Automakers’ concept cars are always ahead of their time, with futuristic and extravagant designs that leave everyone surprised but impressed. Engineers pull out all the stops to design concept cars for the future of their brand. As a result, the concepts are superior and unique in every way. Their ridiculous appearance is just the tip of the iceberg, as they feature technology and features that have never been probed. That’s why concepts irritate the automotive world so much, even though they rarely go into productionor undergo drastic changes if they do.
However, the pre-production stage is where all the fun is and where the engineers and designers do most of their flexing. Some concept cars come and go and fade into oblivion, but there are some that surprise everyone, because of their features, their looks, or both. In that vein, here are 10 cars and concepts that surprised everyone.
10/10 Jaguar Mark XXI
It was designer Chris Pollard who created and presented the Jaguar Mark XXI in 2009. The concept was an example of blending luxury and eco-tech, and well, it sure looked weird. The whole design of the car was leaf-shaped.
The exterior had photovoltaic panels, resembling leaves, which could automatically change position depending on the position of the sun. These panels loaded the car when stationary, and of course the interior was as luxurious as possible. The Mark XXI was a Jaguar, after all.
9/10 Alfa Romeo Caimano
World renowned designer Giorgetto Giugiaro was the man behind the Alfa Romeo’s Caimano concept in 1971. He equipped this concept car with a 1.2-liter flat-four engine that it took over from the Alfa Romeo Boxer. This design was as unique in 1971 as it is today.
The Caimano featured a cylindrical instrument panel, pop-up headlights, and two small windows carved into the front doors of this two-door concept. Even the windshield was extremely unique, extending from the top of the bonnet down to the very center of the roof, with the Caimano’s doors being integrated into the roof panel itself.
8/10 Bentley Hunaudiere
Bentley presented the Hunaudières concept just before the turn of the century in 1999, naming the car after the Le Mans straight. When the VW group took over Bentley, they decided to make the brand more popular, and the Hunaudières was their first step in that direction.
A modified engine produced 623 horsepower and 560 lb-ft of torque, numbers that are still very impressive, let alone 23 years ago. Unfortunately, the concept car was never produced. There are many ways the Mulsanne could have changed Bentley’s brand image for the new century, but we’ll never know for sure now.
7/10 Lamborghini Terzo Millennio
MIT and Lamborghini partnered for three long years, and the result of that partnership was the Lamborghini Terzo Millennio. Lamborghini said the Terzo Millennio was the supercar of the sustainable futurebuilt on four pillars.
These four pillars of the Terzo Millennio are energy, innovation in materials, powertrain and vehicle architecture, and sound and emotion. The Italian brand sees the Terzo as the car of the third millennium. Although fully electric, the Terzo Millennio does not use batteries but instead uses supercapacitors in its four electric units. The exterior design is as extravagant as Lamborghini gets, of course, with the unique carbon fiber shell capable of self-healing.
6/10 Essentia Genesis
Hyundai isn’t a name you usually associate with luxury, but the brand’s luxury division has surprised the world with its 21st century grand tourer concept, the Genesis Essentia. Unveiled four years ago, the Essentia is an all-electric concept, with an unprecedented design in the history of Hyundai or Genesis.
Genesis was able to quote a 3 second 0-60 time for the Essentia, and today the concept is closer than ever to finally materialize in its production phase. Only time will tell if the Genesis Essentia can retain all of its concept traits and if the market will accept this EV grand tourer.
5/10 BMW Lovos
German designer Anne Forschner trained at BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda before creating the BMW Lovos concept. An extremely extravagant and futuristic BMW concept, the Lovos stood for Lifestyle of Voluntary Simplicity.
It was a green car concept, and Forschner intended to urge people to think and accept things outside the box. The BMW Lovos used 260 interchangeable and identical ladders, all of which acted like small solar panels when closed. The same scales functioned as brakes for the Lovos, and even the wheels themselves were made of 12 scales each.
4/10 Mazda Nagare
In 2006, Mazda unveiled its Nagare concept at the los angeles auto show, which takes its name from the Japanese word for “flow.” The Nagare’s lead designer said the concept car celebrated “proportions and surface language”. True to its name, the Nagare’s body was surprisingly smooth.
The lines of the Mazda Nagare flowed like liquid over its unibody design and massive wheels filled the wheel arches. Even the windshield flowed from front to back, making up the Nagare’s roof and windows. The Nagare ran on Mazda’s hydrogen rotary engine.
3/10 Mercedes-Benz F 015
Mercedes-Benz created the F 015 more as a research car than a concept car, but it’s still a design that’s wildly unlike anything the brand has ever done. Revealed in 2015, the F 105 was an autonomous concept car capable of detecting pedestrians using lasers behind the logo.
The silver arrows of the F 105 were spotlights too, and with twin rear suicide doors and all-metal windows, the Mercedes-Benz F 105 was quite an endearing concept. Being Mercedes, the brand has equipped it with a lot of luxury inside, with elegant use of aluminum, leather and wood in the cabin.
2/10 Gina BMW
Fourteen years have passed since the revelation of the BMW Gina roadster, and it’s still as amazing a technological marvel as it was then. The Gina concept car changed shape depending on its surroundings and speeds. The name Gina actually stood for “Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations”.
The design team covered the Gina with a polyurethane coated Spandex, which was solid, translucent, elastic and impermeable. This concept car’s interior devices, like the steering wheel itself, were inside the center console and only popped out when the car was started.
1/10 Cadillac World Thorium Fuel
The Cadillac WTF is a pretty fitting name for what is such a bonkers concept car. Short for World Thorium Fuel, Cadillac unveiled this concept in 2009, and it was not the battery or the hydrogen, but rather the nuclear energy. Yes, you read that right. Another surprisingly ridiculous claim from Cadillac was that the WTF could achieve a lifespan of 100 years without maintenance!
Thorium is a radioactive material and was the supposed fuel behind the WTF concept. To make things even more ridiculous, each wheel of the Cadillac WTF was made up of six small wheels, each with its own motor. This meant that the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel actually had 24 wheels and 24 separate motors. By far one of the most surprising and insane concepts ever presented, the Cadillac WTF naturally never came to fruition.