Sunday, 13 March 2016

Volvo Pushes for Standardized Charging Spec for Electric Vehicles

Currently, Volvo has plans to offer a plug-in hybrid variant on every new model as it updates its lineup over the coming years, with fully electric models set to come out in 2019 based off the modular CMA vehicle architecture. Volvo supports the Charging Interface Initiative (CII), which was founded to establish a Combined Charging System (CCS) for charging battery-powered vehicles.

"We see that a shift towards fully electric cars is already underway, as battery technology improves, costs fall and charging infrastructure is put in place," said Dr. Peter Mertens, Volvo's Senior Vice President for Research and Development, in a release. "But while we are ready from a technology perspective, the charging infrastructure is not quite there yet. To really make range anxiety a thing of the past, a globally standardized charging system is sorely needed."

The proposed CCS infrastructure would offer regular and fast charging capabilities to make the ownership of electric vehicles more practical and convenient. The system combines single-phase with rapid three-phase charging, and uses alternating current at a maximum of 43 kW and direct current at a maximum of 200 kW. In the future, up to 350 kW may be possible on the same system. The CII is drawing up the requirements for certification and charging-related standards for markets around the globe to get the project off the ground.
Currently, most plug-in cars in the U.S. accept the SAE combo plug. In Europe, the Mennekes Type 2 connector is the most prevalent. Some cars can use the CHAdeMO DC quick charging plug, while Tesla has its own plug design for both standard charging and Supercharger quick charging. Though the Tesla plug is proprietary, the company has opened up its patents for other automakers to use. When Porsche announced the Mission E electric sedan, it said it was working on an 800-volt charging system that could charge its battery packs to 80 percent in just 15 minutes.
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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lexus LC500h officially debuts at Geneva Motor Show

Lexus debuted the hybrid version of the LC500 at the Geneva Motor Show.
Earlier this year Lexus unveiled a luxury coupe of the highest order, and one of our favorite cars at the Detroit Auto Show. It was a futuristic concept that looked damn near ready for production.

Fast-forward a month later to Switzerland and Lexus made some more headlines at the Geneva Motor Show with the official debut of the hybrid version of the LC500. Needless to say, they nailed it again.

The LC500h is a potentially groundbreaking idea that will feature the next-generation Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System. This will provide enhanced driving pleasure, more performance, and more efficiency than ever. Lexus hopes the LC500 and its hybrid version shift their engineering processes and design ideologies to start a new phase for the Japanese brand.

It will feature a gasoline-powered 3.5-liter V6 engine along with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery, and it will be controlled by a 4-speed automatic gearbox. The hybrid is set to be released later in the year as a 2017 model vehicle.

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Sunday, 6 March 2016

Maserati will bring Levante to New York Auto Show

The Levante marks Maserati's fashionably late arrival to the ultra-premium SUV party.

Maserati has joined the ultra-premium SUV world with the Levante here at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. And if future sales of this slinky sport-ute mirror the Italian automaker's packed show-stand, it would seem the Levante is guaranteed success.

It would hardly be the first time that a SUV took a traditional sports car company to a whole different level. Since it arrived more than a decade ago, the Cayenne has been Porsche's best-selling vehicle. Bentley has hinted it expects as much from the totally new Bentayga sport-ute. Aston Martin and Lamborghini will also join the SUV fray within the next few years.

The Levante will compete with the well-established Porsche Cayenne, fellow newcomer Bentley Bentayga and upcoming sport-utes from Aston Martin and Lamborghini.
So what makes the Levante so special?

Well, for starters, it looks like a proper Maserati should - even if it's one that has a degree of off-road credentials (that is, if anyone ever truly takes this truck off-roading).

Tackle the Rubicon Trail in a Maserati? We'd feel less guilty completing the task in a Jeep, thank you very much.

