“The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt
With the coming of the New Year there is an excitement about what the future holds. Two events inspired me to write today’s article. The first was a book called “Concept Cars” that I had received as a gift from my sister. The second was being caught behind a slow moving Mazda 5 mini-van on the way to a lunch appointment.
Buick Y-Job – Harley Earl
The book is written by John Stroud, and is a coffee table style photo book. It covers concept cars starting with Harley Earl and the 1938 Buick Y Job and follows through up to present day. Of all the car books I have received, this one is probably the best. One car that stood out to me was the Mazda Hakaze. Besides being futuristic, it has a scallop effect along the lower wings that is utterly beautiful. It made me wonder why styling cues like that never make it into production cars.
Mazda Hakaze – Laurens van den Acker
Later in the day, while sitting behind that Mazda minivan in traffic, I noticed something interesting. Though much more subdued, the same scallop effect was on the side of the van. Somehow the styling of the concept had made its way to the sides of a boring little minivan. It got me thinking…how many other concept designs are slowly creeping into the mass market?
Cadillac ELR – General Motors Advanced Design
To answer that question, all I had to do was see the new Cadillac ELR. The ELR was the darling of the NY auto show, and is about as close to a concept as you can get. It is loosely based on the Cadillac Cien concept, and exaggerates the lines already held standard by cars like the CTS and XTS. It is cutting edge, sharper than the others, and looks stunning. Cadillac has really taken the idea of developing concepts into drivable production vehicles. It is astounding that same company that brought us the tail fin and the Dagmar bumpers can be this cutting edge, but also reassuring that Cadillac, with its history of daring design still has what it takes to create something unique and beautiful. Cadillac is far from dead.
Kia Optima – Peter Schreyer
Other car makers are following the lead set by Cadillac. Kia has redesigned its entire lineup with cars based on the “Tiger Nose” developed by Peter Schreyer. Ford has introduced designs that are both cutting edge and practical. The new Ford grille, based on the Aston Martin has transformed cars like the Fiesta and Fusion from econo-boxes into quasi sports cars. Though it is hard to predict the future, I hope many more automakers start to deliver on the promises made by concept cars. The days of the boring blob needs to end. Cars will sell better if they are designed to inspire as well as to transport. Here then are some of my favorite concept cars:
Alfa Romeo Scighera – ItalDesign/Giugiaro
This fully functional concept car of the future is named after the Milanese word for Fog. The hood is styled after the shield on the grille, and the rear area is a 2-piece glass unit designed to show off the engine bay. Gull wing doors and a unique headlight treatment accent beautiful lines that can only belong on an Alfa.
Cadillac Sixteen – General Motors Advanced Design
The Cadillac Sixteen was astonishing when it was first introduced. It sports a V16 engine with 1,000 horsepower and harkens back to the Cadillac’s of the 1930’s. The car features a power operated dual hood opening, hinged at the center spine, as well as an all glass roof.
Ferrari P4/5 – Pininfarina
Originally created as a one-off design for American collector James Glickenhaus, it is said that three examples will be built by an American company. Based on the Ferrari 330 P3/4 race car, it reportedly cost $4 million USD to build. Considering he has already received an offer of $40 million from a member of the Saudi royal family, it seems like a good deal. Glickenhaus is already planning a successor to this car, called the P33.
Mazda Nagare – Laurens van den Acker
Introduced in 2006, the Nagare is an exercise in natural and organic car design. The name Nagare means “flow” and was the predecessor of the Hakaze concept car. Besides the fluid seamless form of the body, the car features two double-length doors that open forward and spread from the cabin like the wings of a butterfly.
Acura 2+1 – Leon Paz
This concept car sports a multi-faceted design language described as “modern baroque-fashion” and was intended on being a gateway car for the new NSX. The car features a glass roof, see-through engine bay, as well as a “predator” styled rear end. Built using a new family of plastics designed to be better and stronger than fiberglass, it is a collection of cool and frightening ideas. The hood is sealed, and cannot be opened by the owner. It is scheduled to have a single yearly maintenance visit, which will include servicing the engine (protected with nanoil, or nanosized beads) as well as replacing the interior fabric with something more fashionable. Weird, but I still want one.
Cadillac Aera – General Motors Advanced Design
Winner of the 2010 LA Design Challenge, this “Batmobile” is the strangest car on our list. Basically, it is Cadillac’s version of the Ariel Atom on steroids. The frame uses a 3-D lattice mono-formed design found in the grouping of bubbles in nature and is essentially “grown” into a single part lattice structure. It uses compressed air to serve as an engine, and the same pressurized air cells found in the airbags of the NASA Mars Rover. Batman should drive this car.
Lexus LF LC / LF NF – Calty Design Research, Ian Cartabiano/Edward Lee
Lexus is the company that brought us the “Worst Car Ever Made,” the SC 430. To make up for it, they also created the LF, probably one of the best hypercars ever made. The LF was a gizmo laden space ship capable of amazing speed and the absolute best sound ever produced by an exhaust system. Styling was never its strong suit, looking more like a villain from “Mighty Morphing Power Rangers” than a car. Now the new version is straight from the aliens of “Independence Day.” The new spindle grille is awesome, and the intricate flowing form is almost alien. The inspiration was the leaf of a tree, and the result is just mind blowing. The same group created the LF NF concept, a hyper-SUV that is as stunning as it is strange.
Mercedes Benz AMG Vision Grand Turismo – Advanced Design, Daimler AG/Polyphony
This is what a car should be, and what every designer wants to create. Stunning from every angle, this 1,000 horsepower monster was originally designed for the video game Grand Turismo 6. It became a real-life concept for the Los Angeles International Auto show, and left the crowd and auto pundits breathless. The Vision recalls the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow race cars of the 1930’s with a grill like the 1952 300SL race car. That grille is one of the best parts, and should be on every car made. It sports individual LED lights that can create shapes and effects. Gull wing doors, full steel wheel covers, no rear windows, and a tail section composed of 7 exhaust pipes makes this the coolest car since the Citroen GT concept. Why can’t we have cars like this in real life?
Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photos Courtesy of Allcarcentral.com, gtaforums.com, Cadillac.com, thefabweb.com, nevseoboi.com.ua, carbodydesign.com, Houston-imports.com, cartype.com, topgear.com, autoevolution.com, lexus.com, forbes.com, diseno-art.com