- BMW bobsled | Credit: Flickr

Best Side Projects By Automakers

Automakers have done a lot of side projects, from lawnmowers to pepper grinders

2y ago
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Automakers haven't always just built cars. Many automakers have interesting side projects done at some point in their history. Here are some of the best.

HondaJet HA-420

Credit: Flickr

Credit: Flickr

Honda has a long history of selling things besides cars. Starting out in the US selling motorcycles and now selling everything from marine engines to lawnmowers, an executive jet doesn't seem out of reach. Enter the HondaJet HA-420. The project started in the '90s and was confirmed in 2003, with a delivery target of 2010. However, hurdles pushed that back to 2015. The jet seats 6 and 2 crewmembers, and travels at a cruising speed of 435 mph (with a top speed of 483). Honda says it's fastest, highest-flying, quietest, and most fuel-efficient plane in the segment.

Peugeot Pepper Mill

Credit: Flickr

Credit: Flickr

Before Peugeot ever made cars, they were a family company renowned for its manufacture of pepper mills and coffee grinders. That continues today. The Peugeot family sold most of its shares in the PSA motor group, but has held on to ownership of the pepper interests. You can buy them in the US, unlike Peugeot cars.

BMW Bobsled

Credit: Flickr

Credit: Flickr

BMW makes this bobsled for the Team USA Olympic team. It's an exceptionally fast carbon fiber machine.

Toyota Houses

Toyota house design | Credit: Toyota

Toyota house design | Credit: Toyota

Toyota has been building houses on its assembly lines since 1975. These were kit homes, and you could buy them from select Toyota dealerships. These were only sold in Japan. You can still buy these homes today.

Bugatti AutoRail

The Bugatti Type 41 Royale was the last word in excess. Its engine was especially massive and expensive, and, when Bugatti failed to find enough buyers for the engines it had, the company put them into trains. The 12.7-liter engines were downgraded to 200 horsepower from the almost 300 in the cars, but they still made this streamlined train exceptionally fast. The AutoRail was inefficient and tickets were expensive, meaning only one survives today.

Mitsubishi Electric

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Mitsubishi Automotive may not be as great as it once was, but Mitsubishi Electric is bigger than ever. Mitsubishi is a global giant, and automaking is only a small part of that. Mitsubishi makes all kinds of industrial products, such as the MUZ-FD25VABH air conditioner pictured above. They also make elevators and escalators, and giant stadium screens. They hold the record for fastest elevator, as well.

Hyundai Shipping

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Hyundai makes container ships. They've made them for many years, and they ship a variety of materials around the world.

There's More

There are so many more interesting side projects by manufacturers. SAAB made jets, David Brown (of Aston Martin fame) built tractors, and GM built a train. What's your favorite automaker side interest?

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Comments (34)

  • Lamborghini tractors are probably the most obvious, but still my favourite. Even Porsche made a tractor at one point

      2 years ago
    • Yes, tractors seemed like a natural progression in the mid-20th century. I think Ford and GM both had some as well. The Lamborghini tractors are the only ones that are still around today, I think.

        2 years ago
    • Not sure if GM made tractors? I know Ford did. My dad use to own one. I know for a fact GM made buses. Also, let’s not forget Mitsubishi made the infamous Zero fighter plane. “The big three” also made vehicles and weapons during WW2.

        2 years ago
  • I think you're missing a distinction on what a "side project" is. There's a difference between an automaker directly using its know-how to take on a project meant to raise its prestige and visibility and products that only share a brand name but are made by a completely different and separate business division or even company. The BMW olympic equipment is an example of the former; Hyundai ships the latter.

      2 years ago
  • Chrysler made the Abrams tank. Until they sold out to General Dynamics. GM also made satellites after they bought Hughes Aerospace.

      2 years ago
  • Ferrari makes some really nice luggage

      2 years ago
  • Don’t forget the Lotus bicycle on which Chris Boardman won gold in the 1992 Olympics. They put it into production briefly too.

      2 years ago
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