It’s hard to accept that not every concept will hit the road. In fact, most of the concept cars that make it to the auto shows, never see the light of day. Some aren’t even complete cars. Some, you wouldn’t gift to your worst enemy.
But, every once and awhile, the designers nail something. Truth be told, they know when they have something to make you salivate. That’s what they’re trying to do.
They want you talking about their brand, holding out for production. It’s the best free marketing on the block.
Here are ten concept cars we’ve seen since the new millennium which we’ll never park in our garages, but gosh we should be able to.
Cadillac Sixteen – 2003
Sixteen, because of the V16 under the hood. It looks like spaceship with a hood that opens like a Model T.
Another way to put it is, the hood opens like a tractor, but way cooler. It’s just too long to open any other way. Who could reach all the way back anyway?
The Sixteen was what you’d expect from Cadillac, automatic, four-speed transmission in a rear-wheel drive luxury car. The engine was smart enough to toggle off cylinders once it was up to speed.
While you won’t see the Sixteen on the streets anytime soon, you’ll see elements of the concept in newer models of Cadillac.
Ford Bronco – 2004
They’re gonna make it. They’re not gonna make it. They’re making it for sure. It’s not happening… sigh.
With such a devout cult following of fans, keeping the dream alive by restoring older Broncos, this one seems like a no-brainer. Ford would tend to agree with you.
It won’t be the same as the concept, but there is a new, less military-looking-than-the-concept, Ford Bronco coming to the USA in 2018.
Like the prototype, the new Bronco will revive the original glory of a smaller SUV, but with modern technology, of course.
Maybach Exelero – 2004
Sure, you could put wheels on your boat, then drive it around. Or, you could find the prototype for the Exelero and see what it would cost to buy said prototype. It’s huge.
You’d better hope someone parked it the last twelve years. Everything about this car says, scratch me with that shopping cart, please. There isn’t a parking lot big enough.
You’d also better have a large bank account. Besides the amount of fuel it would take to power that 720 horsepower V12, the last person who bought it spent $8-million bucks.
If you have that kind of cash, you should buy Adam Carolla’s Lamborghinis instead. You’d cut your costs in half, plus get four more cars for your investment.
Jeep Gladiator – 2005
Travel outside the United States and you may find many trucks bearing the VW badge, some that look more like stretched out Wranglers than others.
The Gladiator name is nothing new to this German company, but most of those were not styled like a Wrangler. They look like, well, trucks. With this Gladiator Jeep got it right.
Why not leverage the existing Wrangler fanbase?
This one even sported the canvas Wrangler top, with a midgate concept allowing the bed to extend into the cabin for larger loads.
At least for now, Jeep says ain’t happening. Sad, sad, sad.
Maserati Birdcage – 2005
This concept is your every old-timey science fiction fantasy. It looks suspiciously like something from the movie I Robot, out just the previous year.
Unlike the cars in that movie, the Birdcage didn’t go sideways or drive itself. In fact, it did nothing but break our hearts after the 2005 Geneva Auto Show.
This car is like a moving party. To get in you have to raise the roof.
Had they made it, who knows if it would have had the heads up display from the prototype, but we’ll never know now, will we? No chance, folks.
Dodge Demon – 2007
Mash up a rear-wheel drive powertrain, with a light body and four cylinders of love without a roof and you get the Demon.
This concept borrowed just enough from the Viper to make it recognizable, but employed those parts with enough subtlety to become something else. Had this car made it production, there would have been no two-seat roadster like it.
It was the borrowed Benzo chassis that killed the Demon. When Mercedes-Benz and Dodge parted ways, we lost the Demon. Divorce is hardest on the kids.
Mini Rocketman – 2011
Don’t give up on the Mini Rocketman just yet. The most recent rumor from Mini themselves is that they might, might, might produce it as an electric vehicle. But, don’t hold your breath.
The Rocketman may have all the potential to fill the purist Mini fan’s deepest Mini desires, but the actual audience isn’t deep enough to warrant production. Mini should sell it as a kit car.
Other than its size, it’s just a smaller version of the Minis on the road now.
Volkswagen Bulli – 2011
This is the microbus at whole ‘nother level. First revealed at the Geneva Motor Show, this smaller-than-previous microbus concepts was ripe for production.
The powertrain was all-electric, with an interactive driver interface integrating your iPad touchscreen features.
Sadly, like so many of the Volkswagen microbus concepts, it never made it off the motor show floor.
Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force – 2012
Step aside Jeep and anyone else who thinks they can make a buggy for the moon. The folks at Mercedes-Benz did one better. They made the Ener-G-Force.
While the name needs some work, the actual SUV kicks butt.
What started out as an exploration of what police vehicles could someday look like, Mercedes-Benz designed a civilian version for the streets.
It takes it cues from the G-class of Benzos but runs a green car program under the hood. The G-Forge recycles water for use as hydrogen to fuel the power cells.
Nissan IDx – 2013
It’s not gonna happen. I know, I know; sweet, right?
Initially, Nissan was ready to start production on this vehicle. People were freaking out that they would have the chance to drive this retro-sixties, Datsun-styled whip.
Nissan recently confirmed they will not produce the IDx. Had they, we’d enjoy simple styling and rear-wheel drive, all wrapped up in Japanese auto manufacturing reliability.
We’d use clever little cameras with mini-displays instead of rear-view mirrors.
Not happening. So sad.
Don’t get too sad. Most of these cars end up filtering into cars we have on the road. Some of them change the industry forever.
Meanwhile, we can salivate and plead with manufacturers. They’ll just keep stringing us along with tales of maybe, so we keep talking about them.
It’s the biggest tease this side of Detroit. Totally worth it.