Given the long history of automotive technology, there's bound to be heaps of interesting and unusual concepts that never made it to the market. It would be a shame to let all these amazing ideas go to waste, so we have compiled a list of the top 10 most unusual concept car interiors out there.
Most of these entries are vintage concepts from the 70's and 80's, when automakers apparently thought it was a good idea to not even put buttons or spokes to make the steering wheels at least somewhat operable. We went through all of the weird and eyesore-inducing concept car interiors out there to give you the weirdest, most interesting, or plain dumb car interiors we could find. You have been warned.
10 Renault Frenzy (2011)
This futuristic and outright unusual interior belongs to the Renault Frenzy, a concept car first introduced in 2011 as a vehicle that marries work life and family or leisure capabilities. The entire interior is composed of a synthetic material used to mimic hardwood floor panels, with faux leather decorating the seats.
Although we're not sure what Renault was thinking when they were designing the weird green-glowing dashboard, it certainly makes the car extremely memorable. The lights emanating from the dashboard also change, assuming a green glow for a more working atmosphere and a warmer orange glow when the car is in family mode.
9 Citroen Xenia (1981)
Created for the American market as a futuristic-looking minivan with an abundance of glass, the Xenia's dashboard is actually quite perplexing. Although it was designed following the rules of ergonomy, a closer look will reveal how unusual it actually is.
The whole interior is uni-color, and the gauge cluster features a multitude of buttons organized in a telephone-like arrangement with little indication of their purpose. The buttons placed here are important and control the car's entertainment system and all other mechanical functions. However, to access them, you might have to reach inside the steering wheel, which we definitely wouldn't recommend during a drive.
8 Citroen Hypnos (2008)
Unveiled at the 2008 Paris auto show, the Citroen Hypnos represents the company's vision of an exciting, cross-over hybrid vehicle. As evident from the name, the car does not lack in color expression. And while there's indeed plenty of beauty in this bold design, the interior is so strikingly colorful that being distracted from the road is a real concern. Apart from that, it's minimalist approach, with no visible information systems or even storage compartments is questionable, or unusual at the least.
7 Mazda MX-81 Aria (1981)
The idea of a futuristic car in early 80's, the first question that comes to mind upon seeing the interior of Bretone's Mazda MX-81 Aria concept is "But, where's the steering wheel?" And believe it or not, there's none. Instead, it's been replaced by a rectangular belt surrounding the gauge cluster.
Allegedly, this was done to save space and to make the driving experience more comfortable; however, we can't imagine how that would make operating the vehicle any easier. Fortunately, the car has never seen the production line, although further Mazda models took much inspiration from its design.
6 Oldsmobile Incas (1986)
This one was was inspired by the 1974 Ford Maya (which also has an extremely interesting interior, but unfortunately didn't make the list). It's an attractive five-door 230-horsepower berline sporting an aerodynamic look with retractable headlights and butterfly doors.
However, the inside looks like something out of a fighter jet. The steering wheel was actually inspired by an aeronautic cloche, and offers a maximum steering turn of 90 degrees, which helps in making the car more agile and fun to drive. Aside from an extremely interesting gauge cluster and steering wheel, the car features a polished interior with comfortable armchairs and an unrestrained outside view courtesy of the bent windshield and glass-covered doors.
5 Citroen Karin (1980)
Yet another Citroen on this list. Some of the concept cars created by this company back in the day are truly intriguing, and this is definitely one of them. It's called the Karin, and it's a 2-door trapezoidal-shaped coupe with butterfly doors. But, the interior is where the fun starts. The Karin is a unique three-seater, with the driver positioned in the center.
The interior is actually beautiful in its minimalism, with a few questionable details, and the steering wheel offers easy access to the control buttons located around it and in the middle. There's no dashboard, instead, the steering wheel protrudes out of a long steering wheel column, while the passengers will have to make use of the floor. In any case, the Karin's interior is definitely quirky and unusual enough to earn it a safe spot on this list.
4 Lancia Stratos Zero (1970)
The Stratos Zero was conceptualized by the same design house that brought to you the aforementioned Mazda MX-81. The car is as unusual and minimalist as it can get. The outside is almost perfectly flat with no doors. To enter it, the front windshield needs to be lifted, and things only get weirder inside. A ball-shaped steering wheel with a ring around it, the questionable green gauge cluster, and the overall minimalist, dark interior with no dashboard make this car extremely interesting and unique.
Actually driving the car requires assuming a reclined position with the legs hugging the steering wheel pillar. If anyone's wondering, although its design alludes to the era's supercars, the Stratos Zero doesn't classify as one. It features a 1.6 L Lancia Fulvia V4 engine producing roughly 115 horsepower. However, its unique design features make it extremely likable and collectible, which explains why it was sold for a whopping 761,000 Eur. at a 2011 auction in Italy.
3 Saab 9000 (1992)
This one was doomed from the start. In 1992, the Swedish car producer Saab decided to experiment by creating a Joystick-operated car as part of a European program to build safer, quieter, and more sustainable vehicles. Not only is there no trace of a steering wheel, but the joystick, mounted on the right-hand side of the driver, completely replaces the brakes, steering wheel, and accelerator. So, we imagine that driving the Saab 9000 prototype would feel something like flying a fighter jet. The system is actually quite advanced: the joystick is linked to a computer and its sensitivity changes based on the car's speed. The driver also has complete autonomy to tweak the joystick settings to their driving preferences.
Saab's argument for the joystick was that it was inherently safer because it avoids placing the steering wheel in front of the driver, allowing an airbag to be fitted in the front instead. Additionally, they argue that linking the steering to a computer offers a safer drive as it filters out any road imperfections, water, or wind that would otherwise make the steering wheel shaky and contribute to accidents. However, as self-driving technology advanced, Saab's efforts on the 9000 became unnecessary and obsolete, and it was left forgotten.
2 Maserati Boomerang (1971)
This one was the bright idea of the legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro. The car is beautifully conceptualized on the outside and still holds up well to this day. It would later go on to become the popular Maserati Bora. But, its interior is a whole other story. The biggest thorn in anyone's eye would be the extremely unusual steering wheel which rotates around the stationary gauge cluster.
And the whole thing is mounted on a weird tubular protrusion coming out of the dashboard. Interestingly enough, the gauge cluster does not even contain a speedometer, just the RPM gauge, fuel and pressure gauges, and a multitude of unlabeled buttons and switches. Apart from that, the interior is actually neatly trimmed and comfortable, leaving us all to ask: why on earth did Maserati feel the need conceive this steering-wheel-abomination?
1 Lancia Sibilo Concept 1978
There are some truly puzzling concept cars on this list, but this one definitely takes the cake. The top of the heap when it comes to weird car interiors, there isn't much else to discuss in the interior of the '78 Sibili Concept than the perplexing steering wheel. We've seen some weird, button-riddled gauge clusters and oddly-shaped steering wheels, but this one just begs the question "Why!?"
The car is envisioned as a futuristic supercar prototype based off of, and constructed on, the Lancia Stratos (also on this list). The interior is covered in leather, with a plastic steering wheel featuring 3 enormous buttons that control the utmost basic functions such as the headlights. A traditional gauge cluster was scrapped and replaced with a small information center located right under the windshield. The steering wheel, is allegedly ergonomically designed to perfectly fit the palm of the hand, yet it's hard to stop staring at it.