The history of automotive design is littered with bold attempts to create vehicles so different in how they look and how they work that they render obsolete everything that’s come before. The most daring of these are usually concept cars, which aren’t limited by practicality or government regulations and can therefore allow automakers to really push the limits. For its latest exhibit, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta has assembled 17 of the most beautiful, hideous, and strange automotive concepts ever dreamed up by man, from a 1934 Bugatti prototype up to an early iteration of the Porsche 918 Hybrid super car. What happens when creators balance aesthetics, functionality, and their personal vision of the future is one reason we love cars. That’s especially true when the results leave us wondering, “How could anyone think this was a good idea?”
1953 General Motors Firebird 1 XP-21
To describe today’s super cars, we fall back on likening the Koenigsegg’s and Pagani’s of the world to jet fighters. The 1953 General Motors Firebird I XP-21 was an actual jet fighter, with four wheels, a tail fin, and a bubble cockpit. The turbine engine spun at up to 26,000 rpm to generate a whopping (for the time) 370 horsepower.