QOTD: Is The Tesla Cybertruck The Most Radically Different Mass Production Vehicle Design Ever? If Not, What Was?


The easy question would be: Do You Love Or Hate The Cybertruck? But we’re too high-minded to succumb to that; right? So how about we consider the CT in its historical context, as to whether it is the most radically different mass production vehicle design ever? It absolutely shatters the paradigm for pickup trucks; there’s no doubt in my mind regarding that category. I’ve been struggling to come up with production automobiles that had such a radically different shape, proportions and design. I’ve got one or two candidates and a couple of other considerations, but I’m not too confident that they were quite as unique and radically different in their time as the CT.

Here’s a pretty easy one, but to wasn’t exactly a mass-production vehicle (15 were made). It’s the 1968 Quasar Unipower. Obviously, it was a radical idea in terms of it being a glass cube on wheels, with even transparent inflatable seats. It just goes to show you how we’ve changed; once we wanted to be seen, fully so; now we hide behind tinted windows in our rolling bunkers. It’s essentially the polar opposite of the bullet-proof Cybertruck in just about every way.

My best shot in terms of a genuine production car is the 1955 Citroen DS. It was radically different and a pretty serious mind-blower when it arrived, given what cars looked like at the time, especially in Europe. Its unusual shape and proportions, with a long, wide and low front end and a narrow short rear end with the rear wheels way out in back were the result of an unwillingness to compromise its aerodynamic and packaging ideals to the popular standards of automotive design at the time. Those were mostly going in the exact opposite direction, increasingly favoring large and blunt chromed front ends, boxy bodies and long tails with fins.


The DS wowed the crowds at auto shows, and it was all over the popular press and media at the times, not unlike the attention the CT is getting.

What’s interesting about the DS is that it wasn’t really ever copied, probably in part because it was so radical and also because its shape and proportions were heavily influenced by its FWD power train. It will be interesting to see if the CT spawns imitators or whether it will stay as unique as the DS did over its almost 20 year lifespan.

I suppose the Messerschmidt Kabinenroller deserves serious consideration.

And that applies to the Isetta, as well as perhaps a few other creative and unusual micro-cars of that era (1950s).


One might well be tempted to nominate the 1933 Tatra T77. It was the first streamliner built in some degree of quantities, although that was still very limited, so it’s a bit marginal in that respect. And there were already some other streamliner concepts around before it was built.

For that matter, the T77 was anything but original, as its patent drawing (bottom) is virtually identical to Tom Tjaarda’s “revolutionary” aerodynamic car concept of 1931 (top). But nevertheless, the T77 deserves an honorable mention for putting the aerodynamic principles of Jaray into a production car.

As to other pre-war cars, there were of course many radical experiments and concepts, and some were built in very limited quantities, but that’s a bit out of our current perspective, so I would suggest we focus mainly on post-war cars. So what are your nominations?