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Every year automakers build concept cars: radically designed automobiles meant mostly to look cool at car shows. Most of them are ridiculous and impractical, and make you wonder why they even bothered.

But every once in a while, they whip out something that's so cool it's a crime they never bothered to build it. These are the dream cars that automakers ultimately decided were just too awesome for us.

8
GM Firebird III

Why is it Awesome?

Jets were still new to the world in the 1950s, and GM's Firebird III was intended to address the big question on everyone's mind: How can we strap a jet engine into a family sedan?

Thus, the Firebird III housed a Whirlfire turbine engine. If you're not sure how exactly a turbine engine works, just focus on the word "Whirlfire," and you'll get a sense of it. And if it's got what is essentially a jet engine inside it, it might as well look like a jet, right?

Damn right.

Along with the obligatory tail fins, nose fins and sharply contoured hood, the car included two separate, clear plastic, bubble canopies. Nothing seems quite as cool as rocketing down the highway of tomorrow with your head peeking out of a plastic bubble, eyes sharply honed on the bogeys/cars around you.

The best part of the Firebird III, though, is that there is no steering wheel. Because really, what kind of jet has a steering wheel? Instead, all control of the car is down to a single, disc-shaped joystick. Push the stick side to side to steer, forward to accelerate, back to brake and twist to change gears, just like a real-live airplane!

We'd definitely ask for the extra feature where pushing down on the joystick fires twin .50 caliber machine guns.

"Why can't I buy one?!?"

Despite the turbine engine's inherent coolness and bevy of advantages over a piston driven engine, including the fact that it can run on almost anything that's combustible (including tequila!), it has always been an impractical option for powering a car.


But... but look at it.

Gasoline powered turbine engines produce nitrous oxide in large amounts, a major greenhouse gas that eventually forms acid rain, making ozone killing carbon emissions seem tame. Also, a turbine engine sounds more like a loud, high pitched vacuum cleaner than the iconic, rumbling purr of an American V8.

Oh, and there was a small additional problem where failing to follow the correct start-up procedure while in a drunken haze could wreck the engine in seconds and render it useless. Oops.

7
Nissan Pivo 2 (With Robot Co-Pilot)

Why is it Awesome?

Okay, we admit the thing looks ridiculous. But we're pretty sure this is what cars are going to look like in the future no matter what we do. And it comes with a robot co-pilot.

The Nissan Pivo 2M is an odd little car that still brilliantly solves many problems that have been plaguing motorists since time immemorial. Instead of one, big, polluting, gasoline powered engine, the Pivo 2 has four small electric motors, one in each wheel. This allows each wheel to move independently, turning sideways for those who have trouble parallel parking, sliding closer to the car while turning for smoother cornering and even moving back and forth when accelerating or braking to make sure those in the cabin always have a velvety, G-force free ride.

The entire pod itself can rotate 360-degrees so that reversing is no longer necessary, and getting into the solitary door at the front of the car is a breeze for everyone, no matter how elderly or drunk your passengers are.

Oh, and it has a robot. The ever-vigilant Robotic Assistant who does many things, not least of which monitors your mood while driving and attempts to cheer you up if you're feeling a bit grumpy; as depressed or angry drivers have been proven to be more dangerous, and more likely to be douchebags. He's like a combination R2-D2 and KITT. You would inevitably become friends and fight crime together.

We'd like to imagine he'd also refuse to open the car door by stating, "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that" if you're a little too cheerful and sound like you need a good scare.

"Why can't I buy one?!?"

As awesome as it would be to have your very own, personal droid to nag you every time you frowned, apparently that technology, along with all of the other innovations on the car, would put the car in the price range of a private jet. Maybe your kids will get to drive something like it.

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6
Phantom Corsair

Why is it Awesome?

Holy shit, look at that badass. If Batman had been fighting crime in the 40s, that's what the freaking Batmobile would have looked like. Hell, we wouldn't complain if the Batmobile looked like that now.

The Phantom Corsair was the brain child and dream car of Rust Heinz, the son and heir of the Heinz food empire. The Corsair was created in 1938, and set a standard for pimpness that no car has ever matched.

Technologically ahead of it's time, the doors opened via electronic buttons rather than primitive handles, and the dashboard included a compass and altimeter (the latter presumably for when you inevitably have to ramp it off the top of a parking garage in pursuit of the Joker).

