10 of the Geneva Motor Show’s most unusual classic concepts
1961 Aston Martin Jet by Bertone
Using the final DB4 GT chassis (not including the Sanction II/III Zagatos), a 22-year-old Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Jet for the 1961 Geneva expo. After winning ‘Best in Show’ at Villa d’Este in 2001, the unique coupé was sold by Bonhams for £3.25m in 2013.
1963 Chevrolet Corvair Testudo by Bertone
With a view to selling the Corvair in Europe, GM sent a rolling chassis each to Pininfarina and Bertone. The latter’s effort, the Testudo, was again a Giugiaro design – but this was no primitive show-car. Nuccio Bertone famously drove the concept to the 1963 Geneva show from Turin, with Giugiaro the pilot for the return leg of the journey.
1968 Bertone Panther
By 1968, Giugiaro had moved to Ghia – but the services of Bertone were still in demand, and were enlisted by the Brescia Corse racing team to produce a prototype for the World Sportscar Championship. The most prominent feature of the resulting Panther was the spoiler that sat high above the cockpit, and which could be hydraulically controlled to vary its effect.
1970 BMW 2200 ti Garmisch
With the popularity of Mercedes-Benz’s W114 beginning to concern BMW, it too requested the services of Bertone. Penned by Marcelo Gandini, the 2200 ti Garmisch concept would later come to inspire Paul Bracq’s E12 5 Series – although the hexagonal kidney grilles and honeycombed rear screen weren’t carried over.
1970 Ferrari Modulo
We could have picked our top 10 solely with the debuts from the 1970 show – other highlights included the Mercedes-Benz C111-II, Volvo GTZ, Alfa Romeo Montreal, Citroën SM and original Range Rover. But by far the most arresting was Pininfarina’s Ferrari Modulo, which remains a head-turner (and a trip hazard) to this day.
1975 Opel Geneve Concept
It must be said, the fruits of Opel rarely appear on our radar. But the 1975 Genève concept has won inclusion in our top 10 not because of its name, but rather its downright gorgeous styling. Originally, it was planned to host a Wankel engine and be named GT/W, but the project was canned just before the show – hence the unimaginative renaming.
1981 Wolfrace Sonic
First shown at the 1981 Geneva show, the Sonic was built as a promotional vehicle for Wolfrace to showcase its new pepperpot-style alloy wheels. With six wheels and two Rover V8s, it was soon vying for bedroom wall space with the Lamborghini Countach.
1987 Sbarro Monster G
Sbarro will be exhibiting its latest quirky creation at this year’s show – but it’ll have to go some way to out-weird the 1987 Monster G. It had an engine from a Mercedes G-Wagon, the styling of a bloated beach buggy, and wheels from a Boeing 747. Yes, really.
1991 Lamborghini Sogna
First appearing at the 1991 Geneva show, the Sogna was (thankfully) not an officially sanctioned Lamborghini, but rather the realisation of a 13-year-old’s dream supercar. Apparently, the founder of Japanese company Art & Tech built this curio as a result of a childhood premonition, and sacrificed a Countach in view of a potential production run. Which didn’t happen. Obviously.
1993 Lagonda Vignale
Aston Martin has just announced that the Lagona Taraf saloon will now be available in Europe – but it’s not the first time the company has attempted to continue the lineage of the 1980s wedge. In 1993, Aston arrived at the Geneva show with the Ghia-styled Lagonda Vignale, which bore a remarkable resemblance to Italdesign’s Bugatti saloon concept debuting at the same show.