The automotive industry is facing some of the biggest changes in its history. In the foreseeable future, most cars will be either fully electric or entirely autonomous, and new technologies may mean the shape of the automobile as we know will be completely changed. Here are 4 cars that took the world by surprise.
Designed by Harley J. Earl and unveiled in 1938, the Buick Y-Job is considered the world’s first concept car from a major car manufacturer. It featured an electric roof, electric windows, and a sculptural body that subsequently inspired generations of car designers.
Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion
At the 1933 World Fair in Chicago, architect and design visionary R. Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller presented his idea of the car of the future: a three-wheeled vehicle that resembled a blowfish but impressed with its fuel efficiency and high speeds. The Dymaxion never went into production, but architect Norman Foster recently brought one of the prototypes back to life.
Inspired by recent innovations in aviation and space travel, General Motors unveiled the first of three Firebird prototypes in 1953. The concept car, which was powered by a gas turbine and looked more like a rocket on wheels than a car, thanks to its wings and fins, could be considered the blueprint for most US cars from the rock ‘n’ roll years.
Designed by Pininfarina’s Paolo Martin during his holiday break in 1968, the Ferrari Modulo was an uncompromising geometric extravaganza. Only 37 inches high and equipped with a big V12 engine, the UFO-on-wheels was said to exceed speeds of 350kph, although the missing wheel arches made it almost impossible to turn any corners.