The best feature of the Corsair was in the back. This feature was so important to Rust Heinz that the relative comfort of the car was sacrificed to provide enough room by reversing the normal seat layout to sit 4 people in the front, and 2 people in the back. What was so important to facilitate such a change? Airbags? Crumple zones? Spare tire?

Nope. A beverage cabinet. Seriously.

We're going to guess they only went with Phantom Corsair because somebody else already had the trademark on PussyMobile.

"Why Can't I Buy One?!?"

The Corsair was projected to cost around $14,700 in 1939, which is equivalent to over $200,000 in today's money, a sum which was unaffordable to pretty much everyone who wasn't a ketchup magnate during the Great Depression. Not only that, but the car was made almost entirely out of aluminum, a commodity which went almost entirely to the war effort that also started in 1939.

Sadly and ironically, Heinz died in a car accident and his dream car died with him. Still, we like to think that when he got to Heaven, God's first words to him were, "Good, you're here. Build me one of those cars."

5
Honda Unibox

Why is it Awesome?

Yes, the Nissan Pivo was only the second-dorkiest looking vehicle on this list. But by this point, that should only indicate how many redeeming values its got up its sleeve.

The Honda Unibox looks like just a boring, clear box set on six wheels, but upon looking a little deeper, she reveals her sexy secrets, like a naughty librarian undoing her hair bun and whipping off her glasses.

First, the thing is set up like some kind of GI Joe vehicle come to life (the Unibox Mobile Command Center!). It has cameras to view the exterior. The dashboard displays are all projected onto the windshield. It even has a freaking radar. The interior is a room like a mobile office (or headquarters).

Oh, did we mention the hidden motorcycles?

Yes, two small Honda motorcycles are compactly stored within the car's door frames, ready to be launched out at a moment's notice. We're assuming they can be jettisoned while flying down the highway, landing perfectly on their wheels while the riders start peppering trailing bad guys with machine gun fire.

"Why Can't I Buy One?!?"

Unfortunately, there still isn't much demand for wacky Japanese concepts like this one. As cool and packed with features as it is, you're still driving a large, clear plastic box that would be about as much fun to drive as, a translucent armored car, except without the perk of having bags of cash in the back.

If you want an idea of what kind of doubts they have about the maneuverability of this thing, it comes with an airbag on the outside of the car for if--or when--you hit a pedestrian.

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4
BMW GINA

Why is it Awesome?

The BMW GINA Light Visionary Model is what happens when car designers throw away the rulebook and start thinking about "the future" (though not the same cheesy, "highway of tomorrow" future of 50s designers). Instead of using sheet metal like almost every other car ever made, the GINA's skin is made entirely out of shiny, textile fabric.

Yes, fabric; the stuff you're wearing right now. Why? Well, somebody finally figured out that the metal skin of current cars adds hundreds of pounds to the weight but doesn't actually serve a function (it's the stuff under it that protects the driver in an accident). And the combination of the fabric and a network of movable metal and carbon fiber wires lets you morph the shape of the car in a way that makes the thing seem alive.

Seriously, it even closes its headlights like a pair of eyes. Awesome, yes, but also kind of terrifying.

"Why Can't I buy one?!?"

Obviously the big problem is that it's hard to imagine any fabric ever being stain-proof enough to resist mud, squashed bugs, road salt and bird crap that will accumulate over the years.

But even worse, fabric isn't the sturdiest building material known to mankind. While metal dents and paint scratches, fabric just tears. And it can't be repaired by a mallet and blob of Bondo. The entire covering would need to be replaced, even with the slightest tear, because the aesthetic of the skin is dependent on it being as taut as possible.

We're guessing there would be many mishaps involving drivers flailing down the road with their torn fabric "hood" draped over their windshield, screaming as the car weaves down the road and Benny Hill music plays in the background.

3
Ford MA

Why is it Awesome?

Are we wrong for wanting to own this life-sized Erector Set car? Because we do.

The Ford MA is a full-size, road worthy car that is made from bamboo, aluminum and carbon fiber materials held together by 364 titanium bolts, and not a single weld.

The whole thing comes in a 500+ piece kit, ready for assembly, earning it the moniker, "The IKEA-Mobile" by many automotive columnists. We're assuming it shows up on your porch in a huge cardboard box.