The Levante comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 is offered in two states of tune: The base model delivers 350-horsepower, while the range-topping S trim pushes out 430-hp.
Still, there's no denying that performance has been taken care of in the Levante. A twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 is offered in two states of tune: The base model delivers 350-horsepower, while the range-topping S trim pushes out 430-hp. That latter power figure is good enough to haul the Levante from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 5.2 seconds, according to Maserati's stopwatch.

All-wheel-drive and an 8-speed automatic are standard fitment. So too is a posh leather-lined cabin - though our seat-time was limited, due to the crush of cameras and journalists. The materials are high quality, though Volvo still leads the SUV field when it comes to cutting-edge dashboards (as seen in the new XC90).

All-wheel-drive comes standard in the Levante, as does an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Maserati did a fine job transferring the curvaceous lines of Quattroporte and Ghibli sedans onto the larger profile of the Levante. The grille is dominated by the brand's gorgeous trident logo, while strong character lines along the fenders helps to remove some of the visual mass found in many SUVs. In fact, the similarity to the Ghibli should come as no surprise, considering the Levante shares the platform as Maserati's least expensive sedan.

The Levante also arrives not a moment too soon, as Ghibli sales have seriously cooled off after a red-hot start. Set to go on sale in the U.S. later this year, Maserati confirmed that the Swiss sales price would start at roughly $76,000 (at current exchange rates). We pegged the base MSRP at $80,000, so this Euro pricing sounds right on the money - no pun intended.

The Levante will hit the U.S. later this year and should carry a starting price tag in the $80,000 range.
Don't be surprised if one year from now the best-selling vehicle in the Maserati lineup is an SUV. The formula has worked extremely well for Porsche, after all.

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Exhaust System

Once the engine has made its power, it is the exhausts job to help expel the gases produced,  also in road cars cancelling out the sound of the engine. The sound the engine produces is a combination of high and low pulsating pressure waves. These wave pulses make their way through the exhaust pipe, at the speed of sound and ultimately the exhaust system is trying to cancel out each wave produced with another. This is the job of a standard road car´s exhaust system.

This cancelling out is a term called destructive interference and it is possible for two opposing sound waves to actually cancel each other out. When one sound wave is at it's maximum peak and the other at it's minimum trough, they effectively create a neutral balance. In a real world situation this is almost impossible to achieve and not all of the ever changing sound wave frequencies, will be able to be cancelled out. This is due to the nature of the different engine Revs and sound waves produced in a dynamic manner.

This process is a delicate compromise of power, noise and emissions. In different parts of the world we have ever increasing legislation to help combat increasing Green House effects and CO2 emission levels. During this process in production cars, the noise and CO2 levels take top priority and power is effectively sacrificed. A device called a Catalytic Converter is used to help break down some of the dangerous chemicals produced by the engine.

The Exhaust system as a whole is normally broken down into a few individual parts as this technology has under gone multiple development work over the decades, both in terms of performance gains and ever increasing environmental responsibilities.

Exhaust Manifold:

The exhaust manifold is connected to the cylinder head and takes each cylinder's exhaust fumes and combines it into one pipe. The manifold can be made of steel, aluminium, stainless steel, or more commonly cast iron.

By upgrading to a sports 4-2-1 (four into two into one) or 4-1 (four into one) exhausts, it is possible to release some of the otherwise wasted power and improve drivability, torque and horsepower. The exhaust manifold is one of the most important parts that controls the output of an engine.

Endless amounts of money on tuning your engine internally can be wasted if the exhaust manifolds design does not complement the overall goal of the engine design. Your engine may not produce the power you expected, or exactly where you wanted, it may move the torque band into a different part of the rev limit or power band. It is advised that a good matching of the exhaust system and manifold, compliments the engine target characteristics.

Exhaust Downpipe:

Connecting all of the above exhaust devices parts is the exhaust piping, this carries the gas through the system out to the tail pipe. Exhaust tubing is usually made of steel or aluminium steel tubing and the system carries away the gases created when the fuel and air are burned in the combustion chamber.

When upgrading the exhaust system, the kit will contain these pipes and the increased diameter/quality material means more flow and better rust repellent properties.

