Concept Flashback – 2011 Unimog 60th Anniversary Design Concept

While we’re in the Unimog mood, here is a fun look back to the recent past for the 60 Years design concept. This sought to strip the Unimog to its core, function-required elements. Enhancing the insane wheel travel and semi-flexible chassis with showy red springs visible easily through the giant front fender/hood combination. Deconstruction and modernization are the clearest themes visible in this design. The bodywork is pared to the bare minimum, while the roll cage for the passenger cell becomes the only structural element of the open-air cabin. Similarly flowing new frame rails swoop upward around the rear suspension …

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Concept Flashback – 1990 Renault Laguna Roadster

Concept cars serve a variety of purposes in the auto business.  They can be helpful as a grand pronouncement of new ideas — even if those are years away from the showrooms of real life.  They can also be a grand distraction.  Or a grand way to bring halo hotness to a dull lineup. And most of all, they are perfect as blank canvasses for designers to express themselves.  Take a simple idea, like a two-seat cabrio, and take it to its wildest brainstorm conclusion.  In the case of the ultra-curvy Laguna concept, this meant a mid-engine turbo four driving …

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Concept Flashback – 2006 Renault Nepta

You can always count on the French manufacturers to bring some real concept heat.  Perhaps it is the rotation between Frankfurt and Paris.  Whenever it is back in Paris, the brands really go all-out to pack the house. These concepts generally run the gamut of production-unlikliness.  From never-ever to never in a million years. So with no limits but the need to define a next-gen surface language and design theme, what kind of car would you use?  A grand cabriolet, of course! Four giant seats but just two butterfly doors.  These bring the entire bodyside up from central hinges on …

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Concept Flashback - 1978 JAGUAR XJ Spider by Pininfarina 3

Concept Flashback – 1978 Jaguar XJ Spider by Pininfarina

How advanced is this Pininfarina concept for Jaguar? It is hard to believe there is an XK under these swoopy panels, which predated anything else curvy by more than eight years. Of course, Jaguar had been rocking serious curves since the 1940s.  This Pininfarina exercise re-introduced a swoopy, flowing shape that was markedly different from the boxy production XK. Very, very impressive level of production value for a 1978 concept.  Although not adapted for sale, some vindication for the designers came when this basic surfacing template was a huge hit for the Aston Martin DB7 and even the Jaguar XK …

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Renault Espace F1 September 1994 (8) copy

Concept Flashback – 1994 Renault Espace F1 [38 Photos]

The coolest minivan of all time? A rolling, four-seat example of an F1 team doing their work joyfully? And an eclipse wall of yellow metallic …. coming in fast! The visuals of a van but the sound and speed of an F1 car do not register right in the brain.  It is cognitive dissonance at its best. Play ten seconds of the below and tell me you disagree!       Here are 38 remastered photos of the Espace F1 from its launch in 1994. 1994 Renault Espace F1

Concept Flashback - 1999 SEAT Formula Roadster 3

Concept Flashback – 1999 SEAT Formula Roadster

The 1999 SEAT Formula helped transition the brand into a new-millenium design mood. This was actually a really exciting time for the brand: the Leon Cupra was starting the earn buyers from previous GTI and Focus devotees as a five-door sportscar, while the Toledo and Ibiza were quite popular as well. This Formula concept was a mid-engined chassis layout with an alloy spaceframe chassis and bodywork, ensuring with the aim of delivering Boxster-like thrills on the road, but at prices below the Audi TT. The design themes shown on this car its main production impact, however, for the SEAT brand.   …

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2000 Lancia Stratos S81 Stola 3

Concept Flashback – 2000 Lancia STRATOS S81 by Stola

  We have a couple really cool concepts in the pipe from CES for later tonight and tomorrow, but a bit of a lull at moment. What better time to showcase a very influential concept car from Stola for Lancia at the Turin motorshow of the year 2000. Dubbed the Stratos S81, the machine updated the original proportions and design elements of the Lancia Stratos rally hero — but three decades later. WHat really strikes you about the S81 in 2016 is how influential is details ended up being, albeit long after its retirement. Most cloned details?  The boomerrang of …

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Concept Flashback - 2009 RINSPEED iChange 34

Concept Flashback – 2009 RINSPEED iChange

How about an awesome Rinspeed concept to help forget the X-Trem from 1999? Flash forward ten years later, and we have the 2009 iChange — an ultra-low, sleek and sexy single-seat sports car — with a twist. At the touch of a button, the track-attack looks and functionality of the iChange into a chic three-seater with bubble glass canopy.  How?  The entire glasshouse shifts upward and forward, with its rear section base extending a few inches upward to give more headroom in back.   (It is subtle)  Very subtle.  So the name is iChange, but might be better billed as the …

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Concept Flashback - 2001 BMW X Coupe 4

Concept Flashback – 2001 BMW X Coupe

A design so unfeasible, we all thought, that it didn’t matter how unviable. An SUV Coupe?  Ruthlessly absurd! How wrong we were!  Car enthusiasts obviously recognize this compact crossover shape from more than three dozen new or upcoming road cars. The chopped roof, the bluff face and 1-series-previewing headlamps?  Z4 Coupe backlight, with the high rump of the X6? It all came true! Like a wild wet dream for gravel drifters… the X Coupe came well ahead of its time in 2001. Concept Flashback – 2001 BMW X Coupe

