Though the New York International Auto Show isn’t a haven for many concept cars, there are always a handful of them to get your attention and whet your appetite for what might come. This year, there were four that we could count, and they’re all worthy of your dollars should they make it to production in some form.
A small group of concepts deliver big production dreams
An Empire State of Rides
Sandwiched between the Geneva Motor Show and the Beijing Auto Show, the New York International Auto Show usually misses out on the biggest reveals of the year, but it still has plenty to offer. This year’s show had its fair share of new designs and vehicles along with loads of improved sheetmetal. We’ve chosen ten standouts from our time on the ground that we’ll be looking to drive in 2015.
A Reverence for the Overlooked Classics and what they Inspire
Vintage is in something fierce. You can blame the cliche and assign Mad Men all you want. But vintage is deeper than that. A stretch of tough times and the “planned obsolescence” of today has refocused our attention to history even more than ever. New doesn’t always equate to better and some things really don’t work like they used to. The Collector, a new Octane series in partnership with the classic car experts at Petrolicious, acknowledges the automotive gems of yesteryear that have gone overlooked for one reason or another. As a series, the selections we’ll share stand as both a group of savvy buys we’d base our personal car collection around and as a source of inspiration for life in the wake of ownership.
Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of companion stories each Monday developed to cover the two sides of the collector’s coin. On Petrolicious, you’ll see pristine examples of each sublime vehicle and hear from their owners. Here at GP, we’ll share a mix of new and classic items that draw inspiration from these undervalued icons, allowing you to channel each vehicle’s influence regardless of what’s sitting in your garage.
A Far-East Beauty
For those dreaming of a vintage car collection, the Datsun 240Z is a great place to start. But you shouldn’t drive it in a dirty tee and sweatpants. We hunt down some great gear and garb from the era and the area from which the 1970 240Z hails.
McLaren's Latest Weaponized Vehicle
McLaren has been a racing powerhouse for 50 years, but they’re a relative newcomer to the consumer supercar scene (their first was the extremely limited-release F1 in 1992). It was just three years ago that their MP4-12C ripped onto the stage, a rocket that hit the apex on its head with its first try. Now it’s dead. Before you get upset, know this: its replacement, the 650S, is better by a fair clip. We take a closer look.
America's fifty-year, two-door love affair
No car is more widely considered an American standard than the Ford Mustang. Sure, there’s the Corvette, Camaro, Thunderbird, and GTO, but when you think of the Fourth of July Parade, which car comes to mind? That’s what we thought.
From the original car all the way to the fifth-generation version that pays direct homage to its forefathers, the Mustang simply can’t be confused for any other automobile. On the cusp of welcoming an all-new sixth-generation car created for a world market, we take a look at the life of America’s pony car.
The Swedes Finally Redeem Themselves For Ikea
Negotiating a bulky child seat in the back of a sports coupe during the summertime is not dissimilar from performing hot yoga. The minds at Volvo have rethought the whole rigamarole and sought the path of inner peace by creating the world’s first inflatable child seat. We break it down.
One badass granddaddy
The look is timeless: A muscular body with single round headlights; vents on the hood and rear quarter panels adding a touch of sinister; two bold Guardsman Blue stripes running from tip to tail over a pristine Wimbledon White paint job. It’s the positively beautiful, 100 percent American 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350. No other Mustang in history will ever look this good again.
The Brawler Gets Dressed Up
What has Ford wrought with the 2015 Mustang? It’s rumored to be better than the previous car in virtually every way, but dare we say, it’s also less American and less ‘Stang, at least on its face. In Ford’s quest to make the new Mustang a “world car”, they seem to have lost some of the car’s red, white and blue attitude.
A Starion is born
The Mitsubishi Starion was one of the automotive standouts of the 1980s, not that it took much. It was angular everywhere but the wheels, but it did it right, and it was properly fast, too. Despite the greatness of the Lancer Evo, Mitsubishi has lost its way in the rest of its modern lineup — and a new, 21st-century version of the Starion could be just the adrenaline injection the brand needs right now.
