Although much of the future-car focus these days is on robot cars that don't crash, dream cars of the past generally have been all about styling — with an exotic powertrain or two thrown in for good measure.
These concept vehicles, or Dream Cars, were meant to showcase innovative technologies. Many remain industry icons.
Here are 10, based in part on information from GM, Cars Detroit Never Built by Edward Janicki and GM's Motorama by David W. Temple.
Harley Earl, above, took his inspiration from aircraft for the 1951 Buick LeSabre XP-8. It was made of lightweight aluminum and magnesium and had a wraparound windshield, an unusual oval grille and bumper bullets. It burned gasoline and methanol.
A high dorsal fin, pointy front end and swept-back wings gave the 1954 GM Firebird concept the look of a fighter jet. It was the first gasoline-powered turbine vehicle from a major automaker.
The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special was Pontiac's first two-seat sports car concept.
The half-red, half-white 1956 Buick Centurion had a distinctive tail cone, a winged back and a glass top. High-tech features included a rearview camera.
GM shook up the 2003 Detroit auto show with the stylish 2003 Cadillac Sixteen, a 1,000-hp, V-16 vehicle. Cues from the Sixteen were incorporated in later Cadillacs, such as the 2008 CTS.
The 2004 Buick Velite concept showed off a new design direction at Buick, evident in vehicles such as the Enclave, Lucerne and LaCrosse.
The 2004 Chevrolet Nomad concept evoked memories of the 1954 Chevy Nomad wagon.
The 2002 GM AUTOnomy was a fuel cell vehicle with a chassis that could accommodate interchangeable bodies. The vehicle also had by-wire braking and steering.
The 2007 Chevrolet Volt concept was the basis for the production rechargeable electric Volt that is scheduled to go on sale in 2010.
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