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Images: California dreamin' for concept cars

A design contest at the Greater LA Auto Show brings out the best--or is it the weirdest?--in vehicular imagination.
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By Bill Detwiler on
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1 of 7 Bill Detwiler/ZDNET

Maybach's California Gourmet Tourer

For the Design Los Angeles automobile designers conference, taking place in conjunction with the Greater LA Auto Show, studio designers hit the drawing boards to conjure up a vehicle for an "LA adventure" to reflect activities for which Southern California is renowned.

Maybach's entry, the California Gourmet Tourer, features refrigeration, espresso machine, microwave, wine rack, food preparation area, recycler and foldout tables--along with GPS software to do the chauffering while passengers ride and dine.

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GMC Pad

The GMC Pad--"an urban loft with mobility," in the company's pitch to the design judges--features a diesel-electric hybrid system that powers the wheels for getting around and the onboard systems for just hanging out.

It may look like a Frankensteinian combination of an inchworm and a garden shed, but on Thursday the judges awarded it first place.

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Honda's Running Bus

One of Honda's entries in the Design Challenge, the Running Bus, offers a different take on hybrid energy--inspired by California's fitness culture, it packs 10 stationary runners inside the bus for power.

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Hyundai Greenspeed Gator

The Greenspeed Gator from Hyundai was inspired by drag racers of the 1960s and the fuel cell innovations of the 21st century. Under the hood are hydrogen storage tanks, and the rear wheels house electric motors.

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Kia Sidewinder

Environmental consciousness hits the raceways in the Kia Sidewinder design. Kia's entry in the design challenge incorporates a compressed natural gas turbine, which feeds electricity to high-torque in-wheel electric motors.

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Mercedes Mojave Runner

A gasoline-electric hybrid from Mercedes, the Mojave Runner features night vision, sandstorm radar and GPS sensors. It also comes with smart tires--they automatically change tread depth to match the road (or off-road) conditions.

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Smart Rescue Vehicle

No Southern California-inspired design contest would be complete without something for the beach. A work of the imagination inspired by the lifeguard life, the Smart Rescue Vehicle does double duty as a dune buggy and jet boat.

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