Don’t judge a car by its exterior. Many have made the indefensible mistake of assuming an automobile is useless based on its looks alone. In reality, there are lots of weird looking cars that are capable of doing more than one can imagine.
If someone sees a strange vehicle, they may be quick to make judgments about it. They think it doesn’t have the luxury of a nicer car like a Mercedes-Benz or that it’s made out of cheap materials. What’s most tempting to assume though is the car’s performance. Critics think that because it’s shaped differently or doesn’t have the slick design of a supercar, it can’t go very fast. With certain cars, they couldn’t be more wrong.
There are lots of high-performance vehicles that look odd and unlike conventional automobiles on the road. Often sharing more in common with a rocket, these cars look like laughable projects made by engineers and DIYers who don't get out very often. Critics are in for a rude awakening though. Some of the ugliest cars out there are so fast, they manage to make it in the history books.
We’re going to show you some of the weirdest cars when it comes to their design. Once they got going though, it was clear they were on a whole other level performance-wise. Not only can these cars dash, but the majority have broken records for their quickness. These cars—should anyone judge them by looks alone—deserve an earnest apology for their record-breaking exploits.
20 Bloodhound SuperSonic Car
This hardly looks like a car. It looks long, skinny and doesn’t have conventional wheels. What it does have though is a sleek design intended to excel in performance. Technically the car has yet to prove itself. It’s a slight cheat including it on this list considering it hasn’t beaten the land speed record, though hopes to reach 1,000 mph according to Gizmodo.
It had to make the list though for looking out of this world. One has to admire their ambitious plans, though Fox News reports the ones behind this project are short a whopping $33 million to make their goals a reality.
19 Challenger 2
Many of the fastest cars in the world have minimal features on the outside. According to Hemmings, the Challenger 2 was able to set records in August 2018. During its run, it reached 448.757 mph while at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The car ended up going into retirement though, so its racing days—at least for the time being—are over.
This is a strange looking car. It is narrow, blue and has too much text written all over it. It’s hard to imagine the claustrophobic interior and someone actually sitting inside it while it goes over 400 mph. It’s a safe bet the car doesn’t come with cupholders.
18 JCB Dieselmax
It may not look the part, but this car managed to carve a spot for itself in the history books. This is the JCB Dieselmax and what sets it apart from other racers is the diesel-powered land speed record it set back in August 2006. Gizmodo reports that it managed to go over 327 mph.
Even though it has the Union Jack plastered on its back fin, the actual record-setting took place Stateside in the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. Compared to other “cars” on the list, this one has a nicer exterior. Often these cars that are more aerodynamic though tend to look less appealing.
The full and convoluted name for this weird car is Bluebird-Proteus CN7. It’s a fitting name considering the exterior is equally odd. Looking at the car for the first time, it’s hard to pinpoint where the driver sits. Upon closer inspection, it’s clear he or she goes underneath the paneling where a small window pokes out of the top.
According to Gizmodo, they originally made the Bluebird in 1960, only to remake it in 1962. They wouldn’t set a record though until July 1964, when it managed to go 403 mph. That kind of speed is enough to shut up critics who have problems with its appearance.
16 Monster Truck
If one can imagine it, then it’s probably a category in the Guinness World Records. According to the Today Show, this took the spot for the longest monster truck in 2017. It even has a photo of massive flames and dice rolling on the sides.
With wheels that big, one has to always be on guard with where they’re driving, making sure not to crush any other cars. The same source notes its 32 feet long, which is big enough to fit friends, relatives, and pets all at the same time. Calling this truck a monster is something of an understatement.
15 Spirit of The US Formula Shell LSRV
This car didn’t meet its goals, but it still deserves a spot on this list. Before the Thrust SCC broke the sound barrier, another car tried, and that was the Spirit of the USA Formula Shell LSRV. If that name sounds familiar, so does Craig Breedlove, who according to Gizmodo, piloted the ride back in 1964.
Breedlove returned in October 1996 in this LSRV version, though wasn't able to break the sound barrier. That was what they hoped the car would do, but it ultimately fell short of its goal. It still managed to make a worthy effort.
14 Shed On Wheels
At first glance, it looks like a mere house on wheels. It’s not unheard of to lift a house off a property, load it on an immense trailer and move it somewhere else. That’s not the case here though. The builder behind this shed on wheels, according to Autoblog, managed to get it going 80 mph across the Pendine Sands, a beach that spans seven-miles long in Wales.
On later attempts, he managed to get it going as fast as 105 mph. That beat out the previous shed speed record of 58 mph, which the same source notes Edd China of Wheeler Dealers fame held.
13 Bumper Car
Don’t underestimate this small bumper car. Fans of the UK show Top Gear will recognize “the Stig” behind the handlebars of this red machine. As Live Science notes, it managed to get up to 100 mph, whereas conventional bumper cars only go 5 mph. That was all possible because of a 600cc motor from a Honda bike.
The same source notes that it managed to notch an entry for itself in the Guinness World Records for being the fastest bumper car today. Anyone brave enough to go faster than 100 mph in a bumper car is welcome to try, though we don’t recommend trying it.
12 Timber Kings
Timber! This tree may have fallen down, but it managed to reinvent itself as a log car. What’s more astonishing than this vehicle breaking records is the fact that Guinness even has a fastest log car category for it to qualify in. Motor1 reports that the HGTV Canada show called Timber Kings managed to set the records with this log car.
They managed to get it going up to 47.64 mph over a quarter mile. Other photos show this log car revving its engine and kicking up smoke in the process. It’s an impressive accomplishment, even if the car looks like a joke.