The MA is also about as environmentally invisible and responsible as an automobile can possibly be, without actually being made of tree-bark. It's powered by a zero-emission electric motor, doesn't need any hydraulic fluids and is 96 percent recyclable. That's enough green-speak to shut Leonardo DiCaprio up for good.

Don't have any place to park it in the winter? Just take that sucker apart and store it in the attic with the Christmas decorations. The only thing that could be better is if they finally build that life-size Lego car.

"Why Can't I Buy One?!?"

The official reason from Ford is that the MA was never meant to be produced, but rather was to serve as an inspiration to the company's designers, and to prove that alternative building materials and DIY kits can work in the marketplace. We think the real reason is that the majority of humankind can barely be trusted to put together a bookcase, let alone a 500 piece, full size car. Picture finally getting the whole thing together in the driveway, then noticing there are two lonely bolts still left in the box. "Those are extras, right, honey?"

Potential mishaps stemming from loose bolts, misplaced pieces and incorrect construction at the hands of amateurs means that not only do you need to be as wary as ever of bad drivers, but now there is the added danger of that person's car flying apart right in front of you as they cut you off. Would you trust something you built with your own hands at 70 miles per hour? We didn't think so.

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2
Volkswagen GX3

Why is it Awesome?

The Volkswagen GX3 is perfect for anyone who has ever wanted a motorcycle but was always nervous about becoming roadkill after running over a small pebble.

It's a two-seater "car" that looks like the offspring after a Honda motorcycle mounted an F-1 race car. Sure, it has fuel economy that's like owning a hybrid, only one that makes you look like a badass rather than a giant pussy. And yes it can be driven in the car pool lane same as a motorcycle, allowing you to dodge traffic without the need for your battered blow-up doll to accompany you on your morning commute.

But that's not why you'd buy one of these. You buy one of these because you can't drive it without screaming "WHEEEEE!!!" every minute on the road. You could not take this thing to work and show up in a bad mood. It's so low to the ground that it can be driven underneath a semi-trailer truck with ease, action movie style (disclaimer: please don't do that).

Not bad for a car that was only slated to cost $17,000.

Why Can't I Buy One?!?

You almost could have and, in fact, it even had a shipping date for early 2007. Just before it went to factories though, Volkswagen got cold feet about the radical design and admitted that it potentially had some safety issues. Not least of which was the fact that SUVs and trucks tower over the tiny GX3, able to squash it as easily and effortlessly as monster trucks flatten Oldsmobiles at the state fair.

Couple that with the understanding that people don't really like wearing helmets, getting hit in the face with road debris and breathing exhaust fumes when trying to get the kids to school, and you get a German car manufacturer who is very afraid of the American legal system.

1
Ford Seattle-ite

Why is it Awesome?

Back in 1963, there was at least one team in the Ford design department who absolutely was not fucking around.

They came up with the Ford Seattle-ite concept car that wasn't only ahead of its time, it's ahead of our time.

The Seattle-ite was to run off interchangeable fuel cells, or even a compact nuclear reactor (back when people didn't quite understand the concept of radioactivity and mutants) and was to be equipped with the kind of real-time computerized mapping system we're just barely perfecting now.

Oh, and the Seattle-ite also looked awesome, sporting a kick ass bubble canopy, sharp lines and unconventional, spaceship-like exhausts. It was also the first car to use six wheels instead of the usual four, capitalizing on the theory that more wheels would increase traction and braking efficiency, and also the theory that six wheels just plain looks cooler.

"Why Can't I Buy One?!?"

Well, there's the minor point that some of the technology they wanted in the thing wouldn't even exist for another 40 years, and even today isn't affordable in a car (which is why fuel cells are still decades from hitting the mainstream).

This is a car that Nostradamus would have been proud of for its power of prediction, so much so that it was impossible for it to even exist as planned until decades later.

As Seattle-ite fans have pointed out, it's almost depressing to look at what these guys were thinking up in 1963, and then to realize our cars are still running off gasoline, pistons and four boring tires. Damn, if Ford had gone balls to the wall to make this thing a reality, what would cars today look like? We'd be zipping back and forth to work on freaking orbs of pure energy. With beverage cabinets.

For more glimpses into the future, check out 5 Famous Sci-Fi Weapons That They're Actually Building and 5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime.

And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see more of the world of tomorrow (in boobs).

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