Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Asymmetrical Cars

It’s a weird thing about symmetry. Studies have shown that things that are symmetrical look more appealing to people: faces, bodies, houses, bridges, and most other things. Before you scream at me that people are in fact symmetrical, they aren’t really perfectly so. My left ear sticks out a lot more than my right ear, for instance. Both of women’s boobs may not be exactly the same, just as can men’s testies can be different from each other. 
But cars, cars are almost always symmetrical. Yes, the steering wheel isn’t in the middle unless you’re in a McLaren F1 or various race cars. But on the outside, they’re almost always the same. One of those cars that are asymmetrical is the Hyundai Veloster, which happens to be significantly updated for 2019. But more on the Veloster later, just know that it’s bloody brilliant. 
Today we are looking for asymmetrical cars. Please don’t just google it to be cool. Rather, think of something different than the Veloster or the Nissan Cube, be original. And don’t say that because a vehicle has an exhaust pipe on one side and not another it’s asymmetrical. 
The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Must a standard production vehicle.
  • No one-offs, no concepts, no race cars, other such show specials. 
  • Military equipment is allowed as long as it’s more than a prototype.
  • Utility equipment is also allowed as long as it has been in mainstream use. 
  • Buses and trains are not allowed as most of them are asymmetrical based on door layout alone.*
  • Vans and minivans are not allowed for the same reason as buses.*
  • *Exceptions will be made for vans, buses, and trains, but the asymmetry has to be more than just door layout. 
  • The vehicle must have at least one seat – so no lawn-mowers or things like that. 
  • Vehicles must have three wheels or more. 
  • The vehicle must be self propelled – I don’t want to see a stroller or a Big Wheel

Difficulty: 5 out of 10, the other 5 is easy. 
Image: Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018

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158 responses to “Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Asymmetrical Cars”

  1. Tomsk Avatar

    AMC Pacer and Pacer Wagon. Their right side doors were 4″ longer than the lefts.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      Which I never understood, because it could as easily be thought of as arbitrarily making the driver’s side 4″ shorter than it might have been.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        As I recall from a contemporaneous issue of (I think) Popular Mechanics, the idea was to encourage use of the larger curbside door for rear passengers while simultaneously minimizing the amount of door that the driver would have to throw outward into traffic (at least in LHD/RHT jurisdictions, not counting the case of offside parking on one-way streets).

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

          Ah, that is a logical reason. Not sure it’s significant in practice, but at least there is a logical defense.

        2. Monkey10is Avatar

          A similar argument was used to justify the asymmetrial gen.1 MINI (mini?) Clubman:

      2. 0A5599 Avatar

        It’s useful for when the passengers were in the rear seat of a 2-door car, as was fairly commonplace before mandatory seat belts and booster seats–just toss your kids in the back seat, and they were as secure as a couple of eggs in the carton. No room for them to push each other out on the freeway.
        At the carpool line, mom doesn’t need to leave her seat with a big passenger door.
        On Cadillacs, both doors were the same size, but the passenger door got an extra handle inside, accessible from the back seat.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          Reminds me of my grandfather’s philosophy in the 1950s. 2 door cars were safer for kids since you didn’t have to worry about them opening the door and falling out.

        2. P161911 Avatar

          Imperial Coupes in the 1960s also had handles on the passenger side for rear seat passengers. Shown here behind the ash tray.

          1. outback_ute Avatar
          2. Fuhrman16 Avatar

            The first gen Toyota 4runners also had two door handles on the passenger side.

        3. dukeisduke Avatar

          The E-Body Toronado and Eldorado had that as well.

    2. Zentropy Avatar

      Damn, that’s the first thing I thought of, but somehow I missed this article yesterday.