Catalytic Converter:

The main function of this component is to converts dangerous carbon monoxide and hydro-carbons into water vapour and carbon dioxide. Some converters also reduce harmful nitrogen oxides.

The device is mounted between the exhaust manifold and the silencer box (muffler). Upgrades include Full Cat back, Cat bypass exhaust systems and sports cats.

Basically speaking the Cat is a restrictive device in terms of performance and increased back pressure, thus robbing horsepower due to the increased work load the engine needs to overcome to expel the gases from the engine. Exhaust upgrades can help to overcome the issues caused and reasonable performance gains can be made by replacing the standard OEM equipment, but at the sacrifice of emissions.

Depending on your local legislation, this can have a impact on your car´s road legality for road driving. We are coming at this from a performance point of view, so please seek advise to make sure your operating with in the law for daily drivers.

Oxygen Sensor:

Modern fuel injected cars use a oxygen sensor to measure oxygen levels present in the exhaust, from this the programmed ECU can add or subtract fuel to obtain the correct mixture for maximum fuel economy.

A mixture is the working point that modern engine management systems employing fuel injection attempt to achieve in light load cruise situations.

For gasoline fuel, the stoichiometric air/fuel mixture is approximately 14.7 times the mass of air to fuel. Any mixture less than 14.7 to 1 is considered to be a rich mixture. Any more than 14.7 to 1 is a lean mixture- given perfect (ideal) "test" fuel (gasoline consisting of solely n-heptane and iso-octane). The oxygen sensor is mounted in the exhaust manifold or close to it in the exhaust pipe.

Silencer box/ Muffler: 

The silencer/muffler box serves to reduce exhaust noises down to legislative acceptable levels. As the combustion process is a series of explosions that create a lot of noise, the silencer/muffler design uses baffles to bounce the sound waves around and cancel each other out.

Some designs also use fibre-glass packing fibres to absorbs the sound energy as the gases flow through the device. This is another restrictive device in terms of engine performance, but a well designed system will increase performance and also keep noise level to acceptable levels.

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How Car Engines Work

Have you ever opened the hood of your car and wondered what was going on in there? A car engine can look like a big confusing jumble of metal, tubes and wires to the uninitiated.

You might want to know what's going on simply out of curiosity. Or perhaps you are buying a new car, and you hear things like "3.0 liter V-6" and "dual overhead cams" and "tuned port fuel injection." What does all ­of that mean?

Internal Combustion
The ­principle behind any reciprocating internal combustion engine: If you put a tiny amount of high-energy fuel (like gasoline) in a small, enclosed space and ignite it, an incredible amount of energy is released in the form of expanding gas. You can use that energy to propel a potato 500 feet. In this case, the energy is translated into potato motion. You can also use it for more interesting purposes. For example, if you can create a cycle that allows you to set off explosions like this hundreds of times per minute, and if you can harness that energy in a useful way, what you have is the core of a car engine!

Almost all cars currently use what is called a four-stroke combustion cycle to convert gasoline into motion. The four-stroke approach is also known as the Otto cycle, in honor of Nikolaus Otto, who invented it in 1867. The four strokes are illustrated in Figure 1. They are:

Basic Engine Parts

The core of the engine is the cylinder, with the piston moving up and down inside the cylinder. The engine described above has one cylinder. That is typical of most lawn mowers, but most cars have more than one cylinder (four, six and eight cylinders are common). In a multi-cylinder engine, the cylinders usually are arranged in one of three ways: inline, V or flat (also known as horizontally opposed or boxer), as shown in the following figures.

Different configurations have different advantages and disadvantages in terms of smoothness, manufacturing cost and shape characteristics. These advantages and disadvantages make them more suitable for certain vehicles.

