Sometimes it only takes a few creative car owners to put their minds together to create a new world of adventure for their seemingly played out daily drivers. Owners of these ten vehicles created new lifestyles and purposes that changed their car’s worlds.
10.) Honda Insight
The first generation Honda Insight might not look like much of a road-rallying menace, but don’t let yourself be fooled. The Insight pictured above was used experimentally in rallies across the UK until it was banned by race organizers for being too damn fast.
9.) Land Rover Defender
It’s no secret the the Land Rover Defender is great at everything from firefighting to East Hampton beach gazing, but no one could’ve ever expected its competence as a rally car. Just watch how majestic these 4x4s look as they gallop over crests and swing sideways around corners. It’s like they finally found their true calling.
8.) Mercedes-Benz 190E 16v Cosworth
One might think that the 190E Cosworth was always supposed to be a track annihilator and DTM king, but this is not the case. Reader Krautastic can explain.
Originally developed to be a rally car, Mercedes watched in horror as Audi rocked the rally world with the all-wheel drive Quattro. Mercedes had to quickly back pedal with the years of development they poured into their would-be rear-wheel drive rally car and instead found a home for it in DTM touring car racing where it performed admirably and found a cult following, even when only on 2 wheels (or no wheels).
7.) Saab 9-5
Surprise surprise! The Saab 9-5 Wagon wasn’t only good for transporting the families of dentists and architects, it also found a home on the runways of airports. Reader Thomas_The_Wank-Engine can get into the details .
Back when Saab AB still owned the car company, they got the idea to market a self-contained runway friction testing rig built in the body of a Saab 99.
Runway friction is incredibly important, especially in places with inclement weather, as it’s more or less what allows a pilot to be sure that their aircraft’s brakes will be able to stop them before the end of the runway.
Saabs, with their front wheel drive (still unusual in the late 60’s), became the perfect vehicle to build such a system on, as the testing rig could be built over the rear axle without having to worry about any pesky powertrains, etc. It also helped that the Saab’s were actually fast enough to get up to the kinds of speeds that a landing airliner flies at.
They ended up being a fairly popular piece of kit, and I know my local international airport still has their early-00’s 9-5 based one.
6.) Volvo 850
There isn’t much cooler stuff in road racing than a factory-run Swedish Wagon race car getting thrashed around a course, cornering on two wheels, while gleefully passing the more normal looking race cars.
Now that right there is some proper strategic marketing tactic on Volvo’s part.
5.) Ford Model T
You think your Jeep Wrangler is versatile? Go on and take a look at the Ford Model T. Though it was mainly designed to be a reasonably affordable “go anywhere” kind of vehicle, many Model T owners were able to put their vehicles to use in various different ways than just your average road tripper.
Why don’t today’s Ford trucks offer that kind of adaptability?
4.) Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 will always live on as one of the most infamous track-ready sports cars in the world, but not without its rally car capabilities hiding in the shadows. Slap a skid plate, gravel tires, and some beefier suspension bits on a 911 and get ready to be befuddled. Or just call up the guys at Tuthill Porsche, they seem to know what they’re doing.
3.) Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen
I don’t know how we got to this low point in the G-Wagen’s life. The Geländewagen 460s and 461s were utilitarian work and military vehicles that also happened to be purchasable by civilians. Somehow, over the progression of the truck’s lifetime, it has turned into the blingy Chelsea Tractor that you see above.
Who knows. Maybe it’s a good thing that the G-Wagens have a solid niche. They’re great at pleasing the world’s rich, and thankfully for Mercedes-Benz, it doesn’t look like that market is going anywhere anytime soon.
2.) Toyota Hilux
As reliable and capable as these trucks are, I highly doubt Toyota ever intended to have groups of terrorists and rebel fighters as the preferred second-hand market. And who could blame them anyways? The Hilux has always been a great truck. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that they just so happen to be brilliant people carriers and armament haulers as well.
1.) McLaren F1
Going into the McLaren F1, idea man Gordon Murray had little intensions of making it a race car. Crazy enough, it actually ended up being a very successful race car, with few modifications required. Maybe that’s just what happens when you aim to build the best road car ever.
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!
Top Photo Credit: Porsche via YouTube