What is a concept car really? It’s an idea, an inspiration, the product of the imagination and something that may or may not have an actual practical application, but in some cases a concept car can be the perfect car for us to see what the designer and engineers had in mind. Whether the concept actually makes it into the final design or not is certainly one part of the challenge, but the other is learning how the concept will be received. Regardless of either of the reception of acceptance or the complete turning away of the concept we certainly should admire concepts for their creativity and desire to take the car world to the next level. Here are several concepts that were pretty cool over the years.
Lancia Stratos Zero – Designed by Marcello Gandini who had already designed the Lamborghini Miura and Alfa Romeo Carabo by the time he was thirty this car was the most extreme offering he came up with. At 32.7 inches tall it had to be enter in through the windshield and was the lowest car built. A form of this car won the World Rally Championship in 1974, 1975 and 1976 when affixed with a new drivetrain.
Oldsmobile Golden Rocket – Shaped like a rocket this was a show car that made the Motorama circuit which was patterned after the World’s Fair. In 1956 this car was powered by a 275 horsepower V8 and weighed in at only 2500 pounds. This was also a luxury car and showed up with power tilt steering and a set of seats that raised up swiveled out while roof panes lifted so you could enter and exit the vehicle with ease and simplicity. The production model was nothing like the one that mad the Motorama circuit unfortunately.
Alfa Romeo BAT 7 – In the 1950s designer Franco Scaglione, who was also responsible for the chassis for the Carabo, created three versions of this car that were named the Bat 5, 7 and 9. This concept certainly had a space age look to it and gave us an appearance of winds from the front window to the rear of the car. This car showed off some hidden muscle that has been talked about in a variety of circles for many years when it comes to design. To look at it you might think it would have been talked about, but it has been an admired design.
Chevrolet Corvette Four-Rotor – This car was the one built to carry GM into the rotary engine from Wankel that would be the choice of many. The benefits of the rotary engine included the lower parts count and nearly vibration-free operation this engine would carry the Corvette forward. With Mazda and Mercedes already in the game, GM needed to enter into the mix and did so in 1973. There was a two-rotor and a four-rotor model built to give the symmetrical shape and perfect running of car from a mid-engine position. This version was never going to be a production model but it certainly was a beautiful build.
Plymouth XNR – This was a car that looked like it came right out of the Jet Age and should have been powered by jet fuel. The XNR was a car that would have played well at Comicon and showed a design that was gorgeous and fun to look at right before Chrysler went to the boxy look that become that design that carried on for the future in an uninspiring way. This concept had a bit of a history of travel as it was part of the Shah of Iran’s car collection among going thorough other collections before being sold at Monterey in 2012 for $935,000.
Nissan Pivo – The Pivo is a car that looks like an overgrown kitchen timer that is pod shaped and sits on what looks like a cart. This made a debut at the 2005 Tokyo moto show and was given the name that means pivot which is perfect because the passenger compartment can spin 360 degrees so you never have to actually go in reverse. Not only was this car one that would pivot but it also was an EV model that was to be part of the future of Japanese motoring.
Even though these cars never made it to the market, all of them showed us something specifically cool to admire that would be fantastic as vehicles that might have made it to the streets. Some of them wouldn’t have played well with large crowds, but certainly gave us a look at some engineering and design imagination models that were able to be used as inspiration for some of the models we see on the road today. After viewing these six concept cars you can see why they are considered to be some of the most impressive concepts ever to show up at car shows.
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