Daimler’s recent introduction of a doorless, open-roof electric car might have startled some, but in the wild world of concept cars it’s far from daring.
Since their invention by the auto industry in the late 1930s, concept cars have afforded engineers and designers an opportunity to let their imaginations run free. Notably, some designers have taken the idea to an illogical extreme, producing cars that are more memorable than functional.
But some of today’s production vehicles have their roots in concept cars. The recently introduced Cadillac ELR, for example, started out as the Cadillac Converj at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Similarly, the Ford Mustang and Pontiac Firebird evolved from concept cars that seemed daring in their day.
We’ve collected photos of concept cars that range from wild to pragmatic. From Smart’s Fourjoy, to Cadillac’s racy Converj, to BMW’s shape-shifting GINA, we present some of the best-known and most unusual. Click on the concept car below to start the slideshow.
Winner of a Peugeot design competition in 2005, the Moovie Concept Car was designed for city dwellers who needed to fit into tight parking spaces. Each of its wheels were independently driven by their own electric motors, allowing the car to rotate on its own axis. The vehicle’s two-passenger interior was designed for brightness and visibility. (Source: Wikicars.org)
One additional thought is that if the Mustang line had followed that first concept, they could have saved a lot of money on tooling since it was so very ugly thyat very few of them would sell. Fortunately wiser folks prevailed.
I agree about hose open cars being an intensly poor idea. Completely aside from weather and safety issues is the security issue. In Detroit a car must have doors that lock, because of the car-jackers. So an open car would have a very short lifetime around here.
Great post, thanks. The worst idea has to be the "smart" that has done away with ballast like doors, roof and rear windows. One side impact accident and you're dead, 10 minutes in the sun and you're sunburned or a bit of rain and you're drenched, and anything that isn't nailed down get pinched. Some of the others quite nice and inspiring. Yep give me a GT90
It is not reasonable to even think that any of the concept cars prior to the mid sixties could have included any CAD operations in their creation. And just because a single copy can be produced does not mean that even a second copy would be any easier than the first.
Solid modeling and CAD and other simulation software certainly make great designs easier, but they are by no means the only way great designs happen. Engineering brilliance and creativity are the more critical parts of the mix.
One thing that did impress me was: The GT90 concept was declared by Ford to be the "world's mightiest sports car." While I don't know what the top speed of the mid-sixties "Griffith" was, it also had a big Ford engine that was "not quite stock", and probably not even close to stock. The GT90 looks a lot like the Griffith before all of those angles were smoothed out. I don't know it it would have been called a production model, but there were two of them in the college parking lot where I attended in 1966.
Good point about fabrication, bobjengr. That's particulaly the case for high volume fabrication. That's why most concept cars never reach production. The ones that do usually see some dramatic (and boring) changes.
Very very informative slide show Charles. I love to see engineering and design talent pushed to extreme as these cars indicate they have been. I am assuming all of the design was CAD and solid modeling. In other words, the products can be built. I know that sometimes what really looks good is very difficult to fabricate. I would love to see most of these newer product on the road.
The question of whether engineers could have foreseen the shortcut maintenance procedures that led to the crash of American Airlines Flight 191 in 1979 will probably linger for as long as there is an engineering profession.
More than 35 years later, the post-mortem on one of the country’s worst engineering disasters appears to be simple. A contractor asked for a change in an original design. The change was approved by engineers, later resulting in a mammoth structural collapse that killed 114 people and injured 216 more.
If you’re an embedded systems engineer whose analog capabilities are getting a little bit rusty, then you’ll want to take note of an upcoming Design News Continuing Education Center class, “Analog Design for the Digital World,” running Monday, Nov. 17 through Friday, Nov. 21.
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