Home Cars 25 Strange Concept Cars That Are Blemishes On The Auto Industry
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25 Strange Concept Cars That Are Blemishes On The Auto Industry

Cameron EittreimJuly 7, 2021

Photo Credit: Top Speed

24: Buick Signia

When the Buick Signia crossover concept hit the scene, the crossover market was not yet a thing. The closest thing that you could get to a crossover was the Eagle Summit. Nevertheless, Buick trudged on and brought the concept to the Detroit Auto Show. Its rounded-off edges made the car look more like a Hurst than anything. Consumers weren’t enthused by the look of the car and the automotive press disregarded it.

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Buick would later release something fairly similar to the Signia in the Rendevous. Both cars had awkward styling that didn’t fit with the dimensions of the vehicle. The Signia never saw the light of day and the concept is sitting in a GM museum. It’s interesting to see how failed concept cars were received from time to time.

Photo Credit: Old Concept Cars

23: Buick Cielo

You have to admire Buick’s perseverance as the Signia didn’t stop the company from designing concepts. The next year, the Cielo hit the scene and was far better received. The Cielo was a more put-together sedan than the previous year’s concept car was. GM was looking to focus Buick on a younger demographic than those who had purchased their cars in years prior. The Cielo took its cues from the classic Buicks of yesteryear as evident by its waterfall grille.

Photo Credit: Old Concept Cars

From a design standpoint, the rollercoaster body sides were very different than anything else. Nowadays, panoramic sunroofs are standard equipment, but back when this concept hit there were none. Few Buick concept cars have managed to look as strange as the Cielo did, which is probably why it never hit production.

Photo Credit: GM

22: Pontiac Aztek

The Pontiac Aztek was one of the most poorly received SUV models ever released. When it came to the production model of the Aztek, it relied far too heavily on body cladding. Still, the concept got even worse when it came to extreme design. Pontiac is a performance brand and creating such an obscene-looking SUV drove enthusiasts crazy. While it’s true that the SUV boom was among us, the Aztek had no real value.

Photo Credit: GM

GM designers were toying with the idea of the Aztek and the Rendevous as being the next big thing. In theory, both of these SUVs kind of ended up being the very first modern crossover vehicles in a roundabout way. As time has progressed, the Aztek’s design has become less questionable, but the Aztek concept is still one of the most hideous concepts ever.

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21: Chrysler Imperial

We aren’t talking about the Imperial that was a semi-muscle car, but about the 2006 concept instead. The 2006 Imperial was about the worst case of plagiarism the auto world has ever seen. The car was outright a carbon copy of the Rolls Royce Phantom from its beltline to its stance. We’re not sure what Chrysler was thinking with this one but it’s a no-brainer why the Imperial didn’t make it to the market.

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Chrysler was riding high on the success of the 300C around this period, so it makes sense that the company would try to capitalize. The Imperial was designed to elevate the Chrysler brand into the high-end realm, but there was no originality. Rolls Royce has a certain level of prestige behind it and the Chrysler brand will never be able to match that.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

20: Kia KCV-II

The Hyundai Santacruz is one of the hottest new pickup trucks on the market, but Kia had a similar concept 20 years ago. The Kia KCV-II was a concept car that was designed around the same styling as the Santacruz. With proportions that were similar to the Kia Sportage, the KCV-II was a notable mix of style and functionality. Unfortunately, back then drivers weren’t ready for a pickup truck that was crossover-based.

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Hence the failure of the Ford Explorer Sport-Trac, another crossover-based truck from this period. This was a functioning concept vehicle with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and a permanent all-wheel-drive system. The final must-have feature of the KCV-II were the scissor-doors, which built on the fad from this period.

Photo Credit: Maybach

19: Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury

We’re not sure what the designers were thinking with this one, but it looks hideous. Mercedes calls it the first-ever SUL ‘Sport Utility Limousine,’ and it looks the part. The problem was that no driver wants to own an “SUL” so there’s no point. The obscene look of the car seems like a mix of a donk and a pickup truck wrapped up in a lot of chrome.

