What's The Weirdest Thing You've Ever Driven?

What's The Weirdest Thing You've Ever Driven?

Image: Bradley Brownell

There are so many weird and wonderful cars out there in the world. Humans have been building these things for nearly 140 years, we were bound to do some off-the-wall stuff. So today, in 2024, I want to know what the weirdest thing you’ve ever driven is. It doesn’t even have to be a car, or have four wheels, or any wheels. Have you driven a hovercraft or an ekranoplan? I want to hear all about that!

Nissan Finally Turns a Profit

I’ve been afforded opportunities to drive lots of interesting and weird automobiles. As I sit here writing this, I realize much of that is because I am friends with the Junkman Myron Vernis, owner of what some call the most eccentric car collection in the world. I’ve driven his Autech Stelvio Zagato AZ1, his Hyundai Stellar, and his Porsche 914 pickup truck. Unfortunately, none of those rise to the level of weird that I’m after here. No, that would be reserved for the weirdest car I’ve ever driven, the 1916 Owen Magnetic. In my former life as a car museum director, I was afforded the great opportunity of accepting an award for this car on the lawn at Pebble Beach (pictured above), and drove it briefly.

Operating under many of the same principles of a modern diesel-electric locomotive, the Owen Magnetic’s giant inline-six sits under the hood but doesn’t actually power the wheels at all. The gasoline engine essentially turns a giant flywheel with a magnet to generate electricity for an electric drivetrain. You don’t shift—as there isn’t really a transmission per se—so much as you control your speed with steppers and rheostats. It was surprisingly quick and surprisingly smooth, considering the damn thing is 108 years old.

See also  Do I Need A Surety Bond?

Just shy of 1,000 examples of the Magnetic were built between 1915 and 1921 when the company went bankrupt. Only a dozen or so are still known to exist today.

So what have you got? What have you driven that is weirder than an Owen Magnetic? Sound off in the comments below.