One of the bizarre things about automotive R&D is that companies burn a huge amount of time and money designing things that never get built. I speak, of course, of concept cars: stunningly beautiful machines dripping with sex appeal and infeasible dramatic angles that never get built. Here are 10 of the all-time greats.
10. BMW GINA
The BMW GINA concept finally managed to do what years of oddly shaped BMWs couldnt — look genuinely like a shark. This thing exudes menace, but also technical interest — the skin is made from fabric rather than metal. As well as giving the car a talking point, the skin also — in theory — allowed the car to go all Transformers on you, growing a spoiler at opportune moments. Of course, I’m not sure I would like to be in it if it crashed — fabric’s not known for getting a great safety rating.
9. Ford GT90
When do you reckon this concept was designed? 2002? 2005? Wrong. The GT90 was the brainchild of some clearly futuristic designers way back in 1994. It’s just a concept, but there was actually a V12-packing working model. Favourite fact? It spat out such high-temperature exhaust gases that the bodywork around the exhaust had to be made from Space Shuttle ceramic tiles. V12 engine and spaceship bodywork? This car so should’ve been made.
8. Lamborghini Concept S
The Lamborghini Gallardo is a classically awesome car; this concept just took the bonkers styling of it one step further. Rather than having a windscreen, this concept uses clever aerodynamics to move the wind out of the passengers’ faces, and also helps feed air to the ridiculously over-powered V10 engine. There was rumour of Lambo making 100 of them, but sadly for the humanity, it remained as nothing but a prototype.
7. Peugeot Onyx
Peugeot isn’t exactly known for its svelte supercars; it’s generally the purveyor of somewhat more pedestrian hatchbacks. Forget all that, though, and gaze in wonder at its latest creation. Late in 2012, Peugeot decided to show the world its design team had some pizazz left, so they made the Oynx, one of the prettiest concept cars of recent years. Shame it runs on diesel then.
6. Aston Martin AMV 10
If there’s one car maker that’s known for its gorgeous, timeless design, it’s Aston. Occasionally, the makers of Bond’s runabout see fit to tease the world with the results of their latest brainstorm. In 2008, that was the AMV10. Sadly, it never saw the light of day, although a whole bunch of its pulse-quickening design found its way to the One-77, Aston’s ridiculously expensive and heinously exclusive flagship car.
5. Mazda Furai
The Furai is a totally off-the-wall bonkers concept from Mazda — which is about the same level of strangeness as someone like Huawei designing a solar-powered-sex-toy. Regardless, it’s a full-on, pants-on-head-and-pencils-up-nose crazy car, which also looks dangerously like a Koenigsegg (yes, I had to spell-check that).
4. Lamborghini Estoque
The Estoque was Lambo’s idea of a sensible, consumer-friendly car. Yes, really. Back in 2008, Lambo was seriously kicking around the idea of making a $273,000 four-door sedan car, presumably for well-heeled diplomats who like to go track racing on the weekend. Like every good runabout, it houses a 5.2-litre V10 up front, and a pair of replacement trousers in the back for when the passengers crap themselves.
3. Nissan Nillson
Although most of these concepts are sleek, sexy feats of automotive design, this one is a little more yesteryear. And if you’re thinking it looks a tad like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, congratulations, you’ve spotted the design influence. Really, I had to include this, just for the stunning charm of driving around in something out of a West End musical. And if that wasn’t enough, it’ll also run on bourbon. A classic-styled car that runs on high-end booze: chick magnet, defined.
2. Chevrolet Astro III
The Chevrolet Astro is without a doubt the most off-the-wall concept car here. Designed in 1969, it was firmly inspired by the whole space race and moon landings thing, which shows, because it’s all pointy like a rocket. At least, I think that’s the idea.
1. Ford Shelby GR-1
There’s something about the understated design of the Shelby that makes it my favourite concept car of all time; maybe it’s the bare aluminium skin, or wildly impractical doors, but this is one concept car that I wish so badly actually got made. Still, apparently the working prototype exists and is only valued at $2.5 million, so there’s hope, right?
Did we miss out your favourite non-existent ride? Let us know below!