Safety features not only hold us back from flying through windshields, they can also keep us from building and driving some of the more crazy automotive concepts ever dreamed up. These are the ten cars Jalopnik readers would drive if they didn’t have to kneel down to the man.
10.) Mazda Miata Speedster
It is treacherous living in a world where it is considered unlawful to produce a car without a windshield or a roll bar. If people don’t care about potentially rolling over and crushing their faces, who’s to stop them? It certainly shouldn’t be the government. Be free Miata Speedster, be free.
Suggested By: KomradKickass, Photo Credit: Mazda
9.) Anything With Pop-Up Headlights
Pop-up headlights were forced to go the way of the dodo after European lawmakers told car manufacturers that the headlights had to be less prone to potentially impaling pedestrians in the event of an accident. Instead of modifying pop-ups to be safer, most automakers just dropped them altogether.
8.) Jeep FC Concept
The massive Forward-Control concept that Jeep was showing off a couple years back would’ve been an incredible addition to their model-range, if it wasn’t designed to crush the legs of its occupant during a crash. That kind of stuff just doesn’t please the NHTSA.
Suggested By: ezeolla, Photo Credit: Jeep
7.) A Group B Rally Car
In the 1980s, Group B rallying had some of the world’s most famous rally cars performing event after event on a global platform until it was shut down following a number of horrifying and deadly crashes. Some of the most ballsy race cars (and drivers) became known to the world solely because of Group B rallying. Who’s to say that just because these historic race cars are outfitted with motorsport safety equipment like roll cages and whatnot instead of modern airbags and consumer car seatbelts that an educated enthusiast can’t have fun with one?
6.) Renault Espace F1
Renault’s one-off Espace F1 is probably the best track set-up minivan that ever existed. What really made the Espace F1 special was its Renault Formula One motor sitting uncovered in the middle of the cabin, surrounded by four racing bucket seats, racing safety harnesses, with a crazy-big spoiler at the rear to keep everything planted. That all sounds safe enough to me.
The whole “if you want to put your kids in a minivan with an uncovered and potentially deafening V10 Formula One motor, you’re probably a lunatic who shouldn’t have kids” argument is really getting old. It’s pretty much a scientific fact that children love race cars and the excitement that they bring. Lawmakers. Stop depriving children of what we all know they really need.
5.) A Bare-Bones, Cheap, Real-Wheel Drive Hoon-Machine
A car like the Scion FR-S would be considered a luxobarge compared to what automakers could produce if safety requirements weren’t getting in the way. Reader ranwhenparked can explain:
A really basic, dirt cheap economy car that would retail for around $7,000. Lightweight, rear engine, RWD, with the minimum of features needed to make it somewhat livable (basically, seats, gauges, heater, and maybe a radio if you want to pay extra to get all fancy).
The focus would be on long life durability and easy of maintenance, combined with maximum fuel economy and assembly efficiency.
4.) Lancia Stratos HF Zero
No one needs practicality or that so-called confidence safety features are supposed to bring when driving a Lancia Stratos HF Zero. Especially not reader DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane with this incredibly thorough dream mechanic’s work order of mods.
I’d change a few things, though, so I could daily it.
I’d make it a little taller, wider, and longer (to keep proportions).Instead of just the windshield lifting for entry, I’d lift/slide the entire front half of the bodywork, so you could get in from the side and so you could get rid of the entry/exit matte black part, just painted metal. I’d have a “rearview mirror” that’s a screen hooked up to a backwards facing camera. The sideview mirrors are fine as is though. I guess you could get LED headlights on the front edge of that sucker, so yeah, do that (Hey, it might get in the 24 hours of Le Mons! It’d need lights!).
Since it’s larger, have it seat three, McLaren F1 style, with both of the passenger seats removable (save weight on the track!)... and no airbags anywhere. Fuck airbags. Five point racing harness attachment points on the seats, though, for track days. Driving instructors, or being driven by a better driver? Shit yeah.
Now that it’s bigger, I’d put a bigger engine in there too. Something with a lot of power, and preferably turbo’d with some lag. If it’s gonna look retro, it better drive retro! Maybe a flat-plane V12 with twin turbos? That’d be fun.
It’ll be made of carbotanium for light weight. I want the sucker to be as light as possible. And no driving aids, at all. None. No traction control, no stability control, no nannies of any kind. They add weight and complexity and sensors, and slow you down. This machine would kill me at some point, and it’d be worth it. I just hope it’s after a few decades of fun, first.
Detachable aero kits. Carbon fiber, natch. That sucker will need downforce for days with the power I want, so a wing, splitter and diffuser would probably be needed for the track... I dunno, I’d pay engineers to figure it all out. Pedestrian safety be damned!
No corner lights, because fuck that. No 5MPH bumper, because fuck that. No amber turn signals (use the brake lights!) because weight.
Over/Under on the car killing me: The second drive. (Take the under). Worth it.
3.) The Gigahorse
I don’t think the NHTSA has looked too closely into giving the Gigahorse from Mad Max the good to go for consumer sales in the United States. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be huge fans of the whole double-stacked 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes body construction, its huge suspension setup, or like, anything else about it.
2.) A Shifter Kart For The Road
It would probably take me some time to find the courage to drive a shifter kart on a highway but for quick errands and local trips to see the neighbors just down the road, a licensed shifter kart could be the most fun method of quick transport. Maybe we just need kart lanes that are separated from the other motorists. That would probably be safe enough?
1.) Reproduced ‘80s Cars From OEM Factories
Over the past 30 years, automotive engineering and safety has come a very long way. Now, cars from decades like the ‘80s are often looked back upon as screaming metal death traps and that’s just not fair. Reader That’s BRZ fast has an idea to share:
Re-run classic cars. Imagine being able to configure your own “new” BMW E30 or Toyota 80 series Land Cruiser.
I really think this big untapped market. To me just tack on some bluetooth and iPod compatible headunit and I’d be set. If they did that with the 3rd gen Toyota 4runner at a reasonable price, I’d be shoving my money in their face.
Suggested By: That’s BRZ fast, Photo Credit: BMW
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Top Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Mad Max via YouTube