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Here’s Why These 25 Concept Cars Never Made It To Production

Cameron EittreimMarch 22, 2022

Every year, there are new concept cars that arise in the automotive industry. Depending on how the public and the press receive a concept car, it will greatly impact the potential of the future model. That’s not to say that every concept car that gets a positive reaction will go into production. There have also been quite a few concept cars that have earned acclaim and praise only to never hit actual production.

Some of these concept cars were well put together, but for one reason or another, the automaker decided against pursuing their production. We looked back at 25 concept cars that never made it to production and left automotive enthusiasts scratching their heads. What exactly went wrong with these concept cars and forced them out of being made? Let’s delve in and find out.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

25: Dodge Copperhead

The Dodge Viper was a popular exotic car in the 1990s, giving Dodge a halo car to compete against the Corvette. So it would only make sense that there would be a smaller model that could be a potential offering lower down the lineup. The Copperhead concept car arrived with much fanfare thanks to its unique styling and stellar performance (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

A V6 engine powered the Copperhead, similar to the company’s Plymouth Prowler. The general design of the sports car would have been a perfect complement to the Viper. Unfortunately, the higher-ups at Chrysler decided to scrap the Copperhead and it never made it into production.

Photo Credit: Audi

24: Audi Avus

The Audi R8 has become a pinnacle of the Audi lineup due to the stellar performance and design of the car. The Avus was a concept car released long before the R8 ever became a reality. The styling of the Avus is eerily similar to the R8, and part of that is the overall design. When you first look at the Audi, you can tell that the styling was meant to be the focal point of the Audi brand (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Audi

The performance came from a mid-engined W-12 powered design, a common thing for high-performance Volkswagen models. The interior of the Avus was a futuristic design that was well received by those in the automotive press. Unfortunately, financial troubles for Volkswagen in the 1990s prevented Avus from ever entering production.

Photo Credit: Motorious

23: Mercedes-Benz C112

Mercedes-Benz is a company that specializes in high-end luxury cars, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the automaker to release a supercar. One popular concept that came about during the 1990s was the C112 concept car. The C112 was inspired by the F1 racing heritage of the Mercedes-Benz company (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Motorious

The elongated design of the car was similar to other supercars of the same period. Although the C112 didn’t go into design, the concept proved popular with consumers and automotive journalists. There was no other supercar concept for another decade with a Mercedes-Benz badge on it.

Photo Credit: Nissan

22: Nissan IDx

There have been rumblings of Nissan reviving the Datsun automotive brand for decades, but it has not happened yet. The Nissan IDx concept car was a modern rendition of the popular and legendary Datsun 510 compact. The rear-wheel-drive concept car took everything great about the original model and electrified it (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Nissan

After the debacle with Carlos Ghosn, news of the IDx dried up. Time will tell if Nissan decides to make this car a reality. There is a solid market for the IDx. If it came into production, consumers are looking for a fun-to-drive compact car. There’s no doubt that a modern Datsun 510 could be a popular car model.

Photo Credit: Buick

21: Buick Avista

Bringing the Buick brand back to being something consumers respect hasn’t been easy for GM. But the last decade has been fruitful for the Buick brand, in fact, the Avista concept car was one such example. The Avista was unveiled in 2016 and the car was based on the Alpha platform (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Buick

With a 400-HP Twin-turbo-powered engine and a two-door coupe design, the Avista was one of the most well-appointed concepts to come out of GM in a while. Unfortunately, consumer tastes have moved away from the passenger car and toward crossover vehicles. There wasn’t a market for a car like the Avista and it wasn’t put into production.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

20: Chrysler ME Four-Twelve

Chrysler as a brand is not a stranger to exotic supercars; the company is behind the Dodge Viper after all. But that is a Dodge-branded sports car, and the Chrysler brand itself needed an exotic car to fill the void. True, the Crossfire was a great attempt to build a reasonable sports car (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

But it was the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve concept car that got the automotive world buzzing. The supercar was a fully operational prototype, borrowing a fair amount of design inspiration from Lamborghini. Although the concept never went into production, the ME Four-Twelve had a lot of potential to be a great sports car.

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi

19: Mitsubishi Concept-RA

What happened to the Mitsubishi sports cars? That’s what enthusiasts are asking after Mitsubishi switched to selling a complete lineup of crossover SUVs. The travesty that is giving up on the Eclipse model has troubled Mitsubishi loyalists. The Concept-RA took a lot of the positive aspects of the Eclipse and built on them (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Mitsubishi

The third generation of the Eclipse was not well received by consumers, which is why Mitsubishi was trying to release a redesigned model. The most notable feature of the Concept-RA was that it used a plastic resin body in the design. Mitsubishi was trying to demonstrate an eco-friendly design, and it was all too common around this period.