Concept Flashback – 1988 ITALDESIGN Aspid – Tinted Bubble Canopy

PART TWO: The Aspid bubble hardtop. This Aztec is the first of two from the design studio’s 1988 releases — and is a huge piece of automotive coolness that might otherwise be lost to the ages. It is hard to get psyched about 80s concepts sometimes, but this Aztec’s influence on SO MANY CARS of the 1990s is clear as day. Camaro, Corvette, Probe, RX-7, MX-5, 300ZX… the list goes on and on. The mid-engine concept car runs a 250-horsepower Audi-sourced engine, but its most memorable part is the glasshouse. Twin mini windshields wrap around both passenger compartments, and open …

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Concept Flashback - 1988 ITALDESIGN Aztec 11

Concept Flashback – 1988 ITALDESIGN Aztec – Twin-Cowl Design Full of Ideas and Impact

  This Aztec is the first of two from the design studio’s 1988 releases — and is a huge piece of automotive coolness that might otherwise be lost to the ages. It is hard to get psyched about 80s concepts sometimes, but this Aztec’s influence on SO MANY CARS of the 1990s is clear as day. Camaro, Corvette, Probe, RX-7, MX-5… the list goes on and on. The mid-engine concept car runs a 250-horsepower Audi-sourced engine, but its most memorable part is the glasshouse. Twin mini windshields wrap around both passenger compartments, and open upward in butterfly arcs as the …

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Concept Debrief – 1972 Maserati Boomerang by GIUGIARO – Leading Wedge Hypercar

  The wedge. This design mantra took over the minds of the world’s top stylists collectively around 1970 – as the Ferrari 512 S Module and the Lancia Stratos HF Zero concepts swept everyone to accept the shape. The design was the ultimate expression of mid-engine hypercar engineering of the time. In wind tunnels of the day, the goal was to have as little front surface area as possible. Something like a rocket for the road. Ferrari 512 S Modulo at Atlanta Dream Cars exhibit       Lancia Stratos HF Zero at Atlanta Dream Cars exhibit Wind …

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Concept Flashback - 2005 Fiat OLTRE 3

Concept Flashback – 2005 Fiat OLTRE

It is somewhat azmusing that the 2005 Oltre-Fiat concept truck’s name means “over” in a direct Italian to English translation. Of course, Oltre also means ‘above and beyond’ and ‘over’ and ‘onward.’  Many adventurous descriptions for a seven-ton monster of a military truck. “Over” of course now also applies to the Oltre-Fiat’s extremely gaudy, Hummer-esque lines.  An obvious attempt at glamorizing the blocky IVECO running gear down below, the entire upper bodywork is bright white. Yes, it is an eyesore and hideous by 2015 standards. But in 2005 at the Bologna auto show, the Oltre-Fiat proved that high-fashion military vehicles …

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Concept Flashback – 2006 Citroen C-METISSE

Concept cars do not come more glamorous and futuristic than the 2006 C-Metisse! As the trend in the mainstraeam car business moves to ‘expectation-management’ and production-intent concepts only,the car-loving public is somewhat starved of truly fresh ideas. Proportions and technology that is 10, 20 or maybe even 30 years out. That is something that few thinly-veiled preview concepts cannot, by definition, preview. This makes sense on the one hand. You do not want car shoppers to have a huge sense of disappointment at the production model versus a concept. On the other hand, where is the awe? Where is the …

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Concept Flashback – 2012 Toyota FT-Bh Envisioned 135-MPG SuperPrius

    Yes yes, it is easy to focus on amazing concept cars for the flashback pieces. But what about the functional stuff? The wild and hideous? EOE coverage here… with a look back at the 2012 Toyota FT-Bh from Geneva of that year. As a sculptural piece, and an achievement in aerodynamics… the FT-Bh is clearly impressive. It is a large wagon variant about the length of the current Prius V, but much lower and wider. What we saw in the FT-Bh was the next step in Toyota hybrid aero styling. By comparison, the Mirai fuel cell production car …

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Concept Flashback - 2009 BRABUS E V12 'One of Ten' 23

Concept Flashback – 2009 BRABUS E V12 ‘One of Ten’ in Streamliner Rear Fenders

Brabus obviously crushes it when making ultra-powerful upgrades of Mercedes and AMG engines. But what do you do when there is just no power left to give? You take drastic aero steps! Exponential growth in drag as speed rises is what makes overall top speed runs so difficult to master, and why we aren’t in 400-mph cars yet. This 2009 BRABUS E-Class uses a time-honored way of lowering drag: put the rear wheels inside fender farings. The result is pretty cool, even wearing the old E63 design as a base point. The tires create a 217-mph top speed for the …

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2010 Red Bull X1 26

2010 Red Bull X1 Launched Gran Turismo As Ultimate MMO R&D Engine

As we look to the future of disruptive, breakthrough innovations in racing — it helps to start with a blank sheet of paper. This is counterintuitive, of course, versus the typical half-step of evolution among all species — racecars included. What is needed to deliver the TV ratings and championship trophies all race series crave? Speed, beauty, drama and technical innovation. There must be balance between outright speed, sound and safety. In short, a revolution is needed to put put racing into hyperdrive. The world championship Red Bull and Vettel pairing from 2010 provided a clever look at priorities of …

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2010 Peugeot SR1 Concept 23

Concept Flashback – 2010 Peugeot SR1 Roadster Brought Beauty Back to Lion

French auto giant Peugeot has made some real stinkers over the years — especially years starting in two-thousand. The face of the brand from around 2005 to around 2012 was a horrifying ghoul of a scream mask. Looking like it wanted to eat anything that got within its gaping maw, there was real shock among auto buyers at how amazingly fugly Pugs had become. Paired with notoriously long front overhangs, the grille graphic was the last etch on the Peugeot design coffin. The SR1 Concept roadster from 2010 was a firm pivot away from that hideous look.  It was a …

