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10 Strange Automobile-Related Inventions From The Past

Today, a wide variety of car makers produce various vehicle models fitted with the latest automobile technologies, and advanced features. However, for the most part, these cars do not differ greatly from each other.

Here’s a look at the most curious car-related inventions from the yesteryears. Allow yourself to contemplate the idea of these ambitious features and designs integrated into your modern car. It’s bizarre!

10. Charvolant

Image Source: Wikimedia

Invented in the 19th century by an English schoolteacher George Pocock, the Charvolant was a kite-pulled carriage that could carry light loads and even people. Several Charvolants were reported in England following the invention. However, the bizarre mode of travel was scorned by the critics who said it was ‘going in the direction of the wind’ and was not feasible as the wind direction couldn’t be controlled to alter the passage.


9. Horsey Horseless

Image Source: ETA

Back when the cars began to hit the roads, alongside horse-drawn carriages, a lot of accidents cited scared horses as the cause. Uriah Smith who belonged to the Seventh-day Adventists, a strict Protestant sect, proposed the design of a car with a wooden horse head sticking out of it. She suggested that the horse-head could also be used as a fuel reservoir. Smith believed that the horses looking at the wooden horse head on the automobile front will be reassured and will not panic. Needless to say that the idea was rejected and never made it to prototype.


8. Routefinder

Image Source: Avax News

Before Google Maps, there was the Routefinder! The Routefinder was a watch that contained a small map scroll inside it. The watch could fit several scrolls but had to be navigated manually by the driver as she drove along.  However, the Routefinder could only be used for a limited number of journeys, depending on the availability of map scrolls, and could not be used for navigation off the map.


7. Running Boards

Image Source: MTFCA

For those who didn’t want to put their pets inside the car, a running board was attached to the vehicle where the pets could travel safely. Some were sturdy steel compounds like the Bird Dog’s Palace while the others were fitted with oil cloth cover to protect the animal from the harsh weather.


6. Wrist-Twist Steering Wheels

Image Source: Hemmings Daily

The engineering team at Ford proposed the design of a Wrist-Twist steering mechanism. The proposed system replaced the huge steering wheel with two small, handheld steering wheels to be twisted like dials.

The system allegedly required only a fraction of effort needed to manoeuvre the conventional steering wheel. The new steering system would only engage forearm, wrist and hands, as opposed to the regular steering wheel that required full use of torso, full arms, and the neck. The guy who engineered the steering wheel was a missile engineer and knew nothing about the vehicle design.


5. Water Mobile

Image Source: Gizmodo

Also known as the Vacationer, the design of the luxury amphibious cruiser was proposed by Robert Zeidman. Zeidman was an industrial designer who identified the ex-GIs as his target market.

The 10-meter-long six-wheeled drive could transform into a trailer or a yacht. It was fitted with necessities like dishwasher, fridge, stove, freezer, shower, sink, and a bathroom. The vehicle could also accommodate a chauffeur inside the bunk in the driving compartment.


4. Glare-Proof Glasses

Image Source: Modern Mechanix

These glare-proof glasses were nothing but 1-inch cone-shaped shields with a hole in the middle, fastened to the regular spectacles. The driver just had to tilt his head slightly to the right to avoid the glare of the oncoming cars and focus on his side of the road.


3. Pedestrian Safety Devices

Image Source: The Old Motor

The designers of the early cars were quite pedestrian-friendly. Special safety devices were fitted to the car front to catch the roadside strollers hit by the car. The design was inspired by the cow-catchers attached to the front of the trains to clear the track.


2. Fifth-Wheel Parking

Parallel parking tops the list of most-hated things in the world. To make the ordeal easier, Brooks Walker invented the fifth-wheel parking system in the 1950s. The system used the spare wheel in the car and a hydraulic pump to easily manoeuvre the car in an out of the car park.

However, the automobile industry bigwigs were not reasonably impressed by his creation. Walker tried to improve the design of the system so that it could be fitted in any car, without modifying its basic structure. Each time you struggle to parallel park, remember Brooks Walker!


1. Soybean Car by Ford

Image Source: Wikimedia

Henry Ford tried to make plastic parts for vehicles. His experiments led to the Soybean or the Hemp car.

The frame of the Soybean car was designed 14 plastic panels attached to the tubular steel. It is believed that the plastic panels were designed with a mix of wheat, soybeans, flax, ramie, and hemp. The goal of the project was to engage agriculture and industry to create a new product and to overcome the shortage of metal caused by the World War II.

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