What is a Frankenstein car? Or a Frankencar? It’s a vehicle fashioned out of two or more existing vehicles — though while Frankenstein was a monster, some of these works can be real beauties. It’s really not as easy as it looks. What a car dreamer does on Photoshop or any other computer game or software is a cakewalk, but in actuality, making a Frankencar means many a man hour. There's money involved and the annihilation of two cars. And most cars need to be in a good condition to be modded such – dilapidated and damaged cars may not work in such technically advanced projects.
Plus, you need to have certain knowledge of cars, too, before you begin – it’s not just a cut-paste of body parts like they show in cartoons. Two cars have to be joined together as one, and the union cannot end in a divorce – ever. These kinds of forever relationships need work, don’t they? And not just in the auto world. That said, while some of these Frankencars are so beautiful they can make us cry, some of them are way out of logic or even simple reason. The Franken fails on this list are cars that seem purposeless and going through an identity crisis – though some owners have actually tried to sell these disasters online. The Franken wins are the well-thought-out projects that may have incurred big costs, but their uniqueness is worth that price tag. So, which Frankencars do you love, and which are the ones you wish you could un-see?
20 Franken Fail: A Picture You Cannot Unsee
This is a picture of a car someone made and put on Craigslist to sell, which means, basically, this is like the worst car ad ever. This is the original post, with grammar that we had to spruce up, reposted from Hooniverse: “For sale 1962 international truck-car, has every optional that a car could have. With front-wheel drive, driveline, disk brakes all around, airbags that are in working order with an Oldsmobile dash with tilt cruise and power seats. Can drive it anywhere, all lights working, has Grand Am door handles installed and work great, alloy wheels and a good title. Has a Grand Am rear with the original dual exhaust, fuel injected and everything is in working order. Air-conditioning is low due to low compressor gas…”
Basically, someone nutty in Kentucky grafted the cab and the hood of a 1960s truck (Oldsmobile) onto a '90s Pontiac Grand Am – and did it in the shoddiest way possible – and then even put it up for sale!
What was the guy thinking? Where were those brain cells when he was making it, and then putting it up for sale? We don’t know if it got sold, but hoping someone put this truck-car out of its misery!
19 Franken Fail: A Double Decker Shoddy Rod
To understand this truck, let’s begin with explaining what rat rods are. According to Rod Authority, “In 1987, the hot-rod world was dominated by a trend that was known as Pro Street. Pro Street started out in the late ’70s, known as Street Machines, which were modified street and strip cars. However, by the early ’80s, it evolved into Pro Street which is when gearheads started building cars that were meant to look like a Pro Stock car for the road. However, par for the course, some took it too far and what started out as something cool, fun, and unique ended up becoming a parody of itself by the late 1980s.”
Things began to take a turn for the weird soon after, and the hot rods that were once works of art started to look like works of trash – so they were renamed "rat rods."
These were cars with literally no paint and beat-up parts, which were still street legal and had decent power under the hood. So, here goes another rat rod on top of another rat rod. Because one rat road cannot possibly be enough, can it? So, it has to be two rat rods – mashed on top of each other to create a rather unforgettable if perfectly legal vehicle.
18 Franken Fail: A Very, Very Fast Delivery Truck
According to Jalopnik, “It takes inspired madness to imagine that the perfect mate for a Ferrari F355 chassis is a Citroen 2CV Fourgonnette body. After thousands of hours of labor, this is the fastest French bread van you'll ever see.” And honestly, when this van races past you with a signature Ferrari wail, you'll do a double take. But you'll have to go all the way to Italy to see this van in action.
Essentially, this van was made by stripping the chassis of a Ferrari F355, which may seem blasphemous to many – but was an essential process in the making of this world of art. Then the body of the Fourgonette was widened and affixed on top of the Ferrari chassis, with adequate adjustments.
So the “bread van” that lasted some 34 years and last rolled out in 1981 got a new lease on life, and that, too, on a Ferrari transmission and engine. We're sure this took many hours to complete because putting two cars together in so dramatic a manner can’t be an easy job. Why? Since the car has to run in a safe and reliable manner after. But honestly, why hoist a dilapidated Fourgonette onto the chassis of an F355, a gorgeous but technically nightmarish car?
17 Franken Fail: Two’s Company, Three’s A Crowd
This is what happens when you always had a dream, and that dream was to own a limousine that would be the cynosure of all eyes around. So, you bought car after car, but the length was never impressive enough for you to live up to that one childhood dream of yours, till you finally took the hacksaw to it all.
