Though lesser known than what we usually see on the street, concept cars are perhaps the most fascinating part of the automotive world, giving us a glimpse into the future of car design, into what automobiles could look like in the future. They’re usually displayed at the various auto shows that take place around the world, but most of them never make it to production.
Automotive history is full of stunning concept car examples that have impressed everyone with their futuristic design, incredible features, and bold styling. It’s these cars that have pushed the boundaries of what we thought possible in terms of automobiles, and they continue to inspire the newer generations of car designers and enthusiasts all over the world.
From the golden era of classic cars to the high end automotive technology we have today, there are plenty of extraordinary concept cars that have remained in our collective memory. Let’s have a look at the coolest of them all, in our opinion, of course.
25. 2016 Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100
The Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 encompasses the expected qualities of futuristic autonomous cars that could offer virtually everything in terms of ride comfort inside, while looking extraordinarily good from the outside.
It’s the sort of car designers envision in their dreams. The future of luxury travel and the automotive equivalent of haute couture.
24. 2005 Jeep Hurricane
This bespoke Jeep Hurricane concept was displayed at the North American Auto Show in 2005 and represents the best of the best in terms of SUVs. It’s powered by two 5.7 liter V8 engines that could each run on 4, 8, 12, or all 16 cylinders depending on the need, making for a very power efficient machine.
But the most interesting part of the Jeep Hurricane, besides the obvious off-road capabilities, would be the 4 wheel steering system, which could offer unmatched capabilities in terms of mobility in cramped spaces.
The custom Jeep Hurricane could actually move sideways if need be, or even turn on the spot by making the front and rear wheels turn in opposite direction.
23. 2006 Saab Aero-X
Moving from the stuff of sci-fi towards a more earthly vehicle, we’ve got the Saab Aero-X concept car, crafted from carbon fiber and powered by a 400hp V6 engine running on ethanol.
Though the car has the looks of a Saab, the fascinating part is the doors. Or should we say the canopy, since it all lifts like a jet fighter’s canopy instead of having traditional doors.
22. 1966 Jaguar XJ13 V12
Jaguar is well known for its sporty and luxurious car designs, but the XJ13 V12 Prototype Sports Racer pushed things further than ever with its mid mounted 5 liter 12 cylinder engine that was capable of outputting 472hp and push the car around the racetrack at 161mph.
The car was built to race the Le Mans, but the future held something else in store for Jaguar, and this concept never got to race or enter production. It remained a dream.
21. 2008 GT by Citroën
Citroën is a different breed of car maker, and that’s very obvious in the 2008 GT concept car, offering a glimpse into French car design and way of thinking about the future.
Unfortunately, the car was too expensive and never entered production. But we hope we’ll see it on the streets one day.
20. 1997 Volkswagen W12
The incredible W12 concept shown to the world at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1997 is Volkswagen’s take on supercars.
It featured a mid-engine layout and the car brand‘s Syncro four-wheel-drive system, and was capable of an output of 600hp, a top speed of 221mph, and a zero to sixty run in only 3.5 seconds. Not bad at all for a Volkswagen, is it?
19. 1995 Ford GT90
With Europeans dominating the world of supercars in the 90s, Ford had to step in. The way the did it was by building the Ford GT90, a successor of the legendary GT40 that shook the 24 Hours of Le Mans scene by getting four consecutive victories against Ferrari.
The GT90 came with an interesting chassis made from a honeycomb shaped aluminum monocoque and molded carbon fiber panels. Underneath roared a 5.9 liter quad-turbocharged V12 that produced 720hp.
As impressive as the car seemed, there was only one, and no production versions were ever made. There are no official performance figures either, but Ford claimed the car could reach speeds of up to 250mph.
18. 2010 Mercedes-Benz Biome
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz Biome looks otherworldly. It’s like nothing you’ve seen before, and chances are, you won’t. Not in the near future at least. The concept was so futuristic and insane that it felt too much even for a concept car.
The Biome was supposed to be “grown” from a special kind of BioFiber, that would grow from two seeds to produce the bodywork of the car. Wheels would also grow from seeds, and the fuel of the car would be a BioNectar4534 that would be stored not in a tank, like the cars of today, but inside the vehicle’s chassis, frame, and wheels. The fuel would also be produced by trees, from excess solar energy.
