Though by no means the grandest decade for cars, the 1990s did provide us with some rather mad motors Jaguar took the twin-turbo V6 from the already bonkers Metro 6R4 rally car and put it into the XJ220 supercar, Chris Bangle (the chap whod later pen the lines of many controversial BMWs) designed Fiats fast-yet-flawed Coupe and Dodge unleashed the monstrous Viper upon the world.
However, though undeniably a bit weird, theyre nothing like the concept cars that were unveiled in those ten years, some of which were undeniably bizarre contraptions. And below we have a list of what we reckon are the weirdest ones of them all!
Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale
Aston Martins decision to bring back the Lagonda name for a second outing was a very brave move at the time the ill-fated original had only just gone out of production at the beginning of the 1990s. But their lack of worry was justified, as the Lagonda Vignale concept of 1993 was met with quite a fair bit of critical acclaim.
The concepts underpinnings werent that impressive the show car used the same chassis and weedy engine that youd find across the pond in a Lincoln Town Car and, on first impressions at least, the Art Deco inspired styling isnt really what youd expect from an Aston Martin, especially as the DB7 had been launched alongside it at Geneva that year. However, with its swoopy profile, short overhangs and curvaceous edges, its surprisingly graceful and aesthetically composed for such a large beast.
Ultimately, the project was scrapped in favour of the DB7 sports GT the head honchos at Ford, which owned the luxury British brand at the time, reckoned the Vignale wouldnt be a profitable venture. To this day, though, the now independent Aston Martin is contemplating a Lagonda revival, and given the huge demand for big luxury saloons in the Far East, maybe something along the lines of the Lagonda Vignale would be worth considering
As far as car design trends go, the 1990s marked a shift from the wedges and geometric shapes that defined the previous decades into more flowing and organic forms. However, as in some sort of defiance to the new philosophy, Ford unveiled this angular beast at the 1995 Detroit Auto Show the GT90 supercar concept.
As the name implies, the GT90 is an evolution of the iconic GT40 Le Mans winner, but apart from a few styling cues, such as the doors that cut into the roof, very little is shared with the retro racer. Cloaked underneath the origami-esque exterior lays not only a very blue interior, but also a track inspired chassis design, a hi-tech suspension setup and an exhaust system shrouded in the same sort of heatproof tiles youll find on a Space Shuttle. Oh, and a 6.0 quad-turbo V12 with 720bhp, and a claimed top speed of 240mph
Of course, a car as flamboyant and as mad as the GT90 couldnt be turned into a production car, even though the concept could actually move under its own power. However, the car did have influence on future Fords not only was it a stepping stone towards the GT supercar in the next decade, but the New Edge styling did go on to inspire the looks of more mainstream cars, most notably the critically acclaimed and much loved first-generation Ford Focus.
Over the decades, the Japanese auto-makers have been pushing the edges of the envelope with their various concept cars one such show car by Toyota all the way back in the 1970s toyed with the idea of a fully electric citycar, for instance. However, the Honda Fuya-Jo is certainly one of the most bizarre concept car creations to ever emerge from Japan!
The name when translated into English literally means Sleepless City, so its fairly easy to see who the concept was aimed at the Fuya-Jo is a car designed to , as Honda put it, transport party animals who demand the full excitement of nightlife. As a result, there are quite a few down with the kids quirks about it: the dash resembles a DJ mixing set, theres a rack in the back to hold skateboards and both doors house truly gargantuan sound and speaker systems.
Most of the press at the time werent too keen on it some werent convinced with the exteriorstyling, whilst others thought it was a niche too far. However, despite being nearly twenty years old, it still wouldnt look out of place on the set of a sci-fi film, and you have to admire Hondas sheer creativity with the Fuya-Jo!
BMW Just 4/2
BMW has been rabbiting on about how their cars are the Ultimate Driving Machines for donkeys years now, and its true to an extent that the current range do steer quite well. However, we reckon theyd have a better chance justifying that slogan if they built something like this; the very spartan Just 4/2.
Essentially the Bavarian equivalent of the Ariel Atom, the Just 4/2 concept is about as minimalist as a performance car can get. Theres no windscreen, the storage space on offer is restrictive (as its name suggests, the car is just for two) and, for some bizarre reason, the side panels can be removed. That said, despite the airbags and safety gizmos, the car itself was still very light at 600kg, so the 100hp BMW motorbike engine shouldnt have had many problems getting the Just 4/2 up to 60mph in six or so seconds.
Eventually though, despite its feasibility, the project was scrapped soon after, which in itself left the door open for everyone else the aforementioned Ariel made its public debut a year later at the 1996 British Motor Show, and now theres a huge market for track day cars and road legal toys. Who knows what might have been had BMW persevered with the Just 4/2
Crazy door designs are often the sole preserve of the fast, powerful and exotic sports and supercar manufacturers some of the most iconic speed machines of all time, such the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing and the Lamborghini Countach, have been made at least partly famous by where their door hinges are located. You wouldnt expect to see them on a small Korean car, but thats exactly what happened with Daewoos Mya!
The way in which you get in and out the Mya concept car isnt just the only thing thats unique with the Daewoo it was one of the first of their cars to be designed in-house, rather than by a commissioned design studio. The Mya was also the Korean firms first proper stab at a sports car of some kind, though with only 130bhp on tap, it most likely wouldnt have been that quick!
The crazy Mya Concept never saw the light of day in production form not only were the doors hugely impractical, but Daewoo was in a bit of financial difficulty at the time (a few years after the Myas debut at the 1998 British Motor Show, the firm would go bankrupt, get bought-out by General Motors and be rebranded as Chevrolet). At least it can lay claim to being one of the best looking cars they ever produced, eh?
Dodge Dakota Sidewinder
The stereotypical American citizen has always been proud of the two cars that they reckon epitomises their grand country: the muscle car and the flat bad pickup truck. So, Im guessing that they went into hysterics when Dodge unveiled a blend of the two in 1997 the Dakota Sidewinder concept.
The Sidewinder tag, which is usually associated with missiles, is more than appropriate for this car under the retro bodywork lies a chassis nicked from a Trans-Am race car, and under the hood is an 8.0 V10 from the Dodge Viper GTS-R, with a more than ample 620bhp on tap. Even the starting procedure is weapons grade stuff before firing the beast up, you need to prime the engine first by using a toggle switch labelled Arm!
As expected from such a ludicrous concept car, especially one that was essentially a big two-finger salute to all the environmental concerns of the late 90s, the Sidewinder remained a flight of fantasy. At least Dodge had the decency to allow Hot Wheels to make a miniature toy version of it, so little kids could have the honour of experiencing through their vivid imaginations what theoretically could have been truly explosive performance!
And that concludes our list of the weirdest concept cars of the 1990s. But do you think the final decade of the Twentieth Century gave us even more bizarre show stoppers? Let us know in the comments section.