Last night, at the London Transport Museum in the corner of Covent Garden, I saw the shape of things to come.

At a special showcase marking 40 years of what’s probably the most influential vehicle design course in the world, nineteen students of the Royal College of Art showed off their individual takes on what cars – specifically Opel and Vauxhall cars – will become by the middle of this century. They were taking part in a competition, sponsored by GM, called Fast Forward Forty Years. And as you’ll see in the pictures below, their ideas were imaginative in the wildest extreme.

Because the proposals were so various, it’s a tricky job now to find common ground between them. The designers were encouraged to disregard every piece of received wisdom about the current car market and think totally freely; they had to come up with a new ‘user scenario’ for the year 2049, and then design a car to suit. Which is why conventional things like engines, seats, doors and wheels were thin on the ground.