The great car designer Robert Opron had a visionary view of what the future would bring, and in 1958 this led him to create the concept car called the Fulgur for the French car manufacturer Simca.
Simca utilised the Fulgur to demonstrate to the world their advanced engineering capabilities coupled with their innovative thinking. The prototype was assembled to be presented to the public at the Geneva Motor Show in 1959. Back then, Simca viewed themselves as on par with the big American manufacturers which were all spending huge amounts of resources on predicting the future with astonishing and ground-breaking new concept cars.
Simca took a brave approach to developing a number of advanced technical solutions to transportation, believing firmly that this would be the future – they just had to invent it first. The Fulgur was to be steered through a radar system which would detect the road ahead. The car would also have what they called an electronical brain which would communicate with a control tower to help navigate the car via an autopilot. And of course, all these fancy gizmos would be voice controlled.
The car would be propelled by an atomic battery – which now doubt sounded like a fabulous idea during a time where anything atomic driven was marvelled at. The battery would power electromagnetic engines and give the car a radius of 5,000km.
The inside of the cockpit-like interior was heavily sound suppressed and not least air-conditioned, while the vast glass roof was treated with a highly reflective coating to prevent an excessive greenhouse effect from taking place. The seats looked just as futuristic as the rest of the car and were carefully designed to give optimal support for the driver and passengers. Furthermore, they were equipped with a clever tilting system to enable easier access to and from the interior despite the tall sills.
During the Fulgur’s Geneva presentation in 1959, the concept certainly caused a stir, but also quite some criticism from the public who clearly didn’t share Opron’s or Simca’s vision of the future and the technical advancements which would be made. Yet others found it inspirational and saw it as a step towards making the flying car reality.
Subsequently the Fulgur was shipped to the USA where it was displayed at the New York Salon in 1960. Thereafter it was to be found at the Chicago Auto Show in 1961. And then, it all went terribly quiet as Simca seemingly shelved their revolutionising visions for the automobile.