Being a big fan of mid-20th century concept cars, and being in the market for a new car in the early 21st century, it can be a very deflating reality check on how disappointing the future has become. One could go from make to make, lot to lot, row to row – after about three or four different stops it sinks in. 21st century automotive design is merely an exercise in the standard and mundane.
Yes, there are a lot of gadgets that were first conceptualized in the mid-20th century flourish of creative imaginings found within today’s vehicles – but the designs. You have your standard sedan, you have your standard coupe, your standard fuel-efficient – interestingly enough, the micro-cars seem to have the only standout designs around. The same can be said of the ‘throwbacks’ that are smartly being re-realized by a couple American auto companies. For most vehicles today, if it weren’t for the make medallions it’s nearly impossible to tell what is what.
So, as a reminder of the good ol’ days when auto design was still an art and an enthusiastic expression of things to come, let’s take a look at some of the creative, and yes, sometimes ‘way out’ concepts from the fantastic world of mid-20th century design. Once aptly referred to as ‘dream cars.’
And something a bit different:
Phew! So there ya have it. Love ’em or hate ’em one thing’s for sure – these concepts stir up a reaction. They have personality. They have guts. Not everyone was impressed during the ‘dream car’ heydays. We’ll leave this post with just one more image – Ken Johnson of the New York Times will have the last word.
The Capri Satellite, drawn in black ink by Russ Heath in 1957, is a cartoon parody of futuristic cars. Part Sputnik, part Edsel, it is a spherical flying machine with fins and antennas and a comically elaborate front bumper and grille. This and other satiric images suggest that for every true believer there was a skeptic ready to pounce on the goofy excesses of imagination to which visionaries are prone.