One of the strangest realities of any big car show is that many of the best looking and most groundbreaking automotive designs will never be put into production.
Still, gear heads rush to major events on the calendar – like the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show – to set eyes upon the top automakers’ concept cars for a glimpse of what we might be driving in the near future.
Some concepts look ahead to theorize how ergonomic or economical our wheels will become. But, the real stars of the concept club promise to redefine performance, aesthetics and speed.
This year’s LA Auto Show was a slight disappointment as a few of the elite car companies chose not to attend. There was no sign of Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bugatti. The first two evidently have nothing new that they want to hype to Hollywood come 2013, and I continue to hear Bugatti literally has very few cars on hand to sell. As soon as they make a Veyron or another in their line, elite buyers around the world snatch them up and reduce the inventory.
Fortunately, enough automakers showed off their forward thinking – grabbing crowds by the collective neck and pointing them toward the future.
Any concept car can grab they eye with its forward looking styling of groundbreaking accessories. But, the traffic stopping star of the 2011 LA Auto Show had to be the 2013 Aston Martin One-77. The car first debuted in 2008, but the 2013 test version had the most striking styling seen at the LA Convention Center.
Sleek and powerful, with that trademark Aston Martin nose and vicious door vents, there was an electricity around this 750 hp super car. More importantly, it seems Aston Martin had settled on something very close to this design, so this One-77 should see the road in a limited manufacturing run.
Another awe-inspiring hunk of medal languished over at the Cadillac display. The Ciel Concept looks to blend classic 1950s lines with modern aerodynamics and technology. The result is an angry convertible that Bruce Wayne could pick as a base model for his Batmobile – and easily the most beautiful hybrid I’ve ever seen.
The Ciel would sell north of $100,000 with its twin-turbocharged, V6 hybrid engine. But, there’s no word yet on when it could go into production.
While neither car could keep up with the One-77 on a track day, the 2013 Scion FR-S and the Kia GT Concept could give any car on the convention floor a run in the looks department. The FR-S is more of a quick roadster and promises to park at the top of the Scion line with its front engine, rear wheel drive. Scion claims their FR-S will hit showrooms in mid-late 2012.
The Kia GT resembles a Jaguar coupe, with a 21st century flourishes added to its grill and body work. Putting out 390 hp from its classic sports car rear wheel drive set-up, Kia remains elusive on whether they’ll offer this machine to spice up their tamer import line-up.
The Mazda MX-5 Spyder evolves the incredibly popular Miata design by smoothing its once chubby lines and maturing the look of the roadster. Unfortunately, this great looking little car is a very long shot as it’s fueled by Isobutanol. I thought that was something Pixar made up for Cars 2, but Mazda says its high performance biofuel improves on ethanol. Still, take gasoline out of the picture, and the Spyder becomes a pipe dream.
Another high-tech arachnid with plenty of green cache and sports car flair, the Audi E-Tron Spyder would be powered by four separate electric engines (one for each wheel). But, some executives hinted that a proper mid-engine, internal combustion version could emerge as early as 2014.
Finally, the rarest animal in the building was the Mastretta MXT, a Mexican-built roadster looking to steal some business away from Porsche and Lotus. With its distinctive Mexican flag-inspired badge (“…we don’t need no stinking badges…”); the $50,000 speedster strips down weight and uses a straight four to produce 240 hp.
The Mastretta is heading into wider production now and should be on American, British and Mexican roads in early 2012.
Photo credit – John Scott Lewinski