The raddest thing about concepts cars is that all bets are off. Designers don’t need to worry about safety standards, practicality, reliability, weather, parking, door handles, engines – anything at all, really. They just reach into their childhood dreams and create pure fantasy with no need for restraint. And that lack of restraint is key here, as we present you with the top ten craziest concept cars ever.
10. Volvo Tandem Car
The Tandem Car, created by Volvo's Monitoring & Concept Center, looks like straight off the set of THX1138, but Volvo insists this car is coming to the real world in just a few years. The Tandem’s long and narrow design is largely due to the fighter jet-style seating layout where the passenger sits behind the driver, and the idea is that this layout creates less drag and in turn promotes higher fuel economy. Apparently they want this thing on the road by 2010, but don’t hold your breath. I mean, some people still think the Prius is too weird looking.
9. Dodge M4S
Used in the 80s-static film, The Wraith, the M4S was a Dodge concept sport coupe that cost an estimated 1.5 million bucks to build back in 1984. It was the real deal though – the M4S stood for mid-engine 4 cylinder sport, and sport it had – that little inline 4 made over 400hp, and the car had a top speed of 194mph. And as you can see by this high intensity clip, the Wraith car was very much road-ready.
8. Mazda Taiki
This oddball made its first appearance at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show, and I can’t get its straight-up weird curves out of my head. Mazda says the concept's exterior lines are inspired by wind flowing through a Hagoromo, the "flowing robes that enable a celestial maiden to fly." I see.
Note to self: Mazda smokes crack.
7. Aurora Safety Car
If the Ugliest Cars list had included concepts, this surely would have found a spot in the list. Built off a Buick platform in the mid 1950s, the car’s ungainly proportions were born from the designer’s hope that car companies could create vehicles that were safer for both drivers and pedestrians. The designer, a priest by the name of Father Juliano, claims he was ruined by the financial burden of the project, due to a conspiracy by General Motors.
I’m thinking there might’ve been other factors involved.
6. Honda Fuya-jo
I’ll let Honda do the talking:
"The Fuya-jo rocks like a town that never sleeps and rides with the ease of a skateboard. Semi-standing seats are just right for happening street scenes where the music never stops. It has a steering wheel in the shape of a turntable and an instrument panel laid out like an MC's mixer. Everything here evokes the image of a futuristic all-night club."
…Or a coke binge hangover. Also, has anyone at Honda ever ridden a skateboard?
5. Suzuki Truck Designed by Luigi Colani
Sort of a cross between a catfish, a semi truck, and Doc Brown's locomotive at the end of Back to the Future III, this thing was obviously born of a nightmare, not a dream. Kind of a cool sci-fi approach, but definitely unsettling to look at, this was another vehicle where aerodynamics were paramount. Not sure how that giant green cab/gem thing and that bizarre front end are involved in that equation, though.
4. BMW Gina Concept
As we’ve said before, the Gina concept is “equal parts awesome and creepy.” Instead of using traditional sheet metal, the Gina concept has a skin-like fabric covering over a network of metal bars that create the shape of the car.
Since the fabric is flexible, the car’s actual shape can be altered by the bars underneath. It does give this car the strange effect of being some sort of animal. Also, when the headlights open – that’s the last thing you’ll see before Skynet takes over the world.
3. Dodge Tomahawk
Ok, it’s not a “car” per se, but the Tomahawk does share two important parts with cars. First off, Dodge decided to throw out the playbook and put the V10 engine out of a Dodge Viper in a motorcycle chassis. Yes, Dodge made this motorcycle concept with a 500hp engine out of a supercar.
The second feature it shares with cars is the four wheeled fully independent suspension it rides on. This 8500cc superbike will do 0-60 in about 2 seconds, literally.
Some might call this a suicide machine, but I say it’s more of a deathcycle.
2. GM's Firebird Jet-Powered Concept Cars
In the mid-1950s, America was fascinated by the idea of the future: a new age of jets, jet propulsion and alternative methods of locomotion in general. General Motor’s head of style design, Harvey Earl, had been smitten with aircraft design ever since he’d introduced tail fins on the 1948 Cadillac, after seeing a P38 fighter plane at a local air force base during World War II.
GM, like many other car companies, had been researching turbine engines for cars as far back as the 1930s. During WWII, GM’s aircraft division, Allison, had been given the contract to produce jet engines for the military en masse. With so much R&D behind the aircraft engines and a post-war interest in jet technology, they decided to see if they could merge the technologies, and showcased the Firebird I at the 1954 Motorama show, to massive fanfare. A rocket powered car? Hell yes.
The Firebird I was capable of hitting an absurdly-fast-for-the-time 230mph while shooting flames of expended rocket fuel out the afterburners at the back of the car at a temperature of around 1250 degrees Fahrenheit. No telling why this puppy never made it on to American highways.
1. Ford Nucleon
Part car, part nuclear reactor. That’s right kids! Back in 1958, Ford wanted to put a plutonium-powered sedan in every driveway! With promises of 5000 miles on a single charge and nothing but harmless nuclear fallout for emissions, the Nucleon had a lot going for it.
Powered by a small radioactive core instead of an internal combustion engine, the Nucleon represented the pinnacle of the Atomic Age fascination with nuclear power, and the notion of how it would totally be no big deal if someone in a Chevy Suburban rear-ended you in one of these babies. There goes the neighborhood!