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2009 Citroen REVOLTe 86

Concept Flashback – 2009 Citroen REVOLTe Was PHEV Deux Chevaux Redux

  If there are two cars that will forever define Citroen over the 20th century, they are the DS and the 2CV. One an advanced luxury car with front-drive and a hydraulic suspension for eerie smoothness over cobblestone Parisian streets. The other a basic post-war mobility solution whose 2CV name translates as “Two Steam Horses.” Redesigning those icons for today is an immediate and instant testbed for future Citroen design ideas. Many, many designers have tried this “New Beetle” styling exercise on the 2CV — with largely hideous results. So for the REVOLTe to be instantly attractive and appealing is …

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2008 Citroen HYPNOS 35

Concept Flashback – 2008 Citroen HYPNOS Was X6-Sized Missed Opportunity

  This 2008 Citroen concept is best known for its melted candy interior – with a swirl of wild colors looking a bit like a bag of Skittles left of the dashboard of a car in direct sunlight. But in fact, this crossover was one of Citroen’s first attempts at a soft-roader. Powered by a 2.0-liter HDi turbodiesel making 200-horsepower to the front wheels, plus a hybrid electric setup with 50HP for the back axle. The crossover and SUV space presented and still does present a fantastic opportunity for mass-market brands to achieve premium sales they all crave. Evidence? How …

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2009 MANSORY Chopster 19

Custom Flashback – 2009 MANSORY Chopster Was Carbon Widebody Cayenne Turbo S

Mansory Switzerland was the proud owner of this fantastic Porsche Cayenne upgrade, which was built just in time for the Frankfurt motor show in 2009. But first things first: yes, there was a Chopster before — from Rinspeed in 2005. As discussed in this other article, there are major issues with actually chopping the roof of a production car: the doors, glass and everything else is suddenly not OEM-safe or secure for true high-performance driving. The Mansory technique maintains the Porsche glasshouse and structural elements, but swaps its steel exterior for carbon-fiber all around. A width stretch of around four …

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2008 Mazda Kazamai 26

Concept Flashback – 2008 Mazda Kazamai Was Crossover Coupe With Rear-Drive Stance

As a small and independent manufacturer, Mazda cannot really afford to flub the design of one of its main production models. Careful design feedback was solicited on a global scale between 2005 and 2010, when the firm rolled out almost a dozen wild concept cars. As sort of a focus-group-by-fire, these concepts showed some good ideas, some bad ideas, and overall the results informed the latest generation of gorgeous Mazda6, fairly cool Mazda3 and very stylish upcoming MX-5 and CX-3. As a crossover coupe with two massive doors, this Kazamai concept proved two things: that rear-drive proportions are always stunning …

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2007 Mazda TAIKI Concept 32

Concept Flashback – 2007 Mazda TAIKI Explores HyperLight Supercar Back-Channels

Let’s imagine you want to make a supercar. The normal way to achieve massive performance is a giant engine. But is there an alternative route to supercar speed? The TAIKI concept believes there is. The little ticks down the aerodynamics chart are actually really giant leaps forward in aero slipperiness. Dropping a coefficient of drag from 0.30 cD to a 0.29 cD is actually a 10X improvement in how smoothly the car can pass through the air. This change continues its exponential level of change as you approach 0.01 — so the benefits of drag reduction are quite powerful. More …

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Mitsubishi Evolander

Concept Flashback – 2006 Mitsubishi EvoLander

Proof that the Lancer Evolution component set is pure gold where-ever it lives? The 2006 EvoLander concept from Mitsubishi for the 2006 SEMA show. You might think it would be simple or low-budget to complete an upgrade like this. Swap the engine, driveline, brakes, wheels and tires – then slap on some fender extensions and lower the ride height 4 inches. Not the Mitsubishi way. This EvoLander actually runs a turbocharged V6 MIVEC engine and a custom widebody kit with no seams or stick-on mounting points. These are all-new, one-off panels all around — and are extra stunning as a …

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Concept Flashback – 2000 Audi Rosemeyer

Steampunk? Does that apply here? No, none of the original Audi race-cars from the 1930s were powered by steam, but this Rosemeyer concept seems to fit into this new, retro-mechanical style movement. Exposed rivets, pop-up lamp covers, individual headlight pods, massive vents all down the back of the engine compartment — all fantastic and moody. The brushed-aluminum surface takes a big step toward authenticity versus the clean and polished surface of the Avus Quattro concept, while the front vents all feel milled from a solid piece of metal. 2000 Audi Rosemeyer


Concept Flashback – 2012 MINI Rocketman 1 and 2

  The 2011 and 2012 MINI Rocketman concepts took a look at an even more micro MINI city car. As the new model Hardtop three-door grows far larger and wider than ever, there is a strong desire to return to the car’s barely-there dimensions. This is in sharp contrast to the overall MINI range, which has blown outward in all directions to a total of nine models at this point. Even MINI feels this has gotten out-of-control, with the Paceman (2-door offroader) and Coupe set for the chopping block in the near future. The problem with an even smaller MINI …

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2001 gtr

Concept Flashback – 2001 Nissan GT-R Prototype

People gave Lexus a hard time for spending so many years developing the LF-A, the Honda for the endless parade of concepts leading to the current 2016 NSX just revealed in production form in Detroit. But Nissan was part of this long-running tradition of slow perfectionism when it comes to a brand’s sports-car flagship. The first look at what the R35 Nissan GT-R would become seven years later? The 2001 Tokyo auto show, with this static styling and aero buck. The next concept in 2005, the GT-R Proto, was much closer to the eventual production model — but both were …

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Concept Flashback – 2001 Nissan Alpha-T

