Concept cars are the vehicles through which auto manufacturers imagine the future of road transport. Often, they’re things of beauty and feature the most advanced technology; sometimes they even make the jump to production. But for every glorious success, there’s a concept car that falls flat on its face, the victim of overzealous, or just poorly thought out, ambition.
These six concept cars, from 1938 to today, were never built- and we can all be thankful for it.
This three door hatchback was unveiled by Scion at the 2008 New York International Auto Show. The bizarre look is no accident: Scion said, “This concept is the sporty version of a box.”
The angular exterior is somewhat balanced by the curving interior, featuring an orange driver’s seat and a black passenger’s seat. The computer screens in the dashboard evoke a video game, fitting Scion’s target demographic: young drivers.
By billing the Hi-CT as an urban vehicle, Toyota brushed off concerns that the 2007 concept is just about the least aerodynamic thing you can imagine. Like an abridged semi truck, the electric car was taller (1,780mm) than it was wide (1,695mm). Ultimately, this rolling refrigerator never made it into production, to everyone’s benefit.
Sometimes, things are best left to the professionals. That’s what the folks at Peugeot learned in 2005 when the winner of the annual Peugeot Design Competition came up with the Moovie. Portuguese designer André Costa‘s environmentally-friendly city car was chosen from 3,800 entries, and was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The difficult to describe little bubble of a car begs the question: what did the other 3,799 designs look like?
Chyrsler came up with the Expresso as a new version of the city taxi, thus explaining the yellow paint. The short vehicle was as tall as a minivan and featured an entertainment center long before they were common in cars. But any goodwill the Expresso earned was rightfully negated by the cartoon face formed by the windows and the door styling.
If you Google “wishful thinking,” you’re likely to come up with this 1957 futuristic fantasy of a car. The Astral may well have inspired George Jetson’s car. It balanced on one wheel thanks to a “gyroscopic balancing mechanism,” and could hover to cross water.
Forget going electric: the Astral was designed to be atomic-powered. It even featured a “protective curtain of energy” to keep everyone safe. Not surprisingly, it was never built.
Bizarre concept cars have been around almost as long as the automotive industry itself. The Corsair seated six and was designed by Rust Heinz, the heir to the relish and ketchup fortune who died in a car accident at 25. Clearly the dream of a young man, the audacious car was unlike anything anyone had ever seen, among the boldest cars of its era and a big draw at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
The Batmobile-esque concept was far ahead of its time, with electrically opened doors and a low, long body. The Corsair never entered production, but it did make it into the National Automobile Museum in Reno. Unlike the other, younger concepts on this list, the Corsair would have cool to see on the road, but it’s tiny windows and windshield made it less than practical.