Meaning, you took the front of what looks like a Prius and the back of a Subaru and mashed it into a limo sandwich of sorts, with another car in the filling. We cannot recognize the filling, though, considering one sedan’s middle is pretty much like another’s middle.
All three cars are clearly visible because they're all in different colors, and the middle car has clearly been dented down from the top in order to be welded shut with the other two. Maybe after a good paint job and some other mods, the car may look somewhat decent again. But as one Reddit user puts it, “It's an SUV, mini-van, a pickup truck, and it’s also a limo. What we see here is documented proof that quality is not the same thing as quantity. It’s like an artificial intelligence started mashing concepts together to create the 'perfect' car for D-bags.”
16 Franken Fail: When You Sail Through On Wheels
So, what do you do when you love boats but don’t quite get along with the sea at all? You do this: take a boat, and cut it open. Then take a classic Cadillac Coupe De Ville and dismantle it as well. Then somehow, you weld the duo together in a way that the car powers the boat, and the boat adorns the car like a crown. Basically, you glue the boat to the car, leaving all the mechanics of the car intact – but using just the body of the yacht in order.
This boat-car or car-boat will obviously never see the water because if it did, then it would be the last thing it saw – before it sank like a stone in the waters.
It will run on the road fine, though, especially if the owner deemed fit to put in some heavy-duty suspensions to support all that extra weight of the boat hull that seems to be riding the car. It’s really a strange mod to do to a car, but perhaps, the owner is so in love with boats that he has to be in one even on the road and be the king of the world like they were on the Titanic. Remember though, even things that float do sink!
15 Franken Fail: The Strangest Car Ever, Period
There are a lot of cars people buy based solely on looks – and that holds true for many a classic car fan. However, buying an old classic means you may have trouble finding parts, and maintenance costs can go sky high if you don’t know anything about what lies under its hood. So, what do you do?
Well, if you have a lot, and we really mean a ton of spare change, you can buy the Zimmer Golden Spirit. This neo-classic car comes in two models; a 2-door based on a Ford Mustang and a 4-door based on a Cadillac CTS.
The cars are clearly attention-grabbing, more so because hardly any know the car, even though buying it means mortgaging your bank! Basically, if you buy this car – the running part and the engine have been spruced up so that any Ford or Caddy dealer can do any kind of repairs. It’s just a built-up body based on the old classics; everything under the hood is new and of this time. Interested? Well, you just need to go to the Zimmer website and send a check that covers 60% of the model you like, along with your choice of leather or fabric seats. The price, of course, ranges from $238,700 to $397,600!
14 Franken Fail: You Cannot Dodge The Dodge
Whoever owns this Frankencar is a very, very big Dodge fan. He obviously loved the way a Dodge Ramcharger rode the roads but preferred the more classic body lines of the Dodge Challenger. According to Jalopnik, what he did was mount the body of a Dodge Challenger onto the chassis of a Ramcharger. He probably got a 4-speed transmission on his gorgeous if strange-looking convertible Challenger Vert, coupled with the chassis strength of the powerful Ramcharger.
We spy Baja written on the tail ends, which means this car is sturdy enough to tackle all that an off-roading rally can throw at it. We don't know how the open interiors would survive through all that mud and sand, but the car looks pristine enough in the picture.
Are we impressed? We're quite amazed at the owner’s loyalty to Dodge, and we're sure Dodge loves him right back. But the car looks a little off — like it’s not put quite right the way it should've been. While the chassis doesn’t look branded, the body of the Challenger looks uncomfortable on such large wheels. It’s not a well-put-together Frankencar at all, and somehow, we can feel the discomfort oozing through the picture.
13 Franken Fail: The Phantom Of The Hummer
Let's count the ways this is wrong. Actually, we can’t. It’s beyond one, or two, or ten wrongs. This is the most ridiculous Hummer modification ever. The Hummer is a good, respectable brand. Strike that — it’s a great car brand to own and show off. And while there are celebrities who have custom-painted their Hummers in an ugly-ass combination of pink and chrome, mostly, Hummer owners keep their gorgeous giants shipshape.
So, what has happened here is a face transplant of the hood of a Rolls-Royce Phantom onto a Hummer H2, and then, the lot has been painted into a strange blue color that's not a usual color for the Hummer — or the Royce!
