Concept car: A proof of new upcoming style

Updated Dec 16, 2020 | Same topic: Technical Car Terms to Know

Aside from showing off, car manufacturers have other reasons why they build concept cars.

1. Concept cars: Introduction and Definition

Have you ever been to a car show? If yes you will have definitely notices all the major auto brands displaying their new and updated line of models for the world to see. Some might even have good deals going on for specific models. And most will definitely have those cute car show girls standing beside their cars. Cool yeah?

A pic of the concept car at 2019 new york auto show

Concept cars are displayed at the New York Auto Show

Once in a while, these car manufacturers will want to show off their latest and greatest in terms of technologies and rather than not, actually, go spoiled with their designs. And to be defined: They are a concept car.

A concept car, or otherwise known by some as a prototype, is a car made by a car manufacturer somewhat like a proof of concept. Something to display to their potential customers (and investors) what they can do in terms of developing and implementing technologies and of course to come up new styling.

These concept cars are also often used in order to test the reactions of the aforementioned consumers and investors. From there the auto company can then decide if to produce a mass production version.

So there you have it. In this article, will reveal the reasons why car companies make concept cars. But let us dive deeper into the idea behind it yeah? After all, car enthusiasts are nerds who like to know anything and everything about cars.

2. Concept cars: A little bit of history 

One of the earliest vehicle to fit the description of “concept car” is Buick’s Y-Job back in 1938. It was design by Harley J. Earl a designer and later Vice President of General Motors who is now credited as the inventor of the idea of the concept car.

As for the car itself, the Y-job was very radical at the time it was shown to the public and since that time its design and some of its technologies were used with Buick cars specifically with overall shape and styling until the 1950s and the vertical waterfall grille until this present day.

A picture of the Buick Y-Job

The Y-Job is the first concept car

During the 1970s, Lancia, the Italian car company is known for their compact, speedy cars and their notable victories in the World Rally Championship came up with the very futuristic Stratos Zero. A 1.6 Liter V4 powered head-turner of a vehicle shaped like a wedge of cheese. A very aerodynamic, very cool wedge of cheese.

A picture of the Lancia Stratos Zero

The Lancia Stratos Zero concept is a stylish, wedge-shaped vehicle powered by the rarely used V4 engine

For a more modern and notable concept car, let’s take a look at the Honda Urban EV which is a very compact, city roundabout which was introduced at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show. Despite being slated for a rather mundane responsibility, the concept car has a very appealing retro-futuristic design which has no sharp angles at all.

honda urban EV concept 2017

Honda Urban EV is a very compact and city roundabout

In looking at these concept cars, one can say that it’s not only a way for companies to gauge the reaction of consumers. But rather in a more highbrow way of going about it; concept cars are the representation of that particular time’s automotive design language and technologies.

Assuming that it didn’t get junked or hidden away, viewing a concept car at the museum is a fun and very educational way of learning about the trends in auto manufacturing and consumer tastes at a particular time.

>>> More articles about new concept cars that have introduced lately: 

3. Concept cars: The bad eggs

It’s not, however, all rainbows and butterflies in life and especially in the automotive business. Like in real life, there are bad eggs out there that didn’t quite catch on and was practically ignored by people who saw it.

Take for example the very weird looking Dodge Super 8 Hemi which was a mash of a LOT of designs crammed into a single vehicle. It had that Dodge crosshair grille only too large for its size, it had suicide doors, and a 50’s style windshield which somehow looked like it curved forward while also curving backward. The only good thing about it was that it had a powerful Hemi engine, that’s it.

A picture of the Dodge Super 8 Hemi

Too much design cues and a jumbled design language will make for an ugly car

Another really bad egg was the 1957 Aurora Safety car which had the wackiest tech ever. Invented by a Catholic priest by the name of Alfred A. Juliano, the car is said to be a dent, rust, and corrosion proof. 

It also had a TON of movable parts like its interior metal shades, those potentially dangerous onboard hydraulic jacks to assist in tire changing, a collapsible steering column and that weird front end of the car designed to scoop up pedestrians without injury. Pretty novel ideas but the car ended up too ugly and too expensive.

A picture of the Aurora Safety Car

The Aurora Safety Car looks like it wants to eat pedestrians

>>> Related: Different types of car doors from regular to the unusual

4. Concept cars: The Inception of a dream

If it’s not too obvious yet, car companies indeed spend million in developing and producing these concept cars. Not to mention all those man-hours sacrificed by fabricators, engineers, sculptors, artists all to get a reaction out of auto show attendees.

By why? To solidify their ideas and dreams of course!

As Iwao Koizumi, Mazda’s chief designer said, the concept car is a dream that they’d want to become real one day. Moreover, by way of the concept car, they are able to show other people their dreams and what they would want to create in the future.

From a business standpoint that is indeed very important as it would definitely help in producing a future design language, they’d want to follow.

A picture of the Mazda Vision Concept

Who wouldn't want to see the Mazda Vision Concept made into a production car? So sexy

As such, there are cases where people liked the concept so much that the company had to produce it like what had happened to the TT concept which, due to public response became the Audi TT, a scarily fast yet fun 2-door sports coupe or roadster produced from 1998 to the present time.

>>> Also check out: Top 3 special cars with extraordinary purposes

Making concept cars is also said to be a nice break from the normal projects which are usually driven by limitations in terms of cost, emissions and what not. Because when engineers and designers are tasked to create concept vehicles, they can ignore all these and can take a step back and breathe away from pesky restrictions and the like.

So all in all, concept cars are an integral part of the automotive industry used to gauge public response, push design forward and sometimes even to shift the brand.

Moreover, a concept car is the solid affirmation of a car company’s dreams and aspirations, a solid proof of their concept for the masses to look at and from which can tell them what to expect from a company in the future.

>>> Click to catch latest car news worldwide

Cesar G.B. Miguel

Cesar G.B. Miguel


Cesar Guiderone B. Miguel was born and raised in Iligan City, Lanao Del Norte. He graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English degree from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology. He previously worked as a freelance writer for various websites, as a member of the Iligan City Disaster Risk Reduction Management's training staff, and as a medical sales representative.


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