The Top 10 Most Weird Powertrain Layouts Ever Applied on Vehicles

If you’ve never known, not all front-drive cars have transverse engines and neither do all rear drive cars come with a gearbox located behind the engine. Car manufacturers have, for many reasons, developed different packaging solutions for powertrains that sometimes go way beyond the conventional. These unique and out-of-ordinary powertrain layouts may strike you as strange, but when you pay close attention to the functional value they add to the vehicle, you will admit that the brains behind these somewhat awkward designs were nothing short of genius.

Some like the Dymaxion car are simply weird but wonderful to behold. However, we’ll admit that every car manufacturer who dreams up an insane power transmission system does it to accomplish one thing; enhance the car’s performance. A few car makers may have gone overboard in pursuit of excellent power transmission but they accomplished their goals nevertheless.

Here is a look at some of the top 10 most weird powertrain layouts ever fitted on cars.

10. The Citroen Traction Avant

The Citroen Traction Avant is worth mentioning because it has a transaxle gearbox at the front, a differential right behind it, and the engine behind the differential. Considering it was a 1930s car, you’d agree that was some pretty advanced thinking back then.

9. Porsche Spyder

The Porsche Spyder was designed for maximum performance. The company even went ahead to mount its PDK gearbox upside down to lower center of gravity.

8. Ferrari F50


Any mid engine car with a gearbox located behind is not particularly unusual but what makes the Ferrai F50 unconventional is the race car design of its powertrain. Its engine and transmission are incorporated to the chassis to reduce weight but noise and vibration are something else.

7. Dymaxion Car

This strange contraption of a vehicle has a very unconventional powertrain configuration that has a rear engine, a front drive, and a wheel handling steering duties at the back. Now, that is a strange one.

6. Cizeta-Moroder V16T

If weird powertrains can be considered as insane, then the Cizeta-Moroder V16T has a crazier powertrain than the Lamborghini. It features two 8-cylinders in one huge block which is transversely mounted right behind the driver. It is little wonder why the V16T is such a wide car.

5. Lamborghini Miura

If you didn’t know, the Miura is recognized for being the first mid-engine road car to be ever manufactured and is also one of the few cars that features a transverse mounted V12 engine. It appears the manufacturers were inspired by the transverse inline-four engine mounted in the original Mini. However, Lamborghini soon dumped this configuration in the Countach which came after the Miura.

4. Ford RS200

Like the GT-R, Ford RS200 is another weird character. It has a similar powertrain as the GT-R but what sets it apart is the fact that its powertrain goes the opposite direction. Its engine is in the middle, the gearbox located at the front, and has a centrally placed differential that distributes torque to all the wheels. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

3. Nissan GT-R

One interesting fact about the GT-R is the distribution of torque all over the car. From the front placed twin-turbo V6 the power is sent to the rear dual-clutch transaxle then resent back to the front to be distributed to the four-wheel drive system. This is probably one of the reasons why the GT-R is such a unique car.

2. Volvo S60/V60/XC60

It is common for front-wheel cars to have tranverse engines. What is quite uncommon is fixing a long in-line six engine in such a car. This is what you find in the Volvo 60 series cars where the engine almost cuts across the entire width of the car. This odd layout will soon be history, sadly, as Volvo adopts the exclusive use of 3 and 4 cylinder engines.

1. Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer/Testarossa

The first models of Ferrari were designed in the V12s style. However, when Ferrari built its first mid-engine car, the company seems to have chosen to link the car to its F1 model with a flat-12. Flat engines have the advantage of lower engine mounting configurations, but Ferrari didn’t bother to mount the engine above the gearbox, which is why the initial Boxers have a very short deck at the back.


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