The Five Stupidest Cars of All Time Infographic
12 Aug 2014
Over the past century, the motor industry has made a name for itself as a hotbed of technological innovation. We've seen life-saving safety features like the airbag, eco-friendly advances like the hybrid engine, plus a wide range of technologies that have made driving incrementally smoother, faster and more fun.
These features often seem audacious at first sight - who'd have thought, ten or even five years ago, that we'd soon have driverless cars on our roads? It's testament to the vision and foresight of today's automotive engineers that the modern motor industry often comes across as something out of a sci-fi novel.
And yet there's an untold story here. What about all the car innovations that didn't catch on? Surely for every airbag, there's a similarly outlandish idea the aforementioned engineers would prefer we all forgot about, whether because it proved unworkable, dangerous or downright idiotic.
This is precisely what we've explored in Cars2Buy.co.uk's latest infographic. Some of history's most technologically advanced automobiles turned the world upside down, fundamentally changing the way we saw motoring, while others… Well, others were just stupid.
Take the Horsey Horseless, for example, which comes first in our list of the five stupidest cars of all time. The 1899 brainchild of Uriah Smith, a visionary who hailed from Battle Creek, Michigan, this was in essence a motorised carriage - with a wooden horse's head stuck on the front.
Mr Smith reasoned that with an equine figurehead, the newfangled motor car would be less likely to spook the horses that constituted the bulk of traffic on the highways of the 19th century Mid West. It's not known if the vehicle was ever built, nor whether a prototype actually acted on Mr Smith's suggestion that fuel be stored in the wooden head.
Another notable entrant on our list is the Briggs and Stratton Flyer - more or less a motorised go-kart, which went on sale in the 1920s and still holds a Guinness World Record as the most inexpensive car of all time. By stripping the vehicle of all extraneous components, such as suspension, the Flyer's inventors managed to drive the cost down to around $125 (£75) on the road. A noble endeavour, but not one that convinced the car-buying public.
As a final aside, not all stupid cars can attribute their failure to misjudgement on the engineers' part. Some otherwise serviceable motors end up in this camp after an obtuse marketing department makes a fatal error in its branding efforts.
Take the Ford Pinto, for example, which raised a few eyebrows made its debut on the Brazilian market in the early 1970s. Pinto, Ford's marketers later discovered, is slang for male genitalia in the South American country.
In conclusion, if you're researching your next car purchase and find you're getting a little burnt out on all the options, take a five-minute break from browsing and check out the five stupidest cars of all time. We're sure you'll find it the perfect palate cleanser.