10 of the Most Bizarre Off-road Vehicles to Ever Be Built

Article by Christian A., on April 7, 2017

The wheel is considered as one of the great early inventions known to man. The wheel allowed man to travel across distances faster. Still, it was mainly dependent on animals. All of these changed with the introduction of the internal combustion engine. This gave mankind the edge as it now had a faster and more powerful means of travel.

With vehicles, this also meant making new roads. Thus the wheel and the engine gave humans total dominance over nature. Even with new roads being built and new cars manufactured, this has not stopped some people from going the extra mile and wanting to drive off-road. Driving off-road can either be a necessity in the case of not yet having paved roads, or it can be done purely for fun and the adrenaline rush.

We list below the 10 weirdest vehicles to tackle the problem of off-road travel. Military vehicles are not included as many of them are in fact designed to travel off-road. It is a little different when it comes to off-road vehicles made by commercial companies. The list will tell you that when it comes to crazy, all you need is some imagination and lots of time.

10. The Tsar Tank

Yes we said military vehicles were not included. However, you will see in a while why the Tsar Tank enters the list. Imagine the old bicycles, you know the one with a large wheel on the front? Now imagine that same bicycle being ridden by the likes of King Kong or Paul Bunyan. The Tsar Tank was the result of the attempt to make the best and biggest tank there is.

This was after World War I when tanks started to have their impact felt on the battlefield. While the tank was indeed similarly designed like old bicycles, it had instead two spoked wheels on the front rather than just one. Each wheel has a diameter of 27 feet and was designed that way with the notion that it will just roll over on whatever it may encounter during battle.

There was however one significant problem. Though the front wheels could indeed roll over anything, the wheel on the rear measured only 5 feet and unlike its counterparts on the front, it had the tendency of being stuck on anything and everything. It was a good thing then that only one prototype was built as when it was found out the Tsar Tank did not perform well on the field, the project was immediately scrapped.

9. LCC-1 Sno-Train

One of the difficulties in snowy weather is how difficult it is to drive through snowed-in roads. Now think how difficult it would be then to do the same thing in a place where there is always snow and ice like the Artic. The good news is that moving items between two points in cold climates is made easy with the LCC-1 Sno-Train.

Also known as the Logistics Cargo Carrier, it was built by U.S.-based LeTourneau for the U.S. Army with the specific aim that it can be driven in the Artic. LeTourneau then had been known for making large vehicles. A first glance at the LCC-1 gives the impression of a giant tractor.

The LCC-1 had a cab for the driver and passengers. It had a 6x6 drive and an engine with 600 hp. It also had a crane attached to it plus it pulled in 3 cars each capable of carrying a cargo of 45 tons. Overall, the LCC-1 had 16 wheels, each of which measured 10 feet in diameter. The LCC-1 was mainly used in Alaska and Greenland before being retired after 7 years.

8. Liebherr T 282B

German company Liebherr is mainly in the business of manufacturing mining equipment. It's not surprising then to know that it advertises its T 282B as the largest dump truck in the world. Just how large? The average dump truck has a length of about 20 feet and weighs around 10 to 15 tons. The T 282B meanwhile has a width of 29 feet and a length of 48 feet.

The wheelbase measures 21 feet and it comes in at a weight of 544 tons. Given the size, there is a rather sizeable difference in the price as well. The average dump truck sells for an estimated $130,000 while the T 282B is priced between $4 million and $5 million.

However, because of the size of the T 282B, it is not allowed to be driven on most public roads. You may wonder how it gets around. With much difficulty, as it turns out, since the pieces are brought to the work site and the T 282B is then assembled there.

7. GAZ-72

The Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, which translates to Gorky Automobile Plant, is located in Novgorod, Russia, and acted as the counterpart in the then Soviet Union of Ford Motors. Established in 1932, this plant manufactured both commercial trucks and military vehicles. Back in 1955, the company produced the GAZ-72 which many say can be considered as the first SUV.

