From the weird to the wild, from the sleek to the completely outrageous, the world of custom cars has never been more exciting. These days, car makers and private investors with boatloads of cash to burn are investing in some pretty interesting new prototypes, but they will have to spend an awful lot to top some of the cooler cars of the past 50 years.
Here’s a list of the 8 most insane custom cars ever built. It’s a fun look back in time that just may give us some hints on where we’re going in the future. And if you don’t see one of your favorites here, feel free to drop a link in the comments section below.
- Dodge Deora
The Dodge Deora hit the showfloor of the Detroit Autorama in 1967 and immediately started turning heads. With custom design by Harry Bentley Bradley, this futuristic pickup truck featured an iconic back hatch and a slant six engine with 3-speed manual transmission. If all that wasn’t enough, the car makers built the vehicle so that entry could be gained through the front — by lifting the windshield up.
The Deora is also famous for being part of the first wave of Hot Wheels toy cars released by Mattel in 1968. One more cool credential to add to one of the most unique custom cars ever built.
- Honda Solar Dream Car
A product of the mid-90s, the Honda Solar Dream Car was an innovation ahead of its time that is still inspiring engineers to this day.
The Dream Car, a solar race car that was entered into the 1993 World Solar Challenge in Australia and its first-place performance on that day (and three years later, at the 1996 competition), earned its place in the history books. Covered front to back with high efficiency solar cells, and specifically designed for maximum aerodynamic efficiency, the Dream looks like it should only exist in an environmentalist’s dreams (or an oil tycoon’s nightmares).
Check out this blog post about the company behind the solar panels that helped this car jet to victory. After reading about the Dream, it’s not hard to imagine a world in the not so distant future when all our cars run on sunpower.
- 1964 Orbitron
The Orbitron is a one of a kind custom car built by legendary car designer Ed Roth with help from Ed Newton.
The car was outfitted with a 1955 Chevy V8 engine, but what really makes the Orbitron interesting is its extremely unique exterior design. With a bulbous, single-seat cockpit mounted at the extreme rear of the car, the Orbitron looks like a dragster designed in the year 3000. The bright blue paint job and unique headlight setup, with three headlamps of red, blue and green, that would combine to create a single white beam, definitely made a bold design statement.
The cockpit also featured a working TV and was completely lined with faux blue fur. Definitely a fashion statement for someone with extremely, ahem, “interesting” tastes.
- Nissan Skyline R33
The Nissan Skyline R33 made its way into this list for one unique feature, and one feature only: heat-sensitive, color-changing paint. While many unique concept cars have included color, changing paints, this car takes it one step further with paint that senses and responds to the weather. It’s like a giant mood ring on wheels (for those old enough to remember what mood rings are).
Splashing cold water on the bright orange car turns the paint job into a splotchy purple, giving it a tie dyed, psychedelic look. This sort of trick of the eyes isn’t entirely useful, but it sure does look insane and is probably a great topic at parties. Throw a ton of other super cool
aftermarket performance auto parts onto this bad boy, and it might even be worth it.
- Nissan GT-R “Goliath”
The Nissan GT-R “Goliath” regularly hits speeds in excess of 190 miles per hour (and sometimes as fast as 230 miles per hour). If that isn’t insane, I don’t know what is. Youtube is filled with videos of pro drivers hitting these mind-melting speeds and they are quite a sight to see. With a VR38DETT V6 engine and a 3,799 cc (3.8 L, 231.8 cu in) DOHC V6, drivers regularly need every bit of dynamic control that engineers have invested in this bad boy.
Owned by the lead singer of ZZ-Top, Billy Gibbons, the Cazilla is pretty unforgettable once you’ve seen it. And if you are a fan of the band and its music videos, chances are you might already know it well.
The ode to the glories of the vintage hot rod is a super-modern, super sleek take on the classic design and is based on a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Sedanette.
Built by car tech legend Boyd Caddington in 1989 for a then unheard of $900,000, the design looks as if the classic Caddy silhouette is being reflected through a funhouse mirror. So cool.
- McLaren X-1
Plastered all over the news media and in popular gearhead shows like Top Gear, the McClaren X-1 may be the insane of all the insane custom cars ever built. At $7 million, it is one of the most expensive cars on this list, and for many industry observers, it seems that money can’t always buy happiness.
To say that the chassis and exterior design of the car has been rather controversial is an understatement. Though the car retains the 617bhl V8 twin-turbo engine of the McClaren 458, that’s just about where the similarities end. The X-1 is a real walk on the wild side, and not for the faint of heart.
But could you think of anything cooler to do with $7 million?
- Maybach Exelero
There are insane cars that are expensive, and then there are insane cars that are stupid expensive. The Maybach Exelero is the latter. With a jaw-dropping sticker price of $8 million and a 700-horsepower, twin-turbo V-12 engine, this car is the definition of “next level” and has to be seen to be believed.