Hooniverse Asks- What's the Weirdest Thing You've Ever Driven?

There’s a lot of weird stuff out there. There are cars which are the personal expression of someone’s warped psyche, and there are some that, for some reason, managed to slip through the machinations of the corporate approval process only to be met with a collective WTF? by the buying public. Have you managed to slip behind the wheel (or to grip the tiller, or wiggle the joystick) of one of these odd ducks? If so, what was it, and more importantly, what was it like?
In my case, the oddest thing I’ve ever driven was a BMW Isetta. Two lung, two stroke, all of nine and a half horsepower, it didn’t seem dangerous. However, climbing in through the nose and pulling the entire front of the car closed by yanking on the steering wheel was disconcerting. A trip around the neighborhood proved uneventful and leisurely, as there was little to no traffic. However, having to drive this snail-paced egg on a major boulevard during the evening rush hour would prove as butt puckering as riding on the handlebars of Evel Knievell’s Ceasar’s Palace bike. It’s my goal, one day, to pilot an Amphicar on both land and water, an achievement which might just eclipse the Isetta drive in its weirdness, but that is for the future.
So what about you? Have you ever steered the back end of one of those block-long hook and ladders? Ever get behind the wheel of one of those peyote-hallucinations on wheels that  inexorably ply the dusty hippy-fest known as Burning Man? Have you ever driven a banana bike?
Weird is in the eye of the beholder, and one man’s culmination of a life-long dream can be another’s freak show candidate, so there’s lots from which to choose. And if the weirdest thing you’ve ever been on is that Goth you dated in college, well, that’s alright too.
Image sources: [Bon Cherry.com, treehugger.com]


  1. While it may seem rather pedestrian, I can assure you that driving a subwoofer-equipped, Parliament-blasting Peugeot 505 in early-90s Southwest Virginia was pretty damned weird.

  2. I saw the question, and racked my brain, thinking back. Nothing awesome came to mind. Then, I remembered this:
    <img src="http://www.udisco.com/hobbies/pics/014077.jpg"&gt;
    The Honda dealership in Roswell bought 2 very gray market Honda NSR 250's from a pilot from Holloman AFB. He acquired them when he was stationed in Japan. They never passed through inspection. I suppose this pilot knew some people who knew some people. Anyway, my dad bought one of these for pretty cheap, and it became my first, non-50cc motorcycle. The 2-stroke motor made an obscene power curve. The thing was like a slingshot. Twisting the throttle resulted in a slight increase in speed, followed by a whoooooosh as the rpms raced and you were miles down the road. That NSR was the coolest, weirdest thing I have ever had the pleasure of hooning.

  3. I had a Fiat 850 Spider project car that I drove around the yard with only the emergency brakes to stop it. No windshield, seats just thrown in, not bolted down, etc. I was kinda surprised it even ran. The whole family came out to see. I have a picture of my 70 something year old grandmother riding in the passenger's seat with me. Ended up selling the car by the piece on ebay.
    Other than that…
    -An airport Tug tractor, used to work at the factory.
    -a forklift
    – a tractor
    -67 Imperial convertible
    Got to ride in a couple of cool vehicles: 4 cylinder Bentley at Lime Rock and the Sanyo Blimp.

  4. While the fasty stands out and gives me big grins, I also manage a fleet. As such, I currently roll in a GEM
    <img src= "http://www.gemcar.com/uploads/models/8/gem-el-xd-model-page-1.jpg"&gt;
    I have been test driving Kei trucks and vans to replace our golf carts:
    <img src="http://www.kei-cars.com/stock/92_Honda_Acty_4_2.jpg"&gt;
    and I also got a demo on a Canadian made, electric powered Might-e-Truck:
    <img src="http://www.canev.com/Commercial/CEV/MightTruck/images/JR-001logo.jpg"&gt;
    All of which are crazy, and pretty fun. The ACTY was driven down from Toronto on the 401/QEW, on street tires, and I bombed it across a field with 8-12" of snow on it, no problemmo, then over a 2' tall snowpolow berm, again, no issue. If I ever decide I want to spend a couple grand on an ATV, it is going to be a Kei truck.

    1. She-oot, I totally forgot about the MP3:
      <img src="http://motorcycleinfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/piaggio-m500.jpg"&gt;
      Feels just like a motorcycle, until you slow to ~2mph, at which point you realize it's too wide and heavy to put your feet down comfortably, and you have no idea where the tilt-lock switch is, at witch point you almost bail.
      And the Can-Am Spyder:
      <img src="http://www.davepit.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/1-brp-can-am-spyder.jpg"&gt;
      Twitchy steering, intrusive traction control, and up to 70 mph, didn't feel any faster than my DRZ 400 SM. Above 70 mph, tore my face off, but the handling was too scary to really push it.
      I went on a bit of a 3-wheeler bender last summer.