Nissan is giving journalists a first look at the 2016 Titan pickup today in Detroit at a football viewing party, and we wish we were there to see it! To set the stage, it seems timely and relevant to share Nissan’s first full-size pickup truck concept: the 2001 Alpha-T. Definitely a product of its moment in time, but also a bit stylish and adventure-bound in its style — even almost 15 years since. 2001 Nissan Alpha-T Jan. 8, 2001 Nissan Explores New Territory with Radical aT Concept – First Foray Into Full-Size Truck Market Makes ‘Big’ Statement     Nissan …

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2006 Mitsubishi Concept CT

2006 Mitsubishi Concept CT Was Sexy Widebody Hatchback

It is really difficult to design a hatchback city car with the stance of a rear-drive performance car. The bluff nose and and widebody fenders of a supercar help make this 2006 Mitsubishi Concept CT a memorable design study, with its twisting and rising beltline an ultramodern flourish. The CT’s rounded but bluff and streamlined nose and windshield are relatively simple – and really highlight the cool and low feel of the Concept CT design. 2006 Mitsubishi Concept CT  

2008 Dodge ZEO

Concept Flashback – 2008 Dodge ZEO Was EV Tesla-Fighter

The 2008 Dodge ZEO was conceived in a world of $150-per-barrel oil in 2006 and 2007, when the full electrification of the car seemed inevitable. The freedom to run a flat-pack of Li-Ion batteries in the floor of the vehicle offered Dodge a chance to break out of typical packaging constraints. We see some great elements in the ZEO, including its finished four-seat cabin and spectacular doors. But the design is a bit busier than the Dodge ideal, especially around the nose. Lack of air intakes means the ZEO and its crossbar grille just seem a bit scrunched and silly …

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2007 VADHO BMW by ItalDesign Giugiaro

Concept Flashback – 2007 ItalDesign VADHO Ran BMW Hydrogen V12

A hydrogen V12? That is not exactly true. The VADHO indeed runs a BMW Hydrogen fuel cell, but this produces power for a hybrid-electric drivetrain — like all hydrogen cars. The V12 is likely to be conventionally-powered. So why the tandem seating arrangement? Ostensibly, this bubble canopy housing a single passenger behind the driver’s seat is to allow for the powertrain’s massive scale and the required gas tank for the Hydrogen powertrain. These tanks generally are only available in one cylindrical shape — and housing a massive one that can avoid exploding in a crash is deeply challenging for car …

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2005 Chrysler Firepower

Concept Flashback – 2005 Chrysler Firepower Was HEMI Viper With An Automatic

As we wrote that headline, it seemed to come across as a scoffing sacrilege to have a Viper chassis with a V8 and automatic. But truly, the opposite is true. The Firepower’s time has come. Three reasons: — Corvette sales this generation have been split 70/30 in favor of the automatic transmission. —-> Viper does not offer an automatic — For nearly all owners, a 6.1-liter V8 would be more than plenty to give true supercar performance —-> The Viper’s 8.4-liter V10 is a major cost center for the vehicle, which in this generation stickers from $100,000 and up. — …

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buick velite

Droptop Dreams – 2004 Buick Velite Cabriolet, 2001 Buick Bengal and 2000 Buick Regal Cielo

Buick was keen to have an open-topped car in the early 2000s. How do we know this? Three near-consecutive concepts explored the possibility of a Buick convertible: with the final being the best. We start with the 2000 Buick Regal Cielo — an innovative retracting targa that stacks the split roof panels into the trunk. This left the main pillars and side glass intact, but likely added hundreds of pounds and may have absorbed most of the trunk’s volume. 2000 Buick Regal Cielo In 2001, we have a sexy and slinky Bengal cabrio concept with sharp and smooth surfaces and …

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2003 ItalDesign Moray Corvette By Giugiaro

Concept Flashback – 2003 ItalDesign Moray Corvette By Giugiaro

  The Corvette Moray is a slippery one — in many senses of the word! Named after the shimmery Moray eel and styled to glide through this world without disturbing the air, the Moray Corvette from ItalDesign in 2003 is interesting for a few reasons. First off, though, let’s discuss what it is under these sleek new panels and triple glass bubble canopy. It is a C5 underneath — so the guys had their work cut out for them in making it special and respected at Pebble Beach and in Geneva. It is a full reskin from tip to tail, …

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Concept Flashback - 1989 Mitsubishi HSR II Innovates With Six Active Aero Wings

Concept Flashback – 1989 Mitsubishi HSR II Innovates With Six Active Aero Wings

We’ve been pouring through the Mitsubishi back catalog today for a few Concept Flashback articles. The real all-star of the Mitsu lineup of show cars in the last three decades? It is this – the 1989 HSR II. HSR stands for Highly Sophisticated-transport Research and was a follow-up to a 1987 concept of the same name. The HSR II is far more beautiful, however, and also more innovative. Sure, as a 1989 Japanese exotic, the HSR II is packing a twin-turbo V6 along with 4-wheel-steering and 4-wheel-drive. This goes well with its ABS brakes, independent suspension and electronically-adjustable dampers all …

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ez miev

Concept Flashback – 2006 Mitsubishi EZ MiEV

  If the Concept D5 Mitsubishi van represents a hard and blocky view of the future, this EZ MiEV is a much softer look into next-gen van style and tech.With its ultra-rounded and white pearlescent exterior features, the resemblence of this concept to the iPod from Apple is intentional. But things in this bubble van are just getting started with the exterior design and wrap-around glass. With a flat-battery platform an in-wheel electric motors, the EZ MiEV takes cabin versatility to a whole new level. The seats fold to form a full eight-foot bed with room for two adults. The …