Don't store it in the garage when the temps drop
In the snowy streets of Chicago, the Porsche Panamera 4S — 420 horsepower V6, all-wheel-drive, stability and traction control, front-to-weight distribution and all — proves a surprisingly spectacular winter car.
The Asian Phaeton?
Kia has far surpassed expectations in a relatively short time frame, shifting from a producer of poorly designed, poorly built econo-boxes to well-made, adventurously styled cars that square off with practical Asian stalwarts like Honda and Toyota. Recently they set their sights on the European luxury market with their 2015 Kia K900 ($59,500 base). We grabbed some seat time in a powerful, VIP-trimmed $65,000 Kia to decide for ourselves if it was worth the price tag — and to decide if the Germans should feel threatened by this Asian invasion.
MI-6 may come knocking
If you lament the death of old-school design — the kind that makes timeless cars like the Ferrari 265 GTB/4, the Jaguar E-Type and the Aston Martin DB5 so iconic — then you’ll rejoice over the new David Brown Automotive Speedback. Recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, the Speedback is a throwback to simpler times with the benefit of modern underpinnings and technology. The niche British carmaker (so niche that it has one model and no factory yet) has made its debut baby an absolute stunner.
Concept cars, by definition, push the limits of automotive invention. But even in a field of enigmas and paradigm shifters there can be standouts, vehicles that make competitors look like toys. This is the realm of the new Audi Quattro Concept Mini, which calls to mind an R8 V10 Spyder designed by a Lilliputian Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s whole-heartedly future-thinking in its indoctrination of a new and entirely untapped target market. Watch the video for our review.
An Irreverent Guide
Though most of us may drive sensible cars, deep inside we crave more. More power, more bravado, more speed in the form of a truly brash automobile. Check out our scientific diagram and follow the path to the wheeled monster that best expresses who you are in that pulsing animal heart of yours.
Bold, brash and insanely fast
It takes lightning-fast reflexes, endurance and athleticism, and a general disregard for personal safety to be great on the track. But then there are the ones who stand apart: the legends. Thanks to healthy doses of temerity, supreme confidence, bold personalities and the ability to push themselves well beyond the limits of other competitors, these men carved their names into the tarmac of automotive racing history. If you need a racing hero, one with brashness in his blood, any of these five icons will do.
No value package option here
If those with little personality and no detectable level of driving skill get their way, the Google Autonomous Car will be the most welcomed news of their humdrum adult lives. Sure, it has a place in the automotive landscape, mitigating traffic and hopefully decreasing the number of accidents, but it also excites us as much as a bowl of Grape Nuts and skim milk. On the other hand, it’s the cars that don’t make complete sense whose windows we’re fogging with our hot, lusty breaths. We’re after chutzpah, brazen performance, design, technology or all of the above. Here’s why.
A tap-dancing gorilla in rich mahogany
The Continental name has been a part of the Bentley family since the early 1950s. Though the 2014 Bentley New Continental GTC V8 S ($216,000) remains relatively unchanged in its iconic style and interior club room feel (which rivals a rich mahogany office), what’s under the skin of this Monaco Yellow grand touring torpedo sets it apart from previous generations.
From Good to Great
Some car models start out great but then topple from grace — the Nissan Maxima comes to mind (as much as we try to push it out). Then there are those automobiles that have only gotten better with time, tweaks, and tender loving care. Some have evolved gracefully, while others desperately needed a hefty dose of attention. Here are five models basking in the glow of recent changes that have brought them into their primes.
Captain Planet approved. Sort of.
The Porsche 918, the McLaren P1 and the Ferrari LaFerrari are still all about superlatives — fastest, best handling, most exotic. But they also repurpose the latest technology to maximize the “dear lord” factor. They’re redefining excess, not stamping it out.
