The many forms of rolling artwork rendered by the car-guys of the world
originate from different places. The drawing board of Thom Taylor, the
custom shops of Boyd Coddington, Chip Foose and Troy Trepanier, the aftermarket houses of Saleen, ASC and Carroll Shelby just to name a few. But all of these car-guys have their roots in the places corporate automotive calls research and development.
We refer to them as the backroom “skunkworks” of every major auto manufacturer in the world. Very possibly the luckiest car guys on the planet.
These passionate examples of our breed actually get paid to let their
imaginations run wild. Every car guys dream job! From the guys who sketch
the drawings to those who carve clay into three-dimensional renderings right
down to the wizards of steel, aluminum and fiberglass that create a running
working machine. All laboring with love each day on the simple premise of
“what if we did this?”
The culmination of all their efforts bears its fruit in the form of the
vehicle we call the Concept Car. The car that rolls out of our dreams and
onto a turntable before our wide, sparkle filled eyes. There we stand, car
guys from around the world, cameras in hand, yearning to step forward three
feet and touch a vision come to life.
The temporary Mecca where we find these elusive machines is a place called
the “Auto Show.” Not to be confused with the “Rod and Custom Show” where car
guys go to show off their personal expressionism, the auto show is the source
of all our toys. The pallets and canvases if you will that we paint upon. Not
always appearing in the same place twice and most certainly never looking the
same, the auto show beckons us from far away for a scant few days to come and
behold the concept cars in all their splendor. To prove to us that they
really do exist someplace besides the pages of a magazine.
As we enter this dreamlike palace, our eyes and hearts are tempted with
bright lights and stunning visual displays. Everywhere you turn, your
eyes catch the latest in luxury land yachts, the ultra high performance
exotics, the muscular all American hot rod and the rompin’ stompin’
macho-hairy-gorilla-ape four wheel drive trucks with enough power to pull the
house off the foundation. In short, every high zoot loaded to the eyeballs
limited edition rolling wonder that your local dealer might be lucky enough
to get one of is RIGHT OVER THERE!
I suppose at this juncture I must make mention of the absolute plethora of
the infamous yuppiemobile, the Sport Utility Vehicle. A name I personally
find to be a contradiction in terms since the people who buy them use them
neither for sport or utility, only fashion.
Continuing on, as desirable as most of these cars are, the phenomenon of
sticker shock reminds us that each of these cars is very real and most likely
unattainable for the majority of us. However, the fantasy of owning or even
simply getting to drive one of these vixens lingers on in our thoughts
because we know they really exist.
The concept car on the other hand represents the fleeting vision of
something wondrous that appears far too briefly and is then gone forever.
Some of these dream machines are fortunate enough to land a role in a sci-fi
movie or television show. While most are regulated to some mystical storage
facility, their location known only to a select group of factory engineers.
Some are probably even (perish the thought)! scrapped! All car guys will now
observe a moment of silence for all the concept cars that have given their
components for our greater good…thank you all.
If we’re lucky, in a couple of years a production vehicle will come along
that smacks heavily of our most fondly remembered concept car. If we are
luckier still we could actually be able afford to buy such a car.
Maybe someday a car guy with deep pockets (very deep)! will open a concept
car museum. If he can manage to wrest these beauties away from their factory
captors (this is where the deep pockets come in) and put them on display to
show how the objects of our affections have evolved over the years.
Granted, production cars would showcase this point, but the concept cars
represent the origins from whence they sprang. They show the pure artistic
vision that sets the production machine in motion, but most importantly they
show how powerful an idea can be.
Ideas that have rippled all the way down to the car in your driveway right
now, however small their influence might be.
So long live the Auto Show, the magical place where car guys the world over
can come and drink from the pure wellspring of automotive imagination. A
veritable fountain of youth where even the eldest of us can feel like that
little boy in the worlds greatest toy store.