Engine Problems

So you go out one morning and your engine will turn over but it won't start... What could be wrong? Now that you know how an engine works, you can understand the basic things that can keep an engine from running. Three fundamental things can happen: a bad fuel mix, lack of compression or lack of spark. Beyond that, thousands of minor things can create problems, but these are the "big three." Based on the simple engine we have been discussing, here is a quick rundown on how these problems affect your engine:

Bad fuel mix - A bad fuel mix can occur in several ways:

Engine Valve Train and Ignition Systems

Most engine subsystems can be implemented using different technologies, and better technologies can improve the performance of the engine. Let's look at all of the different subsystems used in modern engines, beginning with the valve train.

The valve train consists of the valves and a mechanism that opens and closes them. The opening and closing system is called a camshaft. The camshaft has lobes on it that move the valves up and down, as shown in Figure 5.

Engine Cooling, Air-intake and Starting Systems

The cooling system in most cars consists of the radiator and water pump. Water circulates through passages around the cylinders and then travels through the radiator to cool it off. In a few cars (most notably Volkswagen Beetles), as well as most motorcycles and lawn mowers, the engine is air-cooled instead (You can tell an air-cooled engine by the fins adorning the outside of each cylinder to help dissipate heat.). Air-cooling makes the engine lighter but hotter, generally decreasing engine life and overall performance. See How Car Cooling Systems Work for details.

So now you know how and why your engine stays cool. But why is air circulation so important? Most cars are normally aspirated, which means that air flows through an air filter and directly into the cylinders. High-performance engines are either turbocharged or supercharged, which means that air coming into the engine is first pressurized (so that more air/fuel mixture can be squeezed into each cylinder) to increase performance. The amount of pressurization is called boost. A turbocharger uses a small turbine attached to the exhaust pipe to spin a compressing turbine in the incoming air stream. A supercharger is attached directly to the engine to spin the compressor.

Engine Lubrication, Fuel, Exhaust and Electrical Systems

The exhaust system of a Porsche 911.
When it comes to day-to-day car maintenance, your first concern is probably the amount of gas in your car. How does the gas that you put in power the cylinders? The engine's fuel system pumps gas from the gas tank and mixes it with air so that the proper air/fuel mixture can flow into the cylinders. Fuel is delivered in three common ways: carburetion, port fuel injection and direct fuel injection.

In carburetion, a device called a carburetor mixes gas into air as the air flows into the engine.

In a fuel-injected engine, the right amount of fuel is injected individually into each cylinder either right above the intake valve (port fuel injection) or directly into the cylinder (direct fuel injection).

Producing More Engine Power

The turbocharger system of the Nissan GT-R.
Using all of this information, you can begin to see that there are lots of different ways to make an engine perform better. Car manufacturers are constantly playing with all of the following variables to make an engine more powerful and/or more fuel efficient.

Increase displacement - More displacement means more power because you can burn more gas during each revolution of the engine. You can increase displacement by making the cylinders bigger or by adding more cylinders. Twelve cylinders seems to be the practical limit.

How are 4-cylinder and V6 engines different?

The inline 4-cylinder engine of the Lotus Elise.­

The number of cylinders that an engine contains is an important factor in the overall performance of the engine. Each cylinder contains a piston that pumps inside of it and those pistons connect to and turn the crankshaft. The more pistons there are pumping, the more combustive events are taking place during any given moment. That means that more power can be generated in less time.

4-Cylinder engines commonly come in “straight” or “inline” configurations while 6-cylinder engines are usually configured in the more compact “V” shape, and thus are referred to as V6 engines. V6 engines have been the engine of choice for American automakers because they’re powerful and quiet but still light and compact enough to fit into most car designs.

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Saturday, 5 March 2016

Supercars shine in Switzerland: the 6 best exotic rides from the world’s most opulent auto show

At a standstill, the Chiron already has emphatic proportions, not least as a result of its larger wheels.
You may not know much about Switzerland other than chocolate and holey cheese, but you also may have heard of their lucrative banking industry.

Bearing that in mind, it’s no surprise that the annual Geneva Motor Show, one of the biggest and oldest in the world, is chock full of supercars and super luxury rides, from the well-known to the obscure.

