Throughout the 20th century, American auto designers struggled to keep pace with their counterparts in the aviation and aerospace industries. Both groups vied for the attention and imagination of the American citizen. Ultimately, the Detroit guys realized they couldn’t just slap wheels on a plane/jet/rocket and call it a car.

Here are some epic fails in Detroit’s hard learned lesson:

Challenge: To make a car look like a WWII fighter plane
Response: The 1948 Tucker Sedan
Lesson: It looked more like a dolphin/car than a plane/car

Challenge: To make a car look like a jet (attempt #1).
Response: The 1954 Ford Nucleon
Bonus Feature: Steam engine powered by uranium fission
Lesson: A car with a nuclear reactor and fins is a bomb, not a cool car.

Challenge: To make a car look like a jet (attempt #2).
Response: The 1956 Chrysler Gilda
Bonus Feature: Gas turbine engines which could also run on kerosene or diesel.
Lesson: Looked too much like a cheap carnival ride.

Challenge: To make a car look like a jet (attempt #3).
Response: The 1958 Ford Maxima
Bonus Feature: Jet engine
Lesson: A jet with oversized landing gear isn’t a car. It’s still a jet.

Challenge: To make a car look like a rocket (attempt #1).
Response: The 1954 Cadicall Cyclone
Bonus Feature: Nose cones housed radar based crash avoidance system.
Lesson: Batman will sue if you copy his ride.

Challenge: To make a car look like a rocket (attempt #2).
Response: The 1958 Firebird III
Bonus Feature: Stick control system which replaced the steering wheel, brake pedal and accelerator.
Lesson: Don’t drop big bucks on a testosterone mobile if the passenger is hermetically sealed from his date.

Challenge: To make a car look like a rocket (attempt #3).
Response: The 1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket
Bonus Feature: The roof panel raised and the seat swiveled outward for easy entry or exit.
Lesson: Rocket cars should look like rockets, not pontoon boats.

Challenge: To make a car look like a rocket (attempt #4).
Response: The 1962 Mercury X2000
Bonus Feature: Rocket boosters
Lesson: Creepy feminine things on the grill will dissuade male buyers.