Photo Credit: BMW

18: BMW E1

The BMW brand has released many unique concepts over the years and the E1 was particularly interesting. What exactly was the E1? Take a gander at it from a distance, and it looks like a fairly modern crossover car. But the E1 was proposed long before crossover vehicles were even a thought in the automotive industry (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: BMW

At the time when this concept car came out, the Eagle Summit was about the closest thing you’d get to a crossover vehicle. The E1 was a modern electric car with a range of 155 miles out of the box. This was long before Tesla was even a thought, although BMW never pursued the E1 as a production model.

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

17: Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale

The initial purchase of the Aston Martin brand by Ford Motor Company posed a great challenge for the legendary automaker. There had to be new models that would blend with the brand’s already impressive resume of vehicles. The Aston Martin Lagonda Vignale incorporated one of the first modern-era designs into an exotic sports sedan (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The 4.6 L SOHC Ford Modular V8 engine was a nice touch, and it was an engine that would be used in both Lincoln and Jaguar models. Many of the design elements were also borrowed from previous Ford models. You could see the blue oval’s influence in the design of this concept car, although it never made it to production.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

16: Chrysler Atlantic

The Chrysler Atlantic concept car was a beautiful sports car that never made it to production. In the 1990s, the Chrysler Corporation had hit the pinnacle of success. The Dodge lineup was better than ever, the minivans were dominating the marketplace, and even the Plymouth brand was experiencing a resurgence (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Chrysler

The retro-inspired design of the Atlantic fused new-aged design elements with bits of the Chrysler past. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder was an interesting power plant to use in a sports car, and it was cheap to produce. The Atlantic concept car never went into production, but Chrysler released the Crossfire sports car some years later.

Photo Credit: Ford

15: Ford GT90

The Ford GT is the supercar of the Ford lineup and the 1990s were no exception. The GT90 concept car hit the scene in a big way, with everything from news coverage to Hot Wheels toy releases. The GT90 was an all-out supercar, and the plan was to rival the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette models (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Ford

The car had a good old-fashioned V12 engine that pushed out a whopping 720HP. The GT90 received universal praise but never went into production. If Ford had released the GT90 in the 1990s, the car would have been an icon in the industry. The beautiful design and high performance made the car a no-brainer for enthusiasts.

Photo Credit: Ford

14: Lincoln Sentinel

The Lincoln brand experienced a resurgence in the late 1990s thanks to the massive success of the Navigator. With this success, the Lincoln brand was emboldened and a new concept car was unveiled. The Lincoln Sentinel was meant to revive the brand with a new high-end luxury car that would appeal to traditionalists (via America Loves Horsepower).

Photo Credit: Ford

The design of the car was extremely modern, more so than anything else on the market at the time. The Sentinel was unlike any of the outdated Lincoln models being sold. The designers at Ford had hoped this unique concept would reinvigorate the brand and give Lincoln loyalists something new.

Photo Credit: Concept Carz

13: Dodge Dakota Sidewinder

The Dodge Dakota truck was a slam-dunk hit for the folks at Chrysler. There is just something about a midsize truck that buyers instantly flocked toward. The Dodge Dakota Sindwinder concept was a bit late to the party. GM had already released the Syclone, and Ford had done the same with the Lightning (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Concept Carz

The sidewinder itself was a very attractive looking truck, with a convertible top and a bright orange paint job. The truck looked like the Chevy SSR that came years later, although GM contends the design was original. The sidewinder would have been a popular truck, as the Dakota 5.9R/T later in the decade became a sales success.

Photo Credit: Nissan

12: Nissan Stylish 6

Crossover vehicles are all the rage nowadays, but back in the 1990s they were rare. The Eagle Summit comes to mind, and that was about it. But Nissan decided to release something unique to the public in 1997 with the Stylish 6. This was not only a unique concept car in the exterior design, but also one of the first gasoline hybrid vehicles (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Nissan

The stylish 6 didn’t get as much traction as the folks at Nissan might have hoped for, and it never went into production. The Stylish 6 had some features that automotive enthusiasts weren’t too fond of. One of these features was the CVT transmission. This car might have been a reasonable sales success for Nissan if it had hit the market.

Photo Credit: VW

11: Volkswagen W12

For the most part when you think of a Volkswagen supercar, you think about an Audi or a Porsche model. But that wasn’t the case when the W12 concept car hit the automotive circuit in the 1990s. The 5.6-liter W12 was created from two 2.8-liter VW VR6 units. The design of this car was impressive enough, but the exterior look was also equally impressive (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: VW

The beautiful Volkswagen W12 never made it into production, but Volkswagen released the New Beetle later in the decade. The W12 could have been a great exotic car if Volkswagen had been in a better position to release it. But with the lack of sales that the company was experiencing, the W12 wasn’t a possibility.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

10: Chrysler Chronos

The Chrysler cab-forward sedans were some of the most advanced vehicles of the 1990s. To build on that success, the company released the Chronos concept car to the auto show circuit. The design was similar to the Chrysler 300M, which was released a few years later. This car took full advantage of the design language Chrysler used at the time (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The Chronos offered a reasonable amount of value if it had gone into production. The premium feeling of the car was a major selling point for it. The Chronos had a 17-foot platform and a 6.0-liter V10 engine packed under the hood. Needless to say, if this sedan had gone into production, it would have been one powerful ride.

