Concept cars are awesome. They’re a chance for designers to let their minds run wild and an opportunity for manufacturers to show us the cars we could be driving in the future. The only problem is that they hardly ever make it to production.
That’s precisely because concept cars tend to look like Wacky Racers, with no thought for practicality, legality or even basic Physics. But there are exceptions and, just sometimes, they do actually hit the production line.
The BMW i8 is one recent example that sticks in the mind. That was just another madcap idea, but the world loved it so much that BMW went ahead. So it is possible. Here, though, are 10 awesome low emissions concept cars that we wished we could have seen in real life.
GM XP-21 Firebird
General Motors created the Firebird 1 in 1953 and there’s just no way this car was ever going to go into production. It’s basically a fighter plane for the road and as it came as the Cold War hit its peak. So it was as much a demonstration of national pride than a car.
It was lightweight at 2500lb and came with a fiberglass body. It was powered by a 370bhp gas turbine engine that could, theoretically, power the car to 200mph and beyond. It wasn’t the most fuel efficient car in itself, but it could have formed the basis for leaner, cleaner road cars.
It was the first gas turbine-powered car ever to be built and tested in the US and GM built the car to see if its engineers could master the turbine for road use. The car had all sorts of tricks we take for granted today, including double wishbone suspension.
Racing car driver Mauri Rose tested the car at the Indianapolis Speedway and the Firebird made such an impression that a miniature version now adorns the Harley J Earl Trophy. GM went on to make two more, but the original is still arguably the best.