Gallery>>the Misfits Of Motordom

It turns out that my visit to the Petersen Automotive Museum happened at a good time. One of the special exhibits running at the museum right now is called "What Were They Thinking? The Misfits of Motordom", and covers both production and prototype vehicles with abnormal engineering, and cars that just didn't "work" at the time they were introduced. Some of the vehicles on display are well known sales flops, while others are bold designs that never made it past the prototype stage.

For example, did you know there was actually a rear-engine, front-wheel-drive car? Yep, the 1947 Gregory.

Not surprisingly, this car never made it into production. This recently-discovered Gregory prototype is the only one of its type.

Here's another strange machine, the 1908 Scripps-Booth. Essentially it was a big motorcycle with "training wheels" to maintain balance when stopped.

The '60 Chevy Corvair is one of the more mainstream models on display. Even with all the bad attention this rear-engine, aircooled compact got, the Corvair still survived for nearly 10 years…

This strange looking piece is the 1974 Fascination. It was originally designed to be propeller-driven, but after difficulties with the prop, it was converted to a standard drivetrain.

Here's something Linhbergh should like – the 1957 Studebaker-Packard Astral. This was a mock-up of what an atomic-powered vehicle might look like.

Another one of the more mainstream cars on display, Ford's Edsel. Even people who aren't into cars identify the Edsel as being one of the biggest sales flops of all time.

The Misfits of Motordom wouldn't be complete without some three-wheeled vehicles like the Davis Divan.

The 1957 Liberty Mutual/ Cornell "Survival Car" was built in response to the growing number of traffic fatalities at the time.

The Survival Car packed a lot of safety features that would make it onto future cars, and a lot that didn't it, including a strange center driving position.

A 1958 Toyota Toyopet is on display as a lesson in what happens when you bring a small, underpowered car into a country of large, powerful ones. Toyota would obviously learn from their mistakes in tapping the American market…

Finally, we have the 1967 Amphicar, the only civilian amphibious car to be sold with any degree of success. If you can't have a car that can fly, how about one that goes in the water?

If you want to check out the Misfits of Motordom for yourself, the exhibit runs through July 5th.

-Mike Garrett

Petersen Automotive Museum



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The survival car is interesting....wonder if it's spot welded with a integrated rollcage!


Lol at the rear motor fwd car. Senseless.


Wha do you mean what were thery thinking with the Corvair? What a Landmark car it is. and once the Europeans saw the design it became the father of many more technologicaly advanced Vehicle designs....


some of these ideas are still being pursued, like the amphibious car and the bike with training wheels. still prototypes though (lets hope it stays prototype!)


agg...the edsel isnt weird! thay make pretty good looking customs. They also seem to be missing the bmw isetta


Yeah. The Amphicar did actually work surprisingly. I saw a show on TV once where some guys restored one n they drove it in a lake at the end to test it! Must have been brave to do it.


ironically, we now see the reverse, with regards to the toyopet


"Wha do you mean what were thery thinking with the Corvair? What a Landmark car it is. and once the Europeans saw the design it became the father of many more technologicaly advanced Vehicle designs...."

Quite true. Porsche couldn't figure out how to air-cool the flat-six engine in their project 901, so they bought a couple of Corvairs. Three years later, along came the 911...

Chevy also beat VW to the double-jointed rear axle, 1965 for the Corvair and 1969 for the Beetle. And yes, I've owned all three.

The styling was copied too, most famously by NSU. I haven't had one of those.

Since you're doing a Misfits Month, you should check out the Lane Motor Museum here in Nashville, Tennessee. Or I could do it for you, since I could use a bit of income in this economy.


@Slam Duck: They were probably referring to the swing-axle rear suspension that was the cause behind all the accidents and subsequent controversy (read up on Ralph Nader); it was the later switch to an independent rear suspension that transformed the handling of the car, but the Corvair sadly never escaped that bad publicity from the swing-axle days.


Wow, that Gregory....rear engine/front wheel drive is absolutely retarded. Almost as retarded as front engine/front wheel drive...


I don't know that much about cars, but I do like unusual stuff. I went to the Lane Motor Museum a few months ago with my husband and I enjoyed it very much. I was amazed at some of those cars. It really is a neat place to go.


I've always wanted an Edsel. As Adi said, some of these ideas are still being pursued. However, Adi, some actually are production. The Gibbs Aquada is a modern-day version of the Amphicar, but with Miata drivetrain and styling, and has been around for a while. Also, some of our U.K. readers might recognize the "large motorcycle with training wheels" as the Carver, also a production model (whose parent company recently went bankrupt.)

In addition, Ralph Nader is the enemy of all that is good and righteous, and needs to die!