Welcome to the latest installation of The Forgotten Concept Cars of the Year! Here, you'll find a collection of photos of concept cars from the same year that are considered forgotten. Legendary concept cars are not included. Part 1 contains photos of concept cars from 1950 to 1954. Go right here for Part 2, which contains photos of concept cars from 1955 to 1959. Enjoy!
The 50's was the decade of fibreglass Dream Cars (50's way of saying concept cars) that were built in-house or by a coachbuilder like Ghia. Please bear in mind that it was difficult to find much information on each individual car, but I did my best.
1950 GAZ M-20 Pobeda Sport Prototype; in December 1948, foreign trade was banned in Soviet Union and it forced Russian automakers to develop domestic consumer cars and race cars without using any foreign parts. This was one of the domestic race cars. It had a top speed of 160km/h (100mph).
1950 Land Rover 81 Prototype; the Land Rover 80's successor that never was. The chassis was stretched by 2.5cm (1in) to fit a Rolls Royce B40 engine. Interestingly, the conversion was performed by a now-dead American automaker called Hudson. Only 35 examples were built for testing purposes.
1950 Porsche 356 Coupe Ferdinand Prototype; Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche gave his father, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, this factory stock Porsche 356 Coupe as a gift for his 75th birthday. After he passed away a year later, Ferry turned it into a prototype testbed to test new Porsche engines. Porsche 356 went into production two years earlier.
1950 Triumph TRX Concept; the Triumph 2000 Roadster's successor that never was. It was based on a first generation Standard Vanguard, a British car. It was nicknamed "Silver Bullet."
1951 Buick XP-300 Concept; it was a rolling sculpture to experiment with the styling. The chassis was designed specifically to fit an I8 engine if it goes into production, which it never did. It was built along with the 1951 GM Le Sabre Concept. It can be seen on display at the Slogan Museum in Flint, Michigan, USA.
1951 Chrysler K-310 Concept by Ghia; the redesigned Honda Civic of the 50's. The K-310 was Ghia's answer to Chrysler's blandness. After the end of World War 2, Chrysler was struggling from the war torn economy and criticised endlessly for not catching up with Ford and GM in terms of design. In early 1950, Fiat invited Chrysler to Italy to teach them about the art of cars and how to build them effectively on a tight budget. Fiat then suggested that Chrysler team up with Ghia to come up with new ideas. Ghia embarrassedly spent months studying the blandness and built a new coachwork on a shortened Chrysler New York chassis that was later known as the K-310. The letter K represented the initials of the president of Chrysler, K.T. Keller, and the 310 represented the 230kW (310hp) HEMI V8 engine that was fitted in the concept car.
Chrysler's hopelessness sealed the deal with Ghia and started the new Dual-Ghia series of Chrysler concept cars. Chrysler's sales boosted again thanks to Fiat and Ghia. Did Chrysler let Fiat buy the entire company as a 59 year old IOU? Maybe!
1951 Plymouth XX-500 Concept by Ghia; it was based on a Plymouth P20 chassis. It was basically a Plymouth P19 with extra doors and an Italian accent.
1951 Talbot Lago T-26 Record Coupe Concept by Ghia; it is unknown what record it broke. It's red and gold paint done right.
1951 ZIS 112/1 Prototype; it was based on a ZIS 110 with domestic car parts. Only 6 prototypes were built, two coupes on a long wheelbase, two roadsters on a longwheel base, and two roadsters on a short wheelbase. Some sources said they had the worst handling of all time.
1952 Chrysler Thomas Special Concept by Ghia; the successor to the 1951 Chrysler K-310 Concept by Ghia. Like its predecessor, it was based on a shortened Chrysler New Yorker chassis. In 2010, it was restored and repainted white and sold at RM Auctions at Pebble Beach, Monterey, California, USA for a whopping $853,000 USD.
1952 Fiat Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto Concept by Bertone; after it was debuted at the 1952 Turin Motor Show in Turin, Piedmont, Italy, Packard bought the car and brought it to its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, USA for design inspiration. In 1953, Packard apparently can't find any inspiration and handed it over to a car journalist named—don't laugh!—Dick Smith as a prize for suggesting a new automotive slogan. Smith drove it as a daily driver car for 20 years before turning it into a garage decoration for 30 years. In 2003, it was restored and sold at a Christie's International Motor Car Department auction for a pocket change of $293,500 USD. In 2010, it made another public appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California, USA. Many sources suggested that Alfa Romeo Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) series of concept cars was inspired by this concept car. It made a lot of sense because Alfa Romeo is owned by Fiat.
