Few things inspire the imagination more than innovative car design. After all, our love affair with cars dates back to the early 20th century when they first became widely available to consumers. An ever evolving and complex mode of transportation that symbolizes everything from freedom, expansion and adventure to creativity, innovation and environmental devastation. In this article, we celebrate some of the most intriguing attempts at car design that never quite made it to mass production, but nonetheless deserve our attention for their unique aesthetic and ability to captivate our imagination.
1. Phantom Corsair
Designed by Rust Heinz, this 1938 Phantom Corsair sports push-button operated doors (without handles) and capable of seating six. This is the only known prototype in existence.
2. Pontiac “Ghost Car”
First unveiled at GM’s “Highways and Horizons” pavilion during the 1939-40 World’s Fair, the Pontiac “Ghost Car” was designed to showcase chemical company Rohm & Haas’ invention of a new material called Plexiglas. The “Ghost Car” comes with a chromed dashboard and white tires for a truly unique and never since replicated exterior body.
3. L’Oeuf Electrique (Electric Egg)
Designed by a former art student turned engineer Paul Arzens, the L’Oeuf Electrique or Electric Egg is a three-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle with a range of about 63 miles and a top speed of about 40 mph. First put on display in 1942, the Electric Egg is a pioneering cursor to modern day electric vehicle technology.
4. TASCO car prototype
Inspired by aviation technology following WWII, designer Gordon Buehrig created the TASCO prototype concept car that featured the first ever removable T-top design. Check out this YouTube video that provides more views and information on this trippy vehicle.
With a top air-cruising speed of 100 mph, aircraft designer Moulton Taylor’s Aerocar was the first to get federal recognition and certification as an airplane and a vehicle. Taylor built four pre-production models that included a rear propeller and wings that folded up for towing on the road. Sadly, it never caught on for lack of funding.
6. GM Firebird III
The GM Firebird III is perhaps the closest car design ever made that resembles a sky piercing jet than a road vehicle. And who wouldn’t be impressed knowing that the Firebird III has a uni-control steering joystick that takes the place of a traditional steering wheel, throttle, shift lever and brake. I want.
7. Aston Martin Bulldog
Unveiled in 1980, the Aston Martin bulldog’s 5.3 liter V8 engine helped it reach speeds in excess of 200 mph. Its unique wedge design was meant to set the tone for high performance luxury vehicles for the new decade.
8. VW Machimoto
Of all the cars featured in this article, I find this to be the most bizarre, a head scratching mashup of car and motorcycle design. Developed by VW’s Italdesign studio in Italy, passengers sit in rows of motorcycle-styled seats each with available handles for support. Definitely take a gander at this YouTube video that shows the VW Machimoto in action.
Okay, this is one of two exceptions to our list, as this “car” was never actually brought to life. Still, eRinGo is one helluva concept car that screams far-out cool. First announced in 2009, the eRinGo would be a “three-wheeled, two-seat design that would balance on a single tread or utilize two extra wheels on either side for stability on turns.”
10. Mercedes Hexawheel
Iranian designer Siyamak Rouhi Dehkordi designed this concept truck/car to handle a variety of urban and off-road obstacles and uneven surfaces.
As you can see, this beast is designed to handle just about any obstruction.