Photo Credit: Maybach

The Ultimate Luxury is all-electric which is in line with what the overall automotive market is doing. However, that all-electric design also pushes the price tag through the roof for a car that no one wants. There have been some hideous concept cars before it, but the Ultimate Luxury is just about one of the ugliest that we’ve ever seen.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

18: BMW X Coupe

The BMW X Coupe was a concept car released in the early 2000s and it didn’t look horrible. The problem was that the X Coupe was a tiny cruiser at a time when cars were getting larger. We can assume that the X Coupe was the precursor to the production model 1-Series which came later in the decade.

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Consumers have been hungry for a bite-sized BMW for decades, but the X Coupe was far too boisterous. The dimensions of the car just didn’t look like something consumers would gravitate to. When the 1-Series hit the market it was not the best seller BMW had hoped for and so the X Coupe was canceled.

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17: Aston Martin Lagonda SUV

Exotic car manufacturers have been jumping into the SUV market with Lamborghini and Maserati following Porsche. So it was no surprise that Aston Martin would try and jump into the fray as well. The Lagonda SUV was large and in charge, with a long sculpted body and high ground clearance. Fortunately, the production model of an Aston Martin SUV didn’t look anything like the Lagonda.

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It seems like the Lagonda was just designed to test the waters for what the response would be. The later DBX was a completely different car than the Lagonda concept was. If the Lagonda had hit the market, it would have been a very high-end luxury SUV, but the design was just too extravagant for most consumers.

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16: Dodge Super8 Hemi

Unveiled at the 2001 Detroit Auto Show, the Dodge Super8 Hemi is not the easiest on the eyes. But the retro-inspired sedan served as the basis for the entire Chrysler sedan lineup that we have today. The sharp lines and b-pillars were the general design of the Chrysler 300C and the Dodge Charger. Chrysler was looking to reinvent the rear-wheel-drive sedan and the Super8 Hemi was the first concept car from this project.

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Powered by a 353 hp 5.7L V8, and four-speed automatic gearbox the Super8 Hemi was a powerful ride. Not to be overshadowed by the retro-themed interior the Super8 had a lot of modern features such as a navigation system. The Super8 Hemi never made it to production but the 300C and Charger were released a few years later with similar styling.

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15: Volkswagen Concept-A

The Concept-A was unveiled in 2006 at the Geneva Auto Show, and it was designed to be a crossover dune buggy. Although the styling was a bit extreme at the time Nissan later mimicked it with the Murano CrossCabriolet. Volkswagen was looking to appeal to a younger demographic of buyers and the Concept-A was going to do it.

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The production model of Concept-A ended up being the Tiguan which was released in 2007. When it came to the styling of the Tiguan, it was nothing like the Concept-A, probably because Volkswagen got so much flack for the design. Volkswagen is still new to the SUV business and the Tiguan is still on the market today.

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14: Acura Advanced Sedan

Hitting the auto show circuit in 2006, the Acura Advanced Sedan was something out of the ordinary. The sharp razor-edged styling was both terrifying and advance for the time. Acura had become sort of an afterthought in the luxury car market and needed to reinvigorate itself. A lot of the styling cues came from the MDX SUV of the same period and the next-generation NSX coupe.

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The overall look of the car is strikingly similar to a gangster coupe of the 1930s. Maybach sort of mimicked the design with their Maybach Exelero, albeit a more put-together product. Acura is always trying to build on its performance reputation, and the Advanced Sedan was a concept that looked to embrace luxury and opulence.

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13: Ford Mustang “Rambo”

The next-generation Ford Mustang that was released in 1994 was an entirely new body style, but in 1991 there was the precursor to that car. The Rambo concept looked like a mixture of a Mustang and a Madd Maxx film. The styling was very offputting, especially when the Camaro had already been redesigned. Ford had been selling the fox body for a decade, and it had developed a loyal following.

