Concept cars are designed by leading car manufacturers as a way of testing a new design or features that are made available on it. The vehicle is showcased at auto shows where the attendees get a closer look, and the manufacturer records their feedback. Based on the feedback that they receive they decide to produce the vehicle or not. There have been some fantastic concept cars that were introduced to car enthusiasts over the years. While some exude a unique and futuristic design, some have innovative technologies. Here are some amazing concept cars that have been designed over the years.
Best Concept Cars – 1938 Buick Y-Job
Concept cars have been around for decades and the 1938 Buick Y-Job is considered the first of its kind in the automotive industry. The vehicle was a sneak peek into the future of vehicles at a time when they were running on giant spoke wheels, stand-up radiators, and running boards. The 1938 Buick Y-Job provides insights into what the vehicles will look like in the 1940s and 1950s. The changes that the vehicle introduced included the replacement of headlights from being strapped on the radiator to being built into the fenders, 13-inch wheels with wide whitewall tyres, and power windows. The fully functional vehicle was built with Buick Super chassis and the innovations introduced by the concept car were considered somewhat revolutionary.
1951 GM LeSabre
One of the first innovative cars to be introduced by General Motors after WWII, the 1951 General LeSabre stood out for its unique styling. This was the first vehicle that featured a curved windshield and tailfins, both of which dominated the 1950s. Another interesting feature of the design was the oval in the centre that retracted and spun to reveal two headlights side by side. There was also a giant central brake at the rear that glowed just like a fighter jet’s afterburner. The design may have been inspired by the jets and World War II. Other features worth mentioning include a rain sensor that closes the power top, rear-mounted transmission, and electric jacks on the chassis for tyre changes.
1953-1955 Alfa Romeo Alfa BAT Cars
The Italian brand Alfa Romeo introduced a line of cars that utilized the Berlina Aerodynamica Technica (BAT) and were designed by Bertone. In 1953, the gray BAT5 was showcased at the Turin Auto Show, the BAT 7 in blue made an appearance in 1954, and the BAT 9 in silver was introduced in 1955. This series was discontinued until fifty years later when BAT 11 was introduced in 2008. The original trio was sold at an auction in 2020 and fetched around $15 million.
1955 Lincoln Futura
Another leading car manufacturer Lincoln made waves with its 1955 Lincoln Futura that was featured on screen. It was first driven for the film titled The Secret and later sold to George Barris who customized it to convert it into the iconic Batmobile for the television series that ran from 1966-68. The 1955 Lincoln Futura was a double bubble two-seater that largely previewed the headlight and fender. The original was sold at Barrett Jackson for $4.2 million in 2013.
1956 General Motors Firebird II
Another vehicle to draw inspiration from aviation was the 1956 General Motors Firebird II. This was the second concept car from the four Firebird series that were introduced between the 50s and 60s. The four-seater family sedan boasts a design that looked like a jet and it was powered by a jet engine. The 1956 General Motors Firebird II was equipped with a Whirlfire GT-304 gas turbine that could produce 200 horsepower. The exterior was built with titanium, whereas the wheels had independent suspension with all-around disc brakes, four-zone climate control, and a rearview camera. The vehicle was the epitome of innovation with autonomous driving mode and a two-way communication system that was used to get directions and make reservations at hotels. This communication system could be dubbed as a cue for the OnStar system that was introduced forty years later.
1957 Ford Nucleon
With this concept car, Ford envisioned a vehicle that could run without needing gasoline. The vehicles that were introduced after World War II had imprints of the war in one way or the other. The 1957 Ford Nucleon made use of a small reactor that enabled the car to run 5000 miles without requiring a refuel. After reaching 5000 miles it would be replaced with a new reactor at a service station and the car could be operated without gas. The vehicle was just a mock-up that did not go into production as having a nuclear reactor in a car was not a very safe option.
1963 Chrysler Turbine Car
In the early 60s, Chrysler began experimenting with gas-turbine cars and produced 50 drivable cars that were used by 200 families for their daily commute. So, in essence, these cars did not remain concept vehicles, but they did not last long either. The vehicles were equipped with jet engines making fuel economy a massive issue. After three years of testing, the vehicles were concluded to be not feasible for daily commute so, they did not make it mainstream future vehicles.
The concept cars that have been designed over the years have introduced some innovations in the automotive industry that are first of its kind for its era. While many did not make it to production, the above-mentioned vehicles have some noteworthy features that made them stand out and are celebrated even now.