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Until they started putting dual sliders in, minivans only had a curbside door for the rear passengers. Most full size vans are still this way.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Please see The Caveats

  3. fede Avatar

    I’ve read or listened somewhere that, because of the hand-built nature, the left and right doors on some (all?) Ferrari 250 GTOs are different length…
    I’m quite sure this is exclueded on the caveats… but… Ferrari 250 GTO.
    Also, I guess it applies to most hand made cars

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    There are so many things to like about the Acoma Mini Comtesse, but high on the list is that it’s a single-seater with two doors. Two rather dissimilar doors.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      The people who designed, built, sold, and bought this… what were they smoking?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Smoking, drinking, perhaps snorting, it doesn’t matter. No license required. That’s the beauty of the voiture sans permis.

        1. Monkey10is Avatar

          …seems they didn’t need a license to practise as a car designer either.

          1. outback_ute Avatar

            Perhaps the fibreglass fumes come into play?

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      We have a winner.

  5. B3NN3TT Avatar

    The Saturn SC-series had 3 doors long before the Veloster. I think those were introduced for the 2000 model year…

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Full size extended cab GM pickups got a optional rear door in 1996.

  6. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Due to its peculiar rear suspension design, the Renault 16 had a different wheelbase on each side.

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

        I couldn’t remember which Renault, so I googled and the 16 is the one that popped up. I think it was the 4 that I was failing to recall.

      2. nanoop Avatar

        Came here to mention its torsion bars that would overlap if the wheelbase wasn’t asymmetric.

      3. theskig Avatar

        I opened this article just to post this. I’m late this time 🙂

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      Gah, I got stuck on the phone and you beat me to it
      Yard spotter trucks still run this goofy set up

  7. Citric Avatar

    Toyota Spade: Passenger side, sliding door. Driver’s side, two doors. There’s also the Toyota Porte which is the same thing with friendlier styling, but I wasn’t able to find a picture of one filled with dogs.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      I’m not sure why sliding doors aren’t used more often, TBH.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      For that matter, the front door was asymmetrical (handle on opposite side as the hinge).

  8. tonyola Avatar

    I know this one-off 1965 custom (“Illusion”) doesn’t count, but it’s too cool not to post. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b037f265c69c59ed4c0039f018218be76358641f6889fe202509aa344ac577f9.jpg

    1. salguod Avatar

      As is the 1960 Plymouth XNR.
      The 1961 Plymouth Asymmetrica, however, was intended for a production run of 25, but it seems that only 2 may have been produced.

  9. P161911 Avatar

    For years most RWD MOPARS had the engine offset to one side by a about a couple of inches.

    1. HuntRhymesWith Avatar

      As did the first gen RX-7 (and probably others). It was supposedly done to offset driver weight, but that only worked in JDM RHD form.

    2. 0A5599 Avatar

      Jensen FF was RHD only because that’s the only way they could get the AWD hardware to fit.

  10. P161911 Avatar

    What about MOPARS of the 1950s and 1960s that featured Left hand threaded lug nuts on the left side of the car and right hand threaded lug nuts on the right side of the car?

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      …which makes perfect sense until you think about it.

    2. mdharrell Avatar

      As a mineralogist, I’d argue that those lug nuts make such vehicles more symmetric, inasmuch as they conform with the implicit vertically-oriented mirror plane which longitudinally bisects each vehicle, with respect to which automotive symmetry is usually defined.
      As a shadetree mechanic and occasional MoPar owner, I’d argue that those lug nuts are a pain in the ass.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        The previous owner of my 1967 Imperial convertible had 4 tires installed at Pep Boys. I can personally attest than Manny, Moe, and Jack’s monkeys can apply enough torque with an air impact that it don’t matter which way it is supposed to go on. I think I replaced 6 of the 10 studs on the left side of the car when I got it. At least one lug nut was rattling around inside a hubcap.

  11. Maymar Avatar

    I know it’s running perilously close to the van restriction, but I’m going to include the Corvair Rampside, for having the side ramp, but only on one side.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      Came to post this, figured I’d be beaten to the punch. I guess it was van logic.

    2. salguod Avatar

      Those blue ones look like the diesel powered Suburbans at the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia. They were still in use when I was there in 2009, I wonder if they still are?

      1. P161911 Avatar

        GM didn’t offer a diesel in light trucks back then, wonder who did the conversion and what kind of diesel they are using?