Individually, they're both gorgeous cars. The H2 ranges from approximately $53,000 to about $67,000 for the premium edition. On the other hand, entry-level prices of the Rolls-Royce start from $200,000 – clearly, when it comes to luxury, the Rolls-Royce wins hand down over the Hummer. Still, it's not a good reason to use the front of a Rolls with a Hummer because each brand has an individual identity – mashing the two up doesn't a good car make. Sometimes, two positives can make a negative!
12 Franken Fail: One Very Complicated Car
For a Frankencar that's been put together using many different cars, this monster looks more like a dump than wheels that actually work. But the dude did put in some very hard work into the car, and we’re sure he has his reasons; it’s just that we can’t figure out why you’d want to ride in such an ugly-ass car. This car, according to Jalopnik, has been so constructed by a Curtis Merrill of Calgary, Alberta.
The main car is a vintage Land Rover, but he replaced the engine with a turbocharged Nissan out of a 300ZX. He then built a custom frame for the car and replaced the suspension with a hydro-pneumatic from a Citroën DS.
He didn’t stop here because, frankly, when you start jigsaw puzzle-ing a car together, it becomes addictive and impossible to stop. If you don’t believe us, Jalopnik report that he then put in a Pathfinder/Jaguar front-rear differential setup and then went and installed inboard Citroën SM brakes! According to the owner, his car runs like a dream. We believe it but also have this to say: with the number of man-hours he put into the vehicle, he’d never admit it if it ran like a nightmare. And it definitely looks like one!
11 Franken Fail: A Pimpmobile Corvorado From 007
If you're staring at this picture with a dropped jaw and bulging eyeballs, let us tell you what this is. It's a Corvorado – and as the name suggests, a pretty early on Frankencar. The chassis and body are from a Chevrolet Corvette that has been dressed up with panels from a Cadillac El Dorado. Thus the name "Corvorado"!
This car was designed by Les Dunham of Dunham Coachworks in Boonton, New Jersey, and it wasn’t the last of its build. He was also responsible for the fabrications of the cars in Super Fly, and the Cadillac Fleetwood in the James Bond film.
Such cars were basically known as pimpmobiles, ultra-luxury vehicles made from large cars such as the Cadillac El Dorado, the Oldsmobile, Lincoln Continentals, and even Chryslers and Buicks. Customizations included round headlight covers also known as "Superfly covers" (from the movie), a female hood ornament, whitewall tires, high-end music systems, and of course, shag or velvet interiors. Pretty much like this Corvorado over here, the cars were painted garishly in stripes and blocks, and the rims often sported elbows to add some menace. Basically inspired by the Mafioso cars, these rides were made to look mysterious and scary – but to most of the world, they looked a tad ridiculous.
10 Franken Win: The Put-Together Fraternal Twins
If you've ever driven the Pontiac Solstice, or its fraternal twin, the Saturn Sky, you know the cars are cheap because they sound and drive cheap. Made for sun worshippers on a shoestring budget, they're fun to drive even if they're not the best convertible there is.
Their internal organs are a smorgasbord of parts from the GM bin. Here’s a list we got from Jalopnik: “The rear axle and differential are from the Sigma-based Cadillac CTS. The interior storage bin is from the Cadillac XLR. The passenger side's front airbag, steering column, and exterior and interior door handles are from the Chevrolet Cobalt. The backup lights are from the GMC Envoy. The heating, ventilating, and air conditioning modules are from the Hummer H3. The front fog lamp assembly is from the Pontiac Grand Prix. The steering wheel is also featured in the Pontiac G5, Chevrolet Corvette, and Chevrolet Cobalt. The 2.4 L Ecotec engine is shared with the Pontiac G6, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet Malibu, and Chevrolet HHR. The five-speed automatic is identical to those of the Cadillac CTS, STS, and SRX. The side view mirrors and AC vents are from the Fiat Barchetta. The seat frames are from the previous generation's Opel Corsa.” All we can say is wow!
9 Franken Win: Let The Puma Swallow You
Don’t be misled by its look. The Youabian Puma isn't a normal-sized sports car – in fact, it's a monster car that may look sporty, but in actuality, it's a huge, lethal beast. It was made by Dr. Kambiz Youabian. Any guesses as to what kind of a doctor he is? A plastic surgeon, which makes sense when you look at this stitched-up Frankencar. Youabian started out trying to make a sports car, but when he saw little interest, he decided to make a beast of a car instead.
With a 505-horsepower Chevy LS7 powering it, the widest body from god knows where, interiors from a Volvo C70, and taillights from a Buick, the Youabian Puma is unmistakable.
