American Concept Cars Showcase, Part 1
“QUANTUM SHOT” #706
Beautiful Styling + Extreme Engineering = the Creme de la Creme of Automotive Design
Today we’re starting new DRB series, Exceptional Concept Cars, which will highlight the absolute best in concept car design from 100 years of automobile history.
It is not our aim to present a complete list, or even a comprehensive coverage of particular brands and car shows (there is enough material of this nature available on the web). What we want to do instead, is to celebrate the daring and esthetic value of the most fascinating and unusual concept automobiles – give you shapes and curves to brighten up your day, and to make you say “Wow, what a cool concept!” a couple of times.
For every model we will include a piece of interesting fact or trivia… and perhaps some highly subjective remarks from the author. Remember, beauty is the eye of the beholder, and what some may count as pretty, others will consider an abomination, and vice versa. The good news is that there were enough concept cars produced in the last hundred years – of every conceivable kind and shape – to satisfy every taste.
And so, let us begin with a selection of American concept cars – the American Dream cubed, quadrupled and multiplied to infinity by the daring designers of yesterday and today:
From way back in 1917 – Behold the Golden Submarine (in its “Silver” incarnation):
This extreme custom “stick rod” was built by Harry A. Miller for racing driver Barney Oldfield. The car looked almost jet-powered when the smoke came out… Above picture is the modern interpretation of this legendary car, built by Webb’s Automotive Art – more info.
1948 Tucker Torpedo Concept
Check out the “Cyclops Eye” on this early design rendering from 1946:
…which later evolved into the legendary Tucker “48″ production model, and also spawned weird Carioca, 1955 design:
1937/1954 Mobilgas Special: Listen Up People!
The 1950s -
1955 Ghia Streamline X-Coupe: Welcome to the Rocket Age
Fun Fact: This aerodynamic marvel (designed by Italian engineer Giovanni Savonuzzi) was nicknamed “Gilda”, after Rita Hayworth’s “noir” role in the classic 1946 movie.
1956 Buick Centurion 3: Flight-Ready!
Fun fact: This great example of futuristic 1950s styling also included a television camera mounted in the trunk. The images were displayed on the instrument panel, so there was no need of the rear-view mirror. Sounds familiar?
It also features one of the most futuristic, and perhaps confusing, dashboards ever designed (certainly sparkly with all this chrome and funky shapes):
1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special
Fun Fact: Designed by famous designer Harley J. Earl, it had a full canopy with gull-wing panels – and the incredible, totally over-the-top rocket-engine styling in the back. One of the cars was painted in metallic bronze: looking slick and striking, like a steampunk’d fish submarine.
The 1960s -
1961 Chrysler Turboflite
Check out the automatic canopy (lifted every time the door is opened):
Fun fact: the first appearance of the large rear spoiler, later a feature on many models of the 1960s muscle car era. And of course, the fact that this car was powered by a gas turbine (part of the Chrysler Turbine Engines project). Here is a later 1963 Turbine Car incarnation (Ghia-designed):
Ford Aurora, 1964: Car Seat Extravaganza
Here is a bunch of other extreme 1960s concepts from Ford:
Pictured above, top to bottom: 1960 Ford Predicta, 1960 Ford Levacar, 1961 Ford Gyron, 1962 Ford Seattle, and 1962 Ford Selene. All ready to be shipped to some outer space colony, or a futuristic City Dome – to be driven by the bladerunners and paranoid androids in various Philip K. Dick environments.
Speaking of Blade Runner (1982), here is how legendary designer Syd Mead pictured a futuristic urban car in the 1960s:
Another rocket-like automobile is 1969 Buick Century – a true Jetson’s family ride, if there ever was one:
Aahh… can’t get enough of these space age shapes! Here is another one: 1967 Corvair Astro
Chevrolet Monza series had very smooth lines, almost feline-like. 1962-1963 Corvair Monza GT concept car:
This wonderful buggy-like automobile never made it into a working concept, only existing as a scale model:
Dean Jeffries’ Mantaray from 1963:
Closer to our times: 2005 -
Chrysler ME Four-Twelve Exotic Car Concept
Chassis is carbon-fiber and aluminum honeycomb: lots of sweet, sweet power and a certain “lightness of being”.
BONUS Weird oddity here: a custom body designed by American Sunroof Corporation… complete with front-end propellers and a huge hood ornament:
Stay tuned for future installments in this series!