By on October 13, 2021

If anybody has a soft spot for wedge designs and the automotive future envisioned during the 1970s, it’s yours truly. While mainstream vehicles being manufactured during the Malaise Era often left a lot to be desired, the concepts were sublime and led to some of the most unique-looking production cars in automotive history. I’m talking about cars like the Lancia Stratos, Lamborghini Countach, Lotus Esprit, BMW M1, De Tomaso Pantera, and DeLorean DMC-12. Toss in the digital dashboards that were gradually appearing in standard passenger cars during the 1980s and you’ve reached the point where I would probably claim automotive styling reached its zenith after a few stiff drinks. But I’ve been told by those who can distinguish fetishization from appreciation that those designs weren’t perfect and kind of look the same when there’s enough squinting is deployed.

Apparently, someone took that premise and used it as a template for a modern prototype intended to help sell shoes. Though the company focused entirely on the basic shape of wedge cars, settling on a vehicle that resembles what a Countach might have looked like in a video game from two decades ago should the assets fail to load. Known as the United Nude Lo-Res Concept Vehicle, it’s probably one of the more-unique automobiles ever built and it’s yours for the taking now that the Petersen Automotive Museum doesn’t want it.  (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2021

It often feels like the automotive industry has hit a creative wall where every concept vehicle has to be another electric vehicle offering next-generation connectivity and some self-driving claims that will later be tamped down. We’ve gotten used to being disappointed but there has been one brand that’s been furnishing concept vehicles that are at least interesting.

In 2018, Audi debuted the PB18 E-Tron Concept (AI:RACE) in an attempt to highlight what’s possible with a pure EV using the skateboard platform. Without a driveshaft hogging interior space, the automaker felt it could build a supercar with an interchangeable driving position that allowed the pilot to transition from a central F1-style cockpit to something that’s more suited to the daily commute. The company has since decided to build on that idea with the Skysphere Concept, which alters the roadster’s exterior based on whether it’s you or the car that’s doing the driving.  (Read More…)

By on July 30, 2021

Gazoo Racing (GR) has earned itself quite a bit of cachet since Akio Toyoda decided to make it the de facto performance arm of Toyota in 2009. It’s slowly supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), which is still technically running the show but currently feels more like the manufacturer’s North American off-road racing division. GR has been producing global, models that actually provide enhanced performance and output from the factory while TRD has basically become the company’s in-house parts catalog.

However, Gazoo has some performance parts of its own and Toyota has been eagerly modifying the crap out of its vehicles as a way to tease them. The brand is now ready to start selling them and has re-released last month’s dual GR 86 concepts — designed to tickle the enthusiast community — with the relevant details.  (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2021

Top Dog

The Jeep Gladiator Top Dog concept vehicle is headed to Moab for the first time. First built in 2020, it sat in limbo for events to open up again, and the 55th Annual Easter Jeep Safari was the opportunity Jeep had been waiting for.

Due to COVID-19, the host group, Red Rock 4-Wheelers, had Easter Jeep Safari canceled, only to have the Grand County Commission in February approve a revision to the group’s special permit, and their event permit. Part of their compliance required cancellation of the vendor portion of the show, although the group has announced they will do a virtual live-streamed giveaway, to be held Friday, April 2nd at 6:30 p.m. Mountain time on their Facebook page.

(Read More…)

By on March 23, 2021

Jeepster

Blend a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a 1968 Jeepster Commando and what do you get? A throwback that epitomizes why you build concept vehicles. I have to imagine it was as much fun for the designers, as it was the fabricators and the PR team that gets to display them this week at Easter Jeep Safari.

(Read More…)

By on September 3, 2020

FCA

It’s not the production model, but it’s the closest we’ve gotten so far to Jeep’s returning full-size SUV. Sport-utility family, to be clear, as Jeep plans to offer its body-on-frame rig in a variety of flavors.

Entry-level Wagoneer will give way to the high-zoot Grand Wagoneer — a vehicle Fiat Chrysler claims will redefine “American premium” by offering a plug-in hybrid variant and a host of “ultra-premium leading-edge features and technology.”

Alas, the real thing remains distant. Scheduled to go into production in the second quarter of 2021 at Warren Truck Assembly, the actual Grand Wagoneer is heralded by a “vision of what [the] production vehicle could be.”

Feast your eyes. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2020

fca

There’s nothing coincidental about the timing of this vehicle’s release. Alas, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is exactly that, a concept, though Fiat Chrysler’s off-road brand strongly hints that it will become a reality one day.

That confirmation, if it is forthcoming, will take place long after the debut of a vehicle this concept is meant to fight: the Ford Bronco. (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2020

Polestar has released details of its Precept concept, offering a reminder that this will be the vehicle that informs all future models the company produces. Jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Zhejiang Geely Holding, Polestar has morphed from the Swedish manufacturer’s partner in performance engineering into a separate brand specializing in sporting EVs.

