who’s mass-production technique, was discovered by William C. Klann, who visited a “disassembly line” of a slaughterhouse, gave Americans the chance to visit the country on four wheels. Nothing wrong you would say, no? However, putting all these aside, if it weren’t for gas-powered vehicles, the air would be considerably fresher; the cities would not be suffocated by hundreds of thousands of cars and so on. Speaking of the Model T, it was a piece of junk with its crude instruments and body panels, think of it as a Yugo of its day.
Now, here is a “looker”, the Overland OctoAuto. Milton Reeves, the creator of this thing, didn’t hear that the all cars should have four wheels because it’s NORMAL. He must have had poor eyesight when he created the OctoAuto by welding in some bits to a 1910 Overland and by adding two more axles and four wheels. The car was presented at the first edition of Indianapolis 500. How many orders did he receive for this car? None of course! However, he didn’t stop here because next year he made the Sextauto which had a 6-wheels / single front axle design that shared the same faith as the OctoAuto. Milton Reeves will remain in the history of the automotive world not because of these cars, but for the fact that he is considered the inventor of the muffler.
Who wouldn’t like to drive a 3,200-lb motorcycle? If you could go back in the past, you could drive this awful Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo (even the name is terrible). Let’s not forget that it was powered by a V8 engine and it had training wheels. James Scripps-Both is the guy responsible for this monstrosity which is basically a two-wheeled vehicle that carries the 3,200-lb of weight on the 37-inch wooden wheels (the bling-bling of those days). The car will remain in history as being the first car powered by a V8 engine that was made in Detroit.
Briggs and Stratton Flyer
Here is another vehicle that blew us away, the Briggs and Stratton Flyer. In the 20s, cars were no longer considered as a primitive experiment as Cadillac, Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza were already making luxurious and potent vehicles that had the newest technical discoveries. This vehicle wasn’t one of them. It was a motorized park bench on regular bicycle wheels. It had no windshield, no bodywork and no suspension! With its “massive” 2 hp engine and rear-wheel traction control, imagine what it was capable of doing, absolutely nothing. It was the 20s idea of the cheapest car, poorly implemented.
Fuller Dymaxion is the product of R. Buckminster Fuller, one of the nutjobs of the 20th century. Conceived as a flying automobile/drivable plane, it had inflatable wings and jet engines. This awful-looking thing was in fact a three-wheel ground-bound zeppelin that had an enormous levered A-arm carrying the rear wheel. The first one created died due to the wobbly rear wheel while the next two iterations were heavier, bigger and slightly more maneuverable. Another one was made and it featured a stabilizer fin on top but it didn’t do anything to fix the instability in crosswinds. Its public appearance was doomed because of a fatal accident of unknown causes. Although it was a piece of crap, it remained one of the most futuristic cars of the 30s, along with other rear-engined vehicles like the KdF-wagen and the Tatra.
If it was launched 20 years later, it would have been a huge hit; we are talking about the Chrysler/Desoto Airflow. It had many engineering and design innovations including a steel-spaceframe construction, aerodynamic singlet-style fuselage, light weight construction and near 50:50 weight distribution. The first cars made had very severe engine problems which didn’t made it very popular among Americans. Its appearance wasn’t also very appealing to them which is why Chrysler changed the grill with one that had a more conventional design and the car also received a raised trunk, but it was too late.
The first post-war American sports car was the Crosley Hotshot which was simply put, awful. With its 1,100 lbs weight and measuring 145 in. long, it was very slow and dangerous. Creator Powel Crosley Jr. fitted the car with a dual-overhead cam .75 liter 4-cylinder power unit that was brazed together from pieces of stamped tin.
The Renault Dauphine (it originally got the name Corvette) is considered by many one of the slowest cars of all time. People over at Road and Track took it for a “spin” and were able to reach 60 mph from start in “only” 32 seconds. Due to the fact that it was a very cheap car, it sold in more than 2 million units, although it was poorly constructed and very rust-prone.
King Midget Model III
The King Midget Model I was launched in the late 40s and was sold as a $500 home-built kit, it was a very awful car, both inside and out. Introduced in ’57, the Model III was powered by a 9 hp engine and still was a piece of junk. Luckily, Government safety standards ended its misery life.