As a kid, I loved going to the Chicago Auto Show every year. All of the car manufacturers in the world would show up with their current models. Celebrities signing autographs. And while it was cool to see all of that, the concept cars always stole the show.
Concept cars are prototypes that allow designers to experiment and play. They are typically half-car and half-work-of-art. Some are amazingly futuristic and others are relatively straightforward. But they all test concepts that may indicate a future design direction for that brand. And then, they add at least a few ridiculously impractical features that will never make it into production.
Mini released a concept car this week, the Mini Superleggera Vision. It's a pure concept car – an electric sports car with a distinctly British roadster feel. It's an elegant and clear design evolution of the Mini brand.
But it is clearly a concept car with lots of impractical features. The chassis and aluminum skin are produced in a way that could never be mass produced. It's got a driver/passenger selfie camera. No door handles. Some awesome Union Jack tail lights and a rear fin.
And it's beautiful. I absolutely love it. Even the fin.
That said, it's always interesting to see where these design experiments land. Based on feedback from car show audiences, media and the web, the companies figure out what resonates with potential buyers. It then can attempt to simplify and refine those concepts into another concept car or a production model.
Or it may simply be a one-off experiment that goes no where, even if people love the concept. (For example, check out the Mini Rocketman. People are still clamoring to get that car produced.)
You can see the whole gallery of Mini Superleggera Vision images over at Autoblog or get lots of details at Motoring File, a Mini fan blog.