Images generated via artificial intelligence “Text to Image” programs are making a lot of noise in machine learning circles, and are starting to hit the mainstream. The latest buzz-generating program is DiffusionBee, which can utilize the capabilities of M1-equipped Macs to generate photorealistic images of pretty much whatever you can dream up, right on your own computer.
So I downloaded DiffusionBee to my Mac Studio and fed it some crazy ideas for cars to see what it would come up with, and posted some of the better results here (the caption for each photo shows the text I entered into the AI). While what it came up with was not perfect, it was still quite impressive, even compared to what these programs were capable of even a few months ago. Note that all of these images are exactly as they were produced by the AI: I didn’t retouch any of them in any way.
The first fun trick is to go back in time – to see what past versions of cars would look like before they actually existed. I already put an example of this in the lede, with a “1940 Chevrolet Corvette” that actually looks fairly period correct with the pontoon fenders, split front windshield, dog dish hubcaps, and power dome hood.
Here is what DiffusionBee generated when I asked it to produce a 1960 Mazda Miata (a lot of the images generated by the AI are not centered correctly, for some reason).
When asked to produce a 1980 Mazda Miata, the result was also surprisingly period correct.
Here is what I got when I asked for a “1970 Bugatti Veyron.” While at first glance it doesn’t look that different, upon closer examination you will notice the chrome door handles, mirrors, and fuel filler, as well as the “high-profile” wheels and tires, and maybe even traces of a wing window. I’ve noticed that many of these AI-generated images have a gauzy, dream-like quality to them, with their blurry edges and lettering that you can’t make out no matter how closely you look at it.
I think the popup headlights work pretty well in the 1980 Tesla. They are both period correct, as well as being the best way to achieve an maximally aerodynamic front end those sealed-beam days.
My last lookback is for Paul: A 1960 Scion xB.
But really, I had more fun asking the AI to prognosticate future vehicles of defunct brands.
Lets start with a 1960 Packard Patrician. More weird AI cropping here, but still, I can detect a hint of GM’s cantilever floating roof.
Here is what I received when I requested a “1971 Studebaker.” I think the result looks entirely plausible.
Also plausible looking is this 1970 Edsel, which has the split grille, split bumper guards, and remnants of a two-tone paint job.
This clearly Lincoln-based 1975 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser seems to live up to the spirit of the original.
This 1975 Studebaker has more than a hint of Mercedes SL, which kind of makes sense, as Studebaker once owned the distribution rights for Mercedes-Benz in the US. A still extant Studebaker in 1975 could possibly have been partnered up with Mercedes.
I’ve noticed the farther I ask the AI to peer into the future, the more bizarre the results become. I would hope that in the alternate reality where Packard didn’t go out of business that they still weren’t using 1950s cathedral styling cues into the 1970s.
This 1990 Studebaker looks like an unholy union between an Avanti II and a Pontiac 6000.
Meanwhile, this 2010 Packard looks like a cross between a Chrysler 300 and a Maybach.
My final time bender is the biggest leap: A 1970 Ford Model T. It basically is a 1970 Ford Falcon, with the really tall greenhouse from a Model T.
Curiously, asking DiffusionBee to extrapolate further into the future (e.g. a 2030 Corvette) just produced current versions of said cars. I guess there are some things that not even AI can predict.
Of course, why limit yourself when you can ask for anything you want?
This is one of my favorites. We all know there was no actual 1983 Chevrolet Corvette (outside of a few C4 prototypes), but this AI rendering nicely bridges the C3 and C4 models with styling cues from each. Chevy Rallye wheels pretty much look good no matter where you use them.
Of course, Pontiac never made an F-body pickup truck, but what if they did? The results actually don’t look half bad. I would take this over a Hyundai Santa Cruz or Ford Maverick any day of the week. Again, more of that AI dream-like effect with extraneous shut lines and inscrutable tire lettering.
Tesla Model S Convertible? No problem.
Tesla School Bus? Sure, why not.
And finally, this Pontiac Aztec pickup looks every bit as scary as you would expect.