If you’ve ever been lucky enough to spec’ a brand new car, you’ll know that though little else is as satisfying, equally little causes you to forget the constraints of your wallet quite so quickly. Arriving home to the sudden realisation you’ve just blown £32k on an Audi A1 – and that you’d actually meant to pop by the BMW dealer to look at an M135i instead – is something no man should have to go through. I’d imagine it being roughly as painful as childbirth, and almost as expensive in the long term.
Behind this is the options list itself. While some options are worth having, an equal number are needlessly expensive and terminally pointless, with neither aesthetic nor practical merit – the automotive equivalent of Katie Price, if you will. Some extras, on the other hand, are just plan weird. So, without further ado, here’s our list of the weirdest options ever to be offered.
10. Pontiac Aztek: Camping Pack
Uglier than a melee of jilted Justin Bieber fans, the Aztek was designed for young, active families. With that in mind, General Motors decided to offer up a host of unorthodox optional extras to encourage such outdoors-y pursuits as biking and hiking – the weirdest of these was the “Camping Package”. For $195, you’d get an inflatable mattress, and a tent that fitted over the Aztek’s rear-end. At least the canvas hid the SUV’s objectionable arse.
9. Fiat 500: Make-Up Holder
Were there any doubts as to who the Fiat 500 is aimed at, they must have been dispelled when Fiat announced the addition of a make-up holder to its spec’ sheet (though we all know Alex G dabbles occasionally…). At £30 for the glorified leather pouch, now you too can apply your make-up on the move. You’ll look excellent – for the split-second before you slam into the car in front.
8. Honda Element: Dog Pack
For a little under $1000, Honda’s Element is available with a wagging tail and wet nose. Actually, that was a lie. Sorry. The “Dog Pack” is a host of dog-friendly additions designed to make transporting your pet pooch as painless an experience as possible. Included in the pack is a soft-sided crate with a spill-resistant water bowl, a portable ramp, and a cooling fan to keep Fido cool. As if that wasn’t enough, plenty of exterior badging means everyone will know you love your dog so much – you’ve bought it a car.
7. Volvo: Heartbeat Sensor
To widen their appeal among women, and reinforce their position as one of the safest carmakers, Volvo debuted its heartbeat sensor on the then-new S80 in 2007. Enabling the driver to see – via a display on the key fob – whether anyone was lurking in the backseat of their car with a blood-drenched hatchet (or if their dog had died), the feature was dropped in 2010 after a spokesman admitted: “Almost no one was using the intruder query function”.
6. Rolls Phantom: Starlight Headliner
Factory options are to Rolls-Royce as off-the-shelf jackets are to Saville Row – few and far between, and those that are present, are typically suitably opulent, and priced as such. Rolls’ “Starlight” headliner consists of 1600 individual fibre-optic lights, embedded in the leather headliner above the passengers’ heads. As the name suggests, it’s designed to ape the night sky, and the intensity can be adjusted just so. British Rolls’ owners may want to turn it off completely, as dull nothingness is a more apt representation of the sky over Blighty. Yours for £8k.
5. Nissan Cube: Shag Dash’ Topper
If you thought shagpile was the exclusive preserve of Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, you’d be wrong. For $250, Nissan will gladly sell you an off-cut of shag for your Cube’s dashboard – as part of what they call the “Interior Designer Pack”. Also included in the pack are eight “Front Door Bungees” – whatever they are. Missing are the granite worktops, hardwood floors, and period features.
4. Fiat 500L: Coffee Machine
With both the make-up bag and the coffee machine now vying for attention atop Fiat’s options lists, it seems as though the Italian car maker is intent on distracting you from the process of driving as much as possible. The “Espresso Experience” kit – which includes a bespoke, heated flask between the front seats – will set you back around £200, and any associated bills incurred for treatment of those nasty third degree burns you will get.
3. Lada Niva: Snow Plow
Russia is very big and very, very snowy. So it makes sense for the people’s car – Lada’s antiquated Niva – to be available with a snow plow in addition to four-wheel drive straight from the factory. Useful, yes. Weird, hells yeah.
2. Maybach: Perfume Dispenser
For when an S-Class ‘Benz just isn’t enough. A 62 could’ve occupied each of the 10 spots on this list – you could have the interior trimmed in granite for $20k, a cigar humidor for $5k, and even a cassette player for a frightening $2500 – but here, at number two, is the “Falcon Perfume Dispenser”. Dictators appreciate a floral scent, don’t you know.
1. DARTZ Black Snake: Upholstery
Understated, affordable, utilitarian. The DARTZ Black Snake is literally none of these things. Built specifically for the Chinese market, DARTZ’s latest SUV is based on a Merc’ GL63 AMG – which means the vast pseudo-Hummer can accelerate to 60 in just 4.9 seconds. But that’s not the reason it tops our list – nope, that’d be the materials with which DARTZ has seen fit to trim the interior. Would sir like crocodile belly, ostrich, whale penis, or snake skin upholstery? Whichever goes best with the shark skin floor mats, thanks.