iCar, Beware: 5 Autos That Wanted To Change History and Failed

Feb 16, 2015 06:30 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

There are cars like the Chevrolet Volt that are nice enough but just don't sell terribly well. And then there are the cars that set out to change the world and fail so spectacularly that it's almost something to admire.

The auto industry has been buzzing about Google's famous self-driving fleet, Tesla's affordable Model 3 and an Apple car speculated to be in the works, each of which could be a game changer in the world of cars--or an embarrassing flop for the company involved.

Here's a look at some great auto ideas that didn't exactly pan out.

1. The Phantom

Founded in the early 1970s, Vector Motors set out to offer a supercar that the average American could afford, Car and Driver reported. Its W2 prototype was unveiled with fanfare in 1980, running on a twin-turbocharged, 650-horsepower Chevrolet V-8 engine. While the W2 was supposed to cost just $125,000, its listing price was nearly half a million dollars when the production version appeared around nine years later.

2. The Misfit

The quirky Subaru SVX came from Italian designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, but its distinctively weird design was no Maserati Ghibli. Running on a 230-horsepower, 3.3-liter engine, the SVX boasted all-wheel drive and cutting-edge tech, but its strange design and expensive listing price of nearly $25,000 in 1992 sealed its fate as a flop.

3. The Cheapskate

Ford must hate to have this model periodically dragged up again. In production from 1970 to 1980, the Ford Pinto sold for just $2,000, but the American automaker cut some unfortunate corners to offer it for such a low price, according to CNBC.

A company memo eventually exposed by the press showed that Ford weighed a $113 million safety recall versus $49 million in settlements to injured motorists and selected the latter. Unsafely constructed with a fuel-filler pipe that could catch fire in a rear collision, the Pinto proved disastrous for Ford and is still known as a testament to both faulty vehicle design and corrupt corporate structure.  

4. The DJ

Drivers today have smartphones, music devices, satellite radio and many other options to pick their own road trip tunes. Back when the only music in the car came from the radio station, the Dodge Custom Royal thought it had the public covered with a small turntable built into the dashboard.

Chrysler went to the trouble of developing custom records that were the right size for the unusually small turntable, but motorists didn't care for turning records over during a drive or listening to music that was at the mercy of every pothole.

5. The Creature

Meet Amphicar, the vehicle that doubles as a boat. Hanns Trippel, a former race car driver from Germany, thought a car that could travel in water would be handy for the morning commute. Unfortunately, Amphicar moved at merely 7 mph in water and risked motorists' lives with its tendency to leak and become flooded.  

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