15 Oddities Found in Car Museums Around the World

Museums aim to entertain and inform in equal measure. We want to leave these buildings with a better understanding of fascinating subjects while learning about rare historical artifacts.

Automobile museums are popular worldwide, and most countries have significant centers dedicated to cars and automobilia. These locations house some important vehicles, but those museums also house more unusual exhibits.

When compiling this list of oddities, we aimed for a mix of cars and other motoring-related items. The result is a combination of unusual artifacts from many different areas of the industry.

1. Ford Anglia “Flying Car”

Image Credit: CCA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The National Motor Museum in the UK is home to many of the world’s strangest motoring oddities. Among its many exhibits is the original Ford Anglia 105E, which starred as the flying car in the Harry Potter film series.

Now retired, this striking light blue vehicle cannot fly in real life, but Arthur Weasley’s Anglia is a big attraction for motoring enthusiasts and fans of the movies.

2. Mobile Triple Gas Pump

1970s gas pumps Fisogni Museum
Image Credit: Moxmarco, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Fisogni Museum near Milan in Italy has a stunning collection of gas pumps. Many would not find this subject fascinating, but motoring enthusiasts enjoy all kinds of automobilia.

There are currently over 8,000 exhibits at the museum, and one of the strangest is a mobile unit with three pumps produced by Castrol. It resembled an ice cream cart and was used around workshops in the early 1900s.

3. Mercedes-Benz/Puch G Class

1979-1982 Mercedes-Benz 230G Cabriolet
Image Credit: Mr. Choppers, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Magna Steyr Museum in Austria is home to many curious vehicles manufactured by the same brand. This fantastic collection includes a collaboration between Puch and the iconic German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz.

We equate Mercedes with luxurious, sleek cars, but the G Class is an attempt to break into the market dominated by Land Rover. The G Class Jeep from 1979 is a fun vehicle, but it failed to corner a large share of that market.

4. Lotus Carlton

For a brief period in the 1980s and 1990s, a series of so-called “supercars” were produced. With a top speed of 177 mph, many felt that the Lotus Carlton shouldn’t be put in the hands of regular motorists, who lacked the skill and experience to handle it.

As a result, only 950 models were produced between 1990 and 1992, and only a handful survive. One of the only remaining Lotus Carltons is in the Isle of Man Motor Museum off the Northwestern coast of the UK.

5. Fiat Embedded in a Wall

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The Italian National Motor Museum in Turin houses more automobile oddities than most. While the Audi Allroad in Austria has a broken suspension, the Italians go one better by showcasing a Fiat 500 partly embedded in a wall.

It’s a curious approach to exhibiting a national icon, but it allows visitors to admire the sleek curves of the car’s rear end.

6. Mr Bean’s Mini

Rowan Atkinson on a Mini
Image Credit: Nathan Wong – CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Iconic cars from film and television often find a final resting place in motor museums. Mr Bean’s beloved yellow Mini, complete with black hood, is now housed in the National Motor Museum in the UK.

The vehicle was an essential part of several plots in the popular TV series. Mr Bean once attached an armchair to the roof, although this part of the Mini is no longer attached to the current exhibit.

7. DeLorean Time Machine

DeLorean Time Machine
Image Credit: Petersen Automotive Museum.

Of the many unforgettable cars to have starred in movies, the DeLorean Time Machine is a favorite among filmgoers and motoring enthusiasts. The DeLorean is the undoubted star of the Back to the Future films and is currently housed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

Three cars appeared in the series, but this example is the only one featured in all three movies.

8. Bamby Microcar

Bubblecar Museum
Image Credit: Lincolnshire County Council.

The Bubblecar Museum in Boston, Lincolnshire, is home to many odd micro-vehicles. It’s a fascinating look back into the past and an age of cars that wouldn’t be safe on today’s busy roads.

All the exhibits could be considered unusual, but the single-seater Bamby stands out. Produced in small numbers, few examples of this incredible vehicle survive.

9. Pecori Steam Tricycle

Pecori Steam Tricycle
Image Credit: CARakoom LTD.

We’re back at the Italian National Motor Museum in Turin for one of the earliest transport pieces. The Pecori Steam Tricycle, dating from 1891, is one of the most curious pieces in a building packed with oddities.

At the center of the trike is a large steam unit that powered the vehicle. It was essential for forward motion, but the unit appears to obscure the view of the driver and passenger completely.

10. A Mobile Orange

Outspan Orange car
Image Credit: CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Back in the UK’s National Motor Museum, a mobile fruit entertains visitors. Using many components from the classic Mini, designers at Brian Waite Enterprises produced six of these unusual vehicles to promote the famous Outspan orange brand in the 1970s.

The cars were designed to be as round as possible, but they tend to roll like most round objects when they are drivable. Today, they are much safer as museum exhibits.

11. High-Performance Jaguar Hearse

Image Credit: TopGear Fan Wiki.

The Top Gear television show in the UK has donated much of its memorabilia, which is now showcased in the National Motor Museum. Among them are vehicles used to complete challenges, which were a popular part of the series.

The Jaguar high-performance hearse is arguably the most unusual exhibit, but visitors to the museum can also see a Fiat Panda stretch limousine and an electric ice cream van.

12. Benz Three-Wheeled Motor Car

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The oldest gas-powered car ever made has survived and is on display in the Science Museum in the UK. It’s also the fifth oldest commercial car in the world, and we’re fortunate that the Benz Three-Wheeler is still with us.

It’s a curious design compared to modern vehicles, with two tall wheels at the rear and a smaller version at the front. Built in 1888, the car was initially produced in Germany in kit form and sent to France, where Emile Roger fully assembled it.

13. Amphicar 770

Amphicar
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Amphibious cars are among the strangest types of vehicle design, and a superb example can be found at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The museum is a fascinating collection of oddities, and the Amphicar 770 stands out.

Designed in 1964 by Hans Trippel, the Amphicar 770 was capable of 7 miles per hour in the water, and it claims to be the most successful amphibious car ever produced. U.S. President Lyndon Johnson owned an Amphicar and was fond of startling guests on his ranch by driving into the pond on the property, as he pretended the brakes had failed.

14. Herbie, the Volkswagen Beetle

Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Herbie series of movies began in 1969 with The Love Bug, and the franchise was hugely popular throughout the 1970s. The star of the show was a VW Beetle with a mind of its own.

The exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is a 1963 Beetle used in the series. However, it’s a later addition to the movies, having appeared alongside Lindsay Lohan in 2005’s Herbie Fully Loaded.

15. Fuel Cans

House of Petrol Display
Image Credit: The House of Petrol.

Like gas pumps, petrol cans have a large following among motor enthusiasts; rare examples change hands for large amounts of money. The most collectible items are those from producers no longer in business.

There are thousands of examples in museums worldwide, and it’s impossible to single out the best exhibit, but a superb collection of cans is showcased at the House of Petrol.

 

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