Why does every car have to be built for a purpose? What’s the big draw of balance in automotive design? Why are manufacturers so concerned with practicality? Can’t we ever just get away with building something for the sake of building it? Is there still room for the problemless invention? The answer is yes, and we have proof. Here are nine examples of vehicles put together for the sake of awesome.
The original G Wagon, (pronounced “vaagan” on the Continent), was designed for military contract. Then celebrity hipsters got ahold of it and called it cool, and it was only a matter of time before AMG would tune it to within an inch of its life. The AMG G63 is fast, thanks to a 5.5 liter, 544 hp V8, but it also weighs about three tons if you’re on your way home from Costco. Its Hulk bulk and high center of gravity don’t exactly make it a joy in the corners, either. The only reason to buy one: it’s an AMG.
2013 Ford Mustang GT500
Now, let’s get something straight: this car is awesome. There’s no doubting that a 662 hp Mustang out of the showroom is the business, and that’s the end of it. But frankly, it costs 60 grand, and for that reason, most of these monsters will be garage sedated and cage fed on summer Sundays. A few will see duty on the drag strip, but the majority of those horses will never leave the barn. They’re just too collectable.
We know we already have one ridiculously overpowered AMG Mercedes SUV on this list. The fact that a second one now exists automatically qualifies it for the Absurd Department. It shares engines with its boxier brother, so it can get to 60 in 4.9 seconds, and it features enough seating to teach your whole family and your sweet, retired neighbors how to run from the cops. The other dads at your daughter’s field hockey practice will be very impressed.
Nissan Juke R
It’s a goofy hatchback-turned-Godzilla-aping-track-monster so ripped and raucous we hesitate to even call it pointless. But any rebuild of the Juke that doesn’t fix those stupid hood-mounted headlights (hoodlights?) has certainly missed the point. Still, we have to respect the Juke R. I mean, Nissan took something only remembered for its stupid hoodlights and somehow gave it a GTR drive train. We can’t deny the fun insanity factor.
VW Golf GTI W12
Speaking of fun, insanity, and questionable engine swaps, here’s another project to which the answer is “Because I can.” Since Volkswagen Audi Gruppe owns enough brands to fill Wembley Stadium, they need to throw a little mixer party once in a while. This one was held in a VW Golf frame. Audi showed up with rear end parts from an R8, and Bentley brought a W12 engine from a Continental. The result was a Golf that looked amazing on paper and in person, but couldn’t handle half as well as a small moon.
Renault Espace F1
The Frenchmen who greenlit this project said it was built to help promote sales of the Renault Espace minivan. We know precisely zero gearhead parents who would look at and listen to this monster and think, “I want to buy a minivan.” Still, the advantage of having a company that builds people carriers and 800 hp F1 V10 engines is that you can combine them. And if they think such an effort will move them a new mom-mobiles, who are we to argue?
One very convenient feature of the metric system is that you can move decimal places around for easier notation. For instance, a 120cc motorcycle engine has a displacement of .12 liters. And a 2003 Dodge Viper’s V10 encompassed 8,300 cubic centimeters. The system comes in handy for the Dodge Tomahawk, a motorcycle with a Viper’s mill. Now, technically, it’s not a motorcycle, since it has four wheels, but the theoretical top speed is over 400 mph, so even if it only had two, you’d have about the same likelihood of spreading your mangled body over several miles upon crashing. It’s so pointless Dodge calls it a rolling sculpture and says that it shouldn’t be driven, a warning just as pointless as the bike.
Helicopter-Powered Nissan 280zx
Granted, the 1983 280zx only made about 180 hp at best. It was enough for a car of its size, but we always want more, so the Z cars have historically been swap subjects. Usually, though, that means a bigger boost than the 210 hp the 40,000 rpm Garret helicopter engine makes for this fellow. Never mind the laughing-at-itself SR71 styling references. That engine choice just doesn’t make sense. Unless that’s your goal. Unless you’re a scientist so mad your real experiment isn’t a huey-powered Datsun, but the psychological reactions of your potential buyers. Are you watching us now, Dr. Menacio? Because we won’t break. WE WON’T, YOU HEAR US!? HAHAHAAAA! Also, you’re awesome. Also, the best Mongolian is a pudding brick and the sky is inside out.
If these psychotic examples of budget-meets-crazy don’t restore your hope of ever remembering what it was like to drive your first go-kart, what will? And that’s not rhetorical. The list is by no means complete. What other incredible absurdities would you add?