If all this sounds bonkers, it’s because it is. For now.
17. 2006 Lamborghini Miura
Designed for the 40th anniversary of the original Lamborghini Miura, the Miura concept car was born. It was revealed to the world in 2006 at the North American International Autoshow.
It impressed every Lamborghini fan out there, but unfortunately, the automaker never planned on creating more than the anniversary edition.
16. 1989 Ferrari Mythos
The Ferrari Mythos was unveiled at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show and it was there where the Sultan of Brunei fell in love with it and bought the only one in existence.
The Mythos was based on the iconic Testarossa, sporting its powerful 4.9 liter flat 12, but with a few design tweaks on the bodywork.
15. 2006 Spyker D12
The Spyker D12 may look cute and lovely and innocent, but it’s the concept that started the trend of high performance luxury SUVs that is on everyone’s mind today.
The D12 was equipped with a Volkswagen W12 engine, powerful enough to push the 4,079lb car from zero to sixty in only 5 seconds. Inside, the car had all the luxuries you could think of, from quilted leather and brushed aluminum to the panoramic roof and rear hinging doors.
14. 1981 Dodge M4S
Designed to be used as a pace car, the Dodge M4S didn’t achieve its fully intended potential. The highest point of its life was its iconic appearance in the film “The Wraith”, but even there it wasn’t the star of the show, as dummy cars got all the stunts and scenes.
The M4S came out as a first prototype in 1981, and the performances were impressive, with its small 2.2 liter engine able to output a whooping 440hp, and a top speed of 194mph.
13. 1965 Pontiac Banshee XP-883
The Pontiac Banshee XP-833 was born during the muscle car era, and came as a response to all the impressive European cars that were produced during that time.
Intended as a lightweight, sporty, and fun American country road cruiser, the XP-883 came out instead as a big and powerful car that was threatening the American Corvette.
Because of that, the project was abandoned, and the Pontiac Banshee XP-833 never came to realize its potential.
12. 1973 Aerovette XP-882
Speaking of the Corvette, in 1973, there was another very interesting and promising project, the Aerovette XP-882, which was featuring a then revolutionary four rotor Wankel engine, mounted in the middle, and a cool set of gullwing doors.
The Aerovette design with its mid-mounted engine was deemed too radical for the time and the project was halted, with engineers reverting to the front mounted engine design we have today.
11. 1980 Briggs & Stratton Hybrid
The 1980 Briggs & Stratton Hybrid was a very peculiar yet interesting vehicle, despite the fact that it was coming from a company that designed and built lawn mower engines for a living.
The car was supposed to be a fuel efficient vehicle, using a 694cc Vanguard V-twin air cooled engine with an electric motor and manual transmission. The electric motor required heavy batteries mounted right behind the rear axle.
The weight of the batteries pushed the engineers to add a second set of wheels in the back to support it, thus creating a car with 6 wheels. A car that never went into production.
10. 1970 AMC AMX/3
Despite their already successful AMX muscle car, AMC wanted to create something that would be able to compete with the supercars coming from Europe, Italy in particular, and this is how the AMX/3 concept was born.
It featured a mid-mounted AMC 390 V8, capable of 340hp, and a design that turned heads wherever the car was displayed. Unfortunately, the costs of making this car a reality exceeded AMC’s budget, and it never went beyond being just a prototype.
9. 1969 Mercedes-Benz C111
If you know Mercedes-Benz, you know what to expect from their design team. The 1969 Mercedes C111 though was completely alien to what the automaker ever did.
The car was created more as a test of Mercedes engineering rather than a display of novel design, used to test different types of powertrains, including the Wankel rotary engine. Nevertheless, the C111 was an astonishing creation. Too bad none of the 16 created got into production.
8. 1954 Lincoln Futura
The 1954 Lincoln Futura looks like it’s taken out from “The Jetsons” cartoon series, but it was as real as ever. A Ford Motor Company project, the Futura was probably one of the most astonishing concept cars ever shown to the public.
The design of the car borrowed cues from the underwater life, with its iconic double canopied roof, tailfins, and hooded headlight pods.
7. 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero
As with every man creation, in the auto industry there’s an ongoing battle between form and function. In 1970, Lancia decided to throw away every last hint of function, and created the Stratos HF Zero for pure form and artistic impression only.
