BMW is a car company that is forever pushing its own boundaries to explore new levels of automotive achievement. Some may complain about this, claiming that BMW is steering away from the values that made the company so beloved. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as creating new genres is what made BMW so beloved. Would we have the modern super sedans that we know and love if it weren’t for the original, and controversial at the time, M5?

BMW has always been a company full of dreamers, mad scientists if you will. People that like to create purely for the sake of creating. They like to make things that no one else has before. And it all starts in the concept phase.

Concepts cars are great ways to display technologies and design languages to be used in future production cars. Most of the time, concepts never make it to production, but the lessons learned while making them do. That’s ultimately what concept cars are for, to learn and play around with ideas which will eventually make it to production. Every so often, a concept car will make it to the assembly line with little changed and when that happens we usually get something very, very special. Case-in-point, the BMW i8.

So let’s take a look at the coolest/strangest/funkiest and, ultimately, best concept cars by BMW.

10. 1972 E25 Turbo


Here is another case where the concept spawned a car largely unchanged. The E25 Turbo was built for the 1972 Olympics, held in Munich, and was a test-bed for technologies in the ’70s and even showcased a radar system to warn drivers of curbs and various other things. That kind of tech back in the ‘70s was considered very “groovy” or some other sort of hippie vernacular. But by looking at the E25 Turbo, it’s quite obvious where the design language for the M1 came from. That same design language even made its way to the 8 Series.

9. 2011 328 Hommage Concept


Built as a throwback to the 328 of the 1930s, the 328 is a two-seater, straight-six engined, CFRP and aluminum constructed, breathtaking roadster. With classic good looks and great power-to-weight ratio, the 328 Hommage would be an unbelievable car to drive. I think we can all agree it’s definitely one of the best looking BMW concepts ever. I would give a kidney and a lung to have one.

8. 1995 Z18 Concept


Basically a jacked up, four-wheel drive Z3, the Z18 concept may be one of BMW’s oddest. The body was made out of plastic, it had a V8 engine and the interior was reconfigurable. The Z18 would be completely ridiculous if it ever made it to production, but I’d probably be first in line if it did.

7. 1969 Spicup

I can’t tell what BMW was going for with this except for maybe a Lamborghini fighter. The Spicup was based upon the BMW 2000 CS and was designed by Marcello Gandini, designer of the Lamborghini Miura and Countach. It featured a 2.5 liter I6 engine and had two stainless steel retractable roof panels. Very strange.

6. 1991 Nazca Concept


Designed by Fabrizio Giugiaro, the famous Italian designer, the Nazca was inspired by Formula One cars. Both the frame and body were carbon fiber and it housed a mid-mounted 5.0 liter V12, producing 300 hp. 300 hp may not sound like a lot, but considering it only weighed around 2,400 lbs, it was plenty. It also had gullwing doors and 360 degree visibility. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds pretty amazing.

5. X Concept Coupe


BMW’s second attempt to make a jacked up, off-roading coupe. The X Concept Coupe was built on the X5 platform and featured a 3.0 liter diesel engine. The really strange part about the X Concept was the rear hatch. The entire rear end of the car lifted up, backwards, like a hatch and with the doors open as well, revealed the entire interior of the car. Very odd, indeed. Not sure what BMW was thinking with this one, really.

4. M1 Hommage Concept


Clearly a throwback to the original M1, the Hommage Concept also has a bit of the i8 in it. The M1 Hommage was first debuted at the 2008 Concorso d’Eleganza on the 30th anniversary of the original M1. With incredible styling, which both honored the M1 and also looked to the future, the M1 Hommage Concept is a car that all gearheads wish BMW had made.

3. BMW Concept Coupe Mille Miglia


Named after the famous Italian race, the Mille Miglia Concept is pays homage to the 1950s and the style of cars which would race the namesake race. A beautiful carbon fiber body was placed on top of a Z4 M Coupe chassis and used the same 3.2 liter I6 engine, shared with the E46 M3. Except in Mille Miglia form, that engine produced 340 hp. Yum.

2. GINA Concept


Based on the Z8 Roadster platform, the GINA Concept is the strangest of them all. Always fun designer, Chris Bangle, decided to create the future of automotive design. To do so, he created the body out of a carbon fiber reinforced metal wire shell, wrapped in a flexible skin-like texture. The idea was that the body could be changed to shape an owner’s desires. The GINA Concept looked great, but had…skin. Too weird.

1. 2009 BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics


When the VED was first displayed, it was mind-blowing. The even more mind-blowing thing about it, is that it basically made it into production, as the i8. It’s the closest concept car to a real life production car I’ve ever seen. Because of that, the fact that BMW did what every automaker wishes to do — actually produce a concept car — the 2009 Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept is the best/coolest/weirdest BMW Concept car ever. Even with an annoying name.