5 of the craziest looking cars ever designed by the French

by | Jun 4, 2022 - 7:00PM | Car Reviews, Cars

Renault Avantime parked outside a villa

When it comes to designing cars, the Germans are stoic, the Italians are classy, the Japanese are efficient and the French are, well a little bit mad.

Over the years, the French have given us a variety of cars with improbable design cues and unique charateristics.

And that’s why we love them.

5. Peugeot Onyx (2012)

In terms of styling, the Peugeot Onyx is sleek and slender but there’s nothing too crazy or unusual about its shape and features.

However, Peugeot made interesting choices when it came to the different materials it used.

The body panels are made from a blend of carbon fiber and copper and the seats and parts of the dashboard are made using recycled newspapers.

It was based off a famous Le Mans racecar, the 908 prototype.

In fact, it was powered by the same 3.7-liter V8 hybrid as the race car.

Unfortunately, the Onyx is only a concept car and it never got to the production stage.

4. Michelin PLR (1972)

In 1972, Michelin wanted to build a vehicle to test their tires and this is what they came up with: a 24-foot limousine with 10 wheels.

That’s not the end of the craziness because this 10-wheeled caterpillar was powered by two Chevrolet V8s and fitted with two 24-gallon tanks.

Styling? Well, it looks like somebody slashed a caravan in half and then glued it to the front end of a Citroën DS.

But to be fair, that’s basically what it is.

3. Helicron (1932)

Back in the early 1930s, a company named Helicron had a sequence of brilliantly mental ideas.

Helicron decided what the world needed the most was a propelled-powered car made of wood.

And that’s what they did.

The project went nowhere (surprise, surprise) and the only existing prototype was later abandoned and remained in a barn until 2000.

It was later found and restored using bits from various French cars.

It now lives in the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

2. Twin-Engine Citroën 2CV Sahara (1960)

The Citroën 2CV Sahara started out as a regular 2CV but Citroën wanted to make it four-wheel drive.

Ordinarily, manufacturers would simply use a transfer case and tweak with the axles, but Citroën did something a bit more radical and simply added another engine to the rear wheels.

This solution is actually quite clever, because when you hit the gas you automatically engage both engines.

Each engine is actually independent of the other, which means one’s enough if the other one goes.

Some might actually call this a pioneering solution, because that’s exactly how four-wheel drive electric cars are built these days: with an engine at each wheel or axle.

1. Renault Avantime (2001)

You can’t really use the words “French” and “car” in the same sentence withoutr the beautifully odd Renault Avantime coming to mind.

Officially categorized as a ‘minivan’, the Avantime is a 3-door coupe that’s also a wagon.

It is kind of spacious at the front but because of the odd design at the back, it’s quite cramped for rear passengers.

It was available with three different engine options: a 2.0-liter and a 3.0-liter gas, and a 2.2-liter diesel.

But it was only in production for three years.

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