We sifted through the masses for you to find our six favorites from the show, and compiled them for you here. Agree or disagree with us, there’s no denying that these are some spectacular automobiles.

2017 Bugatti Chiron

With an agressive maw and those now-iconic square LED headlights, there's simply no mistaking the Chiron for anything else on the road.
Well, obviously. The Veyron made waves throughout the automotive and luxury worlds when it launched over 10 years ago for its ludicrous speed, overt opulence, and eye-popping price tag. Now, the eagerly-awaited successor is here, and looks even better than its legendary forebear. The stunning French blue and Navy paint job is the one we’d have every time, and a quad-turbo, 16-cylinder power plant mounted mid ship puts out an unheard-of 1,478-horsepower. If that’s not enough to get your engine revving, we don’t know what is.

2017 Koenigsegg Regera

Not only is the Regera freaky fast (0 to 248 mph in 20 seconds) but it's also hybrid with and 800-volt battey.
The Regera went largely under the radar in Geneva this year, if only because it was overshadowed by the Bugatti… and possibly because you may have never heard of the Swedish hypercar maker. But powered by a groundbreaking hybrid drivetrain that does away with a transmission altogether in favor of a direct drive system, the Regera has the guts for more than 260-mph, and could give the Bugatti a run for the fastest car crown.

2017 Aston Martin DB11

The DB11 is a beefier, more pragmatic version of the DB10, with an all-new twin-turbo V-12 under the hood.
Yes, we concede that this new Aston Martin looks suspiciously like the last one… or six… but that doesn’t make it anything but absolutely drop dead gorgeous. The DB11 is the unsung hero of this Geneva show, because while it doesn’t boast a world-beating engine or base price, it does signal bigger and better things for the British Brand. An all-new twin-turbo V-12 underpins this beauty, and could be the start of a movement that saves Aston Martin. At least we really, really hope so.

2017 Lamborghini Centenario

We love everything about the Centenario... Aside from the $1.9 million price tag.
Would any “best supercars” list be complete without a Raging Bull? We didn’t think so either. The Centenario is Lamborghini’s super-exclusive 100th birthday present to itself, and it’s as completely insane as any Lambo should be. With a $1.9 million base price and an extremely limited production run, this is the cream of the crop in the world of collectible Italian cars. In fact, every single example has already been spoken for. Sorry Mr. car-crazy new money tech billionaire!

2017 Bentley Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner

This is the new Bentley Mulsanne Limousine, because why have a regular old Bentley when you could have a limo version instead.

This six-passenger limo is almost as long as its name, but dear lord is it opulent. Mulliner is Bentley’s in-house customization outfit, and they’ve given the full treatment to the brand’s most luxurious sedan. Fitted with fine leather, wood, and a groundbreaking “smart glass” divider that switches from opaque to clear with the touch of a button, the Mulliner is the only way to get around for the super, mega-elite. We’ll take one in black, please.

2017 McLaren 570GT

The McLaren 570 GT is a supercar that you can actually drive.
It may seem like you’ve seen this car before, but make no mistake, this McLaren has a completely new attitude. The 570GT is a more relaxed version of the 570S sports car, and it’s by far the supercar that we’d live with every day. With an achingly-cool side-hinged rear hatch and gorgeous leather throughout, you may even forget for a minute that you’re driving a car with 562-horsepower. That is, until you put your foot down and feel your eyes hit the back of your head, at least.

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Toyota can get weird when it wants to

Toyota isn't usually known as a car brand that takes big risks. These 10 cars and trucks prove Japan's biggest automaker doesn't always play by the rules.
At this year's Geneva Motor Show, one that witnessed an endless supply of exotic machinery with multi-million dollar prices, the Toyota C-HR was an unexpected stand-out amongst the affordable underdogs.

Based on Toyota's new TNGA platform - which underpins a vast (and growing) range of cars and trucks - the C-HR has a heavily sculpted concept car design, one that’s extremely close to the show-car that previewed the production model shown in Geneva.

