“We dream of cars that will float and fly, or run on energy from a laser beam, or travel close to the ground without wheels. Such research may border on the fantastic, but so did the idea of a carriage going about the country without a horse.” —The Ford Book of Styling, 1963
The automobile has evolved from curiosity to daily necessity. Its form has advanced from the horseless carriages of the early twentieth century to the sleek, highly functional objects we know today. The experimental, concept, or “dream car,” as it became known in the early 1950s, has long been a dynamic tool allowing designers to showcase and demonstrate forward-thinking automotive design ideas. Concept cars were not objects the public typically could purchase, but rather the testing ground for innovations that might find expression in automobiles produced decades later. This exhibition explores the innovative designs that sparked ideas of future possibility and progress. It examines the dream car through five themes: individual makers, the impact of styling, visionary designers, the design process, and the influence of automobile fairs.
Chosen from hundreds of concept cars produced between 1932 and the present day, the visions for these automobiles are exciting to behold. Like most concept cars, those on display were never intended for production. Imagine an egg-shaped electric car, an exterior surface made of flexible fabric, or a jet fighter rolling down the highway – all of these were among the ideas dreamed up by designers and are featured in these galleries. The “dream” represented by these cars was that of future possibilities and pushing the limits of imagination and design.