It takes two to fan dance
Not that long ago, “Korean Luxury Car” sounded a lot like “Hardee’s Beef Wellington”. Something was clearly lost in both translation and execution — but those days are gone now. Both Kia and Hyundai have brought their own versions of luxo barges to our shores in the form of the K900 and the Equus. Sure, the snob factor isn’t nearly as present as in the German or Japanese offerings, but that could be just what the doctor (or lawyer) ordered. The Korean luxury sedan has arrived in a big way without making a big move for your bank account.
Head of the C-Class
In its past several generations, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class has promised drivers excellent entry-level luxury — a promise on which the car has never quite delivered. GP editor Eric Yang travels to the South of France to find the soul of the new C-Class using his right foot.
Can the world's largest automaker fix the problems ahead?
Today, Toyota is making bold bets in a wide range of areas — from alternative fueled vehicles and suped-up tricycles Robocop would sell his hex nuts for, to emotion-sensing AI, household “partner” robots, and smart homes — all in hopes anticipating the shifting mobility needs of tomorrow. Statistics are one way to understand how the company’s master plan will make for a better and Pikachu-cute future; then again, the world’s largest automaker is well aware that practice makes perfect, and that’s on display at their global headquarters, known as Toyota City. We explored the brand’s paradigm-shifting innovations, including personal mobility prototypes, robots, EV infrastructure and more.
Godzilla Invades America
While the majority of Americans look for their next vehicle at their local car dealership or online, there are some who spend countless hours to hunt down and import foreign cars that were never sold here in the states, at least legally. One of those grails just might finally be legally accessible to enthusiasts and collectors here in the U.S. for the first time in, well, ever. It’s the Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R, the car that birthed the current Nissan GT-R supercar.
IS is it
BMW has spent the past several years making its cars more luxurious and better appointed for its upmarket customers. While BMW was upping the luxury, Lexus was moving in the opposite direction, not by making their cars any less luxurious, but instead placing a stronger emphasis — maybe even a bull’s-eye target — on sportiness. The result? For now, the BMW 3 has to get off the gilded chair and let the new kid have the scepter of power.
A beast in plainer clothes
The Subaru Impreza WRX (nicknamed “Rex” by loyalists) has a cult following to almost rival the Beatles (smaller and younger, but just as fanatic). New iterations or improvements often make fan clubs and enthusiasts both skeptical and nervous; you can’t mess with perfection, and the Subaru Impreza WRX is pretty close. In November of last year Subaru debuted the fifth generation 2015 WRX ($26,295) at the LA auto show, and we were quick to and hop in line to see if they’d truly made it better or simply messed up a great thing.
This Indo-Brit could pull it off
For decades, the BMW 3-Series has been the sports sedan benchmark by which all others are measured, but all that is changing in this steel cage death match that includes German, Japanese and American contenders. BMW, naturally, has its hat in the ring. Then there’s the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS, and soon a new Jaguar known as the XE, which was recently announced but not fully revealed at the Geneva Motor Show.
10 Concepts We're Praying Find their Way to Production
Watching concept cars bow at international auto shows is like watching the festivities at Paris Fashion Week: displays are daring, beautiful and sometimes just downright petrifying. The world gets to see bold, shocking statements or captivating ones that might just make it to market. The best examples are fuel for dreams of what may come. This year, the Geneva Motor Show proved to be fertile ground. From a student-submitted sports car to a practical van, here are our 10 favorite concept cars from the show.
Porsche comes back home
Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 out of the last 14 years, a feat that cannot be understated. But there’s another brand whose record at the race is yet unmatched: Porsche, which has 16 wins total. But those wins came during a different era. This year, Porsche re-enters the Le Mans fray with a brand new car that will compete in the LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype 1 – Hybrid) category, the spectacular 919 Hybrid car, just unveiled in Geneva.
From Pocket Rockets to Black Vented Tanks, We're in Love
The Geneva Motor show is where carmakers like to come out and play. The absence of a major Swiss automaker provides both a level playing field for all manufacturers and a platform for car designers to go a bit crazy, often with radical concept cars. But there is a different class of vehicles, the ones that will see production, fulfilling our petrol-filled dreams by bringing speed, power and ingenuity to the road. These are our ten favorite production cars from the show.