A spark of imagination


Mad for it.

It’s interesting but if you think about it, what other industry apart from car manufacturers, spend small fortunes in trying to give us a glimpse of the future. A sense of things to come. And even more intriguing is why do they do it?

With someone like Ferrari you can imagine that they are more than capable of turning the concept of today into the car of tomorrow. And probably will.

But if it’s Toyota or Nissan, you can create all the concept cars you like, but few of us will ever believe it likely that we’ll be able to buy one of their creations anytime soon. If indeed ever at all. Dream cars aren’t really what they do. They build Micras and Avensis’s.

concept 14

But back in the 50s and 60s, when car ownership really took off, but design was yet to catch up, manufacturers let their designers off the leash to show us what they might be bringing to a showroom in the not too distant future. As if.  Funny thing is though, it was U.S. manufacturers who really went wild and stretched their buyers imaginations to breaking point. And what seemed to inspire them more than anything else was the coming jet age.

Cue the 1959 Cadillac Cyclone. Sliding doors. Cockpit canopy (imagine that in the California sun) and radar!! No missiles though.

Following that jet theme, another concept caught our eye as it seemed somehow familiar, but not as the 1955 Lincoln Futura.

Ten years later, Lincoln’s Futura had been given a make over and now had two new owners…

Mind you that wasn’t the only bit of plagiarism that we spotted. The 1962 Ford Seattle-ite XXI, clearly inspired by the space race, was so advanced that one of the engine options was predicted to be a ‘compact nuclear device’!!! It also was slated to have a ‘travel planning computer’. While the Ford never made it into production, thank god (imagine all those compact nuclear devices glowing in the corner of your local breakers yard), it did clearly provide the inspiration for another one off.


Well I never. Surely not M’lady?


Well stars of stage and screen have always been good customers of car manufacturers. So much so that some even named their concepts after them. What Mr Hope thought of the 1950 Mercury Bob Hope Special isn’t down on record, and that may be a good thing too…


While the Americans were up, up and away and into the future, in Europe our dream cars it seem were far more modest in their aspirations. What a shame this successor of the MGTD didn’t see it into production?

Having said that, one manufacturer did manage to blow the doors off the competition with not just one, but three outlandish concepts. Of course it took Italian flair to pull it off. But the BAT Alfa Romeos, the first of which was released in 1953, took the design world by storm and still do.

concept 12


Designed by Bertone, they were not only stunning to look at, but aerodynamic masterpieces too boasting a drag coefficient of just 0.19! And the great thing is, that unlike the other concepts covered in the story, this idea didn’t die in the 50s. 60 years later, Alfa Romeo commissioned the next BAT car in the series. A spiritual successor. BAT 11.

concept 14

We suspect this one however won’t be seen being driven by a superhero anytime soon. Thank goodness for that.



Tags: Published on 30th April 2016