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Concept Flashback - 2004 Mitsubishi Sport Truck

Concept Flashback – 2004 Mitsubishi Sport Truck

Mitsubishi was actively exploring its mid-size truck future in this time period – with an eye on US sales for a truck like this. A bit smaller and lighter-duty than even the Honda Ridgeline, this Sport Truck was based on the Endeavor SUV chassis. To make it in the US market, it would need to be built in the US to avoid a punishing 25-percent tariff on all imported pickup trucks, however. Mitsu just did not have the bandwidth to make a business case for this beauty, which is a shame, but understandable. The company went with a rebadged Dodge …

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mitsubishi concept d5

Concept to Reality – 2006 Mitsubishi D5 to 5th-Gen Delica

When we think of cars from the future, the aesthetic is generally minimalist and slightly brutal with its form language. This can be typical normal shapes like hatchbacks and pickups and mid-size sedans — but all designed with a lean and crisp look that eschews frivolous bulging and chrome in favor of minimalism. Will this be what cars in the future actually look like? Probably not. Just like we do not dress in spandex StarTrek outfits or one-piece tracksuits in 2015. But those are still the most popular uniform for most hyper-futuristic hollywood movie. Cars that would fit in that …

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zagato tz and tz3

Supercars Now and Then – 2010 Zagato TZ3 Corsa vs. 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ

  Celebrating 100 years means looking far back into a company’s roots and foundation. Zagato chose to honor the 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ. This fastback racer homage is built on the chassis of the Alfa 8C, itself a reskinned Maserati GranTurismo. Even as a third-hand rehash of another car — the TZ3 is quite compelling. Most surprising element? There are strong AMG GT flavors in the front three-quarter angle of the TZ3 — a full four years before Mercedes adopted these ultra-flowing and curved panel surfaces. NOSE   PROFILE TAIL     1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ 2010 Zagato …

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maserati zagato 2007

Concept Flashback – 2007 Maserati GS ZAGATO

Proof of how much easier it is to criticize than to create? The 2007 Maserati GSZ was a bespoke design of a fastback Grand Sport atop the factory Maserati Coupe’s shell. There are a few angles on this GSZ that really work and are elegant, pure and stylish. But Zagato’s trademark double bubble roofline and intersecting rear canopy do not sit very happily on the ultra-short Maserati’s frame. Moreover, the additional rounding of the glass surfaces is less-than-athletic. But compared with the classic A6G Zagato Maserati which inspired the design, the round and overinflated roofline is a good match. From …

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cc100 colors32345

2013 Aston Martin CC100 COLORIZER

What if the CC100 was amazing, you thought, but the retro colors were a turnoff? We’ve tweaked the accent and main shade here to show three new finishes, complete with flawless 360-degree turntables for each. Enjoy!         CC100 Magenta   CC100 Green CC100 Red   CC100 Magenta  


Concept Flashback – 2013 Aston Martin CC100 Speedster Was Dubbed DBR100 In Development

  The amazing CC100 Speedster makes the Jaguar Project 7 look like a silly branded parka. A complete conversion from the softtop Vantage into the CC100 sees completely unique carbon-fiber bodywork all around, mini door-tops with open and exposed airflow elements at hip-height for both passengers, and a fantastic shrouded cabin. A complete lack of windshield glass means helmets would definitely need chinstraps on tight for high-speed driving, but the overall effect on the CC100’s style makes it worthwhile. Double head-height roll spikes are a stylistic delight, and even include extra roll-over protection in the form of ram-actuated extra roll …

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Concept Flashback – 1986 Peugeot PROXIMA Is X-Rated Hypercar All-Star

Concept cars can feel a little like X-rated movies. They are mostly a single-shot affair. One year on the circuit, and they are gone. With so much variety out there, why bother diving deep into an old one? But every once in a while… there comes a concept car so legendary, you could watch it every day and be a happy camper. The 1986 Peugeot Proxima is that concept car. Part LeMans racer, part Sci-Fi fantasy, part Batmobile Tumbler — the Promixa is a stunning piece of design and engineering even 30 years later. It was powered by a twin-turbocharged …

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city toyz

Concept Flashback – 2000 Peugeot City Toyz – Kartup, Vroomster, eDoll and Bobslid

What a difference 15 years and a dotcom boom can make in how cars of an era are perceived in the future. These Peugeot City Toyz concepts seem absolutely ridiculous today, and might have felt that way then, too. There are some cool ideas for a track car in the Kartup’s canopy system, and the Vroomster is now almost a reality with the Renault EV city car …. but even so, these are definitely of a time and a place that no longer exists in the car world. The eDoll’s bubble canopy in back seems particularly offensive, but may have …

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2013 Toyota Yaris Hybrid R

Concept Flashback – 2013 Toyota Yaris Hybrid R Previews 420HP Supercapacitor AWD

This 2013 concept Yaris is not a direct precursor to a production model – which makes sense when you consider that the Yaris in the US is a non-hybrid. That segment is owned by the Prius C. But the cars clearly share much of their chassis and overall technology, so lets just focus on the mechanical upgrades shown by the Hybrid R technology. Engineered by TMG in Germany, the Yaris Hybrid R runs a racing 1.6-liter turbo four in front, plus three 60-horsepower electric motors providing AWD via the back axle. One of the electric motors is in front, while …

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i8 spyder gif

Spec Renderings – 2016 BMW i8 Spyder

Updated 12.15.14 Here are some crude renderings of a potential 2016 i8 Spyder. These might seem silly, but it is helpful to blend the roofless style of the 2012 concept with the production nose and door detailing of the 2014 i8 Coupe. The 2012 BMW i8 Concept Spyder was a stunning showcase of the latest BMW flagship. Now that the production i8 Coupe is a huge hit around the world — and won TopGear’s Car of the Year to prove it — we’re taking another look at the drop-top version. In theory, the carbon-fiber chassis and central portion of the …

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i8 spyder concept 1

Concept Flashback – 2012 BMW i8 Spyder – Coming For Summer 2015?

