Every year, auto manufacturers reveal concept cars that amaze us with their technology, design and performance. Sadly, many never make it past pre-production despite generating significant buzz. Here’s a look at the Top 10 concept cars that never made it pass production, but should have.
1. 2004 Chrysler ME FourTwelve
Chrysler stunned the audience at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show by unveiling a Ferrari Enzo challenger. The ME FourTwelve was aptly named for its 4-turbocharger, 12-cylinder mid-engine that reportedly reached 248 mph. The fully functioning coupe sported an aggressive yet sophisticated design, including flared wheel wells and a glass top. The elegant interior was also impressive with its chrome-trimmed controls, two hip-hugging leather seats and flat-bottom steering wheel. The projected $250,000 to $750,000 price tag likely drove a wedge between then-partners Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz. Although the ME FourTwelve didn’t gain any traction on the streets, it found fame amongst gamers as a fantasy car in three racing video games.
2. 2010 Mazda Shinari
Ushering in the new Kodo, Soul in Motion, design aesthetic, the 2010 Mazda Shinari gave us a glimpse into the next-generation Mazda 6. Breaking away from the nature-inspired Nagare design, the swoopy lines created a media sensation at the 2010 Milan Auto Show reveal. The four-seat coupe featured a 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine on the Japanese company’s new Sky powerplant. The long-nosed carbon fiber hood and cat eye headlights paired perfectly with the rear leather bucket seats and floating HMI 3-D display. Mazda crafted the semi-functional hatchback with the sole intention of seeing where the Kodo design could go.
3. 2013 Aston Martin CC100 Speedster
Resembling a silver bullet on wheels, the CC100 Speedster was a superhero’s dream car. Inspired by the brand’s 1959 award-winning DBR1 racer, the latest Aston Martin incarnation debuted in May 2013 at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring race without a windshield or roof. Purely a concept car to celebrate the British brand’s 100-year anniversary, the luxury features provided a peek into the manufacturer’s potential design direction. The heritage coloring was accented with bumblebee yellow trim along the wide-mouthed grille, carbon fiber hood and clear doors. The radical speedster featured the latest-generation 5.9-liter V12 engine and a 6-speed sequential transmission, a combination that Aston predicted could produce 60 mph in 4 seconds.
4. 2008 Lamborghini Estoque
Though not fully functional, the Estoque concept car appeared nearly production ready when it made a surprise debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. At the time, Lamborghini noted that the low-profile super sedan was not mated to its 560 HP V10 engine since a production model could potentially feature anything from a V12 TDI to a V8 hybrid. The brand shocked car enthusiasts with uncharacteristic changes, including a front hood, a gearbox behind the front axle and four doors. Despite being dubbed as a realistic daily driver, the luxurious cockpit included double-stitched Napa leather on the four-bucket seats and had an estimated price of $200,000.
5. 2010 Lotus Esprit
A premier supercar from 1976 to 2004, the replacement Lotus Esprit debuted in 2010 at the Paris Motor Show to a fanfare of excitement. The new-generation concept car featured a complete redesign, including carbon fiber trim and a center-mounted dual exhaust system. The company’s financial troubles tabled the great comeback until an official September 2014 statement declared the resurrected Lotus Esprit an idea of the past.
6. 2003 Cadillac Sixteen
While touring the 2003 North American International Auto Show circuit, the Cadillac Sixteen proved the luxury carmaker was still capable of creating a vehicle that satisfied want and need. The industry’s first V16 produced an incredible 1,000 HP and 1,000 lb-ft of torque, but was tempered by fuel-saving Active Fuel Management Displacement on Demand technology and aluminum components to lighten the load. Design elements ranged from an all-glass roof without B-pillars to crystal-encrusted cluster dials. Although the deluxe car never made it into production, many elements are seen in other Cadillac products, including the CTS.
7. 2013 Nissan IDx Nismo
Equally inspired by racing simulation games and vintage vehicle designs, the 2013 Nissan IDx Nismo aimed to strike the perfect balance between high-performance and eco-friendly. Debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show, the car included a 1.6-liter direct-injection turbocharged engine that produced roughly 200 HP and hit 60 mph in 7 seconds. The innovative low-riding, boxy racecar featured side mufflers, four aerodynamic spoilers and side mirror cameras. The warm crimson exterior and interior contrasted beautifully with the sleek silver metal surfaces. Despite being touted by high-profile car enthusiasts, such as Jay Leno, Nissan is still undecided about the future of this next-generation sports car.
8. 2014 Volvo XC Concept Coupe
Revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2014, the Volvo XC Concept Coupe signals a new design aesthetic for the Swedish SUV. While three doors and a row of seating are missing, the basic architecture and bold styling are likely a blueprint for the automaker’s future direction of the XC90. Most importantly, the concept car celebrated Volvo’s first independent platform. The sporty, orange-trimmed interior is chock full of new safety systems, including gadgets for safer night driving and parking.
9. 2005 Holden Efijy
A big star at the 2005 Sydney Motor Show was the Holden Efijy, a modern wonder that blended high-tech equipment from more than 20 auto suppliers. Never meant for production, the retro 1950s-inspired design pays a nostalgic tribute to the Australian hot rod industry. However, the supercharged V8 engine, LCD screen controls and air-adjustable shock absorbers exhibited cutting-edge ideas.
10. 2010 Jaguar C-X75
Celebrating 75 years of award-winning car designs, Jaguar produced the C-X75 concept car to outline the future of the iconic brand and test the feasibility of creating an eco-friendly performance car. Retaining its flowing form and pure performance, the C-X75 proved it’s possible to create a beautiful zero emissions vehicle that can reach 200 mph. The concept car blended the best of the latest technology, ranging from twin gas micro-turbines to Jaguar Sense touch technology that open the forward-hinged doors.
Out of these 10 concept cars, which one is your favorite? What vehicle do you think would have made the biggest impact on the auto industry if it had made it into production?