These 10 cars were ambitious, but their innovative tech came too early.
A retractable hardtop in 1957. It was hilariously complex and hilariously impractical since the hardtop didn’t really fold. But, man, imagine how cool you were when you parked this in your driveway in your 1950s American pre-fab neighborhood.
Honda had the worlds first automotive GPS system all the way back in 1981, except it wasn’t actually a GPS at all. It was called the Electro Gyrocator and it used transluscent maps and – as the name suggests – a gyroscope.
It was brilliant, but functionally limited and incredibly expensive. $7,000 adjusted for inflation, which explains why it wasn’t a popular option.
Suggested By: RazoE, Photo Credit: Honda
All of the optimism and the promise of the 1980s wrapped up in one car. Most of the car’s functions were controlled on that glorious glowing green CRT touchscreen display, and it worked pretty well, until it broke and you couldn’t fix it.
The thinking was there, but the product wasn’t quite ready.
Suggested By: WesBarton89 - Here to Infinti, Photo Credit: Buick
Go back in your corner Traction Avant, this Cord had you beat by a number of years. The L-29 supposedly handled well, but it was heavy and the front axles were incredibly weak, making the car very slow.
On the bright side, its slowness meant that people could spend more time admiring this gorgeous thing.
Audi Quattro what? Jensen was making four wheel drive passenger cars all the way back in the 1960s, but it suffered from poor British engineering.
The 4WD system worked fine, but it was only engineered for right hand drive cars and it was much more expensive than a RWD Interceptor. Jensen may have pioneered the idea, but Audi and Subaru brought it to the masses.
Another case of great thinking, terrible product from 1980s GM. The Cadillac V8-6-4 pioneered cylinder deactivation, giving performance and fuel efficiency, but the computer technology to control it simply wasn’t there.
They were hideously unreliable and many were modified to be conventional V8s.
Porsche generally gets credit for paving the way for bringing turbocharging for the masses, and they were really the first to figure out how to make it work in a road car (even if it was a little, uh, laggy), but GM was experimenting with it way back in the 1960s.
With the Jetfire, Oldsmobile stuck a Garrett turbo on their V8 which gave it exceptional performance. The problem was cooling. Olds devised a solution called Turbo Rocket Fluid (!!!) which was a mixture of water and methanol to cool the turbo.
Owners didn’t refill their Turbo Rocket Fluid and the motors suffered from poor performance, or worse.
Suggested By: alan, Photo Credit: Oldsmobile
The first generation had a digital dash and lots of buttons. The second generation had even more insane buttons. None of them worked.
The tech suffered for being too far ahead of its time, and for being made and designed by a low volume British automaker.
Suggested By: Raphael Orlove, Photo Credit: dave_7
Would you believe Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) created the first series hybrid all the way back in 1900? And would you believe that it was all wheel drive too?
Well old Ferdinand did just that. The tech was way too primitive to work effectively, but still amazing to see this sort of thinking at the turn of the century.
Suggested By: ed for the good old times, Photo Credit: Porsche
In the early days of the car, electric cars outnumbered gasoline powered cars, but the internal combustion tech moved ahead very quickly, leaving electric cars in the dust. Literally. Early electric cars were slow as hell.
It only took well over 100 years, but it looks like electric cars are poised for a comeback.
Suggested By: As Du Volant, Photo Credit: Waverly (Public Domain)
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: Aston Martin
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.