  The 2012 BMW i8 Concept Spyder was a stunning showcase of the latest BMW flagship. Now that the production i8 Coupe is a huge hit around the world — and won TopGear’s Car of the Year to prove it — we’re taking another look at the drop-top version. In theory, the carbon-fiber chassis and central portion of the i8 lends itself to the cabrio conversion very nicely. Due to how close the i8 concepts were to the production model, we believe a Spyder is not only feasible — but firmly on the radar. A few rough renderings show what …

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Concept Flashback – 2003 Peugeot Hoggar Was Twin-Engine 4×4 a la 2015 DKR Racer

Here is a fun look at a dune buggy from Peugeot more than a decade ago. The brand had long ditched its  off-road-race pedigree through the 1990s, and with it any available 4×4 powertrains. The only way they could make this little cabrio a true 4×4 involved some very unique engineering. In what is a strange and exponentially more complex arrangement than a prop shaft, the Hoggar has twin four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. Both mounted transversely – with one on each end. Think of it like the noses of two Peugeot hatchback’s joined by a chromoly chassis in between. It is …

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Concept to Reality – 2010 Mazda Shinari to 2013 Mazda6

Now here is a company with some genius ideas, and the brilliance to bring them to a street near you. The Shinari is gorgeous, and the Mazda6 is too. Well done.     Concept to Reality – 2010 Mazda Shinari to 2013 Mazda6 2016 Mazda6   2013 Mazda6           2010 Mazda SHINARI Concept  


Concept Flashback – 2008 Mercedes-Benz F700 Was Aggressively Ugly Eco-Limo

After scathing critiques of Audi’s Prologue concept for LA 2014 and a few other recent machines, we want to balance things out. An equal-opportunity offender here! But the Prologue is just a major disappointment. It is not something that makes you want to gouge your eyes out with a red-hot iron spike. When thinking of other truly fug-nasty concept cars, the F700 leaps to mind instantly. What were they thinking? The low-nose and cab-forward style as a future S-Class-plus limo is hard enough to swallow, but then we have gobsmacking bug-eye lamps, a deeply plunging windowline into the front doors, …

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Concept Flashback – 2003 Cadillac Sixteen Hoped to Join $100k+ Limo Segment

The Cadillac Sixteen created a huge, huge stir around the world after its reveal in early 2003. This was shortly after the Rolls-Royce Phantom had been reborn in its ultra-long and cab-backward style, and the world was even more gaga for the Sixteen. Cadillac trotted the car around the world at least thrice to attend every major auto show you could ever name. Fashion and lifestyle agazines wrote about it. Famous photographers snapped it in famous places. All this love came out of left field, to be honest. No one in the $100,000-plus luxury car market of 2003 would ever, …

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Concept Flashback – 2002 Cadillac Cien XV12 – Halo Hypercar Back in Product Plans?

Cadillac in 2002 was just, just starting to reclaim its place in the luxury car ranks. Long blighted by horribly-engineered boats that failed every objective and subjective comparison with any true luxury brand, Cadillac was finally committing to rear-drive and actual merits as a corporate philoshophy. The new Art & Science tagline for the brand’s style — coined by Leo Burnett Chicago — needed an exemplar. People were thrilled by the Catera-replacing CTS but the brand needed a real shove upmarket. And fast. Enter stage left: the 2002 Cadillac Ciel concept running a mid-engine XV12 Northstar of 7.5-liters. It was …

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Concept Flashback – 2011 Chevrolet Miray Roadster Was Chevy Europe Halo Sportster

Chevy Europe! Eeek. Remember that adventure? The ManU jerseys are definitely bow-tie-blazing this year, thanks to a huge a executive media marketing decision that costs General Motors more than half a billion dollars. During that rush of launching Chevrolet as a global brand — including Europe — the Opel Germany teams were suddenly tasked with a variety of extremely mundane projects. One extra sexy spinoff project slipped through the net for Frankfurt 2011, however. It was called Miray and is a breathtaking roadster vision. Designed in the same zeitgeist as the BMW i8 Roadster and Porsche 918 Spyder, the Miray …

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Concept Flashback – 2001 Toyota FXS Roadster Was Riviera-Style EV Supercar

The Toyota FXS concept from 2001 was one of the first full vehicle ideas from the Nice, France-based Toyota ED2 studio. Short for Toyota European Design and Development, ED2 has since delivered a variety of cool and not-so-cool production cars — including the latest Yaris and the unloved Lexus SC430 of the mid-2000s. This concept is important because it showed an innovative hybrid powertrain with an ultra-smooth underbody and sleekness in all its exterior shapes. A steep drop-nose style established thed FXS as a super sports car, as does the chopped windshield and cab-backward propotion. The rear taillamp in a …

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Concept Flashback – 2012 McLaren X-1 Introduced MSO Skills To World … In Hideous Fashion?