Photo Credit: Chrysler

9: Jaguar XK180

After the Ford Motor Company purchased Jaguar in the 1990s, it was time for the brand to get a revised product line. One of the first concept cars to hit the market was the Jaguar XK180, which hit in 1998. The concept car had many features that were ahead of its time, and the styling was far different than anything Jaguar had prior (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Ford

The 4.0-liter V8 engine was a powerful offering Ford had packed under the hood, and it gave the XK180 enough power to compete with anything from Porsche. You also had the unique styling, which was in line with the changing times at the end of the decade. There were few cars that offered the value of this potential sports car.

Photo Credit: Cadillac

8: Cadillac Ciel

There is no denying Cadillac had a few duds at the start of the 1990s with the Catera being the most obvious model. But there were some pretty unique concept cars that came out during this time period. The Ciel was a retro themed concept car that used the new Cadillac art & science design language (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Cadillac

The car was an elongated modern version of the classic Cadillac convertibles of the past. The long wheel base of the Ciel was one of the most standout features. There were very few concept cars that could rival this one in terms of beauty. The Ciel will definitely be one of the most unique concept cars that never made it to production.

Photo Credit: Ford

7: Ford Shelby GR-1

There have been a few unique Shelby models released under the Ford banner over time. Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the Shelby GR-1 was the blending of a modern Mustang GT and a Ford GT together as one vehicle. The design was beautiful, and it showed what a great combination Shelby and Ford could make (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Ford

Although the GR-1 never made it into production, the working concept car was sold at auction. It was sold in 2004 for the whopping price of $82,500.00. This wasn’t a cheap price by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t bad considering how rare the car was. The GR-1 will definitely be one of the most unique Shelby models in history.

Photo Credit: Jaguar

6: Jaguar C-X75

The Jaguar brand has been on a resurgence in the last decade, switching to an electrical-focused luxury car company. The C-X75 was the first supercar design we’ve seen out of Jaguar in the last two decades. The beautifully sculpted car used the new design language Jaguar has used on their vehicles (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: JaguarThis was a hybrid electric model, which many sports cars have been switching to. The folks at Jaguar decided against putting the C-X75 into production, but the car was a very capable concept car indeed. The styling was unique, and the design has stood the test of time.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

5: Lamborghini Estoque

Lamborghini is a company that has been making great strides to expand its vehicle portfolio. A Lamborghini sedan has long been a dream of many enthusiasts. Motivated by the success of the Porsche Panamera, it isn’t surprising that Lamborghini would float with the idea of a sedan. The Estoque concept car was a beautiful piece of art from top to bottom with styling that you’d expect in a Lambo (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The standard equipment was a V-10 engine, which was used in many other Lamborghini vehicles. The Estoque hasn’t been greenlighted for production yet, but time will tell if the car will be released. Obviously, a Lamborghini sedan would be a great car that most enthusiasts would want.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

4: Saleen S5S Raptor

Saleen has been an influential part of the performance car world for some time now. The Saleen S5S Raptor was a concept car released on a supercar platform. The design of the S5S was made to look like a tried and true supercar. There was a lot to like about the S5S Raptor, and the car was about as close to a production model as a concept could get (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The Saleen S5S Raptor has been lauded for its modern styling and excellent performance. The car had it all when it comes to beauty and brawn. Unfortunately, the S5S Raptor never made it into production.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

3: Bugatti Galibier

There were many great concept cars that came out in 2009 and the Galibier was one of them. The design of the car is very reminiscent of offerings from Rolls Royce, such as the Ghost. Bugatti was experiencing a resurgence in success, and the Galibier was one of the cars that led to this profound success for the automaker (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Motor 1

The most intriguing thing about the Galibier was that it was a sedan, a first for Bugatti. Unfortunately, the car never made it into production, although it was said the option was on the table for the automaker. Time will tell if the Galibier ever makes it into production.

Photo Credit: Motor 1

2: Maybach Exelero

The Maybach Exelero was one of the most interesting concept cars of the early 2000s. It was the first sports car that the Maybach brand had considered putting into production. The car had a hefty price tag and there was only one example ever made. The styling was similar to other Maybach models sold at the time (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Motor Trend

The car peaked the interest of Jay Z, as he purchased the only model in existence for over a million dollars. The car never went into production, and there is only one known model of the car in existence.

Photo Credit: Mercedes

1: Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force

Nowadays, the EV has been dominating the automotive headlines, but there was a time when fuel cells were the future of automotive transportation. Mercedes-Benz jumped on this bandwagon with the Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force, which was a unique fuel cell offering sold to the public (via Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force never went into production, although the brand has a full line of SUV models nowadays. If fuel cells ever became a mainstream part of the automotive industry, that’s something drivers will continue to wonder. Still, this was the extreme off-road model with a lot of potential.

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