        1. Doug Schaefer Avatar
          Doug Schaefer

          Interesting point. They also have diesel Checker Marathons (including at least one wagon), International Travelalls and an 80s vintage tour bus that they use for giving tours of the grounds. I wonder if they were all converted to diesel rather than bought. No spark ignition and no computers, it interferes with the telescope.

  12. P161911 Avatar

    The passenger seat was an option on most year K-5 Blazers. I would imagine it was fitted on 99.9999% of all production.

  13. Land Ark Avatar
    Land Ark

    Do we count something like the Ecosport or other old crossovers/SUVs where the rear door opens sideways?
    One for sure would be the Saturn SC1 Coupe which had a reverse door on the driver’s side only.
    Same with the S10/Sonoma

    1. jim Avatar

      The Fiat Strada, OTOH, was/is available with a suicide door on the passenger side.

  14. Citric Avatar

    First gen Toyota MR2. Vent on one side, fuel filler on the other. https://d1hu588lul0tna.cloudfront.net/toyotaone/euen/1-Car_tcm-11-793795.png

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Wow… I never realized. It’s this kind of gold why I come here.

      1. Citric Avatar

        I remember the first time I noticed it in a picture I spent the rest of the day looking up MR2 pics to confirm I wasn’t insane.

  15. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    C3 and C4 Corvettes, Audi R8, and Lamborghini Aventador all have engines offset from the vehicle centerline.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Hmm… Can one tell by looking tho?
      Partial credit.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        No, because I have owned C3 and C4 Corvettes and never realized that.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Asymmetric hoods are a list unto themselves.
      Mitsubishi Eclipse, 280ZX Turbo, 924 Turbo, Opel GT, 3rd-gen Firebird…

        1. outback_ute Avatar

          Wow, that one just looks like they didn’t measure well.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            The powertrain is offset as a carryover from the similarly offset placement of the slant-three two-stroke engine in the Sonett II, which fit without the bulge (although there was a subtle, symmetric raised portion of the hood). SAAB kept the same geometry for positioning the transaxle, so for the most part the only difference in the bodies between the II and the V4 is that bulge. They disguised the offset in the Sonett III by using a symmetric hood hatch which simply wasn’t centered above the engine. Here’s a view with the front bodywork removed:

          2. outback_ute Avatar

            I didn’t realise Saabs had the engine/trans offset like that. Is it to improve driver footwell space, or some obscure engineering reason that is not obvious?

          3. mdharrell Avatar

            I don’t recall encountering an explanation but I’m happy to speculate: For the two-stroke engines originally in the Models 93/95/96/97, which have their cylinders tilted to the left, it probably made sense to offset the engine to the right for purposes of clearance and, to a lesser extent, weight distribution. (For the 94 the powertrain is “backwards” and is correspondingly offset to the left.)
            Upon switching to the V4 engine, the company may have decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and expense to redesign the front ends of the 95/96/97 just to center the engine, particularly with an all-new replacement (the 99) on the horizon. They may not have expected 95/96 production to continue as long as it did.

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        And if you include grilles, Ford Escort GT, Chevy Sprint Turbo… The Toyota Tercel 4WD had asymmetric grille and rear hatch!
        http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/cms/autos/Boldride/toyota-tercel-wagon-4wd-2.jpg http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/cms/autos/Boldride/toyota-tercel-wagon-4wd-1.jpg

    2. Sjalabais Avatar

      Every Volvo grille falls squarely within that asymmetric badging thing:

    3. jim Avatar

      The Fiat Ritmo too, plus asymmetrical grille.

      1. Kamil K Avatar

        Y’all in a different time zone!
        Y’all fired!

  16. tonyola Avatar

    International Travelalls had single driver’s side doors from 1957 until 1961. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2556a6e1e959746daa83fd74a0d891e49f39121f6f28646734aa28273907100a.jpg

  17. GTXcellent Avatar

    Farmall’s A, Super A and 100 series (maybe some others) could be had with Cultivision

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      The local market used one to haul corn on the cob from the field to out front of the store. Sort of freaked me out as a kid. Did this have an accident and get rebuilt wrong?

