Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

It's one thing to have a car evolve into a special product, but sometimes a car comes out of nowhere and sets everyone back on their heels. These are Jalopnik readers' choices for ten of history's biggest automotive surprises.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Dave Pinter


Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

10.) Ferrari FF

Suggested By: valdaviper1

Why it was such a shock to the system: Underneath the speed and drama, Ferrari is a traditionalist's company. Very few Prancing Horses break from longstanding rules or product identities. With its unorthodox packaging and all-wheel-drive system, the FF manages to go somewhere no Ferrari ever has before and tramples on time-honored expectations in the process.

Photo Credit: Ben_in_london

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

9.) Dodge Viper

Suggested By: F150HD

Why it was such a shock to the system: No one expected the K Car Platform Company to be the ones to create a neo-Cobra in the late Eighties. How this was even presented as a viable concept is a little puzzling. But this big, snorting monster did make its scarcely-credible way into reality, giving Chrysler a huge emotional boost and the entire industry a startling middle finger.

Photo Credit: Brian Gaid

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

8.) 1986 Ford Taurus

Suggested By: JackTrade

Why it was such a shock to the system: It's hard to appreciate how much of a radical quantum shift the Taurus and Sable represented when they were introduced on December 26, 1985: This was the replacement for the LTD, and might as well have come from an entirely different company. (Conceptually, it did.) The idea that American cars were wallowy, square, chromed-up barges was instantly put on notice.

Photo Credit: Adrian Black

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

7.) Brawn BGP 001

Suggested By: claiborne

Why it was such a shock to the system: After the collapse of Honda's last Formula One effort Ross Brawn picked up the pieces on the cheap, took them home along with some Mercedes engines and whatever scattershot funding he could get, and against all expectation Jensen Button and Brawn GP won both driver's and constructor's championships in 2009.

Photo Credit: ph-stop

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

6.) Toyota GT 86/Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S

Suggested By: the Poor Sheep 911

Why it was such a shock to the system: Toyota is probably the most risk-averse (read: boring) carmaker in the industry today. Subaru clings tightly to its quirky individuality and emphasis on AWD. How these two groups got together and produced the most exciting small rear-drive sports coupe in memory defies explanation. The car itself promises to be terrific; that it comes from such parentage is nothing less than amazing.

Photo Credit: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

5.) 1976 Honda Accord

Suggested By: nibby4WD

Why it was such a shock to the system: By the mid-Seventies Honda was a respected maker of excellent motorcycles and good, if tiny, cars. The deeply intelligent, perfectly finished Accord instantly made them a respected maker of mainstream family vehicles. If it wasn't the first major statement from a Japanese manufacturer, it was the one that hit the hardest and the deepest — and coming from a little upstart just made it that much more significant.

Photo Credit: Jeff

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

4.) GMC Syclone

Suggested By: Delling-quent

Why it was such a shock to the system: When this...thing came glaring out of the PAS shops in Troy, MI (thanks, Random Task) people didn't know what to make of it. Easily one of the most audacious and unlikely projects to ever emerge from GM, especially in its ultra-conservative late-'80s/early'90s era, the Syclone is still an uncategorizable oddball that was so shocking that no one really ever came to grips with it.

Photo Credit: dave_7

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

3.) 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Suggested By: rawtoast

Why it was such a shock to the system: The Sonata is a paradigm shift. The styling is distinctive, the interior is incredible, the mix of power and economy unrivaled. There's no real precedent for it, and we predict it will create a significant legacy. A Korean car is no longer a competent-if-bland second or third choice; the midsize Hyundai is suddenly, objectively and subjectively, the best car in its class — except for maybe that other Korean midsizer.

Photo Credit: Hyundai Motors America

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

2.) Datsun 240Z

Suggested By: CocheseUGA

Why it was such a shock to the system: The first machine to really serve notice that the Japanese were going to be a force on the world automotive stage, the Z-car flagrantly defied every prejudice about tin toys from the Land of the Rising Sun. It looked great, drove well, was decently made, turned out to be an excellent SCCA racing car, and upended several established orders out of nowhere along the way.

Photo Credit: ACSC

Ten Cars That Were Giant Surprises

1.) Lamborghini Miura

Suggested By: Honda_Hooning_Daily_Driver

Why it was such a shock to the system: Ferruccio Lamborghini did not want to make supercars; his stated goal was to produce luxurious GT machines like the 400GT. He was gradually convinced to produce the Miura by his band of speed-freak staffers, and the rest is glorious history. The car that still defines the term "exotic" sent out waves that still spread.

Photo Credit: Philipp Lücke