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11 of the Most Significant Concept Cars in History

 Concept cars offer automotive designers the chance to go wild. They are also a fantastic way for an auto manufacturer to gauge public reaction to a design direction they may or may not choose to take, as well as being an outright showcase for a manufacturer’s innovation and technological capability. Here are 11 of the most important concept cars in history:
 
 
1. Pierre Selmersheim's Car-House (1896)
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Before cars, there was the horse and carriage, but that didn’t deter would-be inventors from coming up with some wacky creations at the tail-end of the 19th Century. In 1896, Paris’ famous “Le Louvre” department store started a competition for car designers, and the design you see in the drawing above, by Pierre Selmersheim, was the winner. This is considered by many to be the first concept car in history.
2. Buick Y-Job (1938)
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This ’38 Buick is the first concept car ever to be actually fashioned out of metal, as Pierre Selmersheim’s 1896 effort never got built. It was driven by Harley Earl, the man who designed it, for 13 years before he upgraded to a ’51 Buick LeSabre. The Y-Job had a massive influence on American car design that lasted well into the 1950s. What’s more, it featured technological innovations far ahead of its time, such as hidden headlamps, electric windows, and a power convertible roof.
3. Lincoln Futura Concept aka. Batmobile (1954)
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If you remember the 1960s Batman TV series, you’ll remember Adam West’s Batmobile. But did you know that the car started off life as the one-off Lincoln Futura concept car? It cost the Ford Motor Company some $2.2 million in today’s money to make, but it was sold to car customizer George Barris, who turned it into the Batmobile immortalized on our screens. Cues from the Futura’s original design made it onto the 1960 Ford Thunderbird, and the headlamps from the concept influenced the shape of Lincolns for years after.
4. Ford Mustang I (1962)
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Although this little roadster doesn’t look like much of a muscle car, it actually represents the “Genesis” moment for Ford’s iconic Mustang model. The mid-engined, two-seater concept set the proportions and name for all the future production Mustangs that followed it. It was also Ford’s way of announcing to the wider auto industry that it was back, with outright performance on its mind.
5. Porsche 695 aka. T7 (1961)
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The Porsche 911 is one of the most recognizable cars in the world, with its basic design remaining unchanged for more than five decades. This particular concept car marks the transition point between the “bathtub” design Porsches of the 1950s, to the 911 shape known and loved the world over today. Although the front end looks like the early 901, the back end is significantly different. The concept car is on display at Porsche’s heritage museum.
 
6. Lamborghini Marzal (1967)
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Marcello Gandini, of Italy’s Bertone design house, was responsible for the curious concept, which featured vast swathes of exposed glass and was the very first Lamborghini to sport the signature wedge shape that came to be synonymous with the Italian marque over the decades. In fact, Gandini was the man who designed the iconic Lamborghini Miura, Countach, and Diablo models. When the Marzal was unveiled at the 1967 Geneva Motor Shows, jaws dropped thanks to its see-through gullwing doors and its louvered rear window.
7. Dodge Deora Custom Pickup Truck (1967)
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This custom pickup truck was built for the 1967 Detroit Autorama. It’s based in a 1965 Dodge A100, with the back hatch of a ‘60s Ford station wagon serving as the windshield and front end. Although it’s essentially a custom car rather than a pickup truck, it has the honor of being the most widely produced car that never made it into production. How? Hot Wheels picked it to be part of the very first line-up of toy cars that it ever created.
8. Volvo VESC (1972)
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Volvo has a reputation for making some of the safest cars in the world, and this was the car that started it all off for the Swedish manufacturer. The VESC, or Volvo Experimental Safety Car, included innovations such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, a collapsible steering wheel, rollover protection, crumple zones, and automatic seatbelts. These safety features are all things we take for granted on modern cars, so just consider for a moment that this car was built some 45 years ago.
9. Chevrolet Aerovette (1973) 
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The Aerovette concept could have seen the iconic Chevrolet Corvette model take a completely different direction in its development. If the concept had been earmarked for production when it was made, it could easily have meant that all subsequent Corvettes could have had an engine in the middle, rather than in the front. Rumor has it that Chevrolet is currently testing a mid-engined Corvette prototype, so the Aerovette may yet have its way, albeit some 40 years after it first broke cover…
10. Volkswagen Concept One (1994)
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Resplendent in pastel yellow, the Concept One was the car that eventually became the new Beetle (pictured above). In contrast to the other cars in this list, very little was changed from concept to production car. It was also a highly significant concept car because it was the very first to draw inspiration from a previous generation of cars – something that’s done regularly in the present-day auto industry.
11. Fisker Karma Concept (2007)
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Before Elon Musk and his fledgling Tesla, Inc. car company, there was Henrik Fisker. The Karma concept that you see pictured here broke cover a full two years before Tesla’s Model S did, and it was the very first luxury plug-in hybrid ever to go on sale. Even cooler is the fact that the production car was little changed from the concept you see here.
 
Content Source: DriveTribe 
Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
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