Concept Cars auto news

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BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Concept Cars, Trucks/Pickups, Videos, Crossovers/CUVs, BMW, Design/Style

BMW X4 Clemson University Project

BMW seems willing to exploit every automotive niche it can find with creations like the four-door, 'crossover coupe' X4 and X6. Of course, these designs come with a compromise. That svelte fastback means that they just can't haul as much cargo as a more traditional, boxier hatchback. Fortunately, students at Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research might have a novel solution: the engineering graduate program has turned the crossover into a unique pickup.

Dubbed Deep Orange 4 concept, this functional prototype has an enclosed cargo area with a sliding glass panel that opens up to expose a pickup bed if more room is needed. Think of it as the GMC Envoy XUV of German crossovers. This isn't just an X4 with its roof hacked off, though. The students actually started with an X3 and grafted on this top later in addition to the two barn doors for access to the bed.

To make this project even more impressive, this pickup-crossover could conceivably be produced. The graduate students conducted an in-plant analysis of BMW's manufacturing abilities and went back to the university to create a plan for a low-volume vehicle that could actually be built. "The students working on this phase of the project did an excellent job of keeping costs down while finding optimal integration opportunities," said Rich Morris, vice president of assembly at BMW Manufacturing, in the university's release.

Deep Orange 4 is now on display at the CAR Group Management Briefing Seminar in Michigan. Scroll down to read the university's release and watch two videos about the concept; one shows the final product and the other a time-lapse of the build going from X3 to X4-looking pickup.

Continue reading BMW X4 reclaims dash of utility with Clemson student project [w/videos]

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Icon Helios streamliner with Tesla bones is a dream from which we don't want to wake

07/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Time Warp, Coupes, Tesla, Design/Style, Electric

Icon Helios Streamliner

Icon Helios StreamlinerWhen it comes to truly, genuinely interesting automotive design and craftsmanship, Icon is one of the finest outfits in the game. We've covered the company and its founder, Jonathan Ward, in the past, and have remarked on just how fully and intricately done the automotive art it turns out is. The company's next big thing, though, is a far cry from the modified Land Rovers and Chevy Thriftmaster pickups.

The sketches you see above are of the Helios, Icon's latest mad creation. While still remarkably early in the planning phases, it's safe to say that the streamlined, Art Deco-inspired, boat-tailed (every vehicle should be boat-tailed) coupe is the company's single most ambitious vehicle yet.

"Although almost all of our projects thus far have been recreations inspired by vintage vehicles, I am fascinated about the concept of revisiting history in our own way," Ward told Jalopnik staffer and former Autoblog editor Damon Lavrinc. "The most interesting way to do this is by celebrating a particular era of design, or design language."

Technically speaking, the era that Ward is referring to never existed.

It's a world where there was no Black Friday, or Great Depression or second world war. Instead, man's fascination with aircraft and aerodynamics soldiered on untarnished by war and poverty, translating to four-wheeled creations so extreme they'd make the radical, rocket-inspired designs of the 1950s blush.

It is a stunning concept as a simple vehicle - you could drop this onto a Honda Civic platform and it'd still be a marvel. But it's Ward's plan for a powertrain that ups the already ample dose of outlandishness inherent in the Helios.

"In keeping with the founding premise at ICON, of fusing vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology, I can think of no better platform to build this on, than the Tesla," Ward told Jalopnik.

In particular, Ward is targeting the upcoming Model X.

"I want to take the new Model X platform - so selectable AWD, 380-mile range, pure electric - and fuse it with this lost language," Ward said, adding that he's actively trying to score a meeting with Tesla founder Elon Musk and that he "will move mountains to figure out how to get [it] built."

Here's hoping that he can make that happen, because the automotive world sorely needs something this wild, this extreme and this utterly, utterly breathtaking.

You can expand the images above or head over to Jalopnik for a closer look at the Helios. After that, be sure to visit the Comments. We really want to hear from you on this one.

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Lexus looking for performance with 600-hp LF-LC?