Produced is a rather inept word as all the company did was use the engine and transmission of a jeep and simply put the body of a car on top of it. Still, for the years 1955 to 1958, 4,000 units of the GAZ-72 were made. This is of course not surprising considering that around 60% of Russia is covered in snow for 11.5 months.

6. ZIL 49061 Bluebird

Another Russian product, the best description of the ZIL 49061 Bluebird is that it can do anything and can go anywhere, and by anywhere we mean literally anywhere. The main purpose of this vehicle was to recover cosmonauts once they landed safely back to earth.

With its duplex drive and fiberglass body, it was capable of being driven both on land and water. In addition to its 6x6 drive, it is possible to steer both the front and the rear axles making it easy to be driven as well regardless of terrain.

5. GAZ-VM

Coming in halfway on the list is another offering from Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod, this time the GAZ-VM. It's easy to describe the GAZ-VM as it is merely a copy of the Ford Model B that was manufactured and sold during the latter part of the 1930s. The only difference is that the rear wheels were wider and instead of tires, it used tracks similar to those on snowmobiles.

The GAZ-VM was envisioned to be a military vehicle and is not meant for mass production. However when Germany invaded USSR in 1941, the company manufactured 100 units of the GAZ-VM mainly for the use of Russian officers.

4. Mattracks

Ranked fourth in the list is not a specific vehicle but rather the vehicles manufactured by one particular company. Based in Karlstad, Minnesota, Mattracks offers to customize any vehicle and make it appear ready for anything.

Their main business is to manufacture and sell various rubberized track systems which can then be placed on the axle of any standard vehicle on the market. This is a good option especially in situations when tires cannot be relied on.

3. Rolligon Vehicles

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Rolligon Vehicles are proof of that. Transporting items is difficult in cold areas like Alaska. A school teacher however noticed that Eskimos were able to move a large amount of food despite the terrain by using rollers that were made from sealskins sewn together.

Using this observation, he created the Rolligon Company in 1951. Using a patented method, he was able to come up with large rubber tires that had no treads.

The tires were bag-like and allowed vehicles to travel even in rough terrain as they are able to give way just enough and thus less likely to burst especially when the terrain had logs and rocks.

2. Fordson Snow Devil

Fordson Snow Devil was manufactured by Armstead Snow Motor back in 1920. The engine it used was the same one used on the Fordson Tractor. It had a pair of cylindrical snow drives making it adept when driving in Northern California with its deep snow. It was used to carry logs and mail across the snowy terrain. Sadly though, while it looks like a vehicle on top of two drills, it had no capacity to do so.

The U.S. Army originally expressed some interest on the Snow Devil though they did not build even one unit. During World War II however, a German soldier made one on his own and called it as the schraubenantrieb schneemaschine or the screw-propelled snow machine. The good news for the Snow Devil was that the German version did not go into mass production.

1. The Ernest Bazin

When talking about off-road vehicles, chances are the ideas of Jules Verne are likely to enter the discussion. Topping the list is an 1896 invention from Frenchman Ernest Bazin. This vehicle was initially designed to travel in water but the principle was that it could travel on land as well. The vehicle had 6 large discs. Each of the discs had a diameter of 33 feet and had a thickness of 10 feet.

They were then placed on the main ship which had a width of 40 feet, length of 131 feet, and weighed 280 tons. The main purpose of the vehicle was that it was designed to make trans-Atlantic travel by lessening the coal consumption. However when it was built and tested, there was one big flaw. The discs were throwing up too much water that it resulted in a drag and thereby slowing the ship.

This meant that it was not as fuel efficient as it was hoped to be. While Brazin said that he had solved that problem, he died in 1897 which was barely a year after the vehicle's maiden voyage. As such, the whole project was shelved and likely forgotten. Had it been successful, who knows how off-road vehicles would have been designed after it.

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