These 15 Cars Were Ahead of Their Time

These cars featured pieces of tech that wouldn't become mainstream until decades later. True pieces of innovation.

porsche 959
Brian Blades

We live in a golden age of cars. Many, even the most inexpensive cars, have features that we admittedly take for granted. Before today's tech heavy cars, there were ambitious cars decades ago with tech that wasn't quite ready for primetime, but previewed the future. Here are 15 of your favorites.

1 of 15
image
R&T
Mercedes-Benz 300SL

The 1955 300SL was the first production car to feature Bosch mechanical direct fuel injection, a groundbreaking piece of tech of the time. Allowing for more power and efficiency, it made the 300SL a dominating race car, and a fantastically capable road car. At the time of its release, the 300SL was the fastest road car you could buy.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
2 of 15
image
Ryan Merrill
The Tucker

Preston Tucker had big plans for his 1948 sedan of the future. Things like disc brakes, independant suspension, and lights that rotated with wheel direction made the Tucker lightyears ahead of anything else of its time. Ultimately, though, Tucker failed to mass-produce his rear-engine sedan and only 47 examples remain today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
3 of 15
image
Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4

Adaptive suspension, four-wheel steering, and active aerodynamics are things you find on the supercars of today, but were all virtually unheard of in the early 1990s. The 3000GT VR-4, which debuted in 1994, had all of them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
4 of 15
<p>The FCX Clarity was the first hydrogen fuel cell car available to the public. But nobody could buy them because Honda only leased them, and <a href="http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2009-honda-fcx-clarity-road-test">only to people living in Southern California</a>. The problem is that there's still no real infrastructure for hydrogen fueling, which makes these cars more experiment than replacement for production car. </p>
Honda FCX Clarity

The FCX Clarity was the first hydrogen fuel cell car available to the public. But nobody could buy them because Honda only leased them, and . The problem is that there's still no real infrastructure for hydrogen fueling, which makes these cars more experiment than replacement for production car.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
5 of 15
Some peopled hated it. Some people loved it. But you can't deny that the Lagonda's sharply wedge-shaped nose is eye-catching. That, paired with fairly advanced in-car tech made the Lagonda a bit too advanced for its time. It had a digital instrument panel in 1976, which was hilariously bad, by the way. The buttons were touch sensitive and often didn't work. Bright sunlight washed out the display. That's why screens didn't show up in cars again for decades after that, but man, was it stylish.
Aston Martin
Aston Martin Lagonda

Some peopled hated it. Some people loved it. But you can't deny that the Lagonda's sharply wedge-shaped nose is eye-catching. That, paired with fairly advanced in-car tech made the Lagonda a bit too advanced for its time. It had a digital instrument panel in 1976, which was hilariously bad, by the way. The buttons were touch sensitive and often didn't work. Bright sunlight washed out the display. That's why screens didn't show up in cars again for decades after that, but man, was it stylish.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
6 of 15
<p>The 1987 Honda Prelude shared design cues from the NSX that came after it and is<em> </em>arguably <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/30/sports/about-cars-honda-is-first-on-the-block-to-flaunt-4-wheel-steering.html" target="_blank">the first mass-produced car to offer four-wheel steering</a>. Are you a fan of how <a href="http://quizcards.info/new-cars/reviews/a6921/2014-porsche-911-turbo-s-65-7-roa0314/">the Porsche Turbo</a>, GT3, and <a href="http://quizcards.info/new-cars/first-drives/reviews/a6138/2015-porsche-918-spyder-first-drive/">918 Spyder</a> have it? Well, Honda had Porsche beaten by almost 25 years in offering the technology in a road car. </p>
Honda Prelude

The 1987 Honda Prelude previewed design language that eventually made it to the NSX and is arguably . Are you a fan of how the Porsche Turbo, GT3, and 918 Spyder have it? Well, Honda had Porsche beaten by almost 25 years in offering the technology in a road car.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
7 of 15
<p>First off: Awesome name. Second: The Jetfire (and the <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/g3983/12-great-american-turbo-performance-cars/?slide=2">Chevy Corvair Monza</a>) was the <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/news/a24691/ferrari-engineers-dont-like-turbocharging/">first turbocharged</a> and mass-produced car in 1962. The Corvair had an air-cooled, rear-mounted, and turbocharged flat-six engine. The Jetfire has a <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/g3983/12-great-american-turbo-performance-cars/?slide=3">3.5-liter V8 that made 215 hp</a>. It relied on "<a href="http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/04/18/yesterdays-car-of-tomorrow-1962-1963-oldsmobile-jetfire/">Turbo Rocket Fluid</a>" to combat detonation problems. You know how almost all cars are turbocharged these days? These two started it all.</p>
Oldsmobile Jetfire

First off: Awesome name. Second: The Jetfire (and the Chevy Corvair Monza) was the first mass-produced turbocharged car in 1962. The Corvair had an air-cooled, rear-mounted, and turbocharged flat-six engine. The Jetfire has a 3.5-liter V8 that made 215 hp. It relied on "" to combat detonation problems. You know how almost all cars are turbocharged these days? These two started it all.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
8 of 15
<p>When you think of an electric car these days, your mind will almost automatically jump to <a href="http://quizcards.info/new-cars/road-tests/reviews/a25888/climate-change-2014-tesla-model-s-p85d/">a Tesla Model S</a>. But Tesla isn't the first American automaker to create a mainstream EV. Back in the late 90s, GM had the EV1 for lease-only. Automakers have been playing around with EVs since the 1800s, but the EV1 was the first modern mass-produced EV. It was good for <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/videos/a27428/gm-ev1-the-tesla-fighter/">137 hp and had a 70- to 100-mile range</a>. </p>
General Motors EV1

