Today we can speculate that the abundance of bizarre futuristic concept car designs in late 1970s can be attributed to high popularity of science fiction esthetic in general. And as we cast our ever-curious eye on best examples of European concept cars from these heady Sci-Fi-permeated years, we are especially struck by work of Italian design houses like Bertone, and wild experimentation of Citroen.
Perhaps the most interesting French concept car of the 1970s and 1980s, Citroen Karin 1980 debuted at the 1980 Paris Motor Show: it looked sensational with its pyramidal, or rather trapezoidal design (its roof was no bigger than an A3 sheet of paper) – and boasted some wildly unconventional interior.
To read more about circumstances how such wild design product got a go-ahead (we have to thank Trevor Fiore, Citroen’s design chief at the time), head to this page. The interior was designed specifically to have all the controls right at the driver’s fingertips, as close to steering wheel as possible. Citroen Karin also featured a few on-board computers, including some integrated right into the door panels!
Steering wheels with in-built controls were popping up in quite a few concept cars of the 1980s, including a similar arrangement in 1981 Citroen Xenia concept:
We can see all-controls steering wheel also in American 1983 Buick Questor concept car:
… and in the Ital-Design 1984 Ford Maya concept car:
Steering wheel on the Lamborghini Athon concept car looks even more striking… whoever on closer look we see that this is just a clever use of angles. Also, note how gear stick resembles the handle of a knife:
Triangles were definitely “in”, judging by the looks of many 1970s concepts cars – see for example, Lancia Bertone Stratos from 1970:
Not only European concept cars were exhibiting space-age thinking at the time, Japan also produced concept cars exceptional in originality, strange looks and bizarre experimentation – take for example, this Toyota FCX-80 from 1979:
Or this Japanese Insomnia, 1979 Dome Zero P2, debuted at the 48th Geneva Auto Show and meant to participate in the 1979 “24 Hours of Le Mans” motor race – more info:
“The Dome Zero was the inspiration behind the Transformers Classics series figure of Transformers Generation 1 character Hot Rod.”. Compare it with the 1972 Maserati Boomerang (ItalDesign) – top image:
Speaking of Maserati Boomerang, feast your eyes on this futuristic offering:
On the right is the Alfa Romeo Navajo concept car unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1976:
And we finish with the beautiful art piece by Federico B. Alliney (the artist responsible for scenery in James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie), featuring Alfa Romeo Carabo: