We’ve written about lots of car auctions here, including some that included really unusual and interesting selections of cars. But if your goal is to get the absolute weirdest, most obscure, bonkersest cars possible, I’m not sure there’s ever been a better auction for you than the one the Western Washington University Mechanical Engineering Dept. is planning. There’s some gleefully weird crap that could be all yours.
If your goal is to cause utter bafflement to everyone around you when you park somewhere, the Vehicle Research department at the university has you covered. These vehicles were university research projects, many from decades ago, and as such have a certain ineffable academic and optimistic-future feeling about them, and seem like something you might have seen rolling around in the background of a low-budget ‘70s sci-fi movie, possibly driven by sexy people in metallic jumpsuits.
The quality isn’t exactly, um, concurs-grade. According to the auction documentation,
“None of the vehicles run and have not in many decades. They roll and steer.”
I mean, rolling and steering are pretty good!
If you want to see what these beauties were like back in their heyday, the University has a history page about the cars here.
I learned about something I’d never heard of before at the very beginning of that page: “extreme Ackerman Steering.” Ackerman steering has been known and used forever, but I had no idea there was an “extreme” variant.
Let’s look at some sample cars that could be your next ride:
Quite an attractive baby sports car! The windshield reminds me of a Lancia Stratos, a bit. I think it’s rear-engined, but I can’t tell what kind of engine it is—possibly a motorcycle engine.
Sure, most of the dash is missing, but the “Additional Detail” that “Steering works” is a nice plus! This could be a fun little ride with some cleanup and an old VW air-cooled transaxle stuck in the back.
If you want something a little more grown-up looking than the Viking 2, what about the Viking 4?
The Viking 4 can also be seen in its former glory here in this 1982 Popular Science article Raph dug up.
It’s got an opening canopy roof!
These things were quite advanced for their day, getting 100+ MPG from conventional engines from Subaru, Mazda, Isuzu, Volkswagen, and other donors.
I think I’m more of a Viking 6 man, myself, though. I like the details, like the asymmetrical rear treatment:
...and the central band of four rectangular sealed-beam headlights that’s reminiscent of the Aston Martin Bulldog:
That engine appears to be the tiny 1.2-liter inline-three from the Subaru Justy.
This one appears to be covered in solar cells of some kind. Shame all your Earth-murdering friends in their Teslas and Fiskers when you roll up in one of these!
Look, if you can find a better gullwing-door sportscar with a rear-mounted Daihatsu diesel engine, I suggest you buy it. Otherwise, bid on this little guy.
This auction has cars that literally exist nowhere else on earth, and they appear to be interesting, well-engineered cars full of novel ideas. I don’t think there’s any real, organized collector movement of people who collect university research vehicles, but I don’t see why there shouldn’t be?
The auction begins today and ends Sunday, February 25th. If you want to bid, the best I can do is tell you to reach out to Mark Dudzinski of the Engineering Department at Western Washington University.
If any of you loons buys one of these, let us know!