Almost every car sold has four wheels, some seats, an engine, and doors. How to differentiate a vehicle without changing the formula? Special features. Here are Jalopnik readers' picks for the ten weirdest features available from the factory.
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Photo Credit: Chrysler/UAW
10.) Volkswagen New Beetle flower vase
Suggested By: Brian, The Life of
Why it's so weird: Although it's surely meant to be lighthearted and cheery, there's something just a bit too Kraft durch Freude or Brave New World about the flower vase in the neo-Beetle; it's like a consistent reminder that you MUST be cheerful, dammit. The too-common tendency to have a wilted brown flower left ignored in one is hugely ironic.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
9.) Mini openometer
Suggested By: valdaviper1
Why it's so weird: You throw open the top on a convertible when you want to stop caring about things and just enjoy life. Keeping track of how long the top stays open smacks of some sort of misplaced anxiety about making sure that all that carefree time is properly documented.
Photo Credit: miniusa.com
8.) Rolls-Royce door-mounted umbrella
Suggested By: Lounge Singer Chamois
Why it's so weird: Some carmakers sometimes thoughtfully provide a molded pocked that can hold an umbrella. Rolls goes ahead and makes the umbrella tube part of the structure of the door (never the simplest part of a car in the first place). If you think it might be awkward to retrieve during a rainstorm, you obviously don't understand that you're not supposed to be the one holding it.
Photo Credit: Rolls-Royce
7.) Onboard record player
Suggested By: Machiave11i
Why it's so weird: High-quality car audio is considered a birthright by everyone except Caterham drivers. Cassette decks made effective individual music selection viable by the Seventies, but before then some daring manufacturers offered record players. Trying to adequately stabilize and dampen the disc spinner and needle must have been a NASA-worthy engineering exercise.
Photo Credit: Chrysler/UAW
6.) Volkswagen's Harlequin paint
Suggested By: zacarious
Why it's so weird: Carmakers put serious effort into deciding on a paint palette for their products. Volkswagen's color crew apparently put serious effort into getting wasted before that meeting, so for a while we ended up with the option of near-random colors on various panels. If you've ever suffered the indignity of using a wrong-color junkyard replacement panel, VW says you just need to try harder.
Photo Credit: The Pug Father
5.) Maybach Landaulet champagne flutes
Suggested By: syaieya
Why it's so weird: After decades of warnings about the evil of mixing drinking and driving, Maybach apparently thought its customers deserved a break from such nattering and included two sterling-silver champagne flutes for backseat celebrations when the mood strikes. As perfect a signifier of 2000s excess as a West Coast Customs paint job.
Photo Credit: maybachusa.com
4.) Nissan Cube headliner
Suggested By: Bullitt417 Picked Up his Mustang GT
Why it's so weird: The Cube was designed to be a sort of living room on wheels, so the stylists went out of their way to make it interesting. In the process they drew up a headliner that was probably intended to be like a Zen garden or a pebble dropped in a pond but comes across as more of a woozy vision from a bad drug trip.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
3.) BMW's "Gentleman Function"
Suggested By: SennaMP4
Why it's so weird: A serious contender for Most Awkwardly Named Automotive Feature, the "Gentleman Function" apparently allows the driver to adjust the front passenger-side seat using the driver's-seat controls. Beyond debates about whether driver motion beyond elbows and ankles really needs to be so thoroughly limited, this sounds like something on the option list at a Chinatown massage parlor.
Photo Credit: BMW
2.) Ferrari's steering-wheel-mounted turn signals
Suggested By: not_a_virus.exe.vbs
Why it's so weird: Race-car pretense gone to slightly silly excess. Yes, Formula 1 cars have many controls on the wheel, but they also have no other place to put them. Besides: It's one thing to need to adjust your anti-roll bar while fending off Alonso at Spa, but it's quite another to signal a turn into the In-n-Out while cruising in Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Ferrari North America
1.) Dodge LaFemme's matching purse and makeup
Suggested By: snapoversteer is powered by Solyndra
Why it's so weird: Dodge succeeded in taking pre-women's-movement condescension to absurd heights. Packaging every conceivable stereotype about effeminate driving into one car wasn't enough; they enabled the driver to accessorize appropriately! The all-time low in what we now call automotive lifestyle fashion, and a prime example of the occasional cluelessness of product planners.
Photo Credit: Chrysler/dodgelafemme.com