The MSO X-1 customer car from 2012 was a grand intro to MSO at Pebble Beach in 2012 — and boy was it a shocking coming out party. Many were rightly flabbergasted by its design – as though George Jetson had won the powerball. But while the X-1 will certainly not go down in history as one of the most beautiful cars, it did its job of showcasing MSO’s talents very well indeed. Not a panel from the MPF-12C remained on the X-1 — which also has totally unique proportions and a heavy-handed style all its own. The nose is …

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Concept Flashback – 2010 Renault DeZir Was Anti-Furai With Lusty, Sexualized Curves

  Designers are like all other artists: their work evolves but also can take sweeping and abrupt changes. A designer’s cars might take unique shapes in certain years, only to go wild in the other direction right afterwards. Such is the 2010 Renault DeZir concept — designed when Laurens van den Acker was freshly recruited away from Mazda. Van den Acker’s ‘Nagare’ themes at Mazda were all about sharp creases formed out of a wind-swept surface. He designed a half-dozen Mazda’s with this theme intact – and it is perhaps epitomized best in the Furai concept hypercar. If the Furai …

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Concept Flashback – 2004 Hyundai HCD-8 Sports Tourer Concept

Looking back through the Hyundai concept car archive is pretty shocking. The strides Hyundai has made in overall design and aesthetic appeal in the last decade are simply remarkable. Evidence? This HCD-8 Sports Tourer Concept — a grand GT coupe with luxurious rear-drive proportions, but serious failings in sexiness. (In fact, this coupe is front-drive.) What the HCD-8 does prove is how much design skill it takes to go from the Hyundai concepts from before this car and onto big hits like the 2011 Sonata and current Elantra. The concepts before this HCD-8 are far, far stranger and less appealing …

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Concept Flashback – Lexus LF-LC in 77 High-Res Photos – Future LF-C?

When looking closely at the 2011 and 2012 Lexus LF-LC concepts, you see clear influences all around toward the latest RC. You also see the design from these advanced studies throughout the Lexus line for 2015 – with everything from the GX to the ES and LS wearing a giant spindle frame grille and arrowhead lighting elements. There is more to these beauties than just the nose, however: they share the exact proportions and hard-points with the vaunted LF-A supercar. Are these designs intended as a second-generation LF-A? Something like an LF-C with hybrid power from the Toyota TS040 LeMans …

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Concept Flashback – 2008 GMC Denali XT Is Hybrid V8 Chop-Top!

How many awesome ideas and cars hit the chopping block during the financial crisis? More than a dozen from each manufacturer, we would estimate. That goes for much of the new engine tech and almost all of the new segment-busting models like this Denali XT. As wide as a full-size truck, but two feet lower — the Denali XT is seriously sexy even as we enter 2015. The ideas shown on this truck are pretty evergreen, and might be up for a revival some day. The Hybrid engine tech shown is paired with a 4.9-liter, direct-injected V8 — the one …

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Concept Flashback – 2006 Toyota F3R Directly Previewed Swagger Wagon Sienna

When it comes to making a seriously sexy minivan, you have to bring every design vision in the book to life. In many ways, the proportions of a giant van make the goal of stylish and sporty themes harder to deliver than any other type of car or truck. So many ideas have been tried over the years – from the Pontiac TransPort Montana to the Ford Aerostar and then Windstar — the cool minivan can be a time-suck extrordiaire. It is just a black hole for resources, in many ways. This is partially why the unique and egg-shaped Nissan …

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Concept Flashback – 2004 Toyota MTRC – Off-Road EV Racer With Adjustable Ground Clearance

Any huge fans of radio-controlled cars out there? Yep, that is what we thought. Almost all of us! The baja racer design of many off-road cars and trucks makes them fast over almost any surface, indestructible and, above all, fun! How to bring that joyful rally racing function to a life-sized prototype? One that can have a wild body shape, self-lifting suspension and a smooth underbody (and big splitters) to maximize downforce? The Toyota MTRC stands for Motor Triathlon Race Car — and employs a variety of very smart techniques for making a life-size RC car. Tandem seating and in-wheel …

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Updated With 42 New Photos – INFINITI Q80 Inspiration Concept Flagship

Updated 10.2.14 One popular design cliche is to describe the panel shapes of a model as ‘like flowing silk.’ The idea is to be lighter than air, and always in motion with ripples and elegant movement at all times. Far beyond cliche, the new Q80 Inspiration makes the idea real.A rare achievement, to be sure, and very exciting. Freeze that wind-swept silk in time, and it carries the beauty of motion even as a static piece. That is how we would describe the latest panel shaping theme shown in the new Q80 Inspiration, which is officially set to become a …

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Concept Flashback – 1972 Maserati Boomerang Was Production-Ready Wedge Hypercar

  The wedge. This design mantra took over the minds of the world’s top stylists collectively around 1970 – as the Ferrari 512 S Module and the Lancia Stratos HF Zero concepts swept everyone to accept the shape. The design was the ultimate expression of mid-engine hypercar engineering of the time. In wind tunnels of the day, the goal was to have as little front surface area as possible. Something like a rocket for the road. Ferrari 512 S Modulo at Atlanta Dream Cars exhibit     Lancia Stratos HF Zero at Atlanta Dream Cars exhibit Wind tunnels …

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Concept Flashback – 2003 Citroen C-Airlounge Is Most Artful and Memorable Van Concept… Ever?

