10 Eccentric Cars From the 1990s That Seem Unusual Today

10 Eccentric Cars From the 1990s That Seem Unusual Today | Society Of Rock Videos

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The 1990s marked a major shift in automotive design underlined by curvier and aerodynamic styles. The era gave us some models of elegance and others that showcased a less than conventional aesthetic. Here, we journey into the realm of unconventional designs, and highlight five cars of the 90s that can’t help but turn heads today.

1990 Chrysler Imperial

 

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The 1990 Chrysler Imperial provoked strong reactions with its striking aesthetic. Its exterior was reminiscent of the Cadillac’s front-wheel-drive DeVille, highlighting a distinct old-school charm. The car’s rounded headlights and opulent front bench seat were other design elements that caught the eye, along with the profuse usage of chrome.

The Imperial’s stretched rear hinted at Cadillac’s influence, even so far as creating an evident seam in the process. Aimed primarily at elderly male audiences, the car’s grandeur was reflective of an age-old design sensibility. Yet, it generated mixed responses and sparked speculation about the design direction being taken by Chrysler during this period.

1992 Renault Twingo

 

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The 1992 Renault Twingo was known for its unique and playful exterior, conceived by designer Patrick Le Quément to resemble a smiling face. Beyond its peculiar facial expression, the car also showcased a peculiar interior: the instrument panel was centrally mounted, which, while designed to cater to both left and right-hand-drive, ended up causing inconvenience for the driver.

The car’s interior was wrapped in vibrant, child-friendly upholstery, giving it a jovial appeal. Added to this mix was the antenna placed on the driver’s side mirror, which, while meant to enhance radio reception, often led to potential breakage. The 1992 Renault Twingo, with its eccentric design choices, remains a unique relic of 1990s automotive novelty.

1992 Renault Racoon

 

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Renault, renowned for its audacious concept cars, pushed the boundary further with the 1992 Racoon. The car, which looked like an amalgamation of a moon buggy and an SUV, had an unorthodox aesthetic meant to draw attention to its advanced technological features. The Racoon was ahead of its times, with groundbreaking features like remote central locking, rear-view cameras, and satellite navigation.

The Racoon was not just a land vehicle; it was capable of navigating water at a moderate speed of 5 knots. This concept car had a unique feature of accessing the cabin through the roof, adding further eccentricity. However, being a technology demonstrator, it was never intended for commercial production. The Racoon today remains a symbol of Renault’s pioneering vision and cutting-edge conceptions.

1995 Buick Riviera

 

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The 1995 Buick Riviera was distinctive for its experimental design. While its curvaceous C-pillar and trunk lid added to its gravity when observed at certain angles, the front end resembled that of a Beluga whale, which generated mixed responses. The interior, awash in plastic, scored low on the luxury quotient despite its goal of portraying opulence.

The Riviera, while housing a V-6 engine, failed to meet customer expectations as other brands were offering superior V-8 variants. Thus, the car, which was seen as a potential turnaround for Buick, struggled to impress buyers and lived a little short of its promises.

1995 Lancia Ypsilon

The 1995 Lancia Ypsilon was another contender for unconventionally designed small cars. Designer Enrico Fumia took a unique route with its styling, gifting it with a peculiarly shaped face and a beltline that curved downwards. He took the unconventional a notch further by outlining the line with a striking black plastic.

The car’s rear was embellished with wedge-shaped taillights under an oversized tailgate – a design choice that only added to its unconventional yet noticeable appearance. The car, thus, stands as an example of Lancia’s bold design experiments, making it stand out in the annals of auto-design history.

1994 Renault Espace F1

 

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First up on our list is the incredible Renault Espace F1. A minivan infused with the genes of a Formula 1 car, it’s undeniably one of the most bizarre vehicular mash-ups of the decade. Renault collaborated with the Williams F1 team to create this marvel. Borrowing elements from Williams’ championship-winning F1 car, it was built on a customized carbon fiber body for enhanced performance.

Under the hood, it held an astonishingly powerful V10 engine – the same used by the Williams-Renault F1 team. The result? A vehicle that churned out about 800 horsepower and clocked high rev speeds. Only one model was ever created, making it a prized possession in the Matra Museum in France. A second, non-operational model rests in Renault’s official collection.

1996 Saturn SW

 

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The Saturn SW, another bold venture of the ’90s, was General Motors’ ambitious bid to transform the Saturn brand. Despite a whopping $5 billion investment, the project only managed to siphon off sales and resources from GM’s other vehicles. This created a need for cost-effective design tweaks, leading to the sedan-like doors on the wagon, which many found oddly placed.

Unfortunately, this innovation did not yield the desired results. Already lagging sales plummeted even further, affirming buyers’ sparse interest in the newly designed wagon. The Saturn SW serves today as a reminder of an unchecked venture that overlooked practicality and efficiency.

1996 Suzuki X-90

Suzuki’s bewildering X-90, introduced in 1996, raised quite a few eyebrows. As an offshoot of the popular and rugged Sidekick, the X-90 looked playful but fell short on practicality. With no rear seat, minimal boot space, and compromised off-road capabilities, it was the epitome of unmet expectations.

Labeled by some as a Barbie toy car, the X-90 flaunted an oddly shaped exterior with no flattering angles. Regardless of these criticisms, the car won’t easily be forgotten thanks to its unconventional design.

1996 Toyota Classic

The Toyota Classic is another stunning example of ’90s eccentricity, showing Toyota’s nostalgic reverence for its first passenger vehicle, the AA. Based on the chassis of a Toyota Hilux pickup truck, the Classic manifests a unique blend of yesteryear charm and contemporary robustness.

Internally, the Classic is a curious mix of Hilux ruggedness and Lexus Luxury, with luxurious leather upholstery and ample wood detailing. Despite its steep price tag, Toyota successfully sold all hundred units that were produced. Its rarity indeed makes it a cherished piece in the collector’s garage.

1999 Rinspeed X-Trem MUV

Last but not least is the Rinspeed X-Trem MUV, a showpiece of Swiss automaker Rinspeed’s imaginative genius. Produced as an alternative to traditional pickups, it addressed the issue of underutilized truck beds. Rainspeed designed the X-Trem with a lower and more accessible back, making it possible to transport bigger items like motorcycles.

This MUV’s peculiarity doesn’t end there. It also carries an odd-looking mini crane in its bed, and a mini hovercraft just to push eccentricity a notch further. Predictably, the production of this outlandish vehicle never went beyond the concept stage, cementing its place as one of the most unusual designs of the era.

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