6 of the Coolest Concept Cars Ever Made

Turns out they're called dream cars for a reason.

concept car Norman Timbs Special

Concept cars have been around since 1938, and the goal has always been the same: A bit of peacocking, and a bit of testing the market. For decades, companies have gaged consumer reaction to their new, radical designs and technology via concept or “dream cars,” watching and taking note of the dropped jaws and long whistles. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta just opened a brand-new exhibit filled with these breathtaking creations, which runs through September, but if you can’t get Georgia on your mind this summer, never fear: For your eye-feasting pleasure, we’ve got six of our favorites from the collection.

6. Bugatti Type 57S Compétition Coupé Aerolithe, 1935

Fun fact: This baby “shocked visitors to both the London and Paris automobile shows that year with its sleekly styled body – a sharp contrast to the boxy cars of its era.”

5. BMW GINA Light Visionary Model, 2001

3/4Front_var1schatten_ 002

Fun fact: The GINA’s body is made entirely out of—wait for it—fabric. “The GINA’s shape could change through the use of flexible tensile fabric stretched over a moveable body frame of aluminum and flexible carbon fiber. By making the GINA’s body out of fabric, Bangle and his team sought a way to reduce tooling expenses and facilitate more frequent style changes.”

4. Stout Scarab, 1936


Fun fact: The Scarab was inspired by the shape of the scarab beetle, and its designer’s goal was to create a virtual living room on wheels. “This car was in essence a precursor to the minivan of today, but with convertible furniture. The front passenger seat could rotate fully, the back seat became a couch, and a table folded out for playing cards or holding drinks.”

3. Norman Timbs Special, 1947

Timbs rear detail 025

Fun fact: Created by a mechanical engineer for his own personal use, the car “articulated the ideas of streamlining and wind resistance with its elongated, curvilinear forms and seemingly single-piece body. It had no doors and was composed of two hand-formed aluminum shapes.”

2. Chrysler (Ghia) Streamline X “Gilda,” 1955


Fun fact: The car was named “Gilda” after Rita Hayworth’s title character in a film noir of the same name. “Automotive styling was heavily influenced by jet aircraft and rocketry in the exuberant postwar era, and Exner wanted to prove that scientific, aerodynamic design was viable in the American marketplace.”

1. Paul Arzens L’Œuf électrique, 1942


Fun fact: French for electric egg (oui oui!), this car “was created by French artist, industrial designer, and engineer Paul Arzens in 1942 as a unique car for his personal use during World War II. As its name suggests, the car was shaped like an egg, and it served as a convenient urban mini-car in Paris.”

(Check out the rest of the beauties, too!)