Dream Cars, the new show at the Atlanta High Museum of Art, encapsulates our ongoing fascination with retro futurism. Auto shows are always good for visitor numbers, and Dream Cars (opening on 21 May) adds an additional slice of yearning nostalgia, offering up a choice selection of 17 of the most weird and wonderful conceptual car designs that (mostly) never made it into the real world.
As well as the big names of contemporary car culture - including Ferrari, Bugatti and Porsche - the exhibition focuses on far-sighted one-off visions, the ideas that were just too way-out for popular taste or technological ability. Including models, drawings, patents and beautiful period artwork, alongside 17 mint condition cars, the show harks back to an earlier age, when the 'dream car' was exactly that - a piece of elaborate speculative design intended to inspire. Most of today's concepts are far more grounded; we want to buy what we see so car companies are careful to use design studies as a way of previewing next year's model or foreshadowing a future design direction.
Just occasionally, the willpower, drive and investment exists to translate a vision into reality. The Porsche 918 Spyder Concept, shown here, is a good example of the vast expense of being first; you can buy the production version of this hybrid supercar, but it'll cost you over £650,000. Most of the other exhibits are priceless one-offs, either designed before their time or never intended to turn a wheel on the public road. Instead, they've been brought together to remind us of how the future used to look.