Some of the weirdest race cars ever built

6w ago


10.) Volkswagen Golf BiMotor Pikes Peak car

In the '80s, Volkswagen decided to develop a competitor to Audi's Quattro AWD system, despite owning Audi and using Quattro in the VW Quantum. So what do the wacky engineers at VW decide to do? They decide to put two engines in a car. One for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels. Yeah sounds like something a child would design. Volkswagen decided to take their twin engine concept and put it into a race car. So they took a Golf, cut it up, put an engine and transaxle in the rear, and then take it to Pikes Peak. Each engine had about 180 HP, making it a 360 HP AWD monster. Well when it wasn't broken it was. The car could do 0-60 in under 5 seconds, but it was overweight with another engine in it. Also the car was naturally aspirated, so it would struggle at the high altitudes. Lastly the engines would like to go out of sync and get messed up. So it was a bit of a mess.

9.) The Deltawing

What started as a concept for the current generation Indy Lights cars became one of the most recognized endurance race cars of the modern era. With a design focused solely on reducing drag on the front end and increasing downforce in the center of the car without the use of wings. The Deltawing could keep up with the front of the pack in IMSA despite having far less power. At its debut at Le Mans in 2012, it was hit off the track by a Toyota in the Porsche Curves because of its narrow front end not being seen in the mirrors of the Toyota. The car was brought to life by Dan Gurney's AAR, Don Panoz, and Nissan. After everybody pulled out of the project except Panoz, the Deltawing campaigned IMSA until the end of the 2016 season.

8.) Le Monstre

In 1950, Briggs Cunningham decided to bring three Cadillacs to race at Le Mans. Why? Because he could, I guess. One of the cars he brought had different bodywork on it to make it more aerodynamic. It also lightened the car quite a bit. As a result this entrance was better in the corners and faster on the straights than the other cadillacs he entered. None of the cars placed well, but the locals liked it enough that they nicknamed the rebodied car Le Monstre.

7.) Auto Union Type C

Now the Auto Union Type C might not seem that strange, but in its day it was a weird car. Ferdinand Porsche designed it ad decided to make it mid-engined and used a 3.0 liter V16 to power it. With better weight distribution, the Type C was a real threat to the competing Mercedes team. The Type C was used in Grand Prix racing and hill climb racing in Europe. What other car from the '30s was mid-engined and had a V16?

6.) Winged Porsche 550

Originally owned by Swiss driver Walter Riggenberg in 1955. The car was raced at Le Mans and AVUS. Riggenberg put the massive wing on it as an experiment to try to make the car faster, and it worked. It was so quick with the extra grip that the car was supposedly banned from racing at the 24 Hours of Spa. This 550 was raced with the massive wing on it about 10 years before Chaparral tried the same concept.

5.) Ford Mustang GTP

When IMSA introduced the GTP regulations there were tons of manufacturers eager to enter. A series that had very limited rules on design and would allow for radical thinking. Ford decided to make an impression with a front-engine prototype with the Mustang SVO engine. When it came to power the Mustange GTP wasn't lacking and could keep up on the straights. Unfortunately the car had some weird handling characteristics and aero issues. With a lack of success, Ford pulled the car out of IMSA before real progress could be made.

4.) Nissan GT-R NISMO

In an effort to clean up airflow and be more aerodynamic than the competition, Nissan decided to make their 2015 LMP1 entry front-engined and front wheel drive. The rear wheels would be driven by a 300 HP electric motor, so I guess that technically makes it AWD. Not that it really mattered though, because the car failed to make it to the season opener at Spa. Then at Le Mans the hybrid system filed to work, so it was just FWD and down 300 HP. It was a complete and utter failure, so Nissan decided to ditch the project after just one race.

3.) Brabham BT46B

I was going to put the Chaparral 2J on the list instead, but it's on every list like this. The Brabham BT46B took inspiration from the Chaparral 2J, as it created a vacuum under the car via a fan on the rear of the car. The fan sucked the air out from underneath and supplied tons of downforce at all speeds. In 1978 Lotus introduced the Venturi Tunnel and ground effects to F1. Brabham knew that if they didn't come up with an idea to combat the Venturi Tunnels, they would be at the back of the field very fast, as the Alfa Romeo Flat-12 gets in the way of running Venturi Tunnels. So Brabham did what Chaparral did. To get around the ban on moveable aero devices that was put in place because of Chaparral, Brabham said the fan was for cooling the engine. The car was so quick it blew the competition from Lotus out of the water by multiple seconds per lap. The BT46B was retired from use after one race because it wasn't within the spirit of the sport.

2.) Shadow AVS MkI Chevrolet

The idea behind this Can-Am car was to reduce the frontal area by as much as possible and make the car as small as possible. That was Shadow's thinking when it came to reducing drag, just make the car smaller. It was basically a go-kart with a big block and bodywork. The front wheels were only 10 inches in diameter, and the rears 12 inches. The car had issues with overheating brakes and an overheating big block. The car's 25/75 weight distribution also made it a handful in the corners. The car was plagued with overheating issues and didn't finish well when it did. Many of the ideas implemented in the MkI, including ground effects and clutchless shifting, has become common place.

1.) Quadruple Engined Hoare Mac's-it Can-Am Special

What is a very, lets just say, interesting design for the Can-Am series. The Mac's-it Special used four 2-stroke 775 cc engines. One for each wheel. All the engines were connected by multiple driveshafts in order to keep all the engines in sync with each other. But the driveshafts would have the issue of snapping. Then when the engines would go out of sync the car would become a mess in the corners and would break more components. But an interesting idea none the less.

If there are any cars that you think should be part of the list, tell us about them in the comments section.