What does it take to make a minivan form sexy? To make it fresh and trippy and almost psychedelic? That would take the mad hatters at Citroen in France. The look of this C-Airlounge concept actually strongly informed the designs of the current generation of people-movers like the C4 Picasso — but loses much of the surreal sense of hypercurved panel shapes and seamless construction. Part of the fantasy of this C-Airlounge is that imagining a car like this on the road is nearly impossible. Virtually no panel gaps or shutlines get in the way of the features, while the …

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Concept Flashback – 1978 JAGUAR XJ Spider by Pininfarina

How advanced is this Pininfarina concept for Jaguar? It is hard to believe there is an XK under these swoopy panels, which predated anything else curvy by more than eight years. Very, very impressive for 1978 — especially considering that this basic template was a huge hit for the Aston Martin DB7 and even the Jaguar XK from 1996. 1978 JAGUAR XJ Spider by Pininfarina

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INFINITI Q80 Inspiration Previews Gorgeous and Fascinating S-Class Competitor

One popular design cliche is to describe the panel shapes of a model as ‘like flowing silk.’ The idea is to be lighter than air, and always in motion with ripples and elegant movement at all times. Far beyond cliche, the new Q80 Inspiration makes the idea real.A rare achievement, to be sure, and very exciting. Freeze that wind-swept silk in time, and it carries the beauty of motion even as a static piece. That is how we would describe the latest panel shaping theme shown in the new Q80 Inspiration, which is officially set to become a production model …

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Concept Flashback – 1985 Nissan Cue-X Inspired Original Infiniti Q45 Flagship and Future Q80

  As we prepare for the upcoming Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept’s debut in Paris, how about a look back at the springboard ideas that led to the first flagship, the Q45 of 1990. The 1985 Cue-X concept from Nissan shares clear details with what became the Q45 from all angles, but especially in profile. This low and lean shape was far less formal than the competition from Lexus in the LS400, as well as the established players like Mercedes-Benz and BMW. It is fascinating to see the inspiration for the original Q, and the low and flowing style shown by …

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Concept Flashback – 2009 Audi R8 TDI V12 Shows Great Engineering Potential, But Limited Market

Audi seems to have no trouble winning LeMans with its ultra-sophisticated R18 models in the last decade — but has struggled mightily trying to translate racing tech to the road. Even today, there is no clear link between Audi racing glory and the cars sold by Audi dealerships. Sure, there is anecdotal evidence hat motorsport success has fueled Audi’s continued sales rise — but it is a tenuous link. Upon the arrival of Audis’ first supercar, the R8, this finally looked set to change. At last — a way to show how LeMans racing improves the breed in general! The …

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Concept Flashback – 2008 Mazda Furai is 450HP, Rotary LMP2 Car That Met Two Tragic Ends

What were the two tragic ends that met the Furai concept? One: Laurens van den Acker leaves Mazda to take the top design job at Renault, where he delivered the Clio 4 and cars like the Twizy — and has imprinted his influence on ever product since 2010. The tragedy for Mazda’s NAGARE design philosophy is that it was hard to continue van den Acker’s ‘Flow’ themes without the true creator’s presence. So, despite being globally celebrated after its launch in late December 2007, the Furai was fairly doomed from the start. Designed first, and engineered second — the fantastic …

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Concept Flashback – 2011 Nissan Esflow Showed Potential EV Mini-Z

Once upon a time… As recently as the 2011 Tokyo auto show… Nissan was more excited about its EV technology’s prospects, and less terrified by the scale of the huge EV investment that is still not working as we enter 2015. The possibilities in 2011 seemed endless for new packaging and new powertrain layouts. No longer enslaved to front-drive or rear-drive platforms by engine location, the battery EV revolution was indeed promising. But how to inject a little fun into the extremely dull and practical sales appeal of the Leaf EV. Enter the ESFLOW concept. With proportions and detailing like …

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Concept Flashback – 2004 RANGE STORMER Previewed High-Design SUV Supercars

Updating the 2017 RR SuperSport renderings with the inspiration for many recent Range Rover style and design decisions. 2004 RANGE STORMER PREVIOUS         Just some light entertainment this evening. The inspiration is how impactful the 2003 Range Stormer concept was and is. The racy glasshouse with a deeply sloped windshield and rear glass was a shock at the time. But since that concept and the first Range Rover Sport, the design is looking less shocking. In fact, the current RRS makes even the first-gen trucks look amazingly upright — to say nothing of the full-size Range Rover …

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Concept Flashback – 2005 RINSPEED Chopster vs Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

This one was always a memorable favorite. EDAG Design and RINSPEED worked together to make a concept show car that few other tuners could handle: the Cayenne Chopster. Lowering the roof of any car is a huge, huge job that requires hundreds of hours of laser cutting, pillar height changes, re-mounting and re-welding. Not to mention the glass, the rear tailgate shape alterations, the new nose, new fenders front and rear… While we knew a lowered roof on the RINSPEED Chopster was fantastic at providing a hot look and profile, we did not really realize how unique the Chopster is …

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Concept Flashback – 2003 RINSPEED Bedouin Explores Feasibility of a Modern, Rear-Engined Porsche Off-Roader

The Rinspeed Bedoiun is interesting for a few reasons nearly 11 years since the concept’s first showing in 2003. At the time, the BMW X5 had just landed in many wealthy driveways and was instantly the biggest hit of any BMW car launch – ever. Porsche was mid-way through development of the first-gen Cayenne and RINSPEED had a few ideas of its own. “Why ditch all the greatness of the 911 in favor of a shared SUV chassis with VW?” one can imagine Rinspeed saying. Why not simply leverage the excellence of a rear-engine hero like the 911 in a …

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Concept Flashback – 2010 Ford Start – Supermini Previews Potential 2017 Ka

“Start, g-damn-it!” Imagine yelling that as the starter churns your lifeless engine — ‘rruururrrruuu.’ “Start, Ford, Start!” Brummmmm! The engine fires to life. Hooray! The 2010 Ford Start might not be the best car name idea out there, but it must be better than the Ford Flex in conveying some kind of new idea. In fact, the Start is a rich bed of ideas for the next-gen Ford supermini – something to replace the unloved current Ka in Europe and global markets. While the original Ka was loved for its funky/premium exterior, the current model is lost in the shadow …

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