Concept cars represent much more than flights of fancy from the minds of ambitious auto designers. They’re great ways to test public reaction to a new look before committing to production; they build carefully crafted buzz around factors marketers want you to associate with their brands; they can drum up investment and, at a minimum, they’ll drive foot traffic to an automaker’s stand at autoshows.
Most importantly, concept cars represent a way for automakers to take risks without putting the future of their companies on the line. And from such risk comes both wildly ambitious breakthroughs and spectacular, disastrous flops. Here we’ve assembled ten of the most important concept cars that run the full gamut of conceptual successes and failures.
Consider this a companion piece to the futuristic concepts we’ve envisioned as part of this month’s Future of the Car issue. Based on current real-world concepts and interviews with some of the industry’s leading designers and engineers, our three vehicles represent ambitious future vehicle archetypes, much like the famous—and infamous—concepts we’ve selected here.
Launch the gallery above for the full list.
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics
BMW GINA Light Visionary Model
Aurora Safety Car
Lancia Stratos Zero