A concept car is a one-off vehicle produced to showcase new ideas in car design. This creation can include a unique style of bodywork, new materials, or a new type of technology. Although you are unlikely to drive a concept car, it is an integral part of the automotive design process, helping to refine and set the design direction of a brand’s next generation of production vehicles.
Concept cars were once known as dream cars. The Buick Y-Job, designed by Harley Earl in 1938, is generally regarded as the first concept car. Features of the Y-Job, such as the body shape and wraparound bumpers, can be seen in later Buick models. Since then, many concept cars have come and gone, but some have inspired the car you drive today, just as the Y-Job did.
Very few concept cars ever go directly into production, and many are not even drivable. In some ways, concept cars are the haute couture of the automotive industry.
One concept car you may be familiar with is the 1955 Lincoln Futura, later customized and used as the Batmobile in the “Batman” TV series (1966-1968). However, other concept cars serve more practical purposes.
Car manufacturers are continually looking for ways to get ahead of the competition and produce a car that will sell well. Developing new ideas is crucial to most industries, and the automotive industry is no exception. The concept car allows manufacturers to test new ideas and determine what consumers want. Whether or not you are interested in automotive design, the vehicle you drive today is part of that evolution.