The year 2005 saw some pretty excellent concept vehicles, from cool pre-production one-offs like the Mazda MX Crossport to wacky, far-out doozies like the Jeep Hurricane, which we’re about as likely to see produced as we are to witness Pauly Shore thanking the Academy for his lifetime achievement award. Some of them pushed the envelope of design, while others were technological marvels unlike anything seen before in the automotive industry. And some were shown that we never, ever want to see again, like the Nissan Pivo. Can you imagine picking up your date in that thing?

The ones we do want to see again are plentiful, though, so we thought that before the onslaught of concepts from the L.A. and Detroit auto shows really gets in gear we’d show you what our favorite five concepts were from 2005. In the interest of getting this posted before any Autobloggers change their minds, let’s get this party started….

 ONE: Ford Iosis
Folks could hardly believe it was a Ford when this baby broke cover at Frankfurt. Yet the company stated that the Iosis would be the inspiration for future Ford design – at least that of its European division, though we hope to see some elements of the vehicle here in the States as well. The aggressive styling, complete with four carbon fiber gull wing doors, muscular profile and “inverse trapezoid” air intake below the grille, shows a clear effort on behalf of the team led by Ford Europe’s Martin Smith to turn some heads.

Apart from the styling, the concept makes an effort to include a few bits of up-and-coming technology. Rather than side and rear-view mirrors, the vehicle is equipped with cameras that send the various views to an LCD screen in front of the driver on the instrument panel. There’s also two memory stick docks, which Ford envisions to be used for seating memory and other driver preferences.

TWO: GMC Sequel

“It’s potentially the biggest thing to happen since the Model T (honestly),” said our man Eric Bryant, who does not say such things lightly. Built using General Motors’ “skateboard” architecture seen earlier on the GM HyWire concept, the vehicle’s wheels each get their own hub-mounted motor and the controls are drive-by-wire. Eric says that having so few mechanical needs from the chassis of the vehicle should eliminate “platforms” as we know them, decreasing costs while increasing innovation.

THREE: Maserati Birdcage 75

This Geneva concept looks cool and it has lots of fun gadgets, what’s not to love? The vehicle, representing a partnership between Pininfarina, Maserati and Motorola, is a celebration of Pininfarina’s 75 years in existence, but it also presented an opportunity for Motorola to take a healthy stab at what it calls “seamless mobility,” or the ability of the vehicle’s occupants to stay connected to the stuff that’s important to them. We loved the design by Pininfarina and give Motorola mad props for the tech, which includes an aircraft-style head-up display and “mobile-phone-inspired” interface with the driver. Oh, and the 700 hp V12 and panels that move around at high speeds to adjust downforce doesn’t hurt, either.

FOUR: BMW Z4 Coupe

This Frankfurt concept got high marks all around for its balanced design, gorgeous interior, matte paint and “I want it so bad I can almost taste it” proximity to actual production. For those of us with pockets deep enough to afford it, the production version of the vehicle should be available in the U.S. in June with a standard 255 hp 3.0L DOHC inline six, with the 333 hp 3.2L M version to follow shortly thereafter.

FIVE: Maybach Exelero

It’s not the fastest car in the world. It doesn’t have the most horsepower. It doesn’t even have the best track times. But it is very, very badass. The 700 hp twin turbocharged V-12 engine is based on the Maybach 57 S and has the distinction of being able to hit 55 mph in a mere 4.4 seconds from a standstill and hit a top speed upwards of 218. Of course, we couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous interior and excellent two-tone leather, which was the icing on the cake.



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