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June 16, 2017

11 Weird and Crazy Car Maker Collaborations

Although it’s common to see co-branding arrangements that evoke a car’s high-tech elements or cutting-edge design, sometimes carmakers do something entirely unexpected. Here are 11 quirky and/or weird collaborations that prove that sometimes making money is more important than making cars.

# 1: Renault and Biotherm (L’Oreal) 
Wanting to tap women buyers, Renault launched its electric Zoe Z.E. (Zero Emissions) with a concept car designed in partnership with Biotherm, a skincare brand under L’Oreal. If the outside of this car didn’t seem bonkers enough, Biotherm designed a climate control system that provided skin hydration by automatically adjusting the cabin’s humidity levels. It also monitored the air quality with a toxicity sensor and can close the air vents at times when the car in front is belching fumes. It completes the “spa” experience by releasing different essential oil scents into the cabin depending on the time of day. Sadly (or thankfully) it didn’t get passed the concept stage.

#2: Hyundai and Prada
Wanting to make a splash in luxury car arena, Hyundai partnered with luxury brand, Prada on a special limited run (1,200 units) Genesis. Sold mainly in South Korea, the Genesis Prada looked Gangnam Style perfect with Prada-inspired elements such as purse buckles on the door handles and the use of the signature “Saffiano” leather on the dash and seats. Owners can remain snooty because the Genesis Prada is set apart from the others with the Prada logo on the door sills and quarter panels. Psy would be proud.

#3: Chevrolet and Warner Brothers
Chevrolet helped make Wile E. Cayote and Road Runner chases a bit more real with a special edition of the Venture MPV in 2000. The Venture Warner Brothers Edition’s main draw was an added DVD monitor, which admittedly, is a big thing back then. And while the small badging and the in-car entertainment system made a whole lot of sense, Chevrolet’s decision to sell the Venture Warner Brothers Edition with Looney Tunes sleepwear didn’t. You don’t exactly drive in public wearing pajamas, right?

#4: AMC and Levi’s
As early as the 1970s, co-branding was already practiced. This is evidenced by the now defunct AMC and its Gremlin. Partnering with blue jeans company Levi’s, they launched the Levi’s AMC Gremlin which was “the economy car that wears the pants.” For an additional USD 134.95 in 1973 money, the standard fabric seats were swapped for, you guessed it, Levi’s jeans material. No word whether it came in both zipper fly and button fly flavors though.

#5: Audi and Heimplanet
Millennials love spontaneous trips so Audi and Heimplanet designed a camping tent for the Q3 SUV. The Star Trek-looking tent hooks up to the Q3’s trunk and is designed to “fit with the aesthetics” of the angular Audi crossover. The tent can withstand rain, sun, and even 65 km/h winds thanks to that geometric shape.

#6: Bentley and Pankhurst
Metrosexuals love their manscaping (the wholesome kind, we reckon) because that’s a surefire way to get the ladies. So, what’s Bentley to do? Partner with a high-class men’s salon of course. Bentley outfitted the barber’s chairs with authentic car leather at the Pankhurst barber shop in London. It even comes with the Bentley crest.

#7: Cadillac and Gucci
Another classic co-branding exercise, Cadillac launched its V8-powered Seville sedan with a special collaboration with Gucci. You better love the trademark Gucci pattern because it’s found on the headrests and side panels. And in a fashion statement only Trump would love, it’s got Gucci gold emblems on the dashboard and hood ornament. Designed by Aldo Gucci, swathes of Gucci fabric also matched the Seville’s classy vinyl roof. And as a bonus, it even comes with a set of Gucci luggage.

#8: Lincoln and Cartier
While Cadillac was cozying up with Gucci, it’s crosstown rival, Lincoln did the same with Cartier. The geriatric favorite, the Town Car, got upgraded with the Cartier edition in the late 1990s. It came with a Cartier timepiece integrated in the dash and Cartier logos on the seat trim.

#9: Mitsubishi and Peanuts
In 2000, Mitsubishi released the Pajero Mini Peanuts edition in Japan for the 50th anniversary Peanuts cartoon strip. Options included a “Flying Ace” (Snoopy’s aviator alter-ego) decal on the spare wheel casing and instrument cluster, Snoopy’s paw prints on the mud flaps, and Peanuts creator Charles Schutz’s signature on the liftgate.

#10: Jeep and Levi’s 
Another attempt in merging two world-class heroes, Levi’s went at it again and this time, teamed up with off-road specialist Jeep. Going with the Jeep Wrangler’s rugged, go-anywhere character, Levi’s outfitted the interior in blue and tan trim. It also comes with Levi’s trademark rivet studs and even the signature red tag.

#11: Lexus and Sriracha
Lexus wanted to show off the IS’s “too hot to handle” handling so they partnered with Huy Fong Foods to produce the one-off Lexus Sriracha IS. Designed by pimp-my-ride specialists West Coast Customs, it’s an exercise in tastelessness. It takes elements from the famous hot sauce bottle and splatters it all over the Lexus IS. You see that in the green accents on the grille, mirrors, brake calipers, and exhaust tips. Inside, the steering wheel gets a caution label and the key fob itself squirts out a shot of the world-famous hot sauce.

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