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The Ten Weirdest Materials Ever Used To Make Cars

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Steel and aluminum are so overrated. Car buyers demand more wood, leather, and denim!

10.) Wood


You'd think an easily combustible material like wood wouldn't have a place in car making, but Morgan has always used it to make the frames of their cars and you can find balsa in the floor of the C5 and C6 Corvette.

Suggested By: Auto-Tuned Eli Manning, Photo Credit: Brian Snelson

9.) Artificial Leather For Body Panels


Sure, fake leather is used for interiors all the time but exteriors? The Velorex Oskar, a three wheeled microcar made in Czechoslovakia from 1953-1971, used fake leather buttoned to a steel tubular frame. Cold War ingenuity at its finest!

Suggested By: GhostZ, Photo Credit: Fabian Bromann

8.) Bonded Acrylic & Fiberglass

The Bricklin SV-1 was basically made of the same materials used to make your shower. Reader DMCVegas can tell you why that is an interesting, but ultimately bad idea:

"Pros: A revolutionary idea on paper, and one that Malcolm Bricklin had from his days running a plumbing supply business. Changing colors *could* be as easy as changing body panels. Since the color is impregnated, there is no painting involved (saved for the bumpers, but more on that later). If you scratch the car, it's still the same color underneath. So almost anything literally buffs out like it was never there. Also rather dent resistant.

Cons: There is a reason you don't drive a shower. First off Acrylic fades very badly. Second, it's not heat resistant. Third, it does not play well with petroleum-based primers if you want to paint the car. Once one is applied, it chemical reaction is set into motion that cannot be reversed. The acrylic with break down and separate from the fiberglass. The only true fix is to buy an entirely NEW set of body panels for the whole car. Yes, fiberglass replacements are available, but it's a damn good reason you should always beware a painted SV-1. The only way to safely paint it is to use a water-based primer first."


Suggested By: DMCVegas, Photo Credit: Alden Jewell

7.) Ceramic


Keeping with the bathroom theme, Isuzu made a ceramic concept car back in 1985 and actually intended to market a ceramic engine. The engine never made it to market, but Isuzu was the first to use ceramic glow plugs, so there's that.

Suggested By: smalleyxb122, Photo Credit: Isuzu via AllCarIndex

6.) Soy


Back in 1941 Henry Ford produced a car with plastic body panels made up of soybeans and various other materials. It was much lighter than a steel bodied car, and argued to be much safer but America's involvement in WWII put a halt on the project.

Suggested By: autojim, Photo Credit: The Henry Ford

5.) Denim


Since it was the 1970's AMC and Levi's teamed up to create a Levi's Edition Gremlin complete with Denim seats complete with copper rivets. If you own a Levi's Gremlin you're awesome, and don't wear white pants.

Suggested By: DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane, Photo Credit: AMC

4.) Aerogel


This magic supermaterial hasn't seen widespread usage in cars yet but is slowly making its way into automotive production. The C7 Corvette uses Aerogel as a heat insulator for the transmission tunnel, which means that you can buy a car that has NASA materials and pushrods.

Suggested By: AustinBenji, Photo Credit: NASA via Gizmodo

3.) Duroplast


None of the weird materials on this list have seen widespread usage like Duroplast, a plastic made of recycled materials used in the Trabant. More than 3 million Trabi's were made of this fiberglass like material and it doesn't decompose, which has proved to be a bit of a problem.

Suggested By: J-Tenno, Photo Credit: P K

2.) Polyurethane Coated Spandex


For BMW's unfortunately named (and hooded) GINA concept Lycra was laid over a moveable body that allowed the car to change shapes. I doubt we'll see this in a production car, but we can all dream.

Suggested By: The Burner Kept Rubbin, Photo Credit: BMW

1.) Whale Penis


Our favorite Russian SUV maker will make the interior out of whatever you want (provided you have the cash), including whale penis. Yes, if you're a wealthy Russian you can have an armored SUV with whale penis interior.

Suggested By: Arch Duke Maxyenko, SHAZAM!, Photo Credit: Dartz

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: BMW