The CAR Top 10: strange wheel configurations

Published: 09 February 2015

The CAR Top 10: strange wheel combinations

► Four wheels good, other numbers bad?
► We look at the best non-four-wheelers
► Got better suggestions? Comment below

What would Audi call six-wheel drive? Sexttro? Here’s to the guys who think four isn’t the best number of wheels

1 Tyrell P34

The famous Tyrell P34

The 1970s produced some wild innovations in F1, none stranger than the six-wheeled Tyrell. The idea was that four small front wheels created less drag, more brake-disc area and a bigger tyre-contact patch. The reality was that despite driving it to first place in the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix, Jody Sheckter described it as ‘junk’.

2 Panther Six

Panther Six

The genius of Tyrell struck a chord with Robert Jankl, owner of retro-curio sports-car maker Panther, inspiring him to make a six-wheeled supercar that same year. The ludicrous claimed 200mph top speed was matched by a price that could have put a couple of Ferraris in your garage, but fortunately Panther went bust before anyone could be quite that stupid.

3 Eliica

Eliica

Thirty years later, the opportunity to be titanically stupid with your fortune appeared within grasp again when a team at Japan’s Keio University talked about putting its eight-wheeled Eliica electric car into production. Although it outran a 911 Turbo in tests it was as big as a limo, seated only four and looked like Jabba the Hutt being transported between sets on a low-loader.

4 Fifth-wheel parking aid

Now that's how you cheat at parking!

In the ’50s an American boffin solved the problem of fitting whale-sized Detroit barges into tight spaces by driving the spare wheel from the driveshaft to turn the car in its own length. Batman could have saved $$$$$$ on that Batcave turntable if only he’d known.

5 Toyota hover car

VW's hover car

If even one wheel is too profligate, how about no wheels? VW’s 2012 hover car concept may have been pie in the sky, but Toyota bigshot Hiroyoshi Yoshiki has let slip that the world’s number one car maker has been studying hover-car tech for real. Yeah, and Corollas might fly. Our disbelief remains unsuspended.

6 Ryno

Ryno: halfway Segway, half bike

Not a car exactly, but weird enough for a mention. Like a cross between a Segway and a motorbike, the one-wheeled Ryno uses a gyroscope to keep upright. Pedestrians rocking with mirth when you drive past at the thing’s 10mph top whack might be less stable.

7 Morgan

The stunning Morgan Three Wheeler

The Malvern sports-car maker didn’t actually hit on the revolutionary idea of building a car with four wheels until the 1930s, and it’s the company’s reborn three-wheeler that’s been making all the news lately. How long do we have to wait for a retro-inspired Reliant rebirth?

8 Citroens on three wheels

And in the olden days, you could do this in a Citroen...

In an era when you’re lucky to get a poxy can of tyre foam in the boot instead of a proper spare, being able to hitch up a wheel like a classic hydropneumatically suspended Citroën would be a lifesaver.

9 Vauxhall Villiers

They were even at it in the early days of the motor car: Vauxhall Villiers is proof

Putting 300bhp to the pavement wasn’t easy in the days of tyres with the girth of dinner plates, so racer Raymond Mays added twin rear wheels to his Vauxhall Villiers racer. If Vauxhall had tried it on the Calibra, they might have sorted the epic torque steer.

10 Mattracks Ford F-350

Snow? Pah! Mattracks Ford F-350 eats drifts for breakfast

Potentially overkill for a British winter, but when serious snow strikes forget swapping to winter wheels and tyres. Instead you need to ditch your wheels altogether for a set of Mattracks caterpillar tracks.

By Chris Chilton

Contributing editor, ace driver, wit supplier, mischief maker

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