Narrowly escaping the “blatant self promotion” tag under the shield of their centennial celebration, yesterday GM released a list of the 10 most innovative, groundbreaking concept cars they’ve designed over the past 100 years.
1. 2007 Chevrolet Volt
Scheduled to go from concept to reality in 2010, the Chevy Volt is an extended-range electric vehicle expected to produce zero emissions and consume absolutely no gasoline when averaging about 40 miles a day.
2. 2002 AUTOnomy
The first vehicle designed “from the ground up”, the AUTOnomy was GM’s answer to CEO Rick Wagoner’s question: “What if we were inventing the automobile today instead of a century ago?”
3. 1990 Impact
The precursor to the Chevy Volt, the Impact was GM’s first sport step into the Electric Car field. Some auto enthusiasts speculate that the Impact’s, well, impact, extended beyond GM itself, citing the design similarities between it and the Toyota Prius.
4. 1987 Sunraycer
GM’s solar-powered concept car that won the first World Solar Challenge in Australia, video of which became the most heavily watched film footage in elementary school science classes ever, scandalously upstaging Bill Nye.
5. 1970 Vauxhall SRV
Reportedly never intended for production, the Vauxhall SRV was a media stunt of sorts [albeit an expensive and meticulously engineered one] intended to publicize the Vauxhall line as being on the cutting edge of automobile design.
7. 1961 Chevrolet XP-755 Mako Shark
With Chevy Volt production still 2 years away, the 1961 Chevy Mako Shark is undoubtedly one of the most successful concept cars, at least in terms of longevity and popularity. As a concept car, the Mako Shark served as Chevy’s blueprint for the Corvette, introduced 2 years later in 1963.
8. 1954, 1956, and 1958 Firebird series
Heavily influenced by the aggressive design of early fighter jets, GM’s Firebird concept cars were designed by Harley Earl and were intended to serve no other purpose other than showcase the exceptional talent and skill GM’s design arm possessed.
9. 1951 Le Sabre
GM’s first post-war concept car, the Le Sabre was pitched as “an experimental laboratory on wheels.” All of it’s technologically advanced designs, like a rain sensor that automatically raised the roof and windows during inclement weather, were fully functional and admittedly impressive, even against today’s standards.
10. 1938 Buick Y Job
A pre-war offering from GM, the Buick Y-Job was the brainchild of Harvey Earl and is generally viewed as the first “concept car” ever completely created. When Early retired from GM in 1959, he explained his design philosophy which had catapulted GM into the realms of tremendous success, “You will never know what the industrial products of the future will be like, but the secret is to keep trying to find out.”