We’ve seen the Precept before, bashing it gently in February for being a handsome sedan with a manufacturer that wasted everyone’s time (and its press release) by prattling on endlessly about green tech and sustainability. While we had hoped Polestar would remedy this in its follow-up teaser, powertrain details remain nonexistent. Considering this is a concept car, that’s not an unforgivable sin, but it’s curious a company supposedly focused on performance engineering has twice failed to discuss that aspect of the vehicle. Instead, we’re offered additional details about the model’s design — including some new photographs — as the brand continues to discuss sustainability and high-tech features.

Just enough to keep us interested. The bare minimum.  (Read More…)

By on March 4, 2020

While prophecies have a habit of coming true in films and books, they rarely come to pass here in reality. Sadly, this will probably be the case with Hyundai’s new concept EV — appropriately named the Prophecy.

Responding to a voicemail left by the God of Electrification, Hyundai has moved on what is arguably one of the best-looking concept designs since the 1938 Phantom Corsair. Black, minimalist and extremely retro-futuristic, both cars rely almost entirely on the long lines of the respective aerodynamic shells to make an impression, with small details providing additional, attention-grabbing flourishes.

Hyundai says the timeless design was intentional, yet it still manages to adhere to the brand’s “Sensuous Sportiness” design philosophy. Truth be told, we’ve had a difficult time finding a common theme among its latest concepts. Some are all angles (45 Concept) while others are all about smooth curves (Le Fil Rouge Concept). The only real through line seems to be that they all look rather good wherever they’re displayed. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2020

While many are still under the impression that Chinese automakers will never manage to wrangle the North American automotive market, Geely’s ownership of Volvo Cars and Polestar has already proven them wrong. The Chinese manufacturer purchased Volvo in 2010, with savory bodywork and sumptuous interiors doing much of the heavy lifting with consumers. Performance-focused Polestar wasn’t purchased until a few years later, but the theme remained largely the same — move toward electrification, don’t forget about safety, and try to build the sexiest car possible while maintaining an aura of respectability.

So far, it’s worked rather well. Polestar is now eager to drive that message home via its new Precept concept vehicle. The company claims the car reveals “a vision of the brand’s future direction and a clear expression of intent.” Since we’re fluent in marketing speak, we’re pleased to tell you that sentence is not entirely meaningless.  (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2020

Sony

When it comes to forward-thinking concept vehicles, “vision” ranks among the most popular words used by automakers to convey their futuristic aspirations to the general public. Among real-world production models, the letter “S” best signifies a vehicle either at the top or bottom of its game. There’s no in-between when it comes to S; it’s either Sport, or base.

So it’s forgivable if the reader finds the name bestowed on a prototype vehicle launched Monday night at the Consumer Electronics Show to be both generic and instantly forgettable. But the Vision-S is real, and it was built by a company best known for putting music in the hands of the teeming masses, not cars. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2019

If you’re keeping track, the Vision T Plug-in Hybrid SUV Concept is the seventh design study to roll out of Hyundai’s styling studio in recent memory. Appearing Wednesday at the L.A. Auto Show, the plug-in utility vehicle has the bad timing of debuting at the same moment Toyota unveiled a plug-in crossover you’ll soon be able to buy and drive home.

Unfortunate timing aside, the concept does give us a glimpse of Hyundai’s future. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2019

nissan

Mazda wasn’t the only Japanese automaker to lift the sheet on an electric crossover at the Tokyo Motor Show today. Nissan got in on the game, revealing a crossover “concept” that looks ripe for the production line.

As opposed to past concepts like the IMk and IMx, this Nissan has a name — Ariya, which one assumes is pronounced “area.” The compact EV crossover also dispenses with the usual gee-whiz concept car trappings, looking very much like a vehicle bound for showrooms. Nissan leaves no doubt that the Ariya, or something almost identical to it, could soon become a reality. (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2019

Nissan plans to unveil a new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Suitable for the locale, the model is to be a fashionable EV aimed at urban commuters.

According to the manufacturer, the IMk Concept will be the best tool imaginable for that particular job. While it looks like a glitzy version of your typical Tokyo eco-box, the all-electric IMk is meant to serve as the template for the best city car ever built — likely trying its hand in markets around the world with a production version.

That said, the dimensions of the IMk will probably torpedo any ships heading to North America. At 135.2 inches long, 59.5 inches wide, and 64.7 inches tall, the model is slimmer than a Smart ForTwo and shorter/narrower than a Fiat 500. While the additional headroom will be a blessing, it’s still too small for our Rubenesque frames.  (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2019

Image: Mitsubishi

Either those fan-type objects are meant to exhaust vape clouds from the cabin (pods?), or the upcoming concept vehicle from Mitsubishi will need clearance from the FAA to visit grandma’s house. Are they speakers? Will drivers of this wildly unlikely production candidate create impromptu block parties wherever they go?

Mitsubishi isn’t saying. All we know is that the concept, bound for next month’s Tokyo Motor Show, is a plug-in hybrid, not unlike the Outlander PHEV. Interestingly, Mitsubishi opted to spell out the PHEV acronym, making the vehicle seem more futuristic than it actually is. (Read More…)

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