When you think of an electric car these days, your mind will almost automatically jump to a Tesla Model S. But Tesla isn't the first American automaker to create a mainstream EV. Back in the late 90s, GM had the EV1 for lease-only. Automakers have been playing around with EVs since the 1800s, but the EV1 was the first modern mass-produced EV. It was good for 137 hp and had a 70- to 100-mile range.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
9 of 15
<p>The second generation Pathfinder abandoned the body on frame construction of the first generation in favor of the unibody design. Although it returned to BoF for the third generation so the platform could be shared between Nissan's trucks and SUVs, the second-gen 1995 Pathfinder displayed the eventual path that most other BoF trucks took in switching to unibody designs (the XJ Jeep Cherokee being the first). </p>
Nissan Pathfinder (second generation)

The second generation Pathfinder abandoned the body on frame construction of the first generation in favor of the unibody design. Although it returned to BoF for the third generation so the platform could be shared between Nissan's trucks and SUVs, the second-gen 1995 Pathfinder displayed the eventual path that most other BoF trucks took in switching to unibody designs (the XJ Jeep Cherokee being the first).

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
10 of 15
<p>The Insight was <a href="http://www.nadaguides.com/Cars/Honda/Insight/Model-History">introduced for 2000</a> and had a sleek design meant to minimize drag. It was the first mass-production hybrid car sold in the U.S., although its sales figures never managed to top those of the Toyota Prius. Honda discontinued the Insight in 2006, and brought it back again as a five-door hatch in 2020.</p>
Honda Insight

The Insight was and had a sleek design meant to minimize drag. It was the first mass-production hybrid car sold in the U.S., although its sales figures never managed to top those of the Toyota Prius. Honda discontinued the Insight in 2006, and brought it back again as a five-door hatch in 2010.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
11 of 15
<p>The DS21 wasn't just beautiful, it was also innovative. It was the <a href="http://www.forzamotorsport.net/en-us/news/hma_8_7_14" target="_blank">first production car ever to come with front-disc brakes</a>. It also had a self-leveling <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUbNntd35o">hydropneumatic suspension</a>, which raised and lowered the car and gave it a "magic carpet" ride feel. Today, the system is used by Citroen, Rolls-Royce, and Maserati. </p>
Wikimedia Commons/Thesupermat
Citroen DS21

The DS21 wasn't just beautiful, it was also innovative. It was the . It also had a self-leveling , which raised and lowered the car and gave it a "magic carpet" ride feel. Today, the system is used by Citroen, Rolls-Royce, and Maserati.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
12 of 15
Every time the exotic silhouette of a mid-engined car catches your eye, the Lamborghini Miura's influence is there. It was the first serious production mid-engined supercar, and had a transversely mounted V12 tucked behind the passenger compartment. It delighted in being driven fast, and is still very expensive today.
Robin Adams/RM Sotheby's
Lamborghini Miura

Every time the exotic silhouette of a mid-engined car catches your eye, the Lamborghini Miura's influence is there. It was the first serious production mid-engined supercar, and had a transversely mounted V12 tucked behind the passenger compartment. It delighted in being driven fast, and is still very expensive today.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
13 of 15
<p>The retro looks are archetypal 1930s to 1940s American and it's the <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/a16910/flights-of-fancy/">forerunner to the modern minivan</a>. And it looks way, way better than any minivan. It had a <a href="http://quizcards.info/car-culture/a15633/amelias-oddities/">rear-mounted Ford V8</a>, which left the interior wide open for passengers.</p>
Wikimedia Common/Joanna Poe
Stout Scarab

The retro looks are archetypal 1930s to 1940s American and it's the forerunner to the modern minivan. And it looks way, way better than any minivan. It had a rear-mounted Ford V8, which left the interior wide open for passengers.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
14 of 15
porsche 959
Brian Blades
Porsche 959

When it was introduced in 1986, the 959 was the fastest street-legal production car, with a top speed of 195 mph, and was widely recognized as the most technologically advanced road car ever built. Porsche only made 337 examples, and each car had a complicated AWD system that standardized AWD for all Turbo models following it. The twin-turbo flat-six made an obscene 444 hp. You could control ride height. It was the first passenger car to have an electronic tire-pressure monitoring system. Besides the Ferrari Testarossa, it was also one of the few cars to have zero lift aero. And it had titanium connecting rods. Who at the time was packing this stuff into their road cars? Nobody, that's who.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
15 of 15
<p>After considering the crossover craze that's seized the U.S. car market, you start to think that maybe the Pontiac Aztek was just a few years short of being a popular family-mover. Sure, people complain incessantly about its looks, but when you hold it up next to some of the other oddly shaped crossovers on the market, like <a href="http://www.lexus.com/models/RX">the Lexus RX</a>, is it really that weird? </p>
Pontiac
Pontiac Aztek

After considering the crossover craze that's seized the U.S. car market, you start to think that maybe the Pontiac Aztek was just a few years short of being a popular family-mover. Sure, people complain incessantly about its looks, but when you hold it up next to some of the other oddly shaped crossovers on the market, like , is it really that weird?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Car Culture
https://topobzor.info

kinder-style.com.ua/carters

www.velotime.com.ua