The Concept Cars That Should've Made it to Production
What could have been.
While concept cars are rarely production-ready, they frequently capture our imagination and make us wonder what it would be like if they actually made it down the production line. Here are some concepts that should've become reality.
The Copperhead, introduced in 1997, was meant to be a smaller, more affordable version of the then-new Dodge Viper. It was powered by a V-6, and had some funky looks. A cheap mini-Viper convertible with a rear-wheel-drive layout? Yes please.
The Avus concept of 1991 previewed the aluminum construction and W-12 engine Audi would put into production, but sadly, this mid-engine supercar didn't have a future. Blame the 1990s recession for killing this amazing machine inspired by Auto Union's streamliners of the 1930s.
The Indigo was a wild Formula 1-inspired open-wheeler first shown in the mid-Nineties. It has a crazy aerodynamic setup with an interesting front wing, and a mid-mounted V-12 made from two Duratec V-6s. It would've been nice to see it be built for real, even as a track-only vehicle.
With momentum from its success in the World Sportscar Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mercedes presented this stunning mid-engine supercar in 1991. The C112 was the road-going counterpart to the stunning Sauber C11 race car, complete with a 6.0-liter V-12, active aero, and all sorts of other futuristic tech. Unfortunately, the executive who godfathered this concept was gone by the time it was revealed, with no one to shepherd this expensive machine into production.
In the U.S., the Datsun brand was built on the back of the 240Z sports car and the 510 sedan, the first Japanese car to give machines like the BMW 2002 and Alfa Giulia a run for their money. The IDx was a modern, rear-drive reinterpretation of the 510, revealed in 2013, and promised for production, but killed in 2015. It would've been too expensive to develop a new rear-drive platform for a low-volume car for this.
This wild machine was an unfortunate product and victim of Japan's bubble economy. A mid-engine, tandem-seat supercar with a 3.5-liter V-12. It was too good for this world.
In 2016, Buick revealed something stunning. A two-door coupe designed by Ed Welburn, based on the Camaro's Alpha platform with a 400-hp twin-turbo V-6 and looks that hark back to great Buick concepts of the past. We hoped it'd see the light of day, but it was just a design study to generate hype.
The 2004 ME Four-Twelve is the coolest thing to come from Chrysler this century, packing a carbon monocoque and a Mercedes V-12 engine. It was a fully running prototype, ready to be driven. Sadly, the financial crisis squashed any hope of it seeing production.
The Concept-RA was introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2008, featuring recyclable plastic resin body panels and a turbodiesel engine, of all things. Like the ME Four-Twelve, the recession crushed any plans for a production variant.
The mid-engine V-12-powered Nazca C2 was a concept car penned by Italdesign, meant to be an official replacement for the original M1. Worried it would flop, BMW canceled the project before it could go into production. Just three were built.
Despite racing at Le Mans, Dome was never able to get its fantastic wedge-shaped Zero sports car into production, and that's a shame. Just look at it!
The 2010 Quattro concept was meant to be a modern take on the legendary original, equipped with Audi's all-wheel-drive system and a turbo five-cylinder engine. There were rumors Audi was planning a limited production run, but nothing ever came of it, though its design cues made its way into future Audi products, like the current TT.
The Eterne was one of five pie-in-the-sky concepts Lotus infamously unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It was a four-door sedan with killer looks and a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8. Sadly, it failed to ever reach production.
The Mythos was designed by Pininfarina, and used underpinnings from the Testarossa. Ferrari never made a proper Testarossa convertible, and we think this should've been it. It's too bad it remained a concept.
The M4S was designed from the beginning to be an Indy pace car. It's a fully working prototype. Top speed is said to be nearly 200 mph thanks to a twin-turbo Cosworth engine. The car is most famous for its appearance in the 1980s movie The Wraith.
Cadillac has a bad habit of showing off stunning concept cars, then not building them. The four-door convertible Ciel is one of the prettiest of all, with an incredibly long wheelbase and fantastic styling.
Built as an experiment in the Seventies, the C111 was powered by a range of rotary engines before the project was abandoned. Mercedes built 13 examples in total, and the only example still running currently uses a more traditional V-8.
Built in 2004, the front-engine V-10-equipped Shelby GR-1 concept was meant as a throwback to the Daytona Coupe that dominated race tracks back in the mid-1960s. The only one built was sold at auction in 2011 for $82,500.
We were pretty heartbroken to hear the news Jaguar wouldn't produce the C-X75. It's an achingly beautiful design, and it starred in James Bond's Spectre.
People often forget about the Scighera—unless they grew up playing Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit. Look at it and you'll wonder why it was never built. It has some stunning lines and a cool bubble-top cabin, and a twin-turbo 3.0-liter Alfa V-6.
Featuring the company's V-10 up front and four doors down the sides, the Estoque was supposed to be Lamborghini's first "practical" car in decades. Of course, it got shelved, and nearly a decade later, the Urus SUV came around.
The GT90 was a hyper-angular, supremely modern take on Ford's original GT40 race car of the Sixties. It preceded the 2005-generation GT, and used a quad-turbo V-12 engine making 720 horsepower. Imagine if Ford actually put this thing into production?
The S5S Raptor was Saleen's 2008 vision for a supercar that slotted in below the maniacal S7. The best part about it was that it was damn good looking. Had it been built, it would have been powered by a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that made 650 hp. However, because of Saleen's financial woes, the car never saw the light of day.
The name, of course, comes from the Nardo test track, where Volkswagen set records with the prototype car. However, instead of building this car, VW went ahead and built the Bugatti Veyron instead. You can definitely see tones of the W12 Nardo in the Veyron, but there is something even cooler about the idea of a supercar from the company that brought you the people's car.
In 2009, Bugatti released the Galibier concept: A sedan wearing the Bugatti badge that could've been the Veyron's successor. It certainly looked related to the Veyron, too. It even kept the Veyron's W-16 engine, but, ultimately, Bugatti went with the Chiron as the Veyron's successor instead of this crazy super-sedan.
Beneath a hood that stretched past the horizon lay a V-16 engine that was good for 1000 hp and 1000 lb-ft of torque. Cadillac unveiled the concept in 2003 as a nod to the famed Cadillac V16 from the 1930s. The engine was a 13.6-liter beast, and it was such a pity that these never made it to the road. It could have resurrected the great American grand touring luxury tradition.
Over twenty years ago, Chrysler showed the Atlantic Concept at the Detroit Auto Show. It came from the same design-era as the Plymouth Prowler, which explains the retro-Art Deco-1930's looks. It had a 4.0-liter straight-eight (!) engine, fashioned from two Neon engines mounted together. And what business did Chrysler have trying to build this expensive and exotic car? None at all, which is why it never happened. Looks absolutely gorgeous, though.
In 2005, Maybach unleashed the land yacht of concepts, the Exelero. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 5.9-liter V-12 , the Exelero made 691 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque. The top speed was an insane 218 mph. There was only one ever made (because more than that would have been just too much opulence for one world) and cost about $8 million.
The Ener-G-Force was a vision for the G-Wagen of the future. It had a fuel cell drivetrain which was estimated to have a 500-mile range. And with those huge wheels, it looked like it had the off-roading ability to climb up a wall.