With roots in Hollywood, General Motors' first styling director, Harley Earl, loved a bit of showmanship.
So in 1983, he introduced what is today considered the first true concept car—the Buick Y-Job—launching an era in which concept cars became a staple on the auto show circuit.
While there are still a few off-the-wall cars shown these days, what you see very well may be what you get. Hyundai, for example, is watching closely to see how show goers react to the its edgy Santa Cruz car, to determine whether it will make its way into showrooms.
"If it does what we think it will, we want to move it into production as quickly as possible," Hyundai's U.S. CEO Dave Zuchowski said.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the most intriguing concept cars that were on display at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and gauge their likelihood of going from concept to customer.
—By CNBC contributor Paul Eisenstein
Posted 18 Jan. 2014