Created in response to Ferrari’s extraterrestrial looking 512 S Modulo, the Lancia Stratos HF Zero was so futuristic and impractical that it was clear it will never get to production.
6. 1953 Alfa Romeo BAT
The Alfa Romeo BAT (Berlinetta Aerodinamica Technica) project was an exercise in aerodynamic design and air resistance reduction, and it was an extremely beautiful one, with several models that made the world drop its jaw in awe.
It was one of those important experiments that pushed the automotive world forward. The latest iteration of the project, the BAT 7, achieved an incredible 0.19 drag coefficient (cD), the lowest of the three BAT prototypes.
5. 1995 Chrysler Atlantic
Apparently, the design for the Chrysler Atlantic was first sketched on a napkin in 1993 by Bob Lutz, Chrysler’s president at that time.
He drew inspiration from the long noses of the French coupes of the 1930s, and combined that retro aesthetic with modern engineering and an art deco interior.
4. 1956 Buick Centurion
The Buick Centurion is one of the most spectacular car concepts ever unveiled, with its stunning all-glass bubble top, red and white colorway, and features that were way ahead of their time.
The car was made public in 1956 at the General Motors Motorama Show, and came with a rear mounted tv camera that displayed images on a display on the dashboard, bucket seats, and a very unusual gear selector, on a dial near the steering wheel. It was probably the most futuristic looking car interior.
3. 1964 GM-X Stiletto
The 1964 GM-X Stiletto was General Motors’ dream car, a car that embodied everything the jet age had to lend to the automotive industry.
The Stiletto featured a jet inspired nose cone, one piece windshield, long clean surfaces and no side doors, and an aviation themed interior, with toggle switches, indicator lights, and a jet styled steering wheel.
2. 1980 Aston Martin Bulldog
The Aston Martin Bulldog came as a response to the wedge shaped Italian super cars of the 1970s. The British didn’t want to stay behind, so they created the Bulldog, featuring hidden headlights, motorized gullwing doors, and a deluxe interior.
What was most impressive about the Bulldog was its engine, a 5.3 liter twin-turbo V8, capable of outputting 650hp, which is a lot of power even by today’s standards.
1. 1970 Ferrari 512 S Modulo
One of the most stunning concept cars of all time couldn’t have come from somebody other than Ferrari. Designed by the acclaimed Paolo Martin of Pininfarina, their 512 S Modulo was a real stunner, from both an aesthetic point of view and a technological one as well.
It was most probably the car that started the wedge shaped car craze of the 1970s, but nothing that came after would actually go as far as the Ferrari 512 S Modulo in terms of design. It featured a very aggressive and geometric chassis, with a canopy style glass top, and partially covered wheels. It looked more like an intergalactic spacecraft than an automobile.
Under the hood, it had a 5.0 liter 550hp V12 that took the car to a top speed of 220mph.
These are the cars that have shaped the automotive world for decades after their reveal. The best of the best in terms of incredible aesthetics, jaw-dropping power, and form that beats function.
From the classic visions of the future to some of the most quirky vehicles imagined, these cars are a glimpse into what mankind is capable of when it comes to transportation.
- 25. 2016 Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100
- 24. 2005 Jeep Hurricane
- 23. 2006 Saab Aero-X
- 22. 1966 Jaguar XJ13 V12
- 21. 2008 GT by Citroën
- 20. 1997 Volkswagen W12
- 19. 1995 Ford GT90
- 18. 2010 Mercedes-Benz Biome
- 17. 2006 Lamborghini Miura
- 16. 1989 Ferrari Mythos
- 15. 2006 Spyker D12
- 14. 1981 Dodge M4S
- 13. 1965 Pontiac Banshee XP-883
- 12. 1973 Aerovette XP-882
- 11. 1980 Briggs & Stratton Hybrid
- 10. 1970 AMC AMX/3
- 9. 1969 Mercedes-Benz C111
- 8. 1954 Lincoln Futura
- 7. 1970 Lancia Stratos HF Zero
- 6. 1953 Alfa Romeo BAT
- 5. 1995 Chrysler Atlantic
- 4. 1956 Buick Centurion
- 3. 1964 GM-X Stiletto
- 2. 1980 Aston Martin Bulldog
- 1. 1970 Ferrari 512 S Modulo