Cool Riders

Crazy-looking concept cars highlight this year's Art of the Car Concours.

1949 Vincent Touring Rapide with a Blacknell Bullet sidecar

   Imagine traveling down the road in a 30-foot-long, cherry-red, two-story mini-bus vehicle called the Futurliner. How about a streamlined, futuristic four-door sedan with single wheels in the front and rear, or a steampunk-like motorized tricycle with a myriad of controls, switches and valves?

   These are but a sampling of the 200 concept cars and historically significant vehicles that will be on display at the ninth annual Art of the Car Concours on Sunday, June 28, at the Kansas City Art Institute. Proceeds benefit the college’s scholarship fund.


1940 general motors futurliner concept bus


   “We’re the only show of its kind in the Midwest, west of Detroit,” says Marshall Miller, chairman and founder of the Art of the Car Concours. “There’s no show in Chicago, St. Louis or Dallas that’s like this. We keep our ticket prices low because I want a wide range of people, and kids get in free.”

   Whereas other similar events charge $100 and up, Miller says, tickets for the Kansas City event are $20. Exhibitors are expected from 15 states. Amenities include four food trucks, tents in which to relax and eat, and booths with car dealers and car restorers.

1960 pinin farina x1928


     In addition to extreme concept cars, private collectors throughout the country will also bring their prize vintage cars, such as a 1954 Packard Panther, a 1937 black Cadillac V-16 Fleetwood Series 37-90 Stationary Coupe, or a rare 1969 TVR Tuscan SE sports car in electric blue. Significant motorcycles, such as a 1949 Vincent Touring Rapide with a Blacknell Bullet sidecar in the original factory red paint will also be exhibited.

   Viewers can literally look under the hood to inspect the engineering marvels of these vehicles, or just admire the state-of-the-art beauty of these chromed, finned, flame-licked and shapely dream cars, displayed on the lawn of the Art Institute.

      The classic vintage and sports cars on display will be stunning, but the special exhibit of concept cars throughout history is a highlight of the show.

1928 packard 526 sedan


      Although dream and concept cars date back to the 1930s, their heyday was in the 1950s and ‘60s, when manufacturers like General Motors designed prototype cars that included features that would appear on production models over several years.

   For example, the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis will bring one of only three Chrysler Turbines running today. Fifty-five were built in the early 1960s as a consumer-acceptance experiment that showcased the latest in jet-age styling of the era, but only three remain in existence (one owned by talk show host Jay Leno).  

    The public has always been fascinated by concept cars, says Miller. “They’re way out there.”

   Art of the Car Concours takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at the Kansas City Art Institute. For tickets and more information on all events, visit Concours-related ticketed events include a preview and public reception and a “Meet the Legend” panel discussion on the history of dream cars. The panel will include Packard collector Ralph Marano and Wayne Carini, star of Velocity Channel’s “Chasing Classic Cars.” Free covered parking and shuttle service will be available at the University of Missouri-Kansas City parking garage at the southeast corner of 50th and Oak streets.