These concept automobiles were thrilling and demonstrated the makers’ foresight.
Trial and error ruled the day in the early days of the automobile industry, allowing designers and engineers to depend on gut instinct or intuition to determine what would work and what would appeal to the public.
Concept cars have also been used by automakers to evaluate public impression of future production vehicles, allowing them to address complaints and concerns before deviating from the status quo. In some situations, concept automobiles showcase concepts that are far beyond the box in order to capture public attention, engage designers in debate, or generate headlines for brand publicity. Whatever the reason, the public introduction of new concepts is always thrilling and demonstrates foresight.
Here are some of the most creative concept automobiles ever created.
10. Buick Centurion Concept
The stunning Buick Centurion four-passenger coupe debuted at the 1956 General Motors Motorama, with an astonishing array of amenities at the time. The red and white fantasy automobile had a fiberglass body and a big, transparent all-glass bubble top, with a 325hp V8 engine providing propulsion. The Centurion’s inside looked so futuristic, with bucket seats and the world’s first rearview camera, notions that have permeated the modern automobile. The rudimentary rearview technology consisted of a television camera positioned on the Centurion’s V-shaped trunk and a small oval-shaped T.V. section in the dashboard’s center for preview.
9. GM X Stiletto
The 1950s and 1960s were a time of immense potential and universal adoration for an aerofuture, and no idea epitomizes that more than the GM X Stiletto. The jet era was in full swing, and manufacturing automobiles based on jet concepts were on the rise. At the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, the two-passenger, high-performance Stiletto coupe emanated a more relaxed appearance of this futuristic ideology. The GM X Stiletto was distinguished by a pointed jet-inspired nose cone, a one-piece windshield, clean surfaces, sharp edges, and a notably long doorless body with a sleek fastback roofline. The interior was all about aviation, with 29 toggle switches and 31 indication lights strewn throughout the dashboard console and roof, not to mention a steering wheel inspired by a jet controller. Automatic temperature control, a rearview camera, ultrasonic obstacle sensors, and a three-way speaker for communication were among the innovative technologies.
8. Ferrari 512 S Modulo Concept
The Ferrari 512 S Modulo, a gorgeous wedge-shaped supercar shown exclusively for inspiration, was an instant head-turner. The Modulo idea was Pininfarina’s weapon of choice to take on Bertone’s spectacular Lancia Stratos Zero at the 1970 Geneva Show. The Ferrari 512 S Modulo Concept included an exceptionally low-riding wedge body, partially covered wheels, a canopy-style glass top, no conventional doors, and a non-functional 550hp 5.0-liter Ferrari V-12 with no transmission. Surprisingly, the Ferrari concept won 22 international design prizes, providing input and inspiration for the wedge-shaped Ferraris of the 1970s and 1980s. After purchasing the concept car, James Glickenhaus restored the engine and transmission and unveiled the fully-functional model at the 2019 Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Este.
7. Alfa Romeo B.A.T
During the era of crazy concept vehicles, Italian design companies were actively involved, expressing astonishing concepts such as the Alfa Romeo B.A.T in sheet metal and plastic with no concern for costs or serial manufacturing. Bertone built the Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) 5, 7, and 9 concept automobiles based on the Alfa Romeo 1900 under the direction of principal designer Franco Scaglione. These concepts were exhibited by Bertone during the Turin Motor Shows in 1953, 1954, and 1955. The B.A.T projects attempted to lower air resistance and reach faster speeds while using the same engine power, a notion that Scaglione expanded on with the first two versions. The B.A.T. 5 achieved a reported 0.23 Cd and the B.A.T. 7 an amazing 0.19 Cd. The trio is without a doubt one of the most significant automobile designs ever created, pioneering new vehicle aerodynamics while demonstrating the mastery of Italian design. The B.A.T models finally sold for $14,840,000 at an RM Sotheby’s auction.
