Crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks will reign supreme at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens its doors next week (watch for full coverage from Driving starting Monday). We’ve recently been treated to a few high-end supercars, such as the Ford GT, but the creativity auto manufacturers put into designing concepts has progressively waned. When was the last time a concept car at the Motor City show truly surprised you?
It wasn’t always that way. Detroit used to be where companies from all over the automotive spectrum unabashedly flaunted their design department’s wildest ideas. Of all the exciting concepts that have been unwrapped on the floor of Cobo Hall, here are a few of the more memorable ones – including some that went on to production.
Ford Mustang Mach 1 (1966)
Even during the 1960s, when car enthusiasts were comfortably accustomed to wild-looking concepts, the Ford Mustang Mach 1 caused a stir. The wild, low-slung fastback looked like a life-sized Hot Wheels car. Styling cues such as four round exhaust tips, enormous rear tires, and vents chiseled into the sides made it appreciably more muscular than the standard Mustang.
The production Mach 1 launched in time for the 1969 model year with a considerably more toned-down design. Its roof was much taller, a concession likely made in the name of comfort, and it retained the standard Mustang’s round headlights in lieu of the concept’s rectangular units. It wasn’t watered-down, though. An aggressive stance accented by a hood scoop and a rear spoiler announced it meant business.