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26 Interesting Sports Car Concepts Detroit Never Produced

Vukasin Herbez April 8, 2019

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

11. Plymouth XNR

The 1960 XNR concept car was an interesting piece of machinery. Not only it was the idea of Plymouth to become a Corvette fighter, but it was also the pet project of Chrysler’s famous designer, Virgil Exner. If you compare the name of the car, which is XNR, with the designer`s last name of Exner, you get the idea.

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On the other hand, the XNR was one of the rare cars that utilized the idea of an asymmetric design with a heavy emphasis on the driver’s side of the vehicle. The most notable feature was the big fin behind the driver that Plymouth claimed would help the aerodynamics.

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10. Cadillac Cyclone

Cadillac introduced many interesting cars during the ‘50s but the most memorable and influential was the 1959 Cyclone. They built it on a shortened chassis with an advanced independent suspension all around. The addition of the 390 V8 engine made the Cyclone a functional sports car with performance far better than the regular model.

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Interestingly, they allegedly fitted the Cyclone with a radar they mounted in front cones. They designed it to detect vehicles in front to help drivers avoid a crash. However, 70 years later, this technology is common in almost all new vehicles. But back in the late ‘50s, it was science fiction.

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9. Chevrolet CERV III

As you probably know, Chevrolet has been playing with a mid-engine Corvette idea since the ‘60s. But in the early ‘90s, it looked like they would finally present a road-going full production version. Chevy presented the CERV III concept in 1990, and it was stunning. It was a proper supercar with a 225-mph top speed.

Photo Credit: Corvette Forum

They gave it all-wheel drive and special brakes, and it delivered 650 HP, which was impressive. The prototype looked mature, so everybody expected Chevrolet would introduce the CERV III as a production model. But unfortunately, they decided not to in the end.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

8. Shelby GR-1

In the early 2000s, Ford’s design department was on a retro-futuristic trip with many successful concepts that drew inspiration from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. However, the most appealing was the 2005 GR-1, a modern-day recreation of a classic sports coupe similar to the legendary Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

With its bullet-shaped body consisting of polished aluminum and a 6.4-liter V10 engine in front, the GR-1 was a functional concept with fantastic performance. However, Ford never had plans for production, so the Shelby GR-1 remained a study.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

7. Cadillac Cien Concept

When Cadillac first presented the Cien in 2002, the automotive world was stunned. The concept of a super sports car with a mid-engine layout, aggressive design, and brutal stance was something nobody thought Cadillac could do.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

However, Cadillac proved them wrong with this fantastic car. They built it to mark the 100th anniversary of the company in 2002. The Cien featured a 7.5-liter V12 Northstar motor producing 750 HP and was allegedly a fully functional prototype. Unfortunately, GM never saw the potential of a Cadillac that could beat a Ferrari, so this beautiful car remained a dream.

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6. Pontiac GTO Concept

Pontiac spent decades producing Firebirds and Trans Am, leaving the GTO to the history books. For such a specific muscle car like the original GTO, the market was gone. However, some car enthusiasts never forgot the timeless style and performance of the original muscle car.

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So, at the 1999 Detroit Auto Show, Pontiac surprised everybody with a fantastic concept they called the GTO. It was a modern-looking, aggressive muscle car that received a lot of attention from the crowd. And it showed Pontiac many people wanted to see the GTO come back. The GTO Concept was a pure styling exercise, but General Motors realized they had a market niche to fulfill.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

5. Ford Mustang Mach I Concept

This car was introduced during the 1966 Detroit car show and immediately became one of the most interesting models even though it was still just a prototype. The Mach I was the first sporty and muscle Mustang released and it showcased not only the 1967 redesign and sexy Fastback lines but also a new name that will be used in 1969.

Photo Credit: Vista Pointe

With a chopped roof, square headlights, Plexiglas side windows with racing-style cut-outs, cool wheels, and beautiful burgundy color, the Mach I was a muscle car Mustang at its finest and captured the imagination of car enthusiasts all around the globe. Even today, it is one great-looking car.

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4. Corvette SS

They revealed the Corvette SS in 1957 as a fully functional racing car. In fact, Zora Arkus Duntov, the “Father of the Corvette” developed the car himself. Duntov was a racer, so he always wanted to create the ultimate competition version. The GM management allowed him to start a racing program and the SS was the first car he introduced.

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The Corvette SS featured many firsts. Also, it was a capable racing car, setting the track record at Sebring International Raceway. But most importantly, the SS was the first in a long line of racing Corvettes that dominated race tracks all over the world.

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3. 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Rear Engine

The Boss 429 Rear Engine is one of the most interesting Mustang prototypes. Despite the fact it didn’t appear on the show circuit back in the late ’60s, it caused a lot of controversies. Basically, they took the 1969 Boss 429 and moved the engine to the trunk. Then Ford extensively tested it to see if this conversion had significant advantages over the standard layout. They placed the engine longitudinally in the trunk and connected it to the rear wheels over the C6 automatic transmission unit.

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Next, they turned the rear glass into a hatchback door to provide access to the engine. In fact, the entire conversion was surprisingly trouble-free. The Boss 429 Rear Engine had a 40/60 weight balance. The added weight over the rear axle helped launch it off the line and reduced wheel spin. However, Ford realized there weren’t any significant performance improvements, so they decided to kill the project.

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2. Corvette Stingray XP-87

The story of the 1959 Stingray Concept is interesting since this car was much more than just another styling exercise. In fact, this car not only presented the ’63 Corvette design but they also based it on the 1957 Corvette SS experimental race car. And it even won the 1960 SCCA championship.

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Using a lightweight plastic body, race chassis, and aluminum, the Chevrolet engineers managed to keep the weight down to only 2,200 pounds. With its fuel-injected 283 V8 engine delivering 315 HP, the Stingray Concept provided a fantastic performance, becoming quite successful at racing. They even featured the car in the Elvis Presley movie, Clambake, with a red paint job.

Photo Credit: Auto Week

1. Pontiac Banshee 1988

Most of the 80’s car concepts were wedge-shaped cars with angular designs, straight lines, and sharp edges. However, the 1988 Pontiac Banshee concept is a prime example of an 80’s concept that still looks aggressive and cool. The 1988 Banshee was the fourth concept car to carry that name, but the first to directly influence production cars afterward. Most design elements of the 1988 Banshee appeared several years later on the 1993 Pontiac Firebird.

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However, this concept car was more than a design study for the fourth generation F-body. It was the vision of Pontiac’s sports car future. They powered the car by a 4.0-liter all-aluminum V8 producing 230 HP to the rear wheels over its five-speed manual gearbox. The suspension was fully independent with adjustable dampers. They constructed the body from lightweight materials with a superb aerodynamic coefficient. All in all, the Banshee was something closer to a Ferrari than to a muscle car. Sadly, Pontiac never built the Banshee but many people think this Pontiac would still around if GM let them produce cars like this. These are 26 of the coolest and most interesting sports car concepts Detroit never produced. Which one was your favorite? Sadly, none of these cars ever got to hit the streets, but they did change automotive history.

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