In order to continue advancing today's automotive technology, most manufacturers insist on taking risks (good and bad) to get the jump on the competition. Some of them pay off as incredible technological innovations, while the forgotten failures on today's Top 5 list simply make for some good laughs.
While some things like muscle cars and fine wines tend to get better with age, these wacky ideas certainly did not. It's hard to believe this handful of automotive gimmicks were ever taken seriously.
When the first talking cars came out in the early 80s, problem was the technology at the time hadn't come very far yet. Seems these low-tech talking systems were limited to just a few phrases, as they used a mini turntable matched to a few pre-recorded messages.
Back then, the 1981 Datsun 810 Maxima had a whopping six phrases ranging from "Lights Are On" to "Door is Open." Not to be outdone, Chrysler and Ford quickly launched their own talking technology too.
Back in 1958, Ford showcased their latest technology with the Ford Nucleon concept. The idea was to replace the typical internal-combustion engine with a small nuclear reactor designed to power the car instead... only problem was when people began to question how safe the nuclear-powered behemoth would be in a crash! Yikes!
Automatic Seat Belts
Most of us have tried to forget about out first encounter with one of these death traps. The automatic seat belt was not only annoying, but nearly strangled passengers each time you open or close the door! According to Wikipedia, the first consumer car to feature an automatic seat belt was the 1975 Volkswagon Rabbit, followed by the 1981 Toyota Cressida (where it was a standard feature). In the 1990s it became mandatory for new cars to have either automatic seat belts or costly driverís-side airbags. Then in 1995, airbags were required and marked the death of the ridiculous auto-seat belt for good!
Turbine-Powered Production Car
In 1962 the gas-turbine-powered Chrysler Turbine was born. Not only did it idle at 22,000 rpm, but it also sounded like a jet engine! Engineers praised this production car for using just one fifth of the moving parts when compared to a traditional engine, although this technology never really took off. Chrysler actually produced 55 Turbines (of which only 9 still exist), as they did their best to seek and destroy most of the examples in existence.