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)
Chuck, there are some wild machines in there. Some are just wierd. Others are fantastic. My vote for cars that should have been produced are the Ford GT90 (the Ford GT LeMans cars were always my favorites), the Chrylser Atlantic and th Mustang Milano. Wild stuff.
Ah, this reminds me of my high school years in the '60s when I entered the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild annual competition. The nationwide contest was sponsored by General Motors (then the world's biggest corporation). It was open only to boys (don't try that today) and the idea was to design and build a futuristic model car to 1/12 scale. Entries were judged on design and craftsmanship. Every state had a 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winner in Junior and Senior division. Then there were 20 regional awards in each division and 40 of us got $750 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Detroit (I flew Braniff on a TWA Constellation) where we toured GM styling studios and testing grounds and cool industrial dreamworks. We saw "How the West Was Won" in amazing new Cinerama. I entered five times and got state awards each time and regional award once in 1965. The national awards were presented at the regional awards banquet and included scholarships of $1000 to $5000. Even my school got a huge trophy for my regional award and the principal held a special assembly to present it.
Do a search on Fisher Body Crafsman's Guild to see pictures of many of the entries and dreams of young boys in the 1960s.
I, too, would put the Chrysler Atlantic at or near the top of my list, naperlou. It's such a great-looking car, I can't believe they never produced it. Seems like it could have had a life as a small-volume, premium vehicle.
Definitely true, tekochip. It's a good thing that most of these vehicles never reached production. On the other hand, I do like the fact that the auto companies give their designers and engineers the freedom to dream up and build these concepts. I can't think of engineers in any other branch of technology that get this kind of opportunity.
Greg, I thought they were big wheels as well, but I am not so sure. I think that the big circles around the doors are just for style and the wheels are all the same size. Perhaps Chuck could check it out.
Daimler claiming they're jettisoning unnenessary ballast makes thier car look like a dune buggy wannabe, with less character and usefulness. In the USA, such a vehicle might be usable in SoCal and Florida, but you'd not be able to take it on the beach.
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.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.