The “future of the commuter car” is a featureless box on wheels and you can buy it

Old concept cars offer a fascinating look into how society in the past envisioned the future. With their radical styling, pioneering technology, and lack of real-world production constraints, concepts offer designers an unusual amount of freedom to express their visions. Usually, when a concept car becomes irrelevant, it’s shoved into the history books and forgotten. Some, however, stay in the public eye, and now you can buy one: the “Consumer Car” by Joey Ruiter.

The car is currently live at auction on quirk champion Doug DeMuro’s auction site, Cars & Bids. It’s one of the most unusual vehicles the platform has ever hosted. Just read the “Doug’s Take” blurb in the listing — you can instantly tell he’s excited about this one.

And this isn’t just a concept car that eventually saw production as a toned-down model for the masses. This is a radical re-imagining of what the car itself actually represents and ought to achieve.

According to the creator, the Consumer Car is devoid of anything that might cause it to feel outdated. Apparently, this includes styling and features. The “car” (if you can even call it that) truly has no styling. It’s just a box on wheels, resembling a piece of DJ equipment more than a car. The front end has no grille and is instead a mirror. The number of doors is equal to the number of interior features: zero. There is also no performance, as the car has a lethargic 1.3-liter inline-four sourced from a Ford Festiva making 63 horsepower.


The goal of this brutal simplicity, according to Ruiter, is for occupants to “experience the road around them.” Perhaps this is why photos depict the driver wearing a racing helmet, as the design seems to remove as much insulation from the outside world as possible. Indeed, this is a radical departure from the philosophy of most modern automobiles: to isolate the occupants from the world around them.

For use in the real world, the Consumer Car appears riddled with flaws. There are no head restraints or even upper-body seat belts. There is no roof or storage area. The dash is devoid of any instruments to indicate, for example, speed. Which would be a problem if the car could reach any legal speed limit. And the front of the car is a mirror, which is an issue for other drivers if you want to drive on a sunny day. Which you would since there is no roof.

Now, this level of danger and impracticality combined with the acceleration of a tectonic plate would be understandable in the 1900s. But this concept car isn’t some relic from the early days of the automobile. It’s from 2016. By that time, innovations such as lane keep assist and automatic braking had become commonplace. Not to mention basic safety features such as airbags and head restraints.

Obviously, you would buy the Consumer Car to display, not to use, but as an actual concept for a car, it’s deeply flawed. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting footnote in recent automotive history, and the opportunity to own something like this rarely comes up. It’s challenging to say what the market value of the Consumer Car is, and even harder to guess where the reserve price lies. Still, the conclusion of the Cars & Bids auction should be exciting to watch.

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8 responses to “The “future of the commuter car” is a featureless box on wheels and you can buy it”

  1. mdharrell Avatar

    “…as an actual concept for a car, it’s deeply flawed.”

    Tempting, I agree, but regrettably not based on an appropriate chassis for compliance with, or exemption from, some rather tricky issues of street-legality in my state.

    1. OA5599 Avatar

      I would expect that it might have too much artificially cultivated style for your tastes.

      On the other hand, it was on display during my only trip to the Petersen and was–by a wide margin–my least favorite display, so you’ve got that in your favor.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        Yeah, you’re right. I was focusing on its objectively poorly-conceived aspects and overlooking its pretentiousness in an effort to be polite.

        1. OA5599 Avatar

          High bid will likely end up above your typical acquisition price. I think you can find other ways to throw away money, while staying within the sweet spot.

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      It does seem a perfect vehicle for those who like exploring new nadirs.

  2. Lokki Avatar

    Meh. An Art Student with limited skills builds a very basic project vehicle, and proclaims it meaningful art. Were this built in 1935, I might pay it some attention, however from 1996 it is at best a C- grade and probably deserves worse. It is not predictive, nor beautiful, nor the result of deep thought about transporting people. There is no roof. There is no windshield. Cars have had these features for literally more than 100 years and they will not disappear in the future. The trick features are, well, kind of sad. For, example, of what value or use is the mirror on the front? This project informs us of nothing about cars, nor commuting, nor transportation: nothing. It does not spur thought about what personal transport should be (except perhaps, that it should have a roof).

    I assure you that this car is not predictive in any way of the future of commuter car, and not even in a “retro-future” way. It is nothing but a home-made “ King Midget, a conceptually very similar “car” which first appeared in 1947; the main differences being that the King Midget had a windshield and a top, and lacked a mirror on the front.

    I would give in an even lower grade except for the fact it runs.

  3. Salguod Avatar

    Looks like a Bollinger SUV minus the greenhouse.

  4. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    i think it’s pretty cool! not practical, not good transportation, but a piece of functional sculpture. i don’t think it was intended to serve the same function as concept cars from carmakers.