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The strangest Cars to Drive Out of the Motor City

Auto makers are always looking for ways to make their vehicles stand out in a market that’s saturated with options that all seem to blend together. This has led to some extraordinary concepts and ideas over the years and around the world, but this article looks at some of the strangest vehicles ever made by Detroit’s own Big Three. From fighter jets on wheels to Hot Wheels to something that looks like it came out of an episode of The Jetsons, these vehicles have both some of the most unique designs and clever innovations to be put in a car.

1932 Ford Speedster

First on our list dates all the way back to 1932. The Ford Speedster was created by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford, and designer Eugene Gregorie. Not only did the Speedster pack a powerful flathead V-8 in its long body, but it was the first car to have an automatic start button. That’s right- the feature we have seen grow in popularity and become more common over the past decade or so was first introduced over 85 years ago!

1951 GM Le Sabre

The creative power of Detroit certainly doesn’t stop with push-to-start features. In 1951, GM unveiled the Le Sabre- the car that would shape the look of vehicles throughout the 50’s. The Le Sabre was the first car of this decade to have the rear fins and wrap-around windshield that we associate with cars from this era. What’s even more cool, however, was a moisture detection system that was built into the car. This system would automatically raise the convertible top if the weather took a turn for the worst.

 1953 GM Firebird 1 XP-21

Just two years later, in 1953, GM unveiled a truly unique concept; the Firebird 1 XP-21 was basically a grounded fighter jet. The car had four wheels, wings and a tail fin like a jet fighter, and even had a clear bubble cockpit for the driver to sit in. It ran on a gas turbine engine that could produce 370 horsepower (which was extremely powerful for its time). Although they were (unfortunately) never produced for public use, the Firebird 1 XP-21 is a prime example of the modern ingenuity and innovative thinking that has been a part of the Motor City and automotive industry for decades.

1955 Chrysler Streamline X “Gilda”

In 1955, Chrysler showcased their Streamline X “Gilda” concept at the Turin Auto Show. The “Gilda” was supposed to mark the start of Chrysler’s short gas turbine phase in the mid-50’s. Unfortunately, the original concept never ended up getting a turbine engine, and instead ran on an unimpressive 4-cylinder. The car, which looked very much like what you would expect a spaceship or time-travel machine to look like from that era, featured a long, thin body and rear tail fins. Large front and back windshields and windows created a panoramic view from the cockpit, creating even more of a space-age design.

1956 Buick Centurion

The following year, in 1956, Buick introduced a revolutionary feature to their Centurion which many of us now take for granted in our new cars today. Somewhat like the “Gilda,” the Centurion had a long fiberglass body with a completely clear bubble cockpit. The most interesting feature, however, was a backup camera that replaced all the mirrors on the car, displayed on a screen on the dashboard. Who would have guessed that this modern safety feature isn’t actually so modern?

1965 Dodge Deora

Last on our list, brainchild of Detroit auto customizers Mike and Larry Alexander, comes the 1965 Dodge Deora. The Deora was a cab-forward custom pickup truck that arguably focused more on fashion over function. The rear bed was covered, as the vehicle’s engine, radiator and fuel tank were all moved back towards the rear axle. Holes in the bottom of the vehicle allowed for cool air intake, and there were no traditional doors on the car. Instead, the front lifted, and a custom hatch opened, allowing the driver and passenger to climb in. Probably the most interesting thing about this car is that it was actually featured as one of the original 16 Hot Wheels cars. That’s right- that old, funky pickup truck carrying surfboards you may have raced around your room as a kid actually exists!


The Motor City has always been a creative powerhouse and backbone of the automotive industry. Over the decades, we have seen car designs and features come and go- some for better and some for worse. However, with features such as automatic moisture detection for your convertible, push-to-start, and even backup cameras decades before they became mainstream, Detroit has always been pushing the forefront of vehicle innovations; Who knows what else we may see driving out of Detroit in the near future.

Holbrook Auto Parts is honored to have the opportunity to serve Detroit and become an integral part of the automotive industry for over 75 years. If you are looking for parts to restore your car, stop by one of our convenient locations in the Detroit area. We would love to help you stay On the Move!

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