Chances are you’ve ridden in a Rolls-Royce — not a car, of course, but a plane. If you’ve ever flown in an Airbus, there’s a good chance that its engines were built by Rolls. As long as there have been cars on the road, automakers have diversified into other areas. Often, that means going in a completely different direction — such as Ford’s old Philco electronics brand or General Motors’ Frigidaire appliances. But sometimes, diversification means building “non-car” vehicles that command a ton of money.
From budget brands to supercar makers, the drive to branch out beyond the automotive world is a strong one. Here’s a look at 10 well-known automakers and the biggest, craziest non-car vehicles they offer.
1. McLaren: Bicycles
When McLaren isn’t making some of the most over-engineered supercars in the world, you can work with the automaker on other projects. If you’re a billionaire with chronic pain, you can spend an undisclosed sum on protective armor. Or if you’re a cyclist with $20,000 to spend, you could buy an S-Works Tarmac, a racing bike developed with Specialized. This bike is designed for the road and features a carbon fiber frame for strength and lightness. With just 250 built, it’s rarer than most of McLaren’s road cars.
2. Aston Martin: Submarines
If there’s one company that’s intertwined with James Bond, it’s Aston Martin. Ironically, Bond had an automaker-built submarine before, but it was by Lotus, not Aston. Some 40 years after Bond took the Lotus underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me, Aston has finally designed a submarine. For a cool $4 million, well-heeled buyers can take home the personal sub, which was co-developed with Triton, a company that specializes in personal subs for wealthy clients.
3. Lexus: Yachts
Toyota — and by extension its luxury brand, Lexus — is known for largely playing it safe. But its recent concept, the Sport Yacht, could help change that. This 42-foot carbon-fiber reinforced plastic yacht was developed with Marquis Yachts of Wisconsin. Its V8 is largely based on the unit found in the LC500 grand tourer. Here, it develops a whopping 950 horsepower, which can take the boat to a top speed of 49 miles per hour.
4. Rolls-Royce: Jet engines
Rolls-Royce’s history of aviation is nearly as long as its automotive history. Known for its iconic Merlin engine (which powered Spitfire fighters in World War II), today Rolls-Royce produces jet engines for civilian and military purposes, as well as turbines and systems for nuclear and hydroelectric power plants. And though it shares its name with the luxury automaker, it separated from the car division in 1971.
5. Honda: Jets
Honda was known in the U.S. for its small engines long before most American car buyers had ever seen one of its cars. Today, Honda’s generators, lawn mowers, and other appliances are just as common in households as any of its models. But Honda had plans to break into aerospace as early as the 1980s, and in 2016 it finally got its wish. Today, the Honda Jet is finally in production. At $4.5 million, Honda expects to build 80 of them a year by 2019.
6. Hyundai: Cranes
Like Rolls-Royce, Hyundai has its roots in heavy machinery but split up in 1997. Today, Hyundai Heavy Industries (it still shares a name and logo with the car company) is a major player in heavy-duty construction equipment and international shipping. We wouldn’t be surprised if many of America’s Hyundais cross the Pacific on Hyundai freighters or in Hyundai containers.
7. Toyota: Boats
In 1990, Toyota, “with the goal of bringing its car-making expertise to the marine field,” established its Marine Business Division. Ever since, it’s been offering premium boats for civilians. In 2009, it Ponam-28L model won the Boat of the Year Japan award. Now on the Ponam-35, Toyota’s cruisers can run as much as $275,000.
8. Lamborghini: Tractors
Before it ever built a car, Ferruccio Lamborghini’s eponymous company was one of the most popular tractor manufacturers in Italy. By 1973, Lamborghini had retired, and his auto division split with the tractor division. The farm vehicle operation was bought by the Italian firm SAME, where it was renamed Lamborghini Trattori S.p.A. Today, the tractors still proudly feature the same charging bull logo that’s found on its road cars. And for tractors, their designs are surprisingly aggressive. They look like they could’ve been designed by, well, Lamborghini.
9. Subaru: Missiles
Up until 2017, every Subaru ever made had the name Fuji Heavy Industries stamped on its chassis plate. That was the official name of Subaru, and other than cars it’s a major player in Japan’s aerospace industry. On top of manufacturing Lockheed-Martin and Boeing-licenced helicopters and planes, it also builds a number of drones.
10. SAAB: Jets
For years, SAAB used the tagline, “Born from Jets.” And though the car company is no more (it was shuttered in 2011), SAAB survives today as one of the largest aerospace and defense companies in Europe. On top of building fighter jets, SAAB also builds missiles, torpedoes, and drones. Under its SCANIA sub-brand, it builds heavy-duty trucks.
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