A concept car is a car prototype made to showcase a concept, new styling, technology and more. They are often shown at motor shows to gauge customer reaction to new and radical designs which may or may not have a chance of being produced.
Concept cars rarely go into production directly; most undergo at least some changes before the design is finalized for the sake of practicality, safety and cost. Concept cars are often radical in engine or design:
- Some use non-traditional, exotic, or expensive materials, ranging from paper to carbon fiber to exotic alloys
- Others have unique layouts, such as gullwing doors, 3 or 6 (or more) wheels, or special abilities not usually found on cars.
Because of these often impractical or unprofitable leanings, many concept cars never get past scale models, or even drawings in computer design. Other more traditional concepts can be developed into fully drivable (operational) vehicles with a working drivetrain and accessories. The state of most concept cars lies somewhere in between and usually does not represent the final product.
Inoperative "mock-ups" are usually made of wax, clay, metal, fiberglass, plastic or a combination thereof.
If drivable, the drivetrain is often borrowed from a production vehicle from the same company, or may have defects and imperfections in design. They can also be quite refined, such as General Motors Corporation's Cadillac Sixteen .
After a concept car's useful life is over, the cars are usually destroyed. Some survive, however, either in a company's museum or hidden away in storage. One unused but operational concept car that languished for years in the North Hollywood, California shop of car customizer George Barris, Ford Motor Company's "Lincoln Futura" from 1954, received a new lease on life as the Batmobile in the Batman series that debuted in 1966 on the ABC Television Network.
Term Differentiation[edit | edit source]
Although the term concept car and show car are often used interchangably, they are now typically used to two different things. Concept cars are usually radical and design and unqiue; they are often designed as stand-alone studies or previews of upcoming production vehicles. Show cars are different, because they are regularly based on vehicles already in production. However, some grey area exists because of the varying degrees that concept cars and show cars are based on production vehicles. The Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show that is scheduled each November consists primarily of show cars that are modified by independent companies.
Some Concept Cars[edit | edit source]
- AMC Cavalier - a symmetrical show car with interchangeable body panels.
- Audi Avus Quattro.
- The Audi TT began life as a concept car.
- Buick Y-Job - designed in the late 1930s by the famous General Motors designer Harley Earl. Picture. This is considered by most to be the first concept car.
- BMW Z9 Concept - Many people consider the BMW 6 Series the production version of this coupé concept .
- Buick Enclave - A preview of the upcoming production version.
- Buick LeSabre - picture.
- Bugatti Rinspeed EB110 Cyan - a Bugatti EB110 tuned by the Swiss company Rinspeed.
- Cadillac Ciel - Announced in August 2011. 
- Cadillac Sixteen  .
- Castagna Imperial Landaulet.
- Chrysler Airflite.
- Chevrolet Mako Shark.
- Chrysler Ghia Plainsman.
- Chrysler Norseman - a car designed by Ghia of Italy, lost when the SS Andrea Doria sunk in 1956.
- Chrysler Patriot - used a massive flywheel .
- Corvette SS concept racer - Chevrolet's purpose-built racer that was sent to compete in Europe in 1957.
- Dodge Copperhead - a small roadster designed to be a "poor man's Viper".
- Dodge Kahuna - a minivan/SUV crossover built mainly for surfers.
- Dodge Sidewinder - a pickup truck unveiled at the SEMA convention in 1997
- Eliica - an 8-wheeled electric car.
- Ford GT90 - previously a spiritual successor to the Ford GT40; only one GT90 was produced.
- Ford MA concept car - a two-seater with a body made out of bamboo.
- General Motors Firebird - a series of gas turbine-powered cars.
- General Motors Ultralite.
- General Motors Hy-wire.
- Honda Dual Note Hybrid Concept
- The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Concept Car with Frank Gehry .
- Mercedes-Benz F200 Imagination
- Mercedes-Benz F300 Life Jet
- Mercedes-Benz F400 Carving
- Mercedes-Benz F500 Mind
- Opel Frogster - a 2002 car capable of transforming into 3 different body styles with a built-in PDA.
- Pontiac Bonneville Special - Pontiac's first 2-seater sports car that debuted at the 1954 Motorama
- Pontiac Club de Mer - Pontiac's all stainless steel sports car that debuted at the 1956 Motorama
- TATA Aria - A sports utility vehicle designed by TATA Motors,India.
- TATA Indiva - Another "multi-utility vehicle" designed by TATA Motors,India.
- Toyota Sportivo Coupe - The Sportivo Coupe was designed with help from Australian teenagers. - Pictures at "http://www.mybarina.com/gallery/Toyota-Sportivo-Coupe".
- Toyota Volta Hybrid Concept
- The upcoming Volkswagen Eos was originally a concept vehicle known as the Volkswagen Concept C.
- Volkswagen 1 Liter car Volkswagen fuel-saver concept - referring to a fuel consumption of 1 liter per 100 km (235 MPG (US)).
- Volkswagen New Beetle Ragster - The possible design for future New Beetles.
- Volkswagen GX3 - A three-wheeled roadster.
- Volvo YCC - the first car designed entirely by a team of women.
- 276 concept - german students project, shown at the AMI motorshow Leipzig 2006 www.276-concept.com