BMW's GINA concept car today got us to thinking about concept cars in general. They exist at the inflection point where our dreams and technology meet. Whether we yearn for nuclear power, extreme performance or phallic shapes, we have the concept car to thank for pointing us toward the uncertain future. And while not all concept cars see the light of day, the automotive wishes of yesterday often influence the driving realities of today. With the help of some of our readers, we've put together a top ten list of what we believe are the most insane concept cars ever created. We'll leave it to you to pick the craziest in the poll below.
10. Alfa Bat Concepts
Though perhaps tame when compared to today's cars, these Bertone-penned concept cars represented a revolution in the early 1950's. The cars were designed for Alfa Romeo with the goal of creating extremely aerodynamic cars that could handle the speeds engineers were creating, eventually achieving a wind resistance better than today's Porsches or Corvettes. They're also, as 68Stang is right to recognize, completely gorgeous.
9. Powell Motors Presents The Homer
This is the car that most credit with taking down economy car giant Powell Motors. Envisioned by Herbert Powell's brother, Homer Simpson, The Homer did foresee certain automotive achievements, such as extremely large beverage holders and excessively large grilles. On the other hand, the bubble-top domes have yet to catch on in a widespread manner, much to the disappointment of Jchabotte. [Simpsons Wiki]
8. Peugeot 20cup
Man has always attempted to bridge the ages-old axiom of "two wheels bad, four wheels good" by merging the car and the motorcycle. Unfortunately, this has usually resulted in the sidecar. Though there have been many copies, the Peugeot 20cup stands out as the most fantastic and awkwardly attractive attempt. Despite taking some of the danger out of motorcycles, Dr. Danger sees this as an "odd duck," offering seriously confusing proportions yet also the promise of extreme sportiness.
7. Tang Hua Book Of Songs
Chinese automaker Tang Hua looked to an aerodynamic shape to power the design of their oddly-named Book of Songs electric car. And what's the most aerodynamic shape they could come up with for this electric-gas hybrid? The — umm — well — you can just ask MIke the Dog, he can explain it to you.
6. Assystem City Car
As strange as the Assystem City Car looks, and as unfortunate as the company's name is, it's some of the technology inside that moves us. The car features a "biometric" interface that recognizes when drivers begin to nod off, a "reality display" that uses cameras to show the world around the car, and mood settings that change the car's coloration and sounds based upon the feelings of the driver. Though far-fetched looking, the car actually has some seriously prescient technology that's finding its way into newer cars that KingFling might buy some day. [Assystem.com]
5. Mercedes Bionic Car
When looking to design a car after an animal, you think Mercedes would have looked to something muscular like a Cheetah, tight like a Tiger or fast like a Falcon. Instead, those nutty Germans chose a car designed after the Boxfish. The dimensions of the Mercedes Bionic Car are all wrong and yet somehow all right at the same time. Order one up for Simpson Movie Ruled so he can
swim drive it to the theatre.
4. Ford Nucleon
Let's see, it's a Ford, it's got a nuclear reactor and it's a Ranchero. Someone pinch us, because the Ford Nucleon is making us woozy. Or maybe that's the radiation? Either way, the Nucleon stands out as our favorite car from the Nuclear era — a time when every other concept car was powered by some sort of futuristic energy source, including good ol' plutonium. Yes, it presaged the Delorean by nearly 30 years. A freaking nukachero. Thanks Scroggzilla.
3. Luigi Colani-Designed Suzuki Truck
Graverobber knows there are few designers that are more Jalopnik than Luigi Colani, the man behind anthropomorphic concepts such as the Ekranoplans and supercars such as the Utah 8. Though none of his pod trucks, such as this Colani Suzuki truck, have seen production, the extreme aerodynamics are starting to see use on cabs from Mercedes.
2. Aurora Safety Car
Perhaps one of the ugliest cars of all time, the Aurora Safety Car has a sad story. The dream of a priest who was also a car nut, the Aurora ESV was built on a Buick platform with the hope of encouraging automakers to build safer cars both for drivers and pedestrians. The insane safety features included crumple zones, hydraulic jacks, a cow-catcher nose for people walking by, and real, live seatbelts for all passengers. The Priest, Father Juliano, was eventually ruined because of the project in what he claimed was a conspiracy by General Motors. If they'd have listened maybe they could have avoided "Unsafe At Any Speed. " SlantSick recognizes it is ugly, but it sure is fascinating. [NYTimes]
1. The Dymaxion
Can you top the Dymaxion car? DrewDraws doesn't think so, and we tend to agree. Designed by none other than the legendary Buckminster Fuller, this car was meant to make the world a better place. How? It achieved 30 mpg, could transport 11 people at high speeds and was probably the first minivan ever. All this in 1933. It was so awesome it never saw the light of production. Pity. We could use one right about now.