Our latest A1-sized artwork, featuring no fewer than 27 wedge-shaped concept cars, shows artist Wayne Batty's skills at their best. But what made these cars so special?
With the selected cars stretching from the 1967 Lamborghini Marzal, through some legends such as the Alfa Romeo Carabo, Lancia Stratos Zero and BMW Turbo, to the 1989 Ferrari Mythos, the choices may at first appear random, but what we have here is a carefully curated list of concept cars from the three decades that most showed amazing creativity. Let's take a closer look.
- You can buy your Wedge Legends print, of which only 100 numbered copies will be produced, here.
1967 Lamborghini Marzal
In true concept car style, the radically styled Marzal was a one-off, though it did inspire the shape of the later Espada production model. Its design was the work of Marcello Gandini of Bertone. Besides its obvious design highlights, there was also a surprise under the bonnet. It was powered by what was essentially half of the 4.0L V12 found in period Lamborghinis... in other words, a 2.0L inline 6-cylinder engine with around 130kW.
1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo
They don't come much more wedge-shaped than the 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo, the sister car of the much more curvaceous 33 Stradale. It made its debut at the 1968 Paris Motor Show and was (like the Marzal) designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. Its design heavily influenced the final shape of the Lamborghini Countach (also a Gandini design), as well as the latter car's trademark scissor doors.
Power came from a mid-mounted 2.0 V8 that delivered 172kW.
1968 Bizzarrini Manta
Bizzarrini was a short-lived Italian car company in the '60s, founded by former Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Iso engineer, Giotto Bizzarrini. Although it didn't survive, some of the cars it produced were high advanced and, these days, are highly sought-after collectibles. Before it went bust in 1969, it developed the somewhat bloated Manta concept with Giorgietto Giugiaro, who had just established ItalDesign. The Manta featured a mid-mounted V8 engine and a front windscreen with a rake of only 15 degrees!
1969 Ferrari Berlinetta Speciale
Causing a real stir at the 1969 Turin Motor Show, the 512S Berlinetta Speciale was the work of Filippo Sapino, who is probably better known for his long stint at Ghia, than the shorter period at Pininfarina in the late '60s. The Berlinetta Speciale was the first Ferrari to receive the wedge treatment, resulting in quite the uproar from traditionalists already confused by the 512S name - under the engine cover was not the expected 5.0L V12 but rather a 6.0L V12 borrowed from a CanAm racer!
1969 Holden Hurricane
Claimed to be one of the most advanced cars of its time, the Holden Hurricane was described as a research vehicle. Indeed, it featured numerous advanced features, including a hydraulically powered canopy instead of doors and a system called "Pathfinder", which used magnetic signals built into the road to guide the driver. Power came from a high-compression 4.2L V8 engine producing 193kW.
1969 Fiat-Abarth 2000 Scorpione
Notice that extending exhaust outlet at the rear? That's this scorpion's "tail". Designed in 1969 under Filippo Sapino at Pininfarina, the 2000 Scorpione was a one-off "flight of fancy" concept based on the chassis of the Abarth 2000 Sport Spider SE. It featured a 2.0L 4-cylinder Fiat engine upgraded by Abarth to deliver just north of 164kW.
1969 Mercedes-Benz C111
The C111 is one of the more well-known wedge legends, but what is less well known is that there were three distinct versions of it. The subject of our print is the first, introduced in 1969, and it featured a fibreglass bodyshell and mid-mounted 3-rotor Wankel (rotary) engine.
1970 Ferrari 512S Modulo
Another one of the more famous wedge legends is the incredible Ferrari 512S Modulo. Featuring an extremely low body and canopy-style entry system, all four of the Modulo's wheels are partly covered. Power is from a 6.0L V12 engine, visible through 24 holes in the engine cover. Originally painted black, the Modulo was the work of Pininfarina.
1970 Vauxhall SRV
The SRV (Styling Research Vehicle) was a highly advanced concept car penned by the well-known Wayne Cherry and Chris Field. The car's look was inspired by the short-nosed, long-tail Le Mans racers of the time, but it was able to seat four passengers despite only being 104cm high.
The SRV used a 2.3L mid-mounted, fuel-injected engine, but it was rather pointless, as a gearbox was never developed for the car and it could never run under its own power.
1970 Lancia Stratos Zero
Certainly one of the most outlandish of the wedge-shaped concepts was the Lancia Stratos Zero, again the work of Marcello Gandini at Bertone. The Stratos Zero featured a 1.6L V4 Fulvia engine but that's where any similarities with period Lancia products stopped. Even the eventual Stratos production car looked way different. The concept was used in Michael Jackson's 1988 film, Moonwalker.
1970 Mazda RX-500
Unveiled at the 1970 Tokyo Motor Show, the RX-500 was quite a marvelous piece of kit. It weighed only 850kg, so its 491 cc rotary engine didn't have a lot of weight to pull around. 184kW was plenty enough to push the RX-500 to a 241kph top speed. Also interesting were the gullwing doors and butterfly panels that gave access to the rear-mounted engine, as well as rear lights that indicated how hard the driver was accelerating or braking.
