List: Ten Great Concepts from Geneva Motor Show History

By Seyth Miersma

March 02, 2009


1961 Ferrari 250GT Nuccio Bertone took a stab at clothing the luscious Ferrari 250 GT for the 1962 Geneva show, creating a sleek and racy coupe for the ages in the process. Bertone wanted to highlight the Ferraris of Formula 1, and added a distinguished “shark nose” to his concept in that effort.


1966 Vauxhall XRV A sort of Corvette for the palate of the European, the XRV was the first ever publicly displayed concept car for the General Motors’ brand. The engine may have been slightly mispositioned, but that front end is pure Stingray.


1970 Mercedes-Benz C111-II Mercedes-Benz used several C111 concept cars through the late sixties and early seventies as test beds for some of its most cutting edge technology. The second C111 had a powerfully turbocharged Wankel rotary engine that was capable of producing 370 horsepower, and propelling the car at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour. Further refinements of the C11 model used both rotary and diesel powerplants, produced even greater output, and set multiple contemporary speed records.


1972 Citroen Camargue The cars at Geneva tend to be among the most stylish on the autoshow circuit, and 1972’s Citroen Camargue was no exception. Hints of the Lancia Stratos can be seen in the extensive wraparound windscreen, but the flush-finished headlights and curving, quirky bodywork are very French.


1982 Opel Corsa Spider The Opel Spider could be configured to use from four to just one seat by way of movable coverplates, adding a whiff of intrigue to the boxy convertible. They don’t get much more perfectly eighties than this white and black Storm Trooper helmet of a concept car.


1976 Alfa Romeo Navajo This Star Wars treatment of an Alfa Romeo concept supercar may have been an eye-catcher in Geneva, but it was hardly a cutting edge design in 1976. This overwrought take on the classic wedge shape was a little kitsch even in its day, though we can help but love the masses of louvers and wings—those pop-out side mounded headlamps are just icing on the cheesecake.


1986 Aston Martin Vantage Another in the sterling line of Zagato-bodied Aston’s, the 1986 Geneva Motor Show was the place of unveiling for this, angular British Bulldog. Styling of the Vantage was far from universally loved however, with many raising complaints with the horn-like power bulge, which housed the Webber 48 IDA carbs.


1989 Ford Via With a design team that boasted now Jaguar bigwig Ian Callum (and his brother Moray), the Via was a sporting take on the soft-serve curves that would dominate in the 1990s—not to mention being the sort of four-door coupe that is the auto world’s darling today.


1998 Renault Zo Something like the combined brilliance of an Arial Atom and a Jeep Wrangler, the Renault concept presupposed that open-top motoring can be compelling no matter what road surface one encounters. The Zo is the kind of car that seven-year-olds doodle and daydream about—we mean that in a good way.


2005 Maserati Birdcage 75th Built to commemorate its 75th birthday, Maserati paid tribute to one of its most iconic racers with this Birdcage concept car. Peer through the full-length glass cockpit and you see structural elements of the car, as well as the 700+ horsepower V-12 engine.

1961 1966 1970 1972 1982 1976 1986 1989 1998 2005

With the Geneva Motor Show opening its doors to the press for the 79th time this week, we thought it appropriate to compile a list of some of our favorite cars from the show throughout the decades. Geneva’s reputation for being a styling showcase has lead to some fascinating launches through the years, with production and concept cars that are at the bleeding edge of European design.

Click through our gallery above for a few choice bits from Geneva past, and stay tuned all week as we bring you the best of this year’s show as well.