You can choose from a rear-wheel drive or an all-wheel one, but both come with a six-speed transmission, and costs vary from a whopping $700,000 to a cool $1.1 million! And if size does matter, the Youabian Puma is huge – 72 inches tall, 93 inches wide and 242 inches long. It's only slightly smaller than the 256-inch-long Mercedes Maybach Pullman, the longest sedan of the world. And it's far taller than the Rolls-Royce Phantom, which is 64.6 inches high! Are we impressed? You bet!
8 Franken Win: The Lambo-Centi Or The 500Lambo+?
What’s nuttier than a Fiat 500? A Lambocenti, which is the unholy fusion of Fiat 500 powered by a Lamborghini V12 engine! Sounds impossible, right? Actually, the owner of Oemmedi Meccanica, Gianfranco Dini, was shocked at such a sacrilege when his son suggested this experiment. In fact, before this Fiat 500 was reborn, Dini Jr. had suggested a Porsche 911 flat-six motor to be shoehorned into the rear of the 500 – which he did. And then Dini Senior started on his craziest project ever.
According to Super Street Online, “It was immediately obvious that the physical size of a 580hp Lamborghini Murcielago motor stuffed into the rear of the car had required a radical rethink of its structure and external appearance. This is, with no exaggeration, a very small car built around a very big engine.”
Signore Dini admitted that this car was the result of a bet, which obviously he won, hands down. While the skeleton of the Fiat 500 is obvious, there was a lot of work needed to build up the car, especially from the rear, for it to be able to hold the very, very big engine safely and successfully. The result is a road monster that we adore.
7 Franken Win: Of Big Dreams & Gullwings
When you've been a car whiz for long, manage to open your own company and build a car that looks amazing only to have it fail, what do you do? If you're John DeLorean, you agree to bankroll cocaine in a desperate attempt to pull your company out from its depths of the financial crisis but end up getting arrested instead. While he managed to successfully defend himself — citing entrapment – the much-famed DMC 12 became as notorious as its father and died an ignominious death.
As hastily put together as the plan to transport cocaine to pour funds into the company, the DMC 12 could've been a great car, except it wasn't just a Frankencar but a Frankenstein one!
According to Jalopnik, this is a partial list of what the DMC-12 was made of: “De Lorean Motor Company, AC Delco Instrument Cluster, Goodyear Tires, Rockwell Intl. Spare Wheel and Sylvania Lighting from the US. From the UK, it was Lotus Engineering, Constructed Chassis, Girling Brakes, GKN spare Wheels, Lucas Relays, and Wiring Harness. Further parts sourcing happened from Northern Ireland, Germany, France, Sweden, Japan, and Scotland.” An international affair, much like the scandal, though it could've been a great classic.
6 Franken Win: The Very Funky Chevy 789
So, say you're in the market to buy a classic Chevy, but you can’t decide which model you love the best. To help you out, here’s the Chevy 789 — so named because it's been built piece by piece from the 1957, 1959, and 1959 Chevys. Of course, the chassis ain’t an old Chevy because we cannot have you trundling on the highway with no mechanic in sight in a car that’s well over 50 years old!
The car has been built upon the award-winning — or should we say Le Mans-winning — Corvette C6 chassis (2005-2007), and all other mechanicals have been beefed up by GM engineering as well. It'll give you a 25 mpg mileage on the highway and reach up to 190 mph speed as well.
According to Fred Kanter, “The 789 has the 'hooded eyes' and chrome grille bar of a '57 Bel Air, a mid-section and tri-toned interior that is reminiscent of a '58 Impala and the 'bird in flight' rear tailfins of a '59. These three vehicles are all instantly recognizable classics celebrated by people around the world.” With the looks of your favorite classics and the reliability of a V8-powered Corvette, this could be one sweet ride — if you can cough up upwards of $135,000!
5 Franken Win: A Car With Some Plane Parts
People run into amazing barn finds sometimes. So, what if you found a 1943 Studebaker Coupe, and a Junker Ju 87 Stuka Airplane? We don’t quite think you’d do what's been done here. Whoever got hold of both the vehicle – a classic car and an old airplane, turned the plane into car parts and made a Frankencar that may not be able to fly but has seen sights you've never seen before.
The Studebaker Starlight Coupe actually came with a nose spinner in 1951, but this car has been modded with Stuka parts, and we feel it's been turned completely around with its nose being its rear and its rear ending in a pointy Stuka nose.