1952 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic Concept by Ghia; in 2007, it was restored and sold at Bonham's Les Grandes Marques à Monaco auction house for the price of an American one-bedroom house ($940,000 USD).
1952 Lincoln Continental Nineteen Fifty X (1950-X) Concept; it was a first generation Lincoln Continental-based rolling sculpture that was designed mostly for the looks and a glass roof that can be retracted into the white canopy. It later evolved into the second generation Lincoln Continental, which went into production in 1956.
1952 Lincoln Continental 195X Concept; the rear. Out of all the concept cars on this post, it had the best looking rear that screamed "Fifties!" The taillights on the first generation Ford Thunderbird were probably inspired by the taillights on this concept car.
1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Le Mans Prototype; despite having many photos on the Internet, there isn't any information on it other than the name. My best guess is that it was one of many Mercedes-Benz 300SL prototypes that never raced. The huge wing was probably a violation of the regulations that forced Mercedes-Benz to abandon it or remove it, but I can be wrong.
1952 Volvo P179 Prototype; the Volvo P1900 Coupe that never was. It later evolved into the roadster version of the P1900, which went into limited production in 1956. It was based on a Volvo PV444.
1953 Alfa Romeo 1900 Sprint Supergioiello Concept by Ghia
1953 Aston Martin DB2/4 Cabriolet Concept by Bertone; did you know that Bertone designed the Aston Martin's signature grille? Its non-Bertone counterpart didn't have the signature grille and it went into limited production later that year.
1953 Buick Wildcat I Concept; it was Buick's first car to use fibreglass body. It was built to study the idea of fibreglass in hope of using it on production cars. Many of its design lines and cues appeared on future production cars. The best part? The car was white with a green interior. It really stood out!
After its famous successor, the 1954 Buick Wildcat II Concept, there was never a third Wildcat concept car until 1985.
1953 Cadillac Coupe Concept by Ghia; it was based on a Cadillac Series 62. Only two examples were built, one in metallic red and one in black (pictured). The metallic red Cadillac Coupe was purchased for an actress named Rita Hayworth.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette Concept; there isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. Its production counterpart went into production later that year.
1953 Chrysler d'Elegance Concept by Ghia; it was Virgil Exner's "signature" car when he was working as a designer at Chrysler.
1953 Dodge Firearrow I Concept by Ghia; it didn't have a chassis or an engine. It was a mockup for the new Dual-Ghia series of Firearrow concept cars. It was followed by three other Firearrow concept cars.
1953 Dodge Zeder Z-250 Concept; it was designed and engineered by Fred Zeder Jr. and built by Bertone. It was the Chevrolet Corvette's competitor that never was. It had a new chassis that was designed specifically to fit a prototype engine that was later known as Chrysler A, a small block HEMI V8 engine that went into production in 1956.
Fun fact: Frank Zeder Jr. was the son of Fredrick Zeder, one of the men who started the Chrysler company.
1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic Concept by Ghia; after it was debuted, it went into limited production later that year. Unfortunately, after only 8 cars were produced, the production ended abruptly due to Fiat's usual mechanical issues. In 2011, an unrestored 8V Supersonic was sold at Gooding and Company auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA for the price of half of a Heintzman crystal piano ($1,550,000 USD).
1953 Ford Vega Concept; it was designed by Vince Gardner, and it won the design contest that was sponsored by Ford. Unfortunately, Ford automatically owned the rights to the car and denied Gardner's request to put it in limited production. Like everyone who clicked on the "Agree" button on a lengthy licence agreement, Gardner didn't read the fine print on the contest rules when he submitted his design. In 2006, it was restored and sold at Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale for the price of about fifteen V6 Mustangs ($385,000 USD).
1953 Ford X-100 Concept; the 1952 Lincoln Continental Nineteen Fifty X Concept's successor (friendly reminder: Lincoln is owned by Ford). Very little is known about it. Ford claimed it had at least 50 new inventions, but only one invention was known: it had a rain sensor that automatically closes the roof.