    2. Alff Avatar

      Didn’t Jim Jones’ big sunglasses give him cultivision?

    3. outback_ute Avatar

      So tempted to add the Lotus 38 that won the 1965 Indy 500…

    4. ptschett Avatar

      Also the IH 274 and the smaller Farmall Cub. And there was a Farmall B, basically an A with a narrow front and a longer left axle housing so the engine was on the centerline and the operator was offset to the right, till the B was replaced by the conventionally symmetrical C.

    1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

      Thank you for being someone else who failed to read the caveats.

      1. discontinuuity Avatar

        I probably shouldn’t comment before I’ve had my coffee

    2. Citric Avatar

      Minivan caveat exception: The 1998 Ford Windstar (and only the 1998 model) also had differently sized front doors, because they saw that having two sliding doors was popular but the next model wasn’t ready yet, so they made the drivers door bigger so you could theoretically use it to get in the back. So it’s asymmetrical in a second way.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I’m also pretty sure that the Windstar continued to use the same door windows as the old Aerostar.

  18. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Abarth 207A Corso Boano Spyder. Not only is the monoposto cockpit off-center, but look closely and you can see that the entire body curves down more on the right-hand side.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Was that intentional or just the result of too much vino at lunch?

      1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

        Reducing frontal area as much as possible.

  19. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    How about RVs, as log as the asymmetry is more than just door related?

  20. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    I am going to brazenly ignore one of the caveats to point out that Yamaha had a love affair with offset radiators on a lot of their skis in the ’80s.

  21. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    The 1985 Kawasaki Tecate 250 had the headlight offset to the left, to provide clearance to access the radiator cap.

  22. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Have we had this utterly excruciating piece of “design”?
    Yeah, blah, blah, tribute to previous Discoverys blah blah. Balls, I say.

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      You are first to inflict this on us.
      Such a squandering of design heritage when you look back at the effortless style of the predecessors:

  23. Kyle Pangburn Avatar
    Kyle Pangburn

    The 1st gen MINI Clubman (08 – 15?) has an additional half-door on the passenger side. I might be mistaken but I thought that’s where the inspiration for the Veloster came from. It also only has a reverse light on the passenger side for some reason. I’m not sure if the same layout is available for the current gen though, as I’ve only seen them in the 4-door style

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      The new version (2016? on) is only available in the boringly conventional 4 door style (strictly ‘5 door’?) which you have seen. The world has lost the one remaining thing that was interesting about MINI.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        The interesting thing about a lot of MINIs is that they are born in Born.Yes, there are German British cars being built in the same former DAF factory where MD Harrell’s Volvo was made: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VDL_Nedcar

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      The reverse light on one side, and fog light on the other is pretty standard for European cars

  24. Monkey10is Avatar

    Subtle, but I’d throw in a nomination for the 90’s Mercedes with the cool air intake slots on the fender/wing:

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        W124s also have differently shaped mirrors on each side, The driver’s side is larger and is manually adjusted, the passenger’s is smaller, squarer and electrically adjusted. Why would you want the extra weight and complexity of electric adjustment for the driver’s side when it is right there within reach, (though they are still heated) ? Obviously the passenger’s has to have electric adjustment, it’s too far to reach. The W124 is an ENGINEER’s, a DESIGNER’S car.

    1. Citric Avatar

      Japan also got in the habit of having more glass on the driver’s door for trucks, like this Isuzu Forward:

      1. Monkey10is Avatar

        Ah! But would they do this?

  25. nanoop Avatar

    Didn’t have early 911s have their rear view mirrors at different locations on the respective door, to accommodate viewing angles?

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      I can’t confirm that, but you did remind me about the early ‘monospecchio’ Testarossas:

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Passenger side mirrors were optional for many years. My 1977 Corvette came from the factory with only a driver’s side mirror.

        1. Monkey10is Avatar

          Indeed: But the Testarossa is an unusual example in that;
          – the mirror was such an outlandish design feature that it looked really odd with only one,
          – the single high-mount mirror has become a keyword for originality amongst early spec Testarossae (probably due to the curse of ‘Ferrari Classiche’) …they are now proudly advertised as being ‘single mirror models’. Of course, it sounds sexier when you use the Italian ‘monospecchio’.

