We’re still recovering from the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, but the hard work was worth it because it was definitely an interesting event.
Plenty of exciting new production models were unveiled at this biennial event, vehicles like the 2019 Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a couple natural gas-powered Audis and even a loony hyper-car from Mercedes-AMG, the brand’s 1,000-horsepower Project One.
SEE ALSO: 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show Coverage
Beyond this, a slew of concepts was revealed, which includes the autonomous Smart Vision EQ Fortwo, an all-electric Honda that’s absolutely delightful and even a self-driving Audi with no pedals or steering wheel.
Truth be told, some of these design studies are a little out of the ordinary, but there was plenty of other stuff at the show that was just plain weird. And here are five of the strangest things/cars we spotted during our jet-lagged wandering.
Leave it to the Japanese to come up something weird, but that’s sort of their national expertise. Named after a large-eyed nocturnal bird of prey, the Aspark Owl is a hypercar made largely from carbon fiber. It’s also fortified with an all-electric drivetrain that delivers a walloping 1,000 horsepower. Further upping its exoticness, the wheels are created from ultra-lightweight magnesium. Aside from the name, this machine also has another avian-inspired element; its doors are of the gullwing variety. No powertrain specifics have been shared and we have no idea whether the Owl will make it to production, but it sure looks cool!
Borgward. Nope, it’s not a painful spinal disorder or the name of some endangered species of lichen, it’s actually a German automaker. But don’t feel bad if you’re not familiar with this brand; it went belly-up back in the early 1960s, though the name was finally revived in 2015 with a chunk of Chinese investment money. Anyway, Frankfurt was the place where Borgward unveiled its exotic Isabella concept car, a once-popular nameplate from the company’s past. Vaguely resembling a Porsche Panamera, this two-tone machine features doors that pop out and then swing. Its interior is artfully styled and seats four. The cabin also features a button-less control interface and plenty of purple accents.
BMW i8 Memphis Style
On the off-chance a BMW i8 doesn’t attract enough attention, the Bavarian brand had an insanely dressed-up version of this electric supercar at its booth in Frankfurt. The “Memphis Style” model is named after a sort of artists’ retreat that was founded in Milan, Italy, in the 1980s. Wild colors, geometric shapes, and bold stripes adorn this vehicle’s exterior, making it stand out amongst all the eye-candy in Frankfurt. Love it or loathe this machine, it’s almost impossible to ignore.
If you haven’t heard of Borgward, there’s no way in hades you’re up on Thunder Power, an electric-vehicle startup that made some news at IAA this year. An international outfit, they showed off the development prototype of a sedan they’re working on and unveiled a new electric SUV. The heart of these vehicles is a unique EV architecture that features a monstrous 125 kWh battery pack, which should provide an estimated driving range of 650 kilometers (404 miles). Mass production of Thunder Power vehicles is expected to begin in less than two years. They’ll be assembled in Ganzhou, China, and later Spain once a manufacturing facility is constructed there. This is an unusually ambitious plan but we wish them well. Hopefully for them, drivers take a shine to that unmistakable grille.
Brabus Ultimate E Concept
Electric vehicles usually prioritize efficiency and driving range over outright performance, but EVs can be fun. And one we’d be interested in driving is the Brabus Ultimate E Concept, a heavily modified Smart Fortwo that can reach 62 miles an hour in as little as 4.5 seconds. How’s that for crazy?
The standard Smart ED’s electric motor was given the heave-ho, replaced by one that provides 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Driving range should measure about 100 miles (provided you’re not doing back-to-back-to-back zero-to-60 runs), a figure that’s enabled by a 22 kWh lithium-ion battery. Lightweight 18-inch wheels barely seem to fit on this vehicle but they add some nice visual pizzazz. A high-performance Smart car is, on the surface, rather ridiculous, but the Brabus Ultimate E Concept is one we have no trouble getting behind.
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