With all the car makers out there, it takes a lot to make a car stand out. And more car makers have settled for making cars only slightly unique. But when it comes to concept cars, they are brave. Very brave. Here are 5 of the most unique concept cars you’ll ever see.
General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21
Related: What Exactly Is A Concept Car?
Today’s supercars and hypercars borrow a lot of their designs from jet fighters—look at the Koenigsegg, for instance. In 1953, though, General Motors built the closest thing ever to a landlocked jet fighter. The Firebird 1 XP-21 had a bubble cockpit, a turbine engine and a tail fin. The engine churned out an outstanding 370 horsepower (this was a lot at the time).
The BMW Gina Light Visionary Model didn’t have a shape that was all that unique. What made it stand out, though, was what its outer body was made of: polyurethane-coated spandex. This material wasn’t just for show; it could shift in real time depending on the GINA’s aerodynamic needs. It’s not much of a stretch to call it a shape-shifting car.
1959 Cadillac Cyclone
This is the godfather of cruise control. It had two massive cones where its headlights should be, which were actually radars for the Cyclone’s crash-avoidance system (today’s adaptive cruise control). When they sensed an incoming object, the radars set off a high-pitched beep along with warning lights, and they could even force the car to a stop. And this was in 1959!
This 1936 concept was all about luxury. After all, the airplane division of Stout, Stout Air Lines, was responsible for the in-flight meals and flight attendants we’re all used to. The Scarab followed the same spirit: it was a stretched aluminum car that was basically a road-going diner. And it wasn’t cheap; it cost $5,000, which today is about $90,000.
1947 Norman Timbs Special
This is one of the most streamlined concept cars ever made—and the ultimate hot rod concept. It was designed by Timbs, a racing engineer, and it shows. Inspired by 1930s racers, the car had curves that led to a raindrop tail and a front-mounted cockpit. It was powered by a 1948 Buick straight 8 engine which propelled the car to a speed of 120 mph.