The Gina – like the Futura – was drivable. Whether either was roadworthy is another matter – a common feature of concepts. But traditionally these kinds of practicalities rarely bother the designer. Some will not have an engine. Some will have a fully-designed interior, but little under the bonnet. Others will be pure imagination with little concern for how someone may drive at 70mph (110km/h) with a joystick.
But that is steadily changing.
“What we’ve seen more recently is that the concept car world has separated into two halves,” says West.
“One of them is extreme concepts, where they are looking about 30years ahead and thinking about what mobility might be like in the future. Then there are what can being called ‘concept cars’, but they are really production cars where they have massaged the exterior a bit, to hint at a future production car.”
These new toned-down visions do away with science fiction in favour of offering the mum-of-three an idea of how easy it will be to cart her offspring to and from the football field. They are often a new concept body built on an existing drivetrain or chassis.
“Rarely are they true, blue sky concepts where designers get to do whatever they want,” suggests West.
Although less cool, this type of concept car can still be packed with hundreds of fascinating advances of the kind I hope to cover in the coming weeks. And, unlike the Futura, they may offer a more realistic insight into what we could be driving tomorrow.
The Futura itself is now remembered for very different reasons than becoming the car of choice in the 50s. Given a lick of black paint, some red trim and a few well-placed logos, the bubble-topped car went on to be the famous runaround for a caped Adam West. To the Batmobile, Robin!
You can hear Jon discuss the latest advances in science in Science in Action, every week on the BBC World Service.