07/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Lexus, Rumormill, Luxury

Lexus LF-LC Concept

Lexus has been keeping development of the production version of its LF-LC concept tightly under wraps. Last we heard, that halo GT car had received the green light for production, but that was over a year ago. Since then, things have been pretty silent. Finally though, fresh rumors about the luxury coupe are starting to leak out, pointing toward the model's powertrain lineup.

According to unnamed sources speaking to Motor Trend, the production LF-LC will eventually sport three very intriguing engine options. The base model will reportedly use a naturally aspirated V8 providing around 450 horsepower - very similar specs to the upcoming RC F. The next step up will allegedly be the upcoming hybrid powertrain shared between BMW and Toyota pumping things up to around 500 hp. Finally, a top-of-the-heap F version will use a twin-turbocharged version of the RC F's 5.0-liter V8 to bring output to 600 hp. The insiders even claim that the hybrid and the twin-turbo V8 could find their way into other Lexus products like the LS and possibly even a more beastly RC.

None of this speculation sounds too outlandish. Lexus could get more capacity out of the RC F's tuned V8 by shoving it into other models, and rumors are flying about performance cars spawned from BMW and Toyota's partnership. Given Lexus' recent embrace of turbocharging, even the twin-turbo V8 doesn't seem too dubious. That said, with no hard facts to back up the rumormill, we'll have to keep waiting to see what the LF-LC shows up with.

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Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

07/26/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Hatchbacks, FIAT

Fiat 500L-Vans Concept

Fiat 500L-Vans ConceptFiat is all set to ride some waves with its new 500L Vans Concept debuting at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, on July 26. Inspired by the famous shoe company known to skaters and surfers the world over, the hatchback is packed with seaside style and is ready to show it off at the beach.

The first thing that jumps out about the concept is its grille. It's unlike any other 500L and sports four rings of LED driving lights that are open in the centers. "We added the circular LED DRLs to add a sense of purpose and adventure to this concept," said a Fiat spokesperson to Autoblog via email. Below them are two more foglights, and combined together they should be able keep a party going long into the night after a day of surfing.

Beyond a ton of lighting, the Vans Concept has some extra panache thanks to its three-tone color scheme. It starts with dark blue outlining the car along the bottom, white for the main portion of the body and a lighter shade of blue for the hood, mirror caps and tops of the doors. The roof gets the shoe company's' traditional checkerboard pattern, and there's a rack up there to hold two surfboards and extra gear.

The interior is an even bigger tribute to Vans with the company's stickers from over the years used to decorate the dashboard. Like its shoes, the seats are made from canvas, and the famous waffle sole tread pattern covers the pedals and storage bins.

This concept is more about style than speed, though. According to Fiat spokesperson Angela Bianchi, the drivetrain is left entirely stock with a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. The 500L will be on display throughout the event from July 26 to August 3, and will be joined by the rest of the brand's vehicles. Scroll down to learn more about Fiat's trip to the beach.

Continue reading Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

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McLaren previews P1 GTR concept ahead of Pebble Beach debut

07/26/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Hybrids/Alternative, Sports/GTs, Racing, McLaren

McLaren P1 GTR Design Concept

McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche have all come out with their hybrid-powered hypercars, vehicles that boast the bleeding edge of what is possible with today's road-car technology. The next step, at least in the case of McLaren and Ferrari, is to push that bleeding edge just a hair further, with even faster, more focused versions of the P1 and LaFerrari. At the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, McLaren will be the first to give us a glimpse of that boundary-pushing machine.

The British automaker has announced that the P1 GTR Design Concept will make its global debut smack dab in the middle of Monterey's legendary car week, with the veil lifting on Friday, August 15 at 6:00 PM EST.

McLaren doesn't go into many specifics here, simply calling the P1 GTR a track-focused variant of the P1, which we kind of already knew. Based on what we can see from the lone teaser sketch, the new model will have a much more dramatic aerodynamic presence than the street model, with a massive rear wing and a huge rear diffuser. Sandwiched between those two items are a pair of exhaust tips that wouldn't look out of place on the deck of your average battleship. Carbon fiber should feature prominently, with a few exposed sections of the stuff visible in the teaser image.

