News Culture

Here Are Your Favorite Hyper-Specialized Vehicles

Here are our readers' favorite car-adjacent vehicles built exclusively for a specific (and rare) purpose.
Getty Images

We probably shouldn’t talk about cars all day, every day. Well, we can, and we pretty much do. But to break things up just a smidge we took some time this week to think about car-adjacent vehicles that are also awesome. Here are some of our favorite responses to this week’s Quick Question prompt: “What’s the coolest hyper-specialized vehicle?”

Bucket Wheel Excavators

Bing mentioned the Bagger 293 and included a photo of what I do think is still the largest vehicle in the world—a huge earthmoving apparatus designed to essentially reshape the planet. Then I remembered a gem of early YouTube—a song (above) about one of these vehicles imagined as some kind of alien-fighting robot? It’s … pretty wacky. Headphone warning if you put that on, it goes sort of dubsteppy about 90 seconds in.

Lunar Rover

Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin, with the Lunar Rover with Mount Hadley in the background, August 1971 Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images

Jimal and Krudler mentioned NASA’s moon-driving electric buggies, and indeed, as far as mission-specific motor vehicles go that one’s hard to beat. I wonder if we’ll be able to make road-legal replicas of this out of electric Manx buggies someday soon.

Space Shuttle Crawler Transporter

Space shuttle Discovery rolls to the launch pad after emerging from NASA’s vehicle assembly building atop a crawler transporter at Kennedy Space Center in 2011. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Post-Apollo mission space shuttles seem a little more luxe than the rockets of the moon-mission ere, but anything flying feels just a little too far beyond the scope of “interesting car-adjacent craft.” The crawler transporter machine that carries shuttles to their launch pad, however, is quite impressive in its own right. This was cited by SirVicSmasher. And how epic is that photo?

Disneyland Trams

Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

As for machines that more people are likely to encounter in their own lives, commenters Toyota4x4 and Mr. Miller mentioned the trams that car people around Disneyland as cool specialized “cars” and I’m inclined to agree. Carting tourists is not as glamorous as being a chariot of astronauts but these do look strangely interesting.

Michelin’s Poids Lourd Rapide

Commenters Taylor Muncy, Slow Joe Crow, and trashrap invoked the bizarre Michelin-commissioned Citroën-based centipede car. This 11-tire monstrosity was made to test tires. Get some more details about it in Rob Stumpf’s article from 2020.

Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Another wacky machine you’ll find more backstory on here is the Antarctic Snow Cruiser. As commenter Ry_Ry pointed out, it was indeed a major failure, but epically cool nonetheless.

There were a few more suggestions I couldn’t find great illustrations of (alas), including those chopped pickup truck cabs that are used to move small airplanes around and some racing machines. Thanks to all who shared their knowledge of unusual car-like vehicles with us, tune in on Tuesday for next week’s Quick Question!