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10 Weird And Obscure Car Facts Every Petrolhead Should Know About

Us petrolheads pride ourselves on knowing weird and obscure car facts that other 'car people' might not. To top up your knowledge, here are 10 more facts that'll make you look like a walking encyclopedia for cars!

Remind me later

1. Toyota MR2 - a front-wheel drive car in reverse

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Many of us know and love the first-generation of the Toyota MR2 as a brilliantly retro rear-driven runabout that delivers smiles to many a petrolhead on a daily basis. But did you know that the rear trans-axle on the AW11 was taken from a front-wheel drive E80 Corolla? If you look at the rear wheels you can still see the tie rods from the steering linkages bolted to the underside of the car. The original MR2 is probably the most literal case of a front-wheel drive car in reverse.

2. A mid-engined MX-5?

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The Mazda MX-5 is the best-selling and most renowned roadster in history. But the MX-5 wasn’t originally planned to use a front-engine/rear-wheel drive layout. Early concepts of the MX-5 reveal a mid-engined/rear-wheel car and even a front-wheel drive version. Thankfully it was the FR layout that stuck and is still the core design element of the MX-5 today.

3. A mid-engined XJS?

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Like the Mazda MX-5, the Jaguar XJS was first penned as a mid-engined sports car before the decision was made to put the power unit at the front of the car. There are visible cues on the early XJS that echo its mid-engined origins; there are still buttresses on the rear, which would have held an engine cover on the mid-engined concept.

4. McLaren P1 GTR - too tough for a roll cage

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All modern race-spec cars are fitted with a roll cage to keep the driver in a crush-proof bubble. Except one new race car.

The Mclaren P1 GTR doesn’t have a roll cage because the P1’s carbonfibre ‘MonoCage’ chassis is so strong that it meets FIA roll over regulations for GT cars. As a result, the P1 GTR is more spacious inside and easier to get in and out of for its driver.

5. TVR's 'exotic' name

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TVRs are famous for being exotic, outlandish, dangerous and for not featuring airbags. The brand name, however, is anything but exotic: TVR actually stands for ‘Trevor’? Trevor Wilkinson was the founder of TVR and he named the company after himself. Suddenly TVR sounds a lot less cool…

6. Wankel origins

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Think of a rotary engine and the first car that’ll spring to mind will be a Mazda ‘RX’ car. But these weren’t the only cars to sport the Wankel engine. The first car to be fitted with a Wankel rotary unit was actually the NSU Spider. Mercedes-Benz also fitted a rotary to its C111 concept, but this was soon replaced by inline diesel engines. Even Rolls-Royce had a go, making a two-stage diesel Wankel engine.

7. Inconel alloy usage in F1 and NASCAR

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Did you know that Formula One and NASCAR exhaust systems (as well as some turbochargers) use an austenitic nickel-chromium-based super alloy in their construction known as an Inconel alloy. In a nutshell, it’s an extremely durable, heat and corrosion-resistant material that is also commonly used in many high-demand applications such as turbine blades in jet engines, baffles inside of gun silencers and even on the inside of nuclear reactors; you can even find it on the turbo system of an FD Mazda RX7.

8. Easter eggs in cars

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Gamers might already be familiar with the term ‘Easter Egg’ when referring to something hidden behind the scenes for you to find in a game. But you won’t only find these in games; Vauxhall/Opel has been putting little Easter Eggs into its cars for years in the form of little sharks hidden away inside its models. They can be found in a variety of places; the glove box of the 2004 Corsa, three hidden on the inside of the Zafira and three can now be found on the inside of the Adam, although Vauxhall won’t tell anybody where; you have to find them yourselves…

9. Cars with flamethrowers

The thought of having your ride stolen at night is a terrifying prospect for any petrolhead, but having it stolen while you’re behind the wheel is on another level; it’s also the harsh reality that troubles much of South Africa. Fear not, though, because there is a solution; fit your car with flamethrowers. Seriously.

In the event of a carjacking, the driver presses a button in the foot well - which sits perilously close to the throttle - which fires a jet of burning gas right at the assailant. The aim is to blind and surprise. Apparently, the flames don’t harm your paint either, which is a nice bonus.

10. The most obscure and interesting car fact in the world

Image source: http://www.bibipedia.info/
Image source: http://www.bibipedia.info/

A recent Reddit thread posed a very interesting question:

‘If the fastest vehicle produced each year was put on an infinitely straight track on the first day of the year it was produced, and raced at its top speed indefinitely, which car would currently be in the lead?’

The results are very interesting indeed. At pole position would the 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT, which by now would have travelled 73,335,744 miles. Trailing just behind is the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL racking up 72,451,680.

Here’s the full list:

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Are there any weird and obscure car facts you can add to this list?