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Luckily the Rambo never saw the light of day although many of the styling cues were carried to the production car. Mustang models are known for sedate styling around this period and the Rambo was far from that. Ford experimented with many different models around this period and the Rambo is one of these experiments.

Photo Credit: MOPAR

12: Jeep J6

When Jeep announced the Gladiator pickup truck enthusiasts were very pleased. It was the Jeep truck of their dreams, wrapped up in a non-compromised package. But there was a catch, and that was that it didn’t come in a single cab configuration. The J6 was sort of a cruel trick that let a lot of traditional Jeep enthusiasts down. They had hoped for a modern version of the Commanche pickup truck and instead were greeted by this concept.

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Indeed, the modern pickup truck market doesn’t favor single cab trucks and the best you can get is an extended cab. Still, the J6 was an interesting concept that seemed to be production-ready which left a lot of drivers scratching their heads. Why would Jeep release a production-ready concept only to let an entire segment down?

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11: Tesla Cybertruck

Elon Musk loves to push the futuristic boundaries of his imagination, but this wasn’t his most well-received idea. The Cybertruck has to be the ugliest-looking pickup truck to come out of the last decade. What’s even worse is that Musk has stated that the production model will be very close to the concept version of the car. Many in the car industry aren’t sure what the manic inventor was thinking, but the Cybertruck is not going to convince traditional pickup truck buyers.

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The best that you can do is leverage the fact that the Cybertruck is an all-electric vehicle and there are added benefits. But with fierce competition from Ford with the Lightning, the Cybertruck is going to have a tough time selling. Tesla went a little bit too far with this extreme concept of truck and drivers were not impressed.

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10: Rolls-Royce 103EX

Rolls-Royce has high hopes for the next 100 years, and they designed a car to be the epiphany of that. The 103EX is sort of a futuristic spaceship wrapped in a designer coat. There is no steering wheel, and the best that you can do is take your seat on the large couch inside. For people who enjoy driving, the 103EX is a joke and will be astronomically expensive.

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Drivers don’t exactly love it when opulence tries to dominate an entire industry. The Rolls-Royce 103EX just does more to leave drivers scratching their heads than anything. There are so many better options hitting the market from Tesla to Lexus. When it comes to extreme luxury cars, the 103EX will just be worth avoiding altogether.

Photo Credit: OPEL

9: Opel GT

You don’t hear much from Opel over in the states these days, but the Opel GT concept raised a few eyebrows. Known as the mini-Corvette, the Opel GT has a lot going for it. The tightly-wound design and interesting curves give the car an authentic sports car look. The model was seemingly close to a production scale although the Opel GT never hit the market. A lot of drivers were left wondering why the company wouldn’t bring the car to production.

Photo Credit: OPEL

Another thing that was a bit odd about the Opel GT was the fact that the front tires were red. There was no reasoning behind this other than a unique look for the car, which would be costly to produce. Most modern drivers aren’t going to splurge on a replacement set of red wheels every time they run over a nail.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

8: Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak

Volkswagen aficionados have been clamoring for a pickup truck from the company for decades. VW does sell pickup trucks around the world, just not here in America. Since importing one can be a pain in the behind the best we can hope for is a release here. The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak was an interesting concept that seemed to look similar to the Ford Raptor in its design. However, VW has remained eerily quiet about a release and it left drivers wondering.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Now would be a better time than ever to release a full-fledged pickup truck, and yet nothing from VW. America is a difficult market to break into, but Honda has had a successful run with the Ridgeline and Ford has introduced the compact Maverick. We have to wonder if the Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak will ever be a reality or if it was just an illusion from the company.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

7: Renault Trezor

Renault has had a bad couple of years thanks to the negative press from the Nissan side. But the Trezor was a seemingly bright spot when it hit the auto show circle. Then the company left enthusiasts scratching their heads, as the car was promised for 2020 and never appeared. There has been no news about the Trezor since, and instead, Nissan has redesigned the Z sports car.