      1. Those two things just don't make any sense to me. I have a lot of miles under my belt on a VW trike (pretty weird in and of itself), but I just don't get the point behind the idea of these two whatevers.

  5. For me it's a toss up between (A) near exact copy of the Honda CB from the movie Purple Rain (B) A motorized bar-stool built with a snow-mobile motor that would hit about 40mph.

  6. Props for the Amphicar love…
    Weirdest thing was my roommate's Suzuki X-90. With T-tops and a woofer box that completely filled the trunk. What a horrible, stupid excuse for a non-car, non-truck, non-useful WTFmobile that was. My roommate was a sucker for attention, never mind that it was all the wrong kind.
    It's also pretty weird to be barging a 75' Lincoln MarkIV with an exhaust leak that sounds like a GE locomotive when you're racing a Honda Insight on the interstate.

  7. To some, a V6 Mustang is weird. To me, it's my daily driver.
    I've also driven fork trucks and a skidsteer. The weirdest driving experience I've ever had was the skidsteer. That thing was jerky, rough and tipsy. In fact, we put it on its back when loading it back on the trailer. Oops.

    1. Skid-steers are AWESOME. Part go-kart, part bumper-car, part bulldozer, all GTFOmyway. What's not to love*?
      (*besides planks getting stuck under the wheels and using the stack as a torsional fulcrum to slip under a barrel stand and knock a 55-gal drum into a classic Mustang… ask me how I know)

    2. My first job (age 16) was in a window factory as a truck driver and forklift operator. Although none of the vehicles was particularly weird, it was very cool to be the one kid in school who knew how to operate a fork, drive three on the tree and whose daily driver was an F-600.

    3. Skid loaders require a delicate touch. Not having any suspension to speak of will do that to a vehicle, and adding foot controls for the loader makes it tricky to get used to. That being said, once you've got it mastered, you can do four wheel drifts around concrete barn floors covered in cow crap, and point it right down the 16 foot alley you want to go through. I know it's possible, I've seen me do it.
      Lots of the farm equipment we run would probably be considered weird, but the worst has to be our forage harvester. Hydrostatic drive, rear steering, and ungodly amounts of tie rod end slop make for a bad combination. It weaves like a sorority girl in heels on St. Patrick's day, and steering might as well be input by semaphore.

      1. <img src="http://www.ag-industrial.com/equipment/images/1/IH5000-1.jpg"/&gt;
        These are weird too. The rear wheels just are casters… you steer with the steering wheel, but turn it far enough and you're reversing one wheel instead of just having it drive forward more slowly. Turn it all the way and you spin in place like in a skid steer.
        And then there's backing up, where the direction of steering is the reverse of what you'd expect from a car (at least on this model, I haven't run a newer windrower.)

    4. I drive a skidsteer on a daily basis, it's a Cat 246 and is one of the bigger ones they make. We have a bucket for it, and forks, and we're constantly hauling rocks, moving rusty old mining machinery, moving gravel and dirt, etc. I learned how to drive a skidsteer years ago when I worked for a rock company in Utah, and that one was a little baby Bobcat with the most darling little three cylinder diesel you've ever seen. Used the same tires as a VW bug. That little thing would wheelie on demand, I could pivot it 180 on the back wheels, it was a real hoot. Our Cat that we use around the mine these days is a real brute compared to that cute little Bobcat. Also, you steered the Bobcat with levers (known as laterals), and you controlled the bucket with your feet. The Cat has joysticks, and they're not as fun. No, the Cat won't wheelie, too big and heavy, and that's no fun.

  8. I come up woefully short here, but driving the straight-piped Uberbird around my car enthusaist filled, mostly hispanic working class neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon was pretty hilarious just from the looks it got.
    ?!Que carajo es ese?!

  9. Probably the vehicle I got my first ticket in … at age 12. The rich neighbor, a retired stock car driver and one-time owner of the team Waltrip drove for, had a weird dune buggy powered by a large lawn mower engine. Although not street legal, he had attached the plates from one of his 'vettes to it. His 12 YO daughter and I were cruising it around the 'hood and came upon a police cruiser. We had some 'splainin to do.

  10. These things may look pretty conventional these days, but the driving dynamics are truly bizarre…with tank-like hydrostatic side-to-side throttle steering and the near complete impossibility of going in reverse without breaking your legs. I recall a few watching a few guys horse around on these things, only to be flung-off centrifugally, not unlike a mechanical bull.

    1. The first thing that came to mind was the MkIII soapbox racer with foot steering bar. Push right to turn right and solar car tires with zero grip meant we took out a mailbox during testing. But then I remembered the phenomenal contraption pictured above, a competitor of the old MkII. I remember the first time it came off the hill. I'd just done a run, and everyone's mouth is hanging open as this tiny cube rockets down the track, eventually coming to a stop and releasing a guy who's probably 6'4".