The overtly curved side wings have been removed to fit in bigger and better tires, and frankly, god only knows what's been done to the engine. There's no way this car has retained its 1950s insides, and we're sure the Franken-modder has turned it into a technological marvel. It’s really a great car to look at and ironic in the melding of an American car with a German airplane, signifying that the world has become a much smaller place than before.
4 Franken Win: A Rally Monster That Works
So, what's the Rally Fighter? It's a monster of a car (actually no, not really, but it so looks like one) that can handle any road with ease, and the beauty of it is that it's open source. You want one, you go to Local Motors. And no, by "local," we don't mean that dinky-hick corner auto-store operated by purple-haired teenagers. Local Motors is an Arizona-based outfit that handmakes each car as per customer order and choice, though the price of one isn’t all that small.
At $99,000+, you can customize your very own Rally Fighter, a successful Baja competitor. The entire design of the Rally Fighter has been crowdsourced, so the engine comes from a Corvette, the taillights belong to the Honda Civic, and the design is reminiscent of a Mustang.
You get it; it’s a handmade Frankencar with stuff freely taken from just about every car the designer so liked. And it’s an awesome car for sure that can drive epic on the road and, when faced with traffic, is easy to take off the road as well. With a chassis that has a roll cage and the most comfortable seats ever, the Rally Fighter is a cool car to own – even if you don’t off-road.
3 Franken Win: The Nissan Juke-R Is No Joke!
If for some inexplicable reasons you love the Nissan GT-R and the Nissan Juke so much that you've been begging the Lord to inspire Nissan with divine enlightenment and come up with a mashup of a Frankencar, you win. Presenting the Nissan Juke-R! And no, we don't call it a joker. So, if you like driving in cars that are so fast that they're uncomfortable, you'll consider the Juke-R as fun. But this is the kind of fun that turns your brain into mush and your joints into porridge – so take heed before you go all out.
The Nissan 2011 GT-R has loaned its 485-horsepower, 3.8-liter, twin-turbo, AWD powertrain and running gear to the Juke-R, while the Juke has only loaned its body.
For the time being, the Juke-R isn't for sale, so you'd better get back on your knees and start praying for some more divine intervention. With Nissan getting more and more into the sports-car segment, the Juke-R and its further avatars may soon be in the market for aficionados of small cars that have more powerful engines than aircraft! It’s already street legal, but Nissan is nothing less than a perfectionist, so it may take a little more time for it to be freely available.
2 Franken Win: An Insane F1 Van
When you think of F1, the last thing you can think of is a van! According to Road and Track, “It might look like a V10-powered van that can hit 60 mph in under 3 seconds and sounds like the support vehicle for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but it's really a sort of gift that two companies gave to themselves after working together for a decade. Those companies are Renault and Matra, the latter of which was building the Espace minivan for the former. And of course, at the time, Renault was building a winning V10-powered F1 car.”
The upper body husk of the Espace has been stitched onto a carbon-fiber floor plan, and the running gear is from a 1993 Williams-Renault FW15C that provides 800 horsepower. So basically, it’s the mechanics of an F1 role-playing a van.
This means that starting this car is pretty much as technically convoluted as starting an F1. It needs an external starter, an external computer, and many trained human hands to get it moving. And once it does move, you should hear that sweet, sweet roar from the engine. It’s just an F1 car role-playing a little, so don't be fooled by the exterior.
1 Franken Win: The Monster’s Boeing Borrow
Would you like to drive a car that runs on Boeing 747 wheels? Well, go for it then on the Sbarro Monster. Commissioned by a client, Franco Sbarro designed this 4X4 machine on the chassis of a 1980s Range Rover, the engine of a Mercedes, and yes, the giant wheels of a Boeing 747! The wheels were modified and “lessened” with special tires designed by Goodyear. The Monster had no doors and no hood out wither. In fact, it didn’t even have exhaust pipes and a rear pickup.
Oh, and the whole body was made of Kevlar, which wasn't so common way back in 1987 and frankly, isn’t all that common now. Don’t ask us why because with no doors, the Kevlar body was like a Kevlar vest missing a few big gaps.
The motor was an 8-cylinder, 6.4-liter engine that churned out 350 horsepower – a big deal for 1987. The only more 4X4 engine at that time was the Lamborghini LM002 that gave out 450 horsepower. Mind you, for 1987, these are big numbers. For “emergencies,” the Monster had a generator in the trunk and came equipped with a mini motorcycle, too, in case you toppled off a gorge far, far away from anywhere that mattered.
Sources: Jalopnik.com, ZigWheels.com, RoadandTrack.com