    2. outback_ute Avatar

      The M-B W124 sedans in particular had entirely different side mirrors to cater for the different requirements.

  26. Monkey10is Avatar

    You might think that the Citroen Picasso is perfectly symmetrical; but actually the front end has some subtle differences from the back end…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Always loved the Picasso for looking like a 3 year olds car drawing. Pretty natural and organic design as that.

  27. Monkey10is Avatar

    Fiat Panda gen.1, not only asymmetrical but available with both left- and right-handed forms occurring (a ‘chiral pair’?):
    The ‘Pedia that is Wiki explains: “…the Panda 30, powered by a longitudinally-mounted air cooled 652 cc straight-two-cylinder engine …or the Panda 45, with a transversely-mounted water cooled 903 cc (FIAT 100 series) four-cylinder. As a consequence of the different drivetrain layout the 45 had the radiator grille to the right side, the 30 to the left.

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      I’m glad you explained that!

  28. Citric Avatar

    The ’90s Mercedes 300D had a small vent on one fender that I, a small child at the time, thought was the coolest thing.

  29. jim Avatar

    Do the Lancia Fulvia with it’s 45-degree canted engine count?

  30. Monkey10is Avatar

    Spoiler alert: a parallel discussion, from 2015.
    (It is gratifying to see that only the Hooniverse thread included the Acoma Mini Comtesse.)

  31. jim Avatar

    Perlini DP905

    View post on imgur.com

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      I just noticed that in the background of that second image is the asymmetric Moby, based on a Yamaha QT50. As a prototype it falls afoul of the “no one-offs” rule, but here’s a better look at it anyway:

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      If you’re selling a “car” and one of the selling points is “car type wheels,” you’ve done something wrong.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I agree with that conclusion starting from what may be an entirely different objection.

  32. mdharrell Avatar

    The Sunbeam-Mabley comes close to possessing twofold rotational symmetry but not mirror symmetry.

    1. Monkey10is Avatar

      Or for true rotational AND axial symmetry:

    2. Kamil K Avatar

      Good god, where do you find this stuff?
      I can only imagine what you have in your basement.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to have a basement.

      2. Monkey10is Avatar

        “…where do you find this stuff?”
        He finds most of it on his driveway.
        The rest he finds on Craigslist, and then very soon after on his driveway.

  33. ptschett Avatar

    Telescopic material handlers generally have the engine on one side and the operator cab on the other with the boom down the middle.

  34. ptschett Avatar

    It used to be common for combine harvesters to have the engine compartment located beside the operator station above the drive axle, which meant the operator was well to one side of the machine.
    Even on machines that had the engine moved to the rear, the designs sometimes persisted with an offset cab for awhile.

  35. Windbüchse Avatar

    BMW R75 sideCAR – 2 wheel drive with all the accessories. The sidecar was permanently attached. 16,510 produced. My father piloted one as a courier during the bombing of Tallinn in March 1944.

  36. crank_case Avatar

    Mitsubishi RVR – rear door only on one side.

    1. Kamil K Avatar

      Nice. And I wouldn’t call it a minivan, either

    2. P161911 Avatar

      Sold in the US as the Eagle Summit Wagon and the Dodge Colt Wagon.

  37. Zentropy Avatar

    I swear I’m not OCD, but I’m not sure I could drive a blatantly asymmetrical car.

  38. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I beg indulgence to allow posting the OSI Daf city car which had a sliding door on the driver’s side and sucide doors with no pillar on the passenger side. While the 1:1 was a concept it spawned thousands of 1:43 Corgis.

  39. Don Karnage Avatar
    Don Karnage

    Has anyone mentioned the Renault R16, yet. The wheelbase on one side is 2.5″ longer than the other. Rats. Someone beat me to it! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdc33d1329e460f51d0c4db413f028b3a49c05592fd81e53c1ff0b9781dccb48.png