Production is slated to begin promptly after the final P1 street car rolls off the Woking production line, sometime in June 2015. Of course, we'll have much, much more on the P1 GTR when it makes its debut at Pebble Beach. Keep an eye on this space come August 15. Until then, scroll down for the official press release from McLaren.

Continue reading McLaren previews P1 GTR concept ahead of Pebble Beach debut

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Hot Wheels reveals life-size Darth Vader car at Comic-Con [w/video]

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Toys, Celebrities, Special/Limited Editions, Design/Style, TV/Movies

Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car

Hot Wheels Darth Vader Toy CarLet's face it; Darth Vader is a thousand times cooler than Luke Skywalker. The hero might get the girl, but in the case of Star Wars, it's his sister. Vader, though, controls the Death Star, two of them in fact. It turns out that the Sith Lord has a meaner car too, at least thanks to Hot Wheels.

With Star Wars a hotter property that the surface of Tatooine thanks to the new movie due in 2015, Hot Wheels has partnered with the brand to sell replica vehicles and playsets later this year. It's kicking off the new toy line with a life-size, fully operational, one-off Darth Vader Car at San Diego Comic-Con on July 23.

According to Hot Wheels to Autoblog via email, the Darth Vader Car "was designed in-house at Mattel" and built by Picture Car Warehouse. It uses a tuned LS3 V8 to send 526 horsepower to the rear wheels and has a backlit, side-exit exhaust system. The nose piece is made from carbon fiber, and it rides on a custom set of wheels from MHT. If you can't make it to San Diego to see the Vader, don't fret. "It will certainly be making appearances after Comic-Con for fans," said a company spokesperson.

The earlier image we saw of the car looked downright ugly, but the Sith's helmet made the transition into real life with a lot more menace. You could easily imagine the Vader as a very wicked-looking hotrod. The triple headlights and split windshield are especially nice touches.

If you happen to be at the con, you can even buy the 1:64 toy version of the car that comes in a case that looks like Vader's red lightsaber, plus a commemorative box, for $40.00. There will also be a limited number on sale after the show at Hot Wheels Collectors. Scroll down to watch the Vader Car in action with some very over-the-top dialogue and read the full announcement of the official vehicle of the dark side of the force.

Continue reading Hot Wheels reveals life-size Darth Vader car at Comic-Con [w/video]

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Jaguar builds F-Type to support Tour de France team [w/video]

07/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Jaguar, Luxury

Jaguar F-Type Coupe Team Sky Concept

The Tour de France is typically a two-wheeled affair, dominated by cyclists yearning to capture the prestigious yellow jersey. While the 2014 event winds its way through Europe, Stage 20 will see an altogether different conveyance wind along the route between Bergerac and Périgueux - the Jaguar F-Type Coupe.

As part of its partnership with the British cyclists of Team Sky, Jag has enlisted its new Special Operations division to build a one-off F-Type Coupe, based on the 550-horsepower, supercharged R model.

SpecOps has removed the rear glass and come up with a creative solution to mount a pair of Team Sky's racing cycles in the back. Aside from that upgrade, the cabin boasts new upholstery in the colors of Team Sky's traditional livery. A separate power supply has been established below the bikes in what's left of the trunk, which provides juice for a set of radios and microphones, so that the team's director can communicate with the riders.

Now, before the wealthy amateur cyclists of the world dial up their local dealer and attempt to order their very own F-Type with a bike rack in place of the rear window, Jaguar has already stated that it will not be putting this one-off into production.

Scroll down and take a look at a video of the new car's build process, as well as a the official press release from Jaguar. And keep an eye open for the F-Type on July 26, when Stage 20 of the 2014 Tour de France is ran.

Continue reading Jaguar builds F-Type to support Tour de France team [w/video]

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Has Aston Martin abandoned plans for a Lagonda SUV?

07/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, SUVs, Aston Martin, Rumormill, Luxury

Aston Martin Lagonda SUV

Aston Martin Lagonda SedanAston Martin may possibly (hopefully?) axe plans for a Lagonda-badged SUV, according to a new report from the blokes at Piston Heads. If this is true, it'd serve as proof that the auto gods are good, and want us to be happy.