Best known for reliability and strong resale value, Toyota as a brand doesn’t usually dabble its corporate toes into dangerous and daring waters. Or does it?

The Toyota C-HR, which made its global debut at the Geneva Motor Show, has a daring look that didn't fade into the background at this supercar-centric show.
The C-HR represents Toyota’s future, but we want to take a look backwards, to see the cars and trucks that didn’t always play by the rules. These were the Toyota vehicles that flicked spit bills and cut class, rather than remind teacher to assign homework over the weekend.

They’re proof that Toyota can do weird, seriously.

The Toyota 2000GT is widely recognized as being the first Japanese supercar, not to mention a blue chip collector car.
1967 Toyota 2000GT

Want to know who invented the Japanese supercar? You’re looking at it, baby. The Toyota 2000GT burst onto the scene at a time when Japanese cars were almost laughably underpowered and lacking any design panache. Like a Jaguar E-Type, the 2000GT had a clean and lean profile, and a long hood that covered an inline-6 cylinder engine. Pop-up headlights and a body crafted out of lightweight aluminum are only a few of this Toyota’s technical highlights. Granted, it was Yamaha that did the engine wizardry on the 150-hp 2.0-liter dual overhead cam engine. Yet there’s no denying that this car, a Toyota no less, is the world’s first true Japanese supercar. Just look at recent auction sales, where 2000GTs have commanded 7-figure prices.

The Toyota Land Cruiser earned a reputation for longevity and adventure. The FJ model, seen here, is the darling of Land Cruiser fans.
1973 Toyota Land Cruiser

Like a Land Rover, but stronger. And like a Jeep, but somehow even uglier. We actually love the bulldog design of the “J40” Land Cruiser, as does anyone else with a penchant for adventure – or at least the look of someone who goes hang gliding after work. The Land Cruiser is famously rugged and can be credited for being the first Toyota model to really find a footing here in the U.S. Bullet-proof engines, available AWD, ultra-low transfer cases, and even those short front and rear overhangs all conspire to make this generation of Land Cruiser the go-to choice for classic truck fans who crave the road – or rocky trail – less traveled.

The sturdy Corona stuck with a rear-wheel-drive format when many rivals were beginning to power their front wheels.
1974 Toyota Corona

Okay, we partly put this one on the list due to it sharing a name with a certain Mexican beer. But seriously, the Corona was an outlier on a mission by the time the 1974 model year (pictured here) rolled around. Not a teeny and wheezy microcar – like Subaru’s simply god-awful 360 model – it was still smaller and a lesser-known commodity than many of its main American rivals. And remember, that ignoble list included the Chevy Vega, Ford Pinto, and AMC Gremlin. Yipes! The Corona did hold onto a rear-wheel-drive format, however, at a time when Honda and Nissan were all jumping aboard the front-wheel-drive bandwagon.

1985 Toyota Truck

Behold the truck that will not die! Or it's the Toyota with no name, unless you consider “Truck” as being particularly creative. The Toyota Truck, especially the one built up to 1985, with its solid front and rear axles, is an absolute legend when it comes to longevity and rock-crawling ability. Toyota – and other Japanese micro-trucks of the era – showed that work trucks didn’t necessarily need a thumping V-8 engine to get the job done. Sure it looked like a child’s drawing of the most basic pickup on the planet, but the Toyota Truck was much more than fancy design (or a swanky name).

1985 Toyota MR2

Haven’t some of the Toyotas listed up till now been a little, shall we say, less than weird? Okay, the Corona and Truck aren’t the wackiest rides we’ve ever seen. But you can’t say the same thing about this car, the mid-engine and two-passenger MR2. The 1985 model you see before you has the edginess (and wedginess!) you’d expect from a 1980s sports car. Borrowing from eariler sport machines like the Fiat X1/9 and Lotus Eclat, the MR2 combined sharp handling and fantastic looks, along with the brand’s noted reliability. Like many of the best Japanese sports cars – Supra, NSX, Z-Car – the MR2 could be used every day and simply run forever, providing a maximum of fun and a bare minimum of repair bills.

The Celica All-Trac Turbo was a force on the road, and off it. This is the first Japanese sports car to make a name for itself in the world of rally racing.
1992 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo

Turbo power, all-wheel-drive, a rally racing pedigree; what isn’t to love about the Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo? It does kind of look like a bar of soap, at least until the pop-up headlights are, well, popped up. The Toyota Celica was famously capable as serving as anything from a nimble and sturdy commuter car, to being race-prepped to win grueling rallies and blaze a trail for the likes of Subaru and Mitsubishi. The All-Trac Turbo has muscle car power and leech-like grip, this was cutting-edge tech back more than two decades ago – and it still holds its own now. If the Land Cruiser proved to the world that a Toyota could go off-road, the Celica All-Trac Turbo showed the Japanese automaker could race to win (and win a lot) on any type of surface.

1991 Toyota Previa

How could anyone make a minivan weird? Well, Toyota sure did when it opted to build the jellybean-shaped and front mid-engine layout Previa. Wait, this is a mid-engine minivan? Believe it or not, the 4-cylinder in the Previa was located behind the front axle line, pretty much below the front seats. That design flourish was great for maximizing cabin room for your brood – even if the oval exterior might make the kiddies ask to be dropped off a block, or two, from their school's entrance. In the end, the quirkiness of the Previa worked against it in the conservative minivan segment. But when it comes to taking design and engineering risks, the Previa is the poster-child for wacky people movers.

1993 Toyota Camry Wagon

Okay, wait a minute. We know you might have given the Previa benefit of the doubt, even though it’s a stretch to label any minivan as being “weird.” Yet how could the Camry, especially a Camry station wagon, ever make the cut? Umm, have you looked at the photo of the 1993 model year example seen above? Crossovers and sport-utilities are all the rage, except once there was a time when handy wagons also proudly roamed the earth. The Honda Accord and Ford Taurus wagons were blandly handsome and functional, as you might expect. So maybe Toyota was trying to set itself apart with a wagon that looked, ahem, pretty unconventional. Yes, it looks like a hearse to us too. That bizarre upward swing of the rear fender into the D-pillar gives the last Camry wagon sold on U.S. shores a look you’ll never forget.

Wild performance, along with one wild wing; the Supra (especially in Turbo format) was a match for the world's best sports cars.
1995 Toyota Supra

Hold on tight, because ‘Weird Toyota’ is about to become ‘Crazy Fast Toyota!’ The 1995 Supra sports car, seen here, came when Japanese automakers had finally decided to let their hair down and ignore a gentleman’s agreement to limit their vehicles to no more than 276-horsepower. The twin-turbocharged version of the fourth-gen Supra also sported one of the wildest rear wings since the Plymouth Superbird rolled onto dealer lots in 1970. There is more than a hint of 2000GT in the Supra’s overall shape, though the final effort is definitely more brutish than beautiful – we mean that as a compliment. The 320-hp 3.0-liter engine (in turbo format) is also famous for being highly tunable, and it’s not unheard of for some examples to churn out more than 1,000 horsepower.

Cutesy details - like those small rear doors - detracted from the tough-guy image portrayed by the retro-themed FJ Cruiser.
2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Toyota was feeling nostalgic when it decided to create a modern reboot of the iconic FJ Land Cruiser. The FJ Cruiser seemed a long shot when it arrived as a concept car in 2003 but, in only a few short years, this crazy looking truck was rolling down the production line. Based on the 4Runner platform, the FJ Cruiser has serious off-road credential, thanks to its true truck-based running gear. Too bad the chintzy-looking rear doors detract from the macho appeal – a two-door design would have been far cooler. Still, people are wild about the FJ Cruiser, it currently boasts some of the best resale value you’ll find this side of uncut diamonds.

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