To a car company, the best concept cars are the ones that offer a real view into the company's future, so marketing types can gauge public opinion. To us, however, the best concept cars are the ones that throw all convention to the wind and become more of an artistic or scientific exercise. The 11 cars here are exactly that.
Some of them you've even seen thousands of times...but you've probably never heard of them.
1. Dodge Deora
In 1965, a couple of brothers modified a Dodge pickup for the Detroit Autorama custom car show. If it looks familiar to you, it's because it went on to be one of the most famous Hot Wheels cars of all time.
2. Pontiac Firebird Type K Wagon
In the late 1970s, Pontiac experimented with building a Kammback, where the rear is cut off abruptly in the name of aerodynamic efficiency. Naturally, they chose the Firebird as the car to play with, and wound up having two prototypes built by the legendary Pininfarina. Ultimately, the cost skyrocketed until it bordered on Ferrari territory, so the project was scrapped.
3. Lincoln Futura
The Futura was a very successful show car for Lincoln in the mid-1950s, but its greatest fame was in the 1960s. Given a very short window to design and build the original Batmobile, customs legend George Barris took the only Futura, made only a few changes to it, and Zap! Batmobile.
4. Ford Gyron
Ford never intended to build this two-wheeled, inline-seated car that was gyroscopically balanced. Kind of a theme of the designer's life: Alex Tremulis also designed the amazing Tucker 48 and, as legend has it, came up with the concept of flying saucers as part of a project for the Air Force.
5. Alfa Romeo BAT 5
Over the years, Alfa Romeo has made four aerodynamic concepts to test what could be done. They were called Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica. They're all gorgeous, but BAT 5 was the original.
6. Toyota CX-80
Designed to be ultra light and super-basic as a highly efficient urban family car, the CX-80 kinda looks like a Johnny Cab from Total Recall, doesn't it?
7. Ford La Tosca
Does this look like a rocket ship to you? Its design was handled by the same guy that did the aforementioned Gyron and the flying saucer. How could designs like this exist in the 1950s, yet people thought Marty McFly's DeLorean was a space ship?
8. Plymouth XNR
Originally designed in 1960, the XNR was more or less what a 1950s race car would look like if it were built for the street. Amazingly, it went far enough down the development pipeline that it was actually track-tested, before ultimately getting nixed for being too wild in design.
9. Ferrari 512s Modulo
From time to time, Pininfarina has designed some one-off concepts based on a Ferrari chassis. For this, they took a 550 hp Can Am race car and gave it the sexy body you see here (the car, we're talking about the car). It actually worked—3.1 seconds to 60 mph and a top end of over 220 mph were amazing for 1970, but ultimately there was just no way a car like this was going to be produced.
10. Ford X2000
The X2000 was another one by Alex Tremulis. Unlike some of his others, Ford pulled the plug after one look at the clay model. Forty years later, a custom car builder actually brought one to life, and it's been going to shows ever since. You've got to wonder, though, what kind of wonderful and frightening world we'd live in if it were designed by this guy.
11. Ferrari Shooting Brake
Love it or hate it, over the years, a few patrons have opted to convert their Ferraris into a shooting brake. Never on a car so classic as this, though, except for the infamous 250 GT SWB Breadvan race car.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He's touched one of these concepts in real life, and knows for a fact that the passenger side window crank is broken. He didn't do it.