Alfa Romeo Playing Cards
Other manufacturers typically focus on things like luggage and bicycles for their side hustles, but Alfa Romeo has a whole catalog of strange products, including these playing cards. For just $15.00, you can take home these Alfa Romeo playing cards, complete with the company logo, founders, race car drivers, and other historic faces plastered atop them.
Known principally for customizing BMWs, Alpina has a whole side business in wine. But it doesn't make the wine itself. Instead it sources from existing vintners across Europe and as far away as the US and South America. For over a third of a century, Alpina has been importing and distributing prized bottles of aged grape juice and selling them to restaurants and wine shops in Germany and around the world. Prices start at just €4.20 (about $5) for a half-size bottle of eight-year-old Tuscan chianti and range as high as €1,600 (almost $1,900) for a six-liter (1.6-gallon) Methuselah from Chile. Of course, an Alpina B7 will cost you considerably more (starting at nearly $140k), and you could probably fit a few cases of the broker's wine in the trunk. But then, even with a few friends along for the ride, you (hopefully) won't finish off one of those 600-horsepower sedans in one sitting... as long as you don't try enjoying the fruits of both of Alpina's businesses at the same time.
Audi Lunar Rover
Audi produces a number of great cars here on Earth – but how would the German company fair on the moon? Well, in 2016 Audi introduced the lunar rover concept, which was destined for travel on the surface of the moon. It was built by Audi engineers and part-time scientists, but we still haven’t seen it take off.
Bentley typically builds and sells around 11,000 of its luxury automobiles each year. But at the height of the global recession in 2009, it moved just 3,600 units – less than half of what it sold the year before. So to keep busy, the craftsmen in Crewe started making furniture, to the same standard as the interiors of the company’s high-end vehicles. The automaker still offers the Bentley Home line of furniture. But with those craftsmen by now plenty busy cranking out Continentals and Bentaygas, the company partners with the Luxury Living Group to produce sofas, armchairs, tables, beds, and more. Want a couch made from the same sumptuous leather and lustrous wood veneers as the inside of a Mulsanne? It'll set you back a good $29k – more than enough to put you into a new VW Golf GTI.
Bentley makes a lot of dough… and I’m not talking about revenue. The British brand opened up its first fine-dining restaurant, located in Arabia. Led by renowned British Chef, Colin Clague, the bespoke menu included a number of dishes inspired by British craftsmanship. The project was only temporary, though – the seven-day experience was reserved for VIPs and sat 6,345 feet (1,934 meters) above sea level.
In 2014, BMW built the ultimate bobsled of the future. Imagined by racer and race car designer Michael Skully, the carbon fiber bobsled was built exclusively for team USA. According to Darrin Steele, CEO of USA Bobsled and Skeleton, it was one of the fastest bobsleds he’s ever seen.
BMW x Montblanc Luggage
BMW builds more than just cars. In this case, it offers luggage to its more well-off customers, too. Together with Montblanc, the 8 Series Coupe-inspired limited luggage set shows off the sleek sports cars more sophisticated side. The luggage is hand-crafted in Florence using high-quality, perforated black or red leather with black darts and includes five pieces: a guitar bag, surf bag, duffel bag, suit bag, and leather case. But it isn’t cheap – for all five pieces, the costs nearly $17,000 at today’s exchange rate (€14,900).
Chevrolet Bat Houses
When it isn’t building muscle cars, Chevrolet spends its spare saving bats. That’s right, like the animal. Chevrolet has assembled more than 700 bat and bird nesting boxes since 2015 using recycled lithium-ion batteries and spare parts from the Volt. More than 40 wildlife habitat sites across the U.S. and Canada have Chevrolet-built bird and bat houses. Amateur bat enthusiasts, though, won’t be able to purchase Chevy-branded bat houses at their local hardware store.
Honda Lawn Mowers
Japanese manufacturers tend to horizontally integrate their businesses across a wide array of product lines. Take Yamaha, for example, which makes everything from motorcycles to acoustic grand pianos. Or Honda, which – in addition to cars and trucks – makes motorcycles, marine engines, anthropomorphic robots, and even jet aircraft. And it produces a wide array of power equipment. Like power generators, snow blowers, and lawn mowers. And not just in Japan, either: As of just a few years ago, Honda had sold over 40 million power-equipment products in the U.S. since it started offering them here in 1973. That's nearly twice as many as all the Civics it has sold around the world. And with over 24 million sold, that's Honda's top-selling automotive nameplate.
We all know the story: Lamborghini started out making tractors before getting into the supercar business. But did you know you can still buy a Lamborghini tractor? Ferruccio Lamborghini founded Lamborghini Trattori in 1948, and Automobili Lamborghini in 1963 (notoriously, after a spat with Enzo Ferrari). After a decade running both, he sold the agricultural-equipment operation to what's now known as the SDF Group – which still makes tractors under the Lamborghini name, with the same script and Raging Bull logo, and no less aggressive styling than an Aventador or Urus. The top-of-the-line Mach VRT 250 packs a 6.0-liter six-cylinder engine kicking out a massive 723 lb-ft of torque and could lift the equivalent of more than six Huracans.
