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$1.1 Million Dune Buggy: Youabian Makes Splash At LA Car Show

The Youabian Puma has turned heads at the LA Auto Show, where attendees have been startled by its 20-foot length and unusual design.
Frederic J. Brown
AFP/Getty Images
The Youabian Puma has turned heads at the LA Auto Show, where attendees have been startled by its 20-foot length and unusual design.

Some cars are meant to be beautiful; some cars are meant to serve a purpose. The makers of the Youabian Puma say their car was created with one goal: "to stand out and be unique." And that's what they've done, as dozens of howling headlines attest.

Unveiled at this week's Los Angeles Auto Show, the long and large four-seater has drawn more notice than perhaps any other car, with attendees expressing their amazement at the convertible, on a variety of levels. Wired called it "the most insane thing" at the car show; Car Throttle called it "deranged" and "offensive."

Popular Mechanics says the Youabian " really seems like a practical joke to us. For the designer's sake, we hope it is."

With a price tag of $1.1 million, the car's proportions are Brobdignagian: The chassis is 20 feet long and nearly 8 feet wide. It stands 6 feet high and rides on 44-inch tires that puff out around 20-inch wheels to protrude past the car's fenders.

And yet, in the midst of all that sheet metal, the Youabian's front leg room measures just 42.3 inches — less than an inch more than in a 2013 Toyota Camry. The news is worse for rear-seat passengers in the Youabian, where they have 5 inches less than in the Toyota sedan.

The car's name comes from LA cosmetic surgeon Dr. Kambiz Youabian, who sought to make a rare vehicle that well-heeled collectors would seek out, a car that would let them "go places other cars can't," a company employee tells The Los Angeles Times.

From the company's website:

"The Youabian Puma's design was based on feedback from many wealthy individuals around the world who wanted something different and unique.

"Wealthy individuals who were bored of owning exotic sports cars
like Ferrari and Lamborghini. The Puma's goal is not to be the fastest in the world, but to be the most unique, just like its owners."

Like many custom cars, the Youabian borrows from existing vehicles. Its engine is a V-8 that was made for a Corvette. On auto industry blogs, people have made a game of trying to spot elements of other cars. The taillights might be from a Buick Enclave, they say, or perhaps a Saturn Sky. Others say many of those details and the interior came from Volvo.

Despite the criticism, or perhaps because of it, some auto industry observers say the car's splashy arrival at the LA show helped it overshadow many other notable vehicles. That led Yahoo Auto's Justin Hyde to conclude that the Youabian Puma "galumphs through the valley of ugly to fascinating."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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