Car Information

Concept Cars

Invention, creation, design – they all start with a vision, and in the automotive industry, that vision becomes the concept car. In the concept car, new ideas in form and function are brought into being, with those deemed most interesting making the long journey from sketch to working model.

A good concept car can have far reaching affects on design in the automotive industry, as is demonstrated by noting the features of one of the earliest concept cars, the Y Job, created for Buick by the great car designer Harley Earl, who drove it himself for a few years. The Y Job influenced the design of cars for years to come, well into the 1940’s and 1950’s, and included features that are commonplace today, like electric windows, headlights that fold in and non-manual convertible tops that could be attractively concealed when put down.

For many years, car shows were the best means of bringing the concept car to public view, a means of testing the waters and determining if certain styles and features – those that were user friendly and financially feasible for mainstream markets — would be popular enough with the public to warrant mass-production. During most of the 1950’s, for example, General Motors sponsored a traveling concept car show, called the Motorama, from which sprung such models types as the Nomad and the Corvette.

Many concept cars never make it into mass production, as they are more about illustrating possibilities for the future, a sort of automotive wish list. Sometimes they feature ideas that must await the technological advances to support them. Others, sort of like the gowns worn by runway models in Paris and Milan are hopelessly impractical for every day use, and are simply meant to influence certain aspects of more mainstream offerings.

Although sometimes it takes years, even decades, before the consumer is able to experience the benefits, the concept car and those who create them make valuable contributions to the automotive industry. Their influence is found in the most aesthetically pleasing and mechanically pleasurable aspects of the cars we use and enjoy daily.

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