1970 Porsche Tapiro
The sharp-nosed Tapiro arrived in 1970 at the Turin motorshow named after the pig-like tapir herbivorous mammal... so not a great start. Still it was based on the 914/6 and was important because it was ItalDesign's first wedge-shaped concept. The little-known Tapiro is said to have inspired the looks of the Maserati Boomerang and even the De Lorean DMC-12.
1970 Toyota EX7
The highly experimental EX7 followed the popular wedge-shaped design of its era (particularly the Mercedes-Benz C111) but wasn't just an, uhm, interesting face. It was powered by a 5L engine that developed 330kW!
1971 Alfa Romeo Cuneo
Penned by Paulo Martin at Pininfarina, the Cuneo made its debut at the 1971 Brussels Motor Show. It was, like the Carabo, based on the 33 Stradale, and powered by a 2.0L V8.
1971 Alfa Romeo Caimano
The Caimano was based on the Alfasud, and styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. It made its debut at the 1971 Turin Motor Show and featured a number of unconventional design elements, including a large glass canopy/windshield which incorporated the doors. It also had a strange cylindrical dashboard. With only 64kW from its Alfasud engine, it was however not very fast.
1971 Matra Laser
Almost forgotten these days, the Matra Laser deserves some recognition for its sharp-edged Michelotti design. Only 1080mm tall, the Laser was based on the brand's M530 chassis, featured gullwing doors and was powered by a mid-mounted 1.7L Ford V4 engine.
1972 BMW Turbo
The first BMW concept car was quite something. Built in celebration for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the Turbo was styled by the legendary Paul Bracq, had gullwing doors (of course) and was based on a modified 2002 chassis with a mid-mounted engine. Two were built.
1972 Maserati Boomerang
First revealed as a non-functional concept car at the 1971 Turin Motor Show, the Boomerang was developed quickly into the Bora production model. Styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Boomerang certainly looked the part inside and out - it featured a steering wheel/instrument cluster that was a single piece.
1974 Lamborghini Bravo
The Bravo concept was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone and first shown at the 1974 Turin Motor Show. It wasn't your average concept car, but rather a serious stab at developing an Uracco successor. It was fully functional and powered by a 224kW V8 engine. It is said that the prototype underwent nearly 270 000km of testing!
1976 Alfa Romeo Navajo
Another concept based on the underpinnings of the iconic 33 Stradale, the Bertone-designed Navajo's fibreglass body featured a striking mix of curves and angularity, as well as a massive rear wing! Power came from a 2L V8 developing around 170kW.
1978 Lancia Stratos Sibilo
Another Marcello Gandini creation, this 1978 concept car was based on the production Lancia Stratos. Like other Bertone concepts of the era its body was made from hand-beaten steel (instead of fibreglass). The Sibilo also featured polycarbonate windows. And it was brown... very brown.
1978 Dome Zero
Those of you who have played a lot of Gran Turismo in years gone by will know about the Dome Zero. Despite a surprising number of appearances in pop culture, however, the Dome Zero is actually quite an unknown quantity. A prototype sports car developed by Japan's DOME, it was unveiled at the 1978 Geneva Motor Show. The plan was to put it into production, but the Zero never managed to get past regulatory bodies, and so ended up being stillborn. It was to be powered by a 2.8L Nissan straight-6 engine.
1979 Aston Martin Bulldog
This wacky car was designed by William Towns and the plan was to build between 15 and 25 of them. In the end, however, only the one functional prototype was built, and it's a quite a sight to behold, isn't it!?
Dreamed up to showcase the engineering capabilities of the company's then-new Newport Pagnell facility, the Bulldog is powered (yes, it still exists) by a twin-turbocharged 5.3L V8 pumping out 522kW. Aston Martin claimed an astonishing (and very optimistic) 381 kph top speed.
1980 Citroen Karin
Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1980, the bizarre Karin featured a pyramidal design with flush glass panels. The roof of the Karin was actually only the size of a piece of A3 paper! The work of Trevor Fiore, the Karin featured a three-seat layout and the hydropneumatic suspension system of the DS.
1980 Lamborghini Athon
Another stillborn concept for Lamborghini designed by Bertone. The Athon made its debut at the 1980 Turin Motor Show, but Lamborghini's financial troubles at the time made production an impossibility.
1984 Chevrolet Ramarro
With the striking Ramarro Bertone wanted to impress the American market, and so the chosen platform was the then-new C4 Corvette (actually the same Corvette used to wow the European press at the 1983 Geneva Motor Show). The work of Marc Deschamps and Eugenio Pagliano, the Ramarro featured a mostly stock Corvette underneath, but an all-new body that included sliding doors. Only one was built.
1989 Ferrari Mythos
The Mythos was a fully functional prototype based on the underpinnings of the Testarossa, and made its debut at the 1989 Tokyo Motor Show. It was the work of Pietro Camardella and Lorenzo Ramaciotti at Pininfarina. Although not intended for production, it is reported that the Sultan of Brunei ordered two Mythos.