Concept cars, sometimes called prototypes or dream cars, are made for many reasons. At car shows, they can attract vast attention as one-of-a-kind, far-fetched machines never to be driven by the public or even seen again.
But concept vehicles can also allows manufacturers’ to gain public reaction to vehicles just before they’re launched.
The vehicles offered, like some of the current 14 concepts scheduled to be showcased at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, could only a few minor differences from the vehicles that will soon be public.
Either way, car enthusiasts thrive on concepts, often the more outrageous the better.
According to Sandra Button, chairman of the Concours d’Elegance, concept vehicles returned and were featured with new manufacturers’ models in the early 1990s.
But when the show debuted in 1950, only concepts and new cars were showcased.
“The display of concepts brings use full circle with our heritage in that respect,” said Button. “The concepts bring our celebration from past to past to future.”
“We are not only honoring our automotive heritage, we are making automotive history today. I think concepts emphasize the design ideals and the technological advances that we honor on the Concours show field.”
Here’s a look at a few of the concept vehicles scheduled for display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
* The 2015 Rocket Convertible will make its world debut. Manufactured in limited production this year, The Rocket is a coach built, carbon fiber Super Mustang with 725 horsepower. Created by Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) and Henrik Fisker, the concept features a fully integrated carbon fiber speedster cover that can convert the four-seat convertible into a two-seat speedster.
According to the manufacturer, the car’s all carbon fiber body has been modified to fit the perfect proportions of the speedster. The rear deck is lower and the rear fenders are integrated into the lines of the speedster.
“The beauty of the speedster is, it’s a two-seat raw sports car, or, when the speedster cover is removed, a four-seat powerful convertible,” said Fisker, the renowned Danish designer best know for making Aston Martin models, the BMW Z8 and his signature Fisker Karm, the luxury hybrid sedan.
The speedster’s cover has built-in air outlets directly behind the driver and passenger, with an integrated mesh, that help reduce air turbulence. The car’s exterior is finished in metallic red with visible polished carbon fiber stripes extending over the hood to the carbon speedster cover, with additionally exposed carbon fiber air outlets.
The car sits on metallic red color-keyed five-spoke 21-inch alloy wheels. The speedster is shown as an supercharged V8 with an automatic transmission.
* The Volcano Titanium is a one-off mid-engined sports car created by Icona in Italy. It has a titanium and carbon fiber body and it was inspired by the Blackbird SR-71, the world’s fastest airplane.
Sharply sculptured, the Volcano Titanium was constructed by Cecomp, an Italian coach builder. The power train was created by Claudio Lombardi, a former director of design of the Scuderia Ferrari.
The Vulcano has a mid-front engine calibrated for homologated road and race use It has the capability to be tuned to more than 1000 horsepower The optimized 670 horsepower, supercharged V8 is sourced from the record-beating ZR1 and is coupled with a paddle-shift close ratio gearbox from Automac Modena.
The side vents allow the evacuation of hot air from the engine and reduce air turbulence generated by the wheels. Its acceleration from 0 to 60 miles per hour is 2.8 seconds and its top speed is 220 miles per hour.
* The Hyundai HCD-16 Concept Coupe will make its world debut. It’s described by the manufacturer as “advancing performance and craftsmanship for the owner in an unpretentious fashion.”
The HCD-16 is highlighted by short overhand, dramatically proportioned wheels and a sharply tapered greenhouse. There’s an intricately formed mesh grille abstracted from the badge and bronze accents.
Detailed as a “Virtual Valet Door System,” opens the doors as if operate by a valet, which Hyundai says “supports the idea that chivalry transcends class.”
(Originally published in the Monterey Herald.)
Article Last Updated: August 12, 2015.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.