1953 Hudson Italia Coupe Concept by Carrozzeria Touring; it was basically a Hudson Jet with an Italian coachwork. Surprisingly, it went into limited production later that year. Only 25 examples were produced. What if Doc Hudson from the 2006 film "Cars" was based on this concept car? He'd be married to Flo! Or Ramone if he was into men (or mancars?).
1953 Lincoln XL-500 Concept; very little is known about it. It was the first car to have an in-car phone and answering machine, and steering wheel mounted pushbutton transmission.
Fun fact: Formula 1's pushbutton transmission technology was inspired by this concept car.
1953 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Transaxle Prototype; like the model name suggested, it had a transaxle. It had no racing history, so it's safe to guess Mercedes-Benz abandoned it because it was probably a violation of the regulations. Again, I can be wrong.
Fun fact: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was the first Mercedes-Benz to have a transaxle since 1953.
1953 Oldsmobile Starfire Cabriolet Concept; it later evolved into the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta, which went into limited production a year later. The Starfire name was later resurrected for the Oldsmobile Starfire, which went into production in 1961.
Fun fact: Starfire was named after an American jet interceptor called Lockheed F-94 Starfire.
1953 Pontiac Parisienne Concept; it was based on a Pontiac Star Chief. It was the first Pontiac to have a wraparound windscreen. The Parisienne name was later recycled for a Pontiac that went into production in 1959.
1953 Škoda 440 Spartak Prototype; it went into production two years later. Its production counterpart didn't look any different from the prototype.
1953 ZIS E127 Prototype
1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 Coupe Sport Speciale Concept by Ghia
1954 Alfa Romeo 1900 Sport Spider Concept by Ghia; it was actually based on an Alfa Romeo 2000. Despite the "Spider" name, it had a pulldown roof like the present day Fiat 500 Cabriolet.
1954 Alfa Romeo 2000 Sportiva Coupe Concept by Bertone; only 4 examples were built, two coupes and two roadsters (1900 Sport Spider Concept). It later evolved into the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, which went into production a year later.
1954 Alfa Romeo Bat7 Concept by Bertone; it's not a forgotten concept car, but I don't think many of us saw it from this angle. *breathes mechanically* It… Looked… Like… Darth... Vader… *gasps, wheezes*
1954 BMW 503 Prototype; it went into production two years later. Unlike its sibling, the 507 Prototype, it didn't change much before it went into production.
1954 BMW 507 Prototype; the BMW 507 that never was. It later evolved into the less classy, more sporty BMW 507, which went into production two years later. After teaching my son how to fingerspell a phrase in German, "Ich mag das Auto," he commented. Adorable.
1954 Cadillac El Camino Concept; besides the red taillights, it was the most colourless concept car of all time (stainless steel panels, chrome parts, grey leather interior, white on black tyres, etc.). It was based on a Cadillac Eldorado. Oh, and ja, GM "recycled" the name for the Chevrolet ute that went into production in 1959 for 24 long years.
1954 Cadillac La Espada (En: Sword) Concept; it was basically a fibreglass cabriolet version of the Cadillac El Camino Concept. It later evolved into the Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, which went into production two years later.
1954 Cadillac PF-200 Cabriolet Concept by Pininfarina; very little is known about it. It was built for an American Ferrari importer named Luigi Chinetti. It was based on a Cadillac, but the exact model is unknown.
1954 Chevrolet Corvette Corvair Concept; the Corvette C1 coupe that never was. It was basically a Chevrolet Corvair with a Corvette's chassis, engine, and front and rear ends. It was painted red, but repainted sea foam green at some point. Unfortunately, it was destroyed.
1954 Chevrolet Corvette Nomad Concept; the Corvette C1 wagon that never was. Unlike its coupe sibling, the 1954 Chevrolet Corvette Convair Concept, it was based on the real Chevrolet Corvette C1. Like its coupe sibling, it was also destroyed. Unlike its coupe sibling… *rubs chin* No, that's it.
Terrible fact: In 2009, Superior Glass Works made the world's worst reproduction copy of this concept called '54 Sports Wagon. If you're a Corvette fan who's trying to have a good day, I don't recommend clicking on that link.
1954 Desoto Adventurer Concept by Ghia; its non-Ghia production counterpart looked absolutely nothing like the concept and it went into production two years later.