McLaren Racing Bicycle
McLaren isn’t just about fast cars – it’s about fast bikes, too. In a special colab with the bike company Specialized, McLaren introduced the Venge racing bike. It’s "the world's fastest UCI-legal road bike," according to the company, and is made completely out of carbon fiber.
McLaren x L'Amy Sunglasses
McLaren is no stranger to the side hustle, already the British brand has a smartphone, a luggage set, and a bike. But together with L’Amy, McLaren is expanding to the sunglasses game, too. The glasses debuted in 2018, but don't go on sale spring of 2019. The lightweight frames are made of titanium, and use 3D printing technology in their construction. The company hasn’t released a price but promises the eyewear will be available globally when it goes on sale in just a few months.
The same company that pens Ferraris also has its own line of perfume. It’s dubbed "Lumina," and it’s the first fragrance with "ozonides," whatever that means. The scent itself has a spicy, woody fragrance of cedar, with notes of almond, orange, and gardenia. The perfume is available in two sizes and prices: a 50-milliliter bottle for approximately $80.00 (€69.67), and a 100-milliliter bottle for approximately $165.00 (€165.08). Both are available online through the Pininfarina shop.
For many automotive enthusiasts, nothing could be as sweet as sliding in behind the wheel of a Porsche. But the automaker produces something even sweeter. Porsche's plant in Leipzig is home to a conservation project that houses some 3 million honeybees. They inhabit nearly 100 acres of land and produce about 2,220 pounds of honey (about the weight of a classic 911) each year from hawthorn, lime, and black-locust blossoms. The honey is sold to the public, but you won't find it in stores. It's only available in the gift shop at the customer center, and typically sells out almost as fast as a GT3 RS can lap the Nordschleife. Last year's nearly 900-pound harvest sold out in just a few days.
Peugeot Pepper Grinders
French automaker Peugeot is one of those few companies that makes both two- and four-wheeled vehicles. But it also makes pepper grinders. PSP Peugeot SAS is the name of the company, Peugeot Saveurs the name of the brand. It makes mills for pepper, salt, chili, nutmeg, and coffee, as well as an array of wine accessories: corkscrews, glasses, decanters, and such. Though the company is no longer directly associated with the automaker, it is owned by the Peugeot family. After their stake in the PSA Group (formerly Peugeot SA) was diluted from over 25 percent to little over 14, the family that founded the automaker returned to their old daily grind, as it were. The Peugeot bicycle brand, however, is still owned by the automaker.
Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engines
Saab isn't the only automaker (extant or defunct) with a history in aviation. So too (among others) does Rolls-Royce. The automaker and aerospace company were one and the same, from their founding in 1906 until 1973 when the car-making division (including the Bentley brand) was split off, then sold in 1980 to Vickers. In 1998, Volkswagen bought Bentley and the factory, and BMW bought Rolls-Royce. Meanwhile the aerospace division – now known as Rolls-Royce Holdings – has grown into one of the world's largest aircraft engine manufacturers. One of its jet engines, appropriately enough, has found its way back into a car (of sorts). The Bloodhound SSC aims to set a new land speed record, propelled by the EJ200 turbofan that Rolls-Royce helps produce for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.
Saab Fighter Jets
Remember when Saab sold cars under the “born from jets” slogan? Well they weren't blowing smoke. Just contrails. Until it split off in 1968, the automaker was part of the same Saab AB group that made (and continues to make) jet aircraft – like the JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet that forms the backbone of air forces from Sweden to South Africa. Though the automotive operation effectively shut down several years ago, Saab AB still produces aircraft and a wide array of other military hardware. You'll probably need a defense-department procurement job to buy most of its products, though.
Tesla Solar Panels
Last year, Tesla dropped the “Motors” from its name, and the reason was diversification. It doesn't just make electric motors anymore, or the cars to put them in. It also makes electric installation equipment, like the Powerwall residential and industrial battery packs, and (through its 2016 acquisition of SolarCity) photovoltaic panels as well. So not only can you drive one of its electric vehicles, but your home, business, and local power grid can be powered by Tesla equipment, too.
Toyota Motor Yachts
Unlike some of its domestic rivals, Toyota focuses almost exclusively on cars and trucks, and the parts it needs to build them... with one notable exception. Toyota Marine currently offers three cruiser-style motor yachts – all with the Ponam model name – in 28-, 31-, and 35- foot lengths. (It's even working on a series-hybrid version of the smallest Ponam-28V.) They're roughly equivalent to what American companies like Carver or Sea Ray produce in the US, but you won't find Toyota's Ponam cruisers in marinas along these shores (and the lakes in between). They're sold almost exclusively through a network of dealers in Japan.
Germans take their sausage seriously. Very seriously. So it may come as little surprise that Germany's largest manufacturing company also makes sausages. Currywurst, to be specific – a type of sausage popular in the local market. In fact, Volkswagen has been making currywurst for 45 years now – since 1973. And at 6.8 million links (or 18,000 per day), it sold more of them last year than it did cars worldwide. A staff of 30 make them in a special workshop at the factory in Wolfsburg. What started out as a product for its own employee cafeterias has long since grown to a common staple in Germany, available in grocery stores and handed out in five-packs by local dealers as gifts to customers. The sausages even have a part number in the Volkswagen Originalteil catalog: 199 398 500 A – right there between the wiper blades and lug nuts.
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