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We have to wonder what would have gone down if the company had just redirected its efforts toward the Nissan brand instead. The Trezor had a lot of potentials and the brand is still well known in the F1 circuit. When the Trezor seemingly disappeared from the spotlight drivers were confused, to say the least. Renault is an automaker that has experienced quite a bit of bad press so the Trezor might come out later on.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

6: Volkswagen ID. Buggy

As if Volkswagen didn’t have enough bad luck with the previous dune-buggy concept, the automaker tried again. The Volkswagen ID. Buggy was an all-electric concept this time around, as most automakers are jumping on the electrified bandwagon. The design was seemingly offroad as you’d imagine but the car was still limited. Drivers were left wondering why VW would introduce this instead of a new pickup truck.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

The ID. Buggy is part of a larger strategy by Volkswagen to introduce more electric-powered vehicles into the lineup. Along with a new Volkswagen Bus the ID. Buggy is meant to appeal to outdoorsy types. Electric cars are still a new concept and it will take some time before the costs will come down enough for most consumers to afford one.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

5: Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet

As if the off-road limousine wasn’t bad enough, Mercedes decided to design a real “land yacht.” The Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet is a long-nosed sports car that’s designed for those scenic Saturday road trips. The design, however, resembles a long dress shoe instead of a car that you can enjoy driving.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

Mercedes is trying to position the Maybach line on the same level as Rolls-Royce, and that isn’t going to happen. Maybach has been marred by issues since the original models hit the showrooms a decade ago. Although the design is beautiful, the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet just doesn’t equate to great value.

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4: Jeep 4SPEED

What happens if you strip a Jeep Wrangler down to a bare-bones design? You get the Jeep 4SPEED. Introduced at the Easter Jeep Safari in 2018, the 4SPEED has a carbon fiber design and no roll bar for protection. There’s also no roof and no doors, so this is about as stripped-down of a Jeep that drivers can get.

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The designers at Chrysler know that there is a subset of Jeep owners who desire a bare-bones ride. The 4SPEED is designed to appeal to those consumers who’d prefer to have a stripped-down off-road machine. Unfortunately, we aren’t sure if the 4SPEED will ever see the light of day, as it could just be another tease from Chrysler.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

3: Jeep Wrangler Trailcat

Also debuted at the Easter Jeep Safari was the Jeep Wrangler Trailcat. The Baja-inspired Trailcat has a lot of attributes that you’d expect from a Ford Raptor. The oversized tires are reminiscent of what Jeep owners are doing to their vehicles. Jeep designers incorporated bright green and dark black into the paint job, with corresponding rims.

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The Trailcat is a prime example of what a high-performance Wrangler could and should be. Jeep has teased a few performance-oriented versions of the standard Wrangler although none have come to fruition yet. We’re still not sure if the Trailcat is going to see the light of day but it should be cool if it ever does.

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2: Mazda RX-Vision

The last Mazda sports car was the RX-8, and it was quite a unique offering. Unfortunately what drivers have yearned for is a new RX-7 sports car. Mazda unveiled the RX-Vision as a glimpse into what the future will hold for a Mazda-powered sports car. The smooth lines and elongated hood made for an interesting and beautiful concept car.

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There was a lot to like about the RX-Vision, but the design was a far cry from the RX-7. Drivers were left wondering what else Mazda had in store for them. No new talk has surfaced about the RX-Vision or the next generation of the RX-7 sports car. We have to wonder if Mazda will ever get into the sports car segment again.

Photo Credit: Edmunds

1: Honda Sports EV

The Honda S2000 was not a popular sports car by any stretch of the imagination, but it still garnered a loyal following. After the S2000 was discontinued, Honda had moved onto designing other types of performance vehicles such as the NSX. The Honda Sports EV was unveiled as the first all-electric style sports car under the Honda banner.

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From a design standpoint, the Sports EV looks like a classic-style roadster, which is what Honda was going for. But drivers were still hoping for a gas-powered successor to the S2000, it doesn’t seem like that is going to be a reality. Honda has the racing heritage behind the brand if they can just design a sports car to match it.

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