In honor of Mercedes-Benz’s first pickup truck, we look back and remember four similarly shocking automobiles that stunned the world when they were released by their manufacturers (mostly because these vehicles didn’t fit their brands’ traditional product molds). We’re sure there are more examples that are just as qualified to be included in this list, but we’re prioritizing the ones that offered the most shock value.
LAMBORGHINI LM002. Who can forget the Rambo Lambo from the ’80s? Picture the Italian carmaker’s exotic badge adorning the body of an SUV. Weird? Yes, it was. But its maker didn’t mind. So much so that this existed for seven years, with some 330 units rolling out of the assembly facility. Available in pickup and SUV guises, the LM002 was powered by a pair of V12 engines—one displacing 7.2 liters of fuel, and the other making do with 5.2 liters. Lamborghini’s first 4WD model looked somewhat like a Hummer. The brand’s next SUV, the Urus, won’t be as boxy. Then again, a Lambo SUV shouldn’t be all that strange, especially when you consider that Ferruccio Lamborghini had made his fortune manufacturing agricultural equipment. Yes, the real spiritual father of the Countach, the Diablo, the Aventador and the Huracan was a tractor.
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FERRARI FF. The great Enzo may have rolled inside his grave when his company first announced it was making a 4×4 model. The name stands for “Ferrari Four,” the four referring to four seats and four-wheel drive. Yep, a four-seater car with power on all four wheels, smugly wearing a Prancing Horse badge. Such blasphemy, right? Well, the automotive world easily forgave Ferrari for this, since the FF was such an excellent car anyway. Equipped with a 6.3-liter V12 engine that churned out 651hp and 683Nm, this grand tourer was shown in its initial marketing materials happily frolicking in the snow.
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BENTLEY BENTAYGA. When you hear the name of the ultra-exclusive British luxury marque, you think of snooty limousines, not versatile SUVs. But business is business. Whatever sells gets the green light. With global sport-utility sales on the up and up, it’s quite difficult even for snobbish high-end carmakers not to join the profitable segment. And because Bentley belongs to the Volkswagen Group, this 6.0-liter V12 model is based on the same platform that underpins the Audi Q7, the VW Touareg, the Porsche Cayenne and the above-mentioned Lamborghini Urus. Reports say it is now the fastest production SUV out there.
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ASTON MARTIN CYGNET. Sure, this small hatchback is really just a Scion iQ given an Aston badge and more luxurious features. Still, the idea of a ritzy car brand wanting to slap its logo onto a cute Toyota hatch is almost preposterous. You’d think this had been commissioned by James Bond for his newfound teenaged love child. Or perhaps by some eccentric billionaire who wanted to impress his gullible mistress without shelling out a lot of cash. But the British automaker reportedly had to do this in order to comply with some European Union-imposed emissions regulation. Whatever. This feels very much like paying good money for a Swatch with a Rolex sticker attached to it. Or for a Nissan Navara sporting a Mercedes-Benz logo. Wait… Anyway, this won’t be the last time luxury car brands (or even mass-market brands for that matter) will put together vehicles that are seemingly at odds with their sacred corporate mantra. As long as there’s someone willing to buy the idea, why not? In the end, it’s just really all about the bottom line.