Fantastical automobiles like the Norman Timbs 1947 Special pictured above may have never entered mass production but the same cannot be said of the ideas they inspired. Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas is an upcoming exhibition showcasing concept cars made over the last 80 years or so. Many of the vehicles selected either explored the limits of automotive design or played host to innovations that would later become ubiquitous in modern cars.
"This exhibition presents 17 historic four-wheeled fantasies that push the envelopes of automotive styling, engineering, and design to impressive heights," consulting curator Ken Gross explains in a statement.
Some of the vehicles on display look like implausible dreams. The 33-inch tall Stratos HF Zero has no doors, only a windshield that can be raised to allow entry. General Motors' Firebird XP-21, which has been likened to a jet plane on wheels, is a single-seater that is too hot, too loud, and too fuel-inefficient. Its tailpipe has an exhaust temperature of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The exhibit also highlights more practical-looking automobiles, including those that helped define today's cars. William Stout's Scarab, for example, is regarded as a precursor to the modern minivan while the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt is recognized as the first American car to feature an electrically operated, retractable hardtop.
The show is organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and will take place between May 21st and September 7th, 2014.
- Bugatti Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe recreation, 1935 Designed by Jean Bugatti and Joseph Walter. Made by The Guild of Automotive Restorers. Courtesy of Christopher Ohrstrom. This recreation of the vehicle was made based on a few photographs, known specifications, records, and an oil painting by a Bugatti designer. (Photo by Joe Wiecha)
- Stout Scarab, 1936 Designed by William B. Stout. Courtesy of Larry Smith. The Scarab, which was inspired by the beetle of the same name, is a precursor to the modern minivan. (Photo by Michael Furman)
- Chrysler Thunderbolt, 1941 Designed by Ralph Roberts and Alex Tremulis. Fabricated by Briggs Body Works. Manufactured by Chrysler Corporation. Courtesy of Roger Willbanks. The Thunderbolt was the first American car to feature an electrically operated, retractable hardtop and disappearing headlights.
- Norman Timbs Special, 1947 Designed by Norman Timbs. Courtesy of Gary and Diane Cerveny. Norman Timbs created the Timbs Special for his own use. The car was featured on the October 1949 cover of Motor Trend magazine. (Photo by Peter Harholdt)
- Carl Renner, Cadilac Convertible Concept Car, 1951 Collection of Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf. This 6 x 20 foot illustration "celebrates the 250th anniversary of the founding of Detroit by the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac." (Photo by Mark Wallison)
- General Motors Firebird I XP-21, 1953 Designed by Harley J. Earl, Robert F. "Bob" McLean, and GM Styling Section Staff. Courtesy General Motors Heritage Center. This car was the first gas turbine-powered car built and tested in the United States. (Photo by Michael Furman)
- Syd Mead, Gyroscopically Stabilized Two-Wheel Car, C. 1960 Brett Snyder Collection. Visual futurist Syd Mead created a series of conceptual illustrations for US Steel in the early 1960s. (Photo by Mike Jensen)
- Wayne Cherry, "Runabout" Design Concept, C. 1964 Cherry, an American Car designer who once served as Vice President of Design at General Motors, was one of twenty-five nominees for the 1999 Car Designer of the Century award. (Photo by Mike Jensen)
- Lancia (Bertone) Stratos HF Zero, 1970 Designed by Marcello Gandini. Courtesy XJ Wang Collection. The Stratos HF Zero was constructed in such a way that occupants could see directly ahead and above – and little else. (Photo by Michael Furman)
- Ferrari (Pininfarina) 512 S Modulo, 1970 Designed by Paolo Martin. Courtesy of Pininfarina S.p.A., Cambiano, Turino, Italy. Measuring 37 inches in height, the 512 S Modulo was part of a race to see who could produce the car with the lowest height. (Photo by Michel Zumbrunn)
- BMW GINA Light Visionary Model, 2001 Designed by Christopher Bangle. Courtesy of BMW. Copyright of BMW AG. GINA's shape could be altered thanks to the use of a flexible, two-layer tensile fabric stretched over a frame comprised of aluminium and flexible carbon fiber.