History's Weirdest Concept Cars

Concept cars exist at the apex point where dreams and technology meet. Whether we crave for clean power, extreme performance or just plain weird shapes, we have the perfect prototype to thank for pointing us toward the undecided future. And while not all prototypes transform into production cars, the automotive wishes of yesteryear often influence the automotive realities of today. With the help of some carefully carried brainstorming sessions, we've put together a list of what we believe are some of the most insane concept cars in the history of... well, concept cars: Dymaxion
Designed and constructed by none other than the legendary Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller, discoverer of “buckyballs” and “buckytubes” among others, the Dymaxion was meant to make the world of personal transportation a better place. How, do you ask? Well, it achieved over 30 mpg, could carry up to eleven people at a reasonable speed and was among the first minivans ever.

Oh, and remember this was happening in 1933. Probably because of its sheer awesomeness, the car was never mass produced. It was never lightly produced either, the pictured example being the only one ever built.

Phantom Corsair

This UFO-shaped car comes from the late 1930s. Built in 1938 on a Cord 810 chassis means that it was a front-wheel drive V8 with 190 hp. The ergonomically-challenged interior was a bit cramped considering the car's overall size, but it could still seat six passengers in decent comfort.

Its slippery shape and decently-powerful engine managed to give the Corsair a top speed of up to 115 mph (185 km/h), enough for any bystander to think they have just witnessed a black UFO hovering past them.

The amazing Luke-I-am-your-father body was jointly designed by Rust Heinz (of the Heinz Company) and Maurice Schwartz (of the Bohman & Schwartz coachbuilding company). Too bad there was only one ever made, even though a limited production had been planned.

Aurora Safety Car

The Aurora Safety Car was never used to lap a circuit in front of a bunch of race cars in its entire life. We agree, this is probably the ugliest car of all time, but its looks and name are there for a reason. That reason is safety (surprise-surprise, huh?). A one-man effort, the Aurora was dreamed by a catholic priest, Father Alfred A. Juliano, who apparently was also a car buff. Apart form his questionable tastes in car design, Father Juliano built what some would say looks like a devil's spawn on a Buick platform.

It was to sport either a Chrysler, Cadillac, or a Lincoln engine. With the hope in mind to encourage car makers in building safer cars for both drivers and pedestrians, Father Juliano included some pretty nutty safety features. For example, the seats could be swiveled rearwards in case of an impeding accident, all the seats had safety belts (the year was 1957, mind you), hydraulic jacks for easier service and it had crumple zones all around the cockpit.

Bertone Alfa Romeo BAT 5,6 and 7

Though somehow docile looking when compared to some of today's concept cars, these Bertone-designed BAT(mobiles) cars came as a bit of a revolution in the early fifties. All three cars were penned for Alfa Romeo, their major aim being to create aerodynamic models that could put the cars' power to good use. Eventually they managed to achieve a wind resistance better than most of today's so-called streamlined cars (Toyota's Prius comes to mind).

They were also completely an dutterly drop dead gorgeous, plus becoming predecessors (design wise) to Batman's Batmobiles that followed. Another BAT concept, the BAT 11, was made by Bertone in 2008, more than 50 years after the originals.

Ford Nucleon

Let's see now, it's a Ford, it has a freaking nuclear reactor in the trunk and it looks like it came from a Jetsons episode where it was used to carry palettes from the future. Apart from the weird looking design, its most obvious feature is its plutonium powered “engine”, which gives us a fascinating window into the mindset of post-war thinking.

The 3/8 sized concept was born in an era where it was believed that everything in the future will be powered by nuclear power, from spaceships to Swatch wristwatches. Ford engineers said that a production version of the car could travel about 5000 miles (8000 kilometers) between fill-ups, which was still not a good enough reason to risk a neighborhood fallout after a minor fender bender.

Mercedes F300 LifeJet

People have apparently always attempted to unite the eons-old sayings of “two-wheels cool four-wheels-boring” by merging the automobile and the motorbike. Unfortunately, this usually resulted in dreadful-looking compromise: the sidecar. Though there have been many tries before and after it, the Mercedes-Benz F300 LifeJet stands out as the most imaginative and oddly attractive attempt.

Despite taking some of the danger (aka coolness) out of two-wheel machines, this peculiar-looking three-wheeler manages to massage that “certain gland” just by taking a few 90 degree turns and making the driver and/or passenger to feel like being in a roller-coaster ride.

Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car

Yes, we know it's the second Mercedes-Benz on out list, but we just couldn't resist. When looking to design a car after a creature, a fish to be more exact, you think Mercedes would have looked to something more vicious-looking, something like a tiger shark, a barracuda or even a fat piranha.

But you would be wrong. Those wacky Germans chose to design a car after the Boxfish. Even though you'd never tell by looking at it, it has a Cd of only 0.19. So it's not only aerodynamic, but also highly hydrodynamic.

As an extra, it's hydrogen fuel cell “engine” emits no harmful gases into the atmosphere, so the real Boxfishes won't be hurt by its existence. Its interior structure is also based on the Boxfish' skeleton, which can only make us wonder if a crash-test would turn it into a pile of sushi remains.

BMW GINA Light Visionary Model

A shape-shifting car with a body made of cloth. Can we get much more weirder than that? The one and only Chris Bangle says this odd concept car "helps to tap into formerly inconceivable, innovative potential". Umm... right. The head of design at BMW and his team had actually built the vehicle in 2002 on a Z8 chassis but kept it under wraps (more cloth?!?) for its 2008 unveil. Accompanying the weird shape is its even more weird (for a car) name.

Apparently, GINA isn't Bangle's high-school sweetheart, but an acronym for “Geometry and functions In 'N' Adaptions”. The fabric skin surrounding the exterior of the cars is polyurethane-coated Lycra (GINA wears Lycras!) and its stretched over an aluminium frame controlled by electro-hydraulic actuators which allow the driver to change the shape of the body and even make the headlights wink at you as you pass by. Word.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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