The report is based on statements made by Director of Design Marek Reichman.

"We still have plans for the brand. There might be some surprises in the marque's re-establishment into the market place, but as a very unique coachbuilt experience. And that's probably what's most befitting of the brand," Reichman told PH when asked about the Lagonda SUV, which debuted way back in 2009.

"That was a different time [when the Lagonda debuted]," Reichman continued. "It was [Dr. Ulrich Bez's] time. And now we're in a very, very different time, with a different plan and with a different projection of what that brand should become."

Considering the spy shots we've already seen (inset), PH's conclusion that the Lagonda brand would be reborn as an ultra-exclusive sedan doesn't seem far off. As for the rumors that AM would look to Mercedes-Benz for its SUV architecture, well, it's not looking so good any more.

What do you think? Should Aston Martin launch a sedan above the Rapide? What would you expect in terms of price and performance? Let us know in Comments.

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Nuclear-powered concept cars from the Atomic Age

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Time Warp, Tech, Ford, Design/Style, MISC

In the 1950s and early 60s, the dawn of nuclear power was supposed to lead to a limitless consumer culture, a world of flying cars and autonomous kitchens all powered by clean energy. In Europe, it offered the then-limping continent a cheap, inexhaustible supply of power after years of rationing and infrastructure damage brought on by two World Wars.

The development of nuclear-powered submarines and ships during the 1940s and 50s led car designers to begin conceptualizing atomic vehicles. Fueled by a consistent reaction, these cars would theoretically produce no harmful byproducts and rarely need to refuel. Combining these vehicles with the new interstate system presented amazing potential for American mobility.

But the fantasy soon faded. There were just too many problems with the realities of nuclear power. For starters, the powerplant would be too small to attain a reaction unless the car contained weapons-grade atomic materials. Doing so would mean every fender-bender could result in a minor nuclear holocaust. Additionally, many of the designers assumed a lightweight shielding material or even forcefields would eventually be invented (they still haven't) to protect passengers from harmful radiation. Analyses of the atomic car concept at the time determined that a 50-ton lead barrier would be necessary to prevent exposure.

Although hope is still alive for nuclear-powered cars - engines powered by lasers and Thorium salts have been suggested - it's amusing to think that there was a time when these cars were seriously considered the future of transportation. Our love affair with nuclear energy has waned considerably since the catastrophes at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and, most recently, Fukushima.

Take a trip back in time to when creativity was out matched only by naïveté by checking out these nuclear-powered car concepts from automakers like Ford and Studebaker-Packard. Radiation suit not included.

Continue reading Nuclear-powered concept cars from the Atomic Age

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Hyundai Genesis Coupe to get bigger, lux up?

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Hyundai, Luxury

Hyundai HND-9

With the all-new, 2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan hitting the road, it puts the current Genesis Coupe in a rather weird spot. The sporty model is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, and for 2015, it's dropped its four-cylinder engine in the US. Hyundai isn't letting the car whither on the vine, though. Behind closed doors, the Korean automaker is rumored to be working on a new coupe to transform the vehicle from something of a pony car in the current guise into a luxury grand tourer with avante garde styling.

The next-generation Genesis Coupe would reportedly borrow its design inspiration from the Hyundai HND-9 Sports Coupe Concept from the 2013 Seoul Motor Show, according to Australian site Go Auto. The key to the new model is growing it larger to be able to seat four adults and giving it more grown-up styling at the same time. Go Auto claims that the coupe could finally get a V8 engine option and possibly a V6 and turbocharged four-cylinder in at least some markets, too. It's slated for a possible 2016 unveiling.

Even during the HND-9's unveiling, Hyundai admitted that the concept projected of the design direction for future models. Its styling was certainly a big shift from the current Genesis Coupe with more hard creases, a wide, mesh grille and butterfly doors. The show car also packed a 3.3-liter turbocharged, direct-injected engine with 364 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels.

Hyundai's Australian COO John Elsworth is really hoping to get the model Down Under, according to Go Auto. He believes that while luxury coupes might not be sales leaders, they grab mindshare and get enthusiasts excited about the brand. We like the way this guy thinks.

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