    2. We went to a parking lot with a small hill, and I offered to swap seat time. The Person Box seats the driver in the fetal position on their back. It had a piece of PVC that wound or unwound string to pivot the front wheels, which had maybe 10 degrees of lock. The brake was a dowel on a crank that could be pressed against the back of a tire. I had a six inch square window to see mostly sky through, it rattled and shook and veered and twitched like nothing I've ever driven. At the end of the run, he said "Wow, your car is really easy to drive." I said "Dude, you have some balls."

      1. I thought I was pretty edgy until I drove that thing. The guy who built the Person Box and rode it down the big hill was the truly epic hoon. Though even he pales in comparison to the guy who rode a pallet jack, standing on the tips and steering the pivoting wheel at the front with two ropes.

          1. You know what, I really didn't think I'd have anything to add to this conversation, but as it turns out, I have hauled ass on a pallet jack before. Didn't steer it with ropes though, that's next-level stuff.

    3. Our MkII was just an update of the very conventional design. The MkI just two axles, a ladder frame and some nice kart-style steering on forklift wheels. The brake was a lever that pressed a patch of an old tire into the ground. This tended to lift the front wheels, but it usually stopped before you needed to steer. The MkII remedied this with bicycle brakes on bmx wheels, and we threw in updated quick ratio steering and a seat molded from an old kart seat then cut to fit. The larger wheels meant the MkII no longer fit in the elevator for parking garage testing, but it was much, much faster. We invited the Person Box's driver to come test with the MkII, just for fun one night after the race. The cop may or may not have seen me blow the stop sign during the record attempt*, and we did get scolded later, though not properly pulled over as with the MkI record attempt. He told us to do one more run, clocked us on radar in the high 20's on a short hill, and told us to go play somewhere else.

  11. Well I can't beat skitter, but I have hooned a Smart Car, driven many different kinds of farm equipment, had a forklift on two wheels, and been beaten by a tracked skid steer. The solo joystick control and beer do not make for smooth operation.
    I have no idea where he found it, but Dad as a model A-ish roadster with a flatbed on it, driven by an Isuzu straight six with I have to assume is a matching manual tranny. Weirdest street legal rusty tetanus death trap I've ever piloted on the road.
    Probably the most insane? A big Honda Oddessy with a 500cc Honda motor transplant. It's hard to clutch, shift, and hit the gas while screaming "HOLYSHITOHMYGODIMGOINGTODIESHITATREE!"

  12. [youtube Qow9r5yhhBo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qow9r5yhhBo youtube]
    I got to drive the GM Hy-Wire concept. I was a reporter for a small newspaper when GM came to town and I signed up for the press day. It was very, very, strange. You control the thing with the Knight-Rider steering wheel. Twist the grips to go, squeeze them to stop. It took a while to get used to the controls, but once you did it was really fun. And pretty fast, too.

  13. <img src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_-pGkeGjJTvs/RtsEK6CvKyI/AAAAAAAABJ4/I1eECS67XBE/s400/PPV.jpg"&gt;
    I pedaled a a local bike shop's PPV in my hometown's Independence Day Parade in either '74 or '75. Before the parade, I got to be the driver for a quick around-the-block ride with my sister.
    <object width="445" height="364"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/_tUoZTUXOPM&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_tUoZTUXOPM&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="445" height="364"></embed></object>

    1. That's awesome…
      Did you get a suit too?
      <img src=http://www.geekologie.com/2008/08/06/tumbler-2.jpg>
      also found this little gem while looking for the photo…
      <object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/IZl0ccm2Ajk&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/IZl0ccm2Ajk&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" width="425" height="385"></embed></object>

  14. The wierdest thing I've ever driven has got to be my wife's old purple (a veeeerrrry girly purple!) '95 LeBaron with a white convertible top. The wierd part about it was that I worked for a mechanical contractor at the time.Arriving to work in a purple and white convertible is about as perfect means for self ridicule on a construction site as you can get. Those 2 weeks sucked.

  15. As an American, driving a 3 wheeled Reliant Robin in London traffic. Driving in the middle lane with a London double decker bus on each side was both awe inspiring and terrifying at the same time.

  16. When I was growing up, my family owned and operated a cut-your-own tree farm in Ojai, Calif. The property was about 17 acres of pine trees, 10 acres of my Dad's citrus, and adjacent to my paternal grandparent's 77 acres of citrus.
    We had several vehicles, like a slow-moving spray rig for the citrus, and a fast-moving Pug utility vehicle with a stakebed back. The Pug was forward-control open cab, and steered by articulating in the middle, right behind the cab. It had balloon ATV-style tires, which worked well with our sandy soil. Every year, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, my family sold trees and we all worked in some capacity, be it brewing coffee, working the cash register, stoking the wood-burning stove to warm apple cider, or fetching freshly fallen trees for our customers.
    All the local teens Mom & Dad hired on the after-school and weekend shifts wanted to drive the Pug…!

  17. 2010 NAIAS in Detroit. Electric Avenue test track under the COBO. I am a reporter for a small car-review site with a college target audience. There, I tested an A3 TDI, Q7 TDI, B-Class Fuel-Cell, Suburban Hybrid, Equinox Fuel-Cell, a Chinese CT&T E-Zone and my personal favorite, the Japanese-spec rhd Mitsubishi MiEV. Unfortunately i missed out on the 800hp twin-electric Commuter Tango.

  18. When we met, my wife had a Datsun F10 wagon and I had a Suzuki 850 with a sidecar. We got married and bought a 1956 Caddy Sedan de Ville converted to a cab-over camper. Horribly top-heavy with scary drum brakes, we drove it to Arizona, Death Valley, Yosemite, and Tahoe from L.A.

    1. I had a non-camperized '56 Caddy Sedan DeVille, and it was great. I saw you car's brother, a '55 in a junkyard in Grantsville, Utah, and it made me kind of sad that something so bitchin' was no longer on the road.

      1. Yeah, there's a lot of those things out there. I gave mine to a mechanic friend. He's buying a bar in Indio and I hope he uses it for advertising. Good luck with the boom truck.

  19. I don't even know where to start on this one. I mean, I've driven some weird shit. Old tractors as a kid, military trucks (hell around here a Deuce and a Half isn't even all that weird), M113 armored personnel carriers, all kinds of motorcycles, buses, RV's (worked for a dealership back in the eighties. Drove a GMC motorhome, beat that!), heavy equipment from little teeny bobcats to humongous front end loaders, forklifts of all descriptions, a semi or two, my parents' VW trike, mining machinery, skateboards (still have the one I got for my birthday in 1975, and yeah, I can still ride it), various four wheel drives, and have had an enviable career of owning and driving old vehicles. I guess the strangest thing I ever "drove" was a parachute when I was in the Army, and I did that so many times that it actually seemed normal to me. Hey, guess what, a guy came up to me yesterday at the local gas station and said he had a '66 Ford boom truck that he thinks might run for a hundred bucks! I've at least got to go see what the hell it looks like, it's gotta be a freaky sonofabitch. Might be another story there.

    1. Oh, you've got to get it! If you don't have room for it, my brother has another cool junkyard between Bisbee and Paul Spur that would be the perfect home for it. Keep me posted, if I move everything around in my front yard just so………

      1. This sounds like it would be just the thing to move big heavy stuff around just so, according to the guy I spoke to. He says he has to get rid of his junk collection because he's selling his place. This might be good…
        Speaking of cool junkyards full of interesting things, have you ever seen the one between Bisbee and Douglas, with all the mining equipment? I know the guy, and he's got the real big toys there. Six wheel underground dump trucks, anybody? Loaders with buckets big enough to carry a Mini that are only about six feet tall?

        1. Wow! I can't remember ever seeing that, but that's not saying much as I've only been to my brothers yard a few times several years ago when we were trying to get a bunch of the more fragile stuff out of the Flagstaff yard, and just a couple of times since. Is it beyond the Paul Spur Lime Plant? His yard is about 4-5 miles west of there on the south side of the road. Can't see his stuff from the Bisbee-Douglas highway though….

  20. 2 Years before the Iron Curtain came down we were visiting relatives in the other part of Germany. It was October and the town of Gera had the same depressing color as the grey sky. There happened to be a fun fair in the middle of the city. I had no idea that amusement park visits can be depressing, but we were nearly alone, the weather was bad and the different booths had the appeal of a beauty contest in a home for old people. It was as if the motto of the fair was "having fun is not funny".
    But there also was that gokart racetrack, a huge, flat wooden oval with seriously grumpy employees. I think they were pissed that we actually had fun and made them do something. The cars on it were some sort of rebodied Trabants I guess, because my then 9 year old brother could barely reach the pedals and the two stroke noise was familiar. Even with my 12 years I noticed that these things were hacked together in the ugliest way. But of course I had to drive it and was surprised by the speed (30mph) I could gain. There was no safety equipment whatsoever, so I don´t know who was scared more, me or my parents.
    After a few turns the employees decided that we had enough fun, but even with my pubescent mind I realized that driving a Trabant- wreck on a rumbling wooden track in Eastern Germany was for sure a weird experience.

  21. Late 70's Saab 99 – it was like the designers decided that everything that was considered 'normal' had to be made somehow weird. The seatbelts were just belts with no hardware that you looped around the receiver. The pedals felt like they were installed one step too far to the right. The whole goddamn engine was backwards!

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