6. Lincoln Futura
Exaggerated hooded headlamp pods, conspicuous outward-canted tailfins on both ends, and a double, clear-plastic canopy top distinguished the idea. Unlike other 1950s designs, the Futura included a complete engine installed on a Lincoln Mark II chassis. The Lincoln Futura made its debut in 1955 as a one-of-a-kind $250,000 Ford Motor Company project, becoming the most spectacular but successful Lincoln concept car to grace the auto show circuit. Although it was never produced, the Lincoln Futura was purchased by George Barris for $1. He then transformed it into one of the most renowned cinematic vehicles of all time, the 1966 Batman TV show’s original Batmobile.
5. Ford GT90
Ford introduced the iconic GT90 concept at the 1995 Detroit Motor Show, sandwiched between the renowned Le Mans-winning old GT40s and the current Ford GT supercar. The GT90 acted as a testbed for Ford’s engineering, technology, driver-oriented features, and design concepts, with a futuristic throwback style, exotic jet fighter-esque profile, and carbon fiber body panels. The GT90 was built by the specialist Ford SVT group and featured one of the most bizarre engines Ford has ever produced: a 48-valve quad-turbocharged 5.9-liter DOHC V-12 capable of an estimated 720hp and 660lb-ft of torque. The Ford GT90, with a stated peak speed of 253mph, would have been one of the fastest production automobiles in the world, even by today’s standards.
4. Cadillac Sixteen
Cadillac debuted the Cadillac Sixteen concept car at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show, a project that pays homage to the automaker’s legendary V16 automobiles from the 1930s. The sleek, gemstone look of the Cadillac Sixteen emphasized the everlasting features of an exceedingly luxury Cadillac super-sedan. Cadillac engineers created a one-of-a-kind chassis out of welded aluminum. The name ‘Sixteen’ referred to the concept’s V-16 engine, which was created by Katech and displaced 13.6 liters. The engine produced up to 1,000hp and 1,000lb-ft of torque and was based on GM Gen 4 LS architecture with fuel-saving Displacement on Demands technology and coupled to a modified 4-speed Hydra-Matic 4L85-E gearbox.
3. Mazda Furai
When most gearheads think of Mazda, they think of the rotary engine and the fire-breathing RX-7 and RX-8 sports vehicles. Mazda announced the Furai concept in 2008 to commemorate the automaker’s international racing legacy and the 40th anniversary of the rotary engine. The Furai was powered by a 450hp 20B three-rotor Wankel engine built by Racing Beat and fuelled by 100% ethanol. On the Furai concept, Mazda employed its revolutionary NAGARE (flow) design language, pulling aerodynamic influence from the Le Mans-winning 787B. Surprisingly, the Furai weighed 1,488 pounds, making it lighter than the Formula One vehicles of 2016. Furthermore, the light weight and powerful rotary engine produced a power-to-weight ratio of 0.66, which was three times higher than the Bugatti Veyron.
2. Mercedes-Benz Biome
Mercedes-Benz has never shied away from outlandish ideas, but the Biome concept car presented at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show was out of this world, even for a concept car. The Biome’s bodywork would be created by growing two seeds that produce a lightweight BioFiber, harvesting it, and knitting it together to construct the vehicle. The wheels would be developed from four different seeds as well. Mercedes-Benz intended to power the Biome with a future BioNectar4534 fuel that is stored in the interior, chassis, and wheels rather than in a tank. Trees would also be outfitted with special sensors that would capture surplus solar energy and convert it into BioNectar4534.
1. Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100
BMW revealed their future vision of Rolls-Royce mobility in 2016, demonstrating one of the many options for Rolls-Royce cars over the next 100 years. The Vision Next 100 concept automobile represents these principles as an autonomous zero-emissions refuge of quiet amid what everyone believes will be an ever-faster world. Future Rolls-Royce models will allow prospective buyers to design their own vehicles, including size, shape, space, and materials. Eleanor, an ethereal concierge who listens to voice instructions and manages most things around the vehicle, represents the Spirit of Ecstasy in the future. Other intriguing concepts include a roof canopy that opens completely for access and egress, as well as a full cabin-width OLED display.