1954 Doge Firearrow II Concept by Ghia; unlike its predecessor, the 1953 Dodge Firearrow I Concept by Ghia, it was fully functional. Like the 1953 Dodge Zeder Z-250 Concept, it had an unique chassis and a Chrysler A small block V8 engine prototype.
1954 Dodge Firearrow III Concept by Ghia; it was basically a 4-seater coupe version of the Firearrow II but with a modified Chrysler A engine prototype. A world famous daredevil named Betty Skelton floored it to 230km/h (143mph), thus setting a new speed record for a Dual-Ghia concept car. She then nicknamed it "Firebomb."
1954 Dodge Firearrow IV Concept by Ghia; it was basically a 4-seater cabriolet version of the Firearrow III. The car was actually red, the photo is in black and white.
1954 Dodge Firearrow IV Concept by Ghia; the best interior of all time.
1954 Dodge Granada Concept by Ghia; very little is known about it. It was the first car to be completely wrapped with fibreglass and it was a functional concept car.
1954 Fiat Turbina Concept; ja, you guessed it, it was turbine powered. At 22,000rpm, it can reach 250km/h (155mph). It held the record for having a laughably low drag (0.14cd) for over 30 years. Unfortunately, after 6 years of development, Fiat scrapped the project because of the usual problematic Italian engineering and poor fuel economy. The L/100km/MPG numbers are unknown, but two tenners say maybe 130L/100km (1.8mpg), heh.
1954 Ford FX Atmos Concept; it was an overly futuristic rolling sculpture that represented the future of automobile styling and technology. Like many other concept cars with canopy windows and fins, it was inspired by fighter jets that the Americans stole from the NSDAP engineers. A nonfunctional joystick is used to "steer" and it had a functional radio detection and ranging ("radar").
1954 GAZ 19 Prototype
1954 GAZ 21 Volga Prototype
1954 GAZ TP Prototype; the Soviet Union's jet-powered soapbox racer. Ja, Sie haben richtig gelesen! There were only two mechanical functions for the driver: steering and braking. A mechanic had to remotely activate the jet engine from a safe distance outside like igniting a firework. It set a new speed record for a domestic car: 500km/h (310mph). Hilariously, after many attempts, GAZ finally realised that it was completely pointless and scrapped the project. It was nicknamed "Boom."
1954 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Prototype; besides the hood and the rear arches, it didn't change much before it went into production a year later. It is unknown what the hole under the door was for, but my best guess is that it was for the exhaust. A commenter suggested that the hole was for the jack.
1954 MZMA 402 Moskvich Prototype
1954 Oldsmobile Cutlass Concept; the ugly stainless steel duckling of the two Cutlass concept cars. Very little is known about it. When Cutlass went into production in 1961, it looked nothing like the Cutlass concept.
1954 Oldsmobile Cutlass F-88 Concept; the pretty fibreglass duckling of the two Cutlass concept cars. It was based on a Chevrolet Corvette C1. Interestingly, Oldsmobile combined the design of the Corvette Corvair with the 1954 Cutlass Concept to create the Cutlass F-88. You can see some similarities such as Cutlass's front wheel arches and Corvette Corvair's taillights. Some sources said there were
three four examples, but one of them was burnt to the ground in a fire and the whereabouts of the other two are unknown. In 2005, the only surviving F-88 was sold at Barrett-Jackson Auction for the price of the Diamond of Pandere ($3,240,000 USD).
1954 Plymouth Belmont Concept by Ghia; the sporty Plymouth that never was. There isn't much information on it other than the name and a few photos. It was originally painted light metallic blue.
1954 Plymouth Explorer Concept by Ghia; there isn't much information on it other the name and a few photos.
1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Concept; only two examples were built, one in red (pictured) and one in blue. Its production counterpart skipped many evolution stages before going into production three years later.
1954 Pontiac XP-21 Firebird I Concept; the American GAZ TP Prototype knockoff. Not many people knew about the existence of the first car in the Firebird series of concept cars. The conclusion was predictably hilarious: it never went any faster than 160km/h (100mph) due to, uh, "mechanical difficulty." The tyres simply lost traction from the excessive torque and the test pilot cowered in fear and slowed down. Apparently, Americans aren't as crazy as the Russians.
1954 Pontiac Strato Streak Concept; it was based on a Pontiac Catalina. There's not much information on it other than the name and a few photos.
Thank you very much for viewing. Cheers!