A Tribute to Odd Layouts

What we once deemed as strange and new have become some of the most impressive ways that cars have been built over the years. When you take the entire powertrain and figure out the best what to move the power from the engine through the transmission to the wheels, you sometimes see interesting and unique positioning of the different components. This can result in cars that perform differently and in some cases more impressively than anything else on the road right now. Here are some of the most interesting powertrain layouts ever used on the automotive market.

Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer/Testarossa – One of the most unique features of this layout is the short rear deck of the cars. These were the first mid-engine cars from Ferrari and the company chose to change from a traditional V12 to a flat-12 setup, but instead of lowering the center of gravity they mounted this flat engine over the gearbox creating the high but short rear look.

Volvo S60/V60/XC60 – It’s normal to have a transverse engine in a FWD vehicle and this is mostly used in short nosed four-cylinder models. What’s odd about this setup is the fact that Volvo stuffed six cylinders under the hood of these vehicles causing the engine to take up nearly the entire width of the vehicle on the road.

Nissan GT-R – Here is a car that offers you power and torque everywhere to make sure the wheels that need the most power and grip get it. There is a twin turbocharged V6 up front that pushes power to the back of the car and the dual clutch transmission then moves power to the front wheels to make this AWD mode one that offers us a unique package of power movement.

Ford RS200 – While the GT-R may be odd, it’s not backwards, which is exactly what this car offered. The engine was set up in the middle with the gearbox heading to the front while a center differential distributed the power to all four wheels. This makes for a crazy but fun setup with a nicely balanced weight distribution as well.

Lamborghini Miura – Not only was this car the first mid-engined car on the road ever created, but it used a transversely mounted V12 engine. That made for a unique performance and setup that was inspired by the Mini models but was eventually abandoned for the successor to this car. At the time, this was certainly an oddball in a supercar.

Cizeta-Moroder V16T – This car is amazingly wide in the rear, from the driver on back, because of the engine layout. This car uses two eight-cylinder engines that share the same block which are mounted transversely and positioned behind the driver. That’s an impressive and crazy setup to have in any car and it certainly makes for a unique look and feel for this beauty.

Dymaxion Car – This car takes many of the negative trophies in the world, but it certainly was a unique looking car and strange powertrain setup. The engine was in the rear and the drive was at the front but a single wheel in the rear of the vehicle handled the steering for this ugly but impressive tube shaped car that never quite caught on.

Ferrari F50 – Most of our road cars uses buffers to reduce the noise and vibrations from the engine, but the F50 has the engine and transmission as part of the chassis which makes for a loud car that vibrates more, but helps to reduce the weight of the car so it can perform perfectly on the track. This becomes a special car that feels much more like a racing machine than most of the others on the market.

Porsche 918 Spyder – This car was built to be a performance machine right from the start. Every aspect of the hybrid powertrain was considered in order to pump out 887 horsepower from this car and even the gearbox was changed. This item was mounted upside down to help lower the center of gravity of the car which increases every performance number that matters.

Citroen Traction Avant – As a car from the 1930s that was one of the first to have FWD this car was a unique challenge for the company. Solving the layout of the transverse engine wasn’t easy but this car was built with the gearbox up front, the differential next and then the engine which helped to bring more weight to the center of the car.

01.18.17 - Lamborghini Miura

Written by Scott Boyd

Sports fan. Coffee lover. Entrepreneur. California dreamin’. The only thing I enjoy more than writing about cars is driving them around town… especially old hot rods. Find me on Facebook and Twitter.