When you shop for a car, technology is probably one of the main things you will look at, narrowing down the options for choosing the right car. According to statistics, at least based on surveys, luxury and comfortable technology – such as heated seats – are some of the things that car buyers are looking for in the first place. It makes sense; after all, you’re going to spend most of your time driving a car and you want it to be enjoyable and comfortable. Modern technology has made driving easier, more comfortable and interactive than ever before, thanks to a wide range of impressive features from many manufacturers.
However, not every innovation or concept is a win-win, and there were quite a few technological ideas and experiments that were less than excellent. Most of them never got to the dealership or lasted only a short time before being thrown into a pile of scrap car history. While you won’t find them when you buy your next car, they are a great reminder that not every new concept is worth using. But this is normal – new innovations often require first going the wrong way and then turning to a good idea.
Rolls-Royce Ghost – Noise reduction is busy too far
Honestly, of all the amazing innovations I’ve seen in the automotive industry, this is probably my favorite because it’s a case where a good idea goes too far. You’ll find noise reduction technology on many cars designed to provide you with a quieter ride. In fact, many parts of your car – including things like a muffler and exhaust system – are designed to keep your movement from being terribly loud. But what happens when it comes to the limit?
We almost learned with the second generation Rolls-Royce Ghost, an exquisite luxury car with one of the most beautiful interiors you have ever seen. The engineers working on the updated Ghost wanted to make the interior quiet, incredibly quiet, and so they really went all-in on that effort. They used an aluminum frame, double soundproofing of the interior with a “sound-absorbing shell”, modified windshield wipers, double glazing and even included more than 200 pounds of soundproofing material. The end result was the quietest interior imaginable – in fact, it was too quiet.
According to the team and the chief engineer who worked on it, the result was so quiet that at first it became unsettling, then disoriented and eventually made drivers feel nauseous. If that sounds weird, let me introduce you to the anemone camera. The anechoic chamber is the quietest place on earth, so quiet that no one could ever stay in a room for more than 45 minutes. Inside the anechoic chamber can be so quiet that the background sound is measured in negative decibels; you hear palpitations, lung breathing, disorientation and start hallucinating. Unfortunately, the ghost was not so quiet, but there is always room for improvement …
Ford Nucleon – aka “Mr. Fusion »
While the car from which drivers vomit isn’t a great idea (although as a child it was literally every car I’ve ever sat in, especially for long trips, so I wouldn’t notice the difference), the car with an electric motor with a virtually limitless power supply seems like a great idea. This was probably what Ford engineers thought when they started work on Nucleon, a car that would use atomic power and use fusion. It was a concept car created in 1958 by Ford Motor Company, and it would have a nuclear reactor mounted at the rear as a transmission.
I believe this idea has partly not materialized because a compact nuclear reactor that could be inserted into a stationary car does not exist nearly 70 years later. If technology ever catches up with the idea, then I’m sure we’ll get it and we’ll all be able to refuel our vehicles with garbage or anything else that’s on hand. Until then, our flying DeLorean will have to use more conventional power supplies.
Sinclair C5 – there is such a thing as too compact
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Would I really like to have a tricycle with a battery?” Well, if so, then you should try to track down the Sinclair C5 because that’s essentially what it was. It was a tricycle with a one-man engine or a “trike” if you’re cool, battery-powered and described as “a vehicle, not a car”. One look is enough to prove that such a description was completely accurate.
Conceptually it’s not that scary, but the execution was rough – not surprising considering that it was made in 1985. The C5 had a top speed of 15 mph and only about 20 miles off full charge – impressive for the time as there was neither Tesla nor anything else to compare it to, but hardly enough to drive on city. It was sold as an alternative to bicycles rather than cars, but still ultimately proved to be a failure, and only about 5,000 of the 14,000 that were made were sold.
Honda WOW – the most comfortable car for dogs
The unique little Honda WOW concept car, apparently deciphered as “The Magnificent Wagon with an Open Heart,” was designed as the best car for man and his dog. No, really, its design was based on having passengers and dogs with lots of amenities specifically for that. It was designed with a low center of gravity for a stable ride and a wooden panel floor to make dogs more comfortable. A step-by-step guide to the center will allow your puppy to walk inside a vehicle with seating options for four passengers, six passengers or four passengers + one dog. Personally, I believe that more vehicles should be designed for dogs, but no one asked me.
The Blaster is a manifesto of self-defense
To be perfectly fair, it wasn’t a car from the manufacturer, but still impressive: the Blaster, also called Flamethrower BMW, was just what the second name might suggest: a flamethrower that can be installed on the side of the vehicle. It was developed in 1998 by a South African inventor to prevent car theft, which at the time became an epidemic in some parts of the country. It was a moot point, though not banned, and the high price meant only a few hundred of them were sold before the inventor switched to creating and marketing a pocket-sized personal flamethrower. No, I did not invent it – it happened.
Cadillac 1947 – If you have to go, on the go
It’s also not something that’s ever been released, but was a one-off: a modified version of the 1947 Cadillac. In 1947, a man named Louis Matar wanted to travel from San Diego to New York in one trip, never stopping. To accomplish this feat, he set up his Caddy for five years with innovations such as a radiator that could automatically charge, wheels that could be inflated or changed while driving, and amenities such as an electric stove, refrigerator and TV.
Well, the toilet. Mattar and two other men drove more than 6,000 miles in a full week, which required Cadillac to have a working chemical toilet. It is said that some manufacturers have liked the idea of a functioning toilet in their cars and have even experimented with some designs. Luckily for all of our species, they never materialized and we all got stuck using the rest stops rather than just relaxing, flying down the freeway like the animals we are. Of course, if Ford ever launches Nucleon, it could be a solution to find “fuel” to continue the synthesis process …
Amazing technology that you won’t find at a dealership
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