11 The Aerovelo
Alas, the inclusion of this one is somewhat of a cheat. Red Bull calls it a bike on their website, but it’s still a vehicle and, technically, on a road, so we’re going to include it here.
On their website, in an interview format, Red Bull reveals that it’s the fastest human-powered vehicle, as of October 2015. That record sounds odd though considering it looks like an alien as if it has no relation to anything human. Although it doesn’t look it, there is, in fact, an operator inside who has to skillfully drive the vehicle at top speeds while staying safe at all times.
10 Sunbeam Mystery
It’s no mystery, this racer looks unlike most cars out there on the road today. What also isn’t a mystery is its name, which they plastered over the front where a grille would typically go.
Emblazoned with the name “Sunbeam” across its nose, this car managed to gain lots of speed and break a record thanks to its immense horsepower. According to Gizmodo, it is able to churn out a massive 1000 hp. The odd and minimalist-looking car managed to set a land speed record when it exceeded 203 mph back in March 1927. It may look weird, but it managed to prove itself.
9 Largest Cozy Coupe
There’s no shortage of bizarre world records out there. As hard as it is to believe, there’s such a thing as the largest crazy coupe. That award goes to Geof Bitmead, as per the Today Show. He and his granddaughter, Lili, managed to make it in the record books for 2018.
The actual Guinness World Records 2018 book dubbed “Meet Our Real-life Superheroes”—as per Google Books—sheds further light on Bitmead's creation. It’s more than 8 feet long and echoes the popular Cozy Coupe vehicles that have been entertaining kids for eons. It even sports the same red and yellow color scheme that’s instantly recognizable.
8 Mini Moke
One thing’s for sure—this car is unlike any we’ve seen before. With an enormous turbine hoisted atop its roof, this car not only has record-setting in mind but staying environmentally friendly as well. Technically the Guinness World Record relates to an e-bike that someone pedaled for an astounding 1,012 miles, as per New Atlas.
Where the car fits into the equation though has to do with the vehicle's wind turbine that charged the battery packs running the e-bike. Although the car is a secondary recipient, it still managed to make history. The same source notes that the car model is a Mini Moke, which appropriately comes painted green.
7 Speed of the Wind
These racers looked more extravagant than their names. Lacking in creativity, they decided to call this one Speed of the Wind. What did manage to impress though was that it lived up to the name. Gizmodo reports that in August 1935, the car managed to break a record in Maida Vale, London.
This car would’ve added a lot of character to a parade or freak show. What sticks out the most, literally, is its rear. It looks as if the designer mixed up the two sides and had intended to give it a longer nose. Despite its odd appearance, this car managed to impress when it came to performance.
This car might look like a joke to some, but it’s no laughing matter, especially when it comes to its speed. The bright yellow and red paint job is eye-catching but may disarm onlookers into thinking it can actually go very fast. On the contrary, this car—dubbed Vampire—has more in common with a rocket than it does an automobile.
Compared to many cars on this list, it managed to garner attention just over a decade ago. According to Gizmodo, it managed to set the British Land Speed Record of 300 mph. With an entire back half that looks like the turbine to a jet, it’s only natural.
This car is proof that a bunch of students—if they put their minds to it—can create something that’s capable of breaking records. According to The Verge, a group of 30 students managed to make this car, dubbed Grimsel, reach 60 mph in just 1.513 seconds.
For an idea of just how fast that is, the same source notes it’s even faster than a Tesla going “Ludicrous Speed.” The test occurred in Switzerland. It even has a cool spoiler on the back and sits low to the ground. It makes one wonder how the 30 students agree to take turns driving it though.
4 Napier Racing Car
When Luke Skywalker first gazed upon the Millennium Falcon, “the fastest ship in the galaxy,” according to Han Solo, he called it a "piece of junk.” We’re tempted to say the same about the Napier. In its day though, the car managed to break records.
It may not sound as impressive today, but back then—as The Old Motor notes—the record-setting 1 hour, 15 minutes and 4 2/5 seconds was a special achievement for 100 miles. The race took place on a beach and it was all done behind the wheel of this Napier car, making it more than meets the eyes.
3 Spirit of The USA
More akin to jet than car, this vehicle was anything but conventional. It had the appearance of a jet with severed wings, resembling more closely a rocket. When it gets going, it even flies like one. Gizmodo notes that it managed to set a land speed record of 468 mph back in October 1964.
The record-setting test took place in the Utah salt flats. The driver at the time was Craig Breedlove. This jet or car or rocket certainly embodied the Spirit of the USA, as its name suggested, bearing a US flag across its fin. It also looks like Shell and Goodyear both have their logos plastered across its hull in other photos.
2 Thrust SCC
The Thrust SCC is practically a jet. It may not have wings, but its enormous turbines suggest it belongs more in the air than it does on the ground. Despite that notion, the Thrust SCC is certainly bound to the ground and capable of hitting record-setting speeds.
According to Gizmodo, this car not only managed to break the sound barrier but was the first to do so in 1997. The driver behind this feat was Andy Green. That makes this a milestone vehicle to be able to break that record over 20 years ago. On the outside though, it’s weird, ensuring it won’t win any prizes for looks.
1 Stutz Black Hawk
Here’s a car that looks like it is from the future, except that the picture is black and white. What stands out the most are the four enclosures wrapped around each of the wheels. According to Gizmodo, this car managed to set a land speed record back in April 1928 on Daytona Beach. As is visible on the side of this car, its name is the Stutz Black Bear.
The name of the driver is Frank Lockhart. It may not look like an eye-catching car—and with those unique wheels, it arguably looks weird—but the car has a place in the history books for breaking a land speed record.
Sources: Autoblog, The Old Motor, Fox News, Gizmodo, Motor1, Today Show