Over the years there have been some cars that are more memorable for being a bit odd than anything else.
As designers tried to be different and companies tried to fulfil different needs, the results have been interesting. Whether it was a desire for small urban transport, for a cheap way to get around or a car purely to have fun in, these motors are often cherished now by fanatics that keep them on the road.
Join us as we have a look at some of the quirkiest and most unusual cars ever made.
The Bond Bug was made between 1970 and 1974, firstly by Bond Cars and then by Reliant, who famously also produced the three-wheeled Regal. Wedge-shaped, access was gained by a lift-up canopy. It was designed to be fun and was based on a Reliant Regal, with the back end shortened.
It was powered by a 700cc engine at the front, later a 750cc, which, notably, protruded into the cabin. A mighty 29bhp was produced by the motor, later boosted to a heady 31bhp. It was heralded as a new form of transport upon its launch, but in the end only 2,270 were produced. It could hit 76mph, meaning that it could match more conventional cars of the day. However, it also matched their prices, being in line with the hugely popular Mini, for example.
If you want one today, you could find yourself spending in the region of £7,500 to £10,000.
Referred to as the bubble car thanks to its canopy, the Messerschmitt KR200 was produced from 1955 to 1964. KR stood for Kabinenroller in German, translating as cabin scooter. Messerschmitt was more famous for planes, of course, and the KR200 was designed by an aircraft engineer, Fritz Fend, and in all a whopping 40,000 were built.
The firm turned to cars as, in the wake of the Second World War, it was not allowed to make aircraft. With post-war Germans in need of cheap transport, an opportunity was spotted. It managed a top speed of 56mph, despite having power of just under 10hp. But, allowed to build aircraft again from 1956, Messerschmitt lost interest and sold the works where the car was built to Fend, who continued production. A cloth convertible version was later built, as well as a roadster.
Falling sales saw production end in 1964, with a recovering economy seeing demand for economic transport faltering but today they are revered as one of the quirkiest cars ever built and they can command £20,000 to £30,000.
This is a hard one to be specific about, as the Beach Buggy or Dune Buggy is generally supplied as a kit car or built by owners themselves. But, often, they are based on the chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle, which was nicknamed the Bug, hence the ‘buggy’ moniker. The Beetle platform has been one of the most popular over the years thanks to its rear-mounted engine, which is air-cooled and therefore easy to modify.
It was also cheap, robust and parts were, and still are, plentiful. Owners often upgrade to bigger engines, or fit turbos for performance improvements. Dune or Beach Buggies were first conceived for navigating deserts or beaches, but they were taken on as fun, recreational vehicles by many.
Still well sought-after, VW-based buggies, from the 1960s onwards, start at around £5,000.
At just 54 inches long, 39 inches wide and weighing a puny 59kg, the P50 still holds the record for being the smallest car ever to go into production. That shows how innovative it was when it went on sale in 1962, yet it lasted only three years. The Peel Engineering Company of the Isle of Man was responsible and the car, as Jeremy Clarkson demonstrated, had no reverse gear, instead having a handle at the back that literally allowed the car to be picked up and moved.
It was designed, obviously enough, as a city car, designed to carry one adult and the odd bag. There are few around now, with only 50 of the original model produced. But, in 2010, a new company called Peel Engineering Ltd, this time based in England, started producing a replica version, driven by either an electric motor or a petrol engine.
Today, less than 30 originals are thought to be left, so, if you can find one, they’re practically priceless. Even a reproduction is worth around £8,000. A modern day new Peel is priced from £12,999.
More commonly referred to by its later Robin name, a list about wacky classics wouldn’t be complete without this car. The Reliant Regal, as it was known in its original form, was first launched back in 1953 before it went through a quick succession of changes. Like some of the cars we’ve already looked at, it was designed to be cheap, simple transport.
The engines were small, typically 600c to 750cc, and many versions were built over the years, including the van form made famous in Only Fools and Horses. In 1973 it was replaced in name by the Robin, which continued in the same vein and is probably the most-remembered name for the three-wheeler. In 1982, the Rialto came in place of the Robin, being produced until 1997.
The car was popular with young people – and probably their parents due to its limited performance – because it could be driven on a motorbike licence, which meant that it could be piloted on ‘L’ plates without accompaniment.Alas, that is no longer the case.
Prices now depend hugely on which model and the age, but the ballpark is £3,000 to £6,000.