The history of the automotive industry is punctuated by technological innovations that have driven all manufacturers forward. These countless innovations are in the fields of mechanics, safety, aerodynamics, structural design, choice of materials and many others.

A new functional approach to motoring has also been a major development, influencing the way we use cars, what carmakers offer and the way we look at them. Car manufacturers’ design departments have come up with innovations that have been an immediate success, but sometimes the industrialisation of these innovations has come far too early, and immediate market success has been a long time coming.

The Geneva International Motor Show has often been the scene of innovations that have made a lasting impact on the industry.  Proof of this commitment to innovation is the Car of the Year award which has been presented every year at the show, except for during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Classics Gallery has chosen six avant-garde vehicles from the era to highlight the functional innovations that are still influencing cars of today, including a unique vehicle, the Renault Espace F1 Matra Williams.

Can you imagine the modern car industry without seatbelts, tailgates, modular interiors, 4x4s, GTIs, SUVs or MPVs?