Car manufacturers have done a pretty good job over the years to tempt us with car upgrade options that set us back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. We happily fork over the money to have options that allow us to change the LED lights to different colors in our Ford Flex or get a warm massage while driving a Mercedes. Or, when money’s no object, we can rattle our brains playing house music with Range Rover’s Meridian Audio 29-speaker, 24-channel, 1,700-watt Signature Reference 3D sound system.
But now and then, these car companies throw us a goose egg, leaving us to wonder just what on earth they were thinking. Maybe some of the options started off as great ideas until too many engineers got their hands on the design. Or perhaps a few employees thought it would be funny to see how far down the production line a bad idea would go. Regardless, here are 10 of the weirdest car options.
1. Mercedes-Benz CL granite trim
Mercedes-Benz didn’t get the memo: Not only is granite stone out for kitchen counters, it wasn’t even in-style for cars — ever. But for a mere $2,650, the automaker would offer to weigh your car down with rocks. Seeing polished stone in a car doesn’t exactly have the same zippy feeling as carbon fiber or brushed aluminum, although, since it was less than a millimeter thick, it didn’t seem to weigh the car down too much.
2. Fiat 500 perfume dispenser
Italians have a thing for strong cologne. But the car is not the best place to express your love of scented stuff. Even worse, the dispenser sits in the Fiat 500’s cup holder. Dehydration may be a real possibility, but you’ll smell nice.
The Fiat 500 may have to take the prize of the car with the most weird options. The car also offers a makeup holder and coffee maker, making the morning commute more interesting by watching the funny lady in the Fiat 500 applying makeup and brewing an espresso while driving.
3. Nissan Cube round shag patch
According to Nissan, “Everything’s better with shag. This 2-tone dash topper sits right up front for everyone to admire.” Well, if everything’s better with shag, what’s the point of a small, shag circle? Why not upholster the entire dash in shag?
Part of Nissan’s ironically named Interior Design Package, the hair patch got Cube owners talking. The website Nissan Cube Life started an online survey asking readers two questions: How long did it take before deciding to take the topper off the dash, and what were readers using the topper for now?
Spraying it with catnip and giving it to cats was a popular response.
4. Pontiac Aztek camping pack
The Aztek, GM’s first crossover, was a flop. The Camping Package didn’t help: For $195, you’d get an inflatable mattress and a tent that fit over the Aztek’s rear like a diaper. The confusing part was that the tent offered just a few inches of extra space; why not skip the diaper, and sleep in the Aztec with the tailgate open instead?
5. Audi Q3 camping tent
Audi decided to take Pontiac’s odd idea further. While the Pontiac Aztek looks like it’s wearing a diaper, the Q3 looks like it’s giving birth to a tent. Sadly, it’s not available to U.S. buyers.
6. Toyota Century lace curtains
It’s a good thing the Century is only sold in Japan because there would be such demand for the lace curtains it would create a global lace shortage. The Century is Toyota’s answer to a Maybach, Rolls Royce, or Cadillac, and the car of choice for the Japanese Imperial Household and Yakuza mobsters. With a thing for lace.
7. BMW “Gentleman Function”
The odd name made many wonder what the Gentleman Function helps with. Sadly, it’s nowhere near what many imagine it to be: It’s a switch on the driver door that adjusts the passenger’s seat. Couldn’t BMW have named it something like “remote passenger seat control”? And what if a woman owns the vehicle? Would it be called a Lady Function? That sounds even worse.
8. Rolls-Royce “Phantom Starlight Roof” headliner
The Rolls-Royce Phantom Starlight Roof sounds cool, but it’s just weird: The upgrade price of $12,350 for little light specs on your headliner doesn’t help matters. Perhaps Star Trek fans would enjoy driving around pretending that they are in outer space behind the wheel of the Starship Enterprise. For those who think this is a cool idea, glow-in-the-dark star ceiling stickers are less than $2 per pack.
9. Volvo intruder heartbeat sensor
Volvo thought that monitoring for ax murderers lurking in the backseat was a good idea, and to be fair, it is. However, the chances are pretty low that such an event would happen. What if there was a false alarm and the system went off while the driver was on the highway? Volvo dropped this option, known as the Personal Car Communicator, rather quietly and quickly after its introduction.
10. Mercedes-Benz “Magic Body Control”
Yet another unfortunate name for a mundane vehicle upgrade. And sadly it has nothing to do with controlling your body or, better yet, the bodies of other passengers. The Magic Body Control is simply a road-scanning system, though, in Mercedes’ defense, a pretty cool one that you may remember from the above ad featuring chickens.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.