Concept cars are an intricate part of the automotive world, serving many purposes within their short show model lives. Manufacturers might use them to introduce new features and technology, reveal a fresh design language, or even tease an all-new model. However, not all of these fanciful machines make production.
Here’s our top 10 concept cars that never hit the road.
We miss Saab, but it left quite a legacy. The Swedish marque was known for some of its interesting concept cars, a collection of vehicles that included the Aero X concept. Never intended for production, the Aero X is a sleek coupe that foreshadowed the styling of new models back in 2006.
It was powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 packing 400bhp.
A lot of Nissan fans preyed for the IDx to enter production, but sadly it remains a concept for now. Effectively a modern-day Datsun 510, the futuristic take on the boxy car lead to a design that really captures people’s attention.
It debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, but Nissan decided there wasn’t enough of a market for this vehicle to justify its development costs.
In today’s world of the Aston Martin DBX, the Spyker D12 Peking-to-Paris concept was arguably just a bit too far ahead of its time. This super SUV was to deliver performance thrills, intricate design, and a high driving position – who’d want that?
It is a shame the D12 didn’t arrive 10 years later – we think it’d do very well today.
Maserati’s Birdcage 75th concept car was a handsome and futuristic homage to an iconic racer of days gone by. Based on a Ferrari Enzo, Pininfarina used this car to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The iconic Italian design house incorporated a seamless jet fighter canopy into this car, a real crowd-pleaser for its 2005 Geneva Motor Show debut.
There were never any plans to put the Birdcage into production, but this concept car was fully functional. Powered by a Ferrari F140 V12 engine, it produced 700bhp. Its chassis was donated from a Maserati MC12 GT1 racer.
Designed to celebrate Ford’s 90th year and introduce its new ‘Edge’ design language, the GT90 was a showstopper in 1995. More than just a rolling model, this car actually worked and hosted a bespoke quad-turbocharged 5.9-litre V12 engine. It even has some NASA technology to keep the engine cool.
As is typical for concept cars, a business case could not be made for the GT90.
Peugeot is no strangers to a good concept car, but the e-Legend served as a high watermark indeed. Revealed back in 2018 at the Paris Motor Show, this beautiful coupe harked back to the Peugeot 504 and reinvented a more glamorous image the French marque once enjoyed. Adamantly rejected as a retro design by its creator, this concept’s clean lines and reinterpreted 504 front-end certainly captured people’s attention.
It wasn’t just the exterior that impressed. Its frameless doors opened to reveal a blue velvet upholstered interior that looks absolutely stunning. While the material usage echoes that of the 1970s, the tech inside was all about the future. Level four autonomous driving would see the steering wheel retract and the driver able to focus on other things while the e-Legend whisked you to the destination.
Despite Peugeot bosses saying they’d like to see the car make production, it’s unlikely that’ll ever be the case.
The Jaguar C-X75 might have starred in a James Bond film, but it never made production in the way the British marque had hoped. Originally set for a run of 250 cars built in partnership with the Williams F1 team, only a handful of prototype cars made it into the hands of the public. This sleek supercar was effetely a modern-day successor to the XJ220, but incorporated hybrid technology to supplement its 1.6-litre engine. The total output was in excess of 850bhp when the combustion and electric motors were combined.
Just like its forefather, it was a case of wrong place, wrong time for the C-X75. By the time the C-X75 was nearing completion, the world’s appetite for such a car reduced and the initial promise of jet turbine power evaporated. It’s the car Jaguar wanted to make a real statement with, but instead, it quietly faded into the pages of history.
Super SUVs are in vogue these days, but the world very nearly went down a different path before the explosion of SUV popularity. With supercar manufacturers looking to expand their portfolios, the super saloon was seriously considered. The world had seen such cars in the 1970s and 1980s, but a modern-day reincarnation would have seen Lamborghini produce the Estoque.
This super sleek and slightly menacing saloon was seriously considered before the Italian marque settled on building the Urus SUV. Powered by a front-mounted V12 engine, it would have been quite something to behold.
In a similar fashion to Lamborghini, Bugatti was toying with the idea of adding a second model to its range. The Galibier was a luxurious super saloon that promised the lavish qualities of a Rolls-Royce, but also the 250mph speed of a Veyron.
This Galibier concept car featured a unique ‘butterfly’ bonnet that served as a modern-day interpretation of classic side-opening bonnets. Sadly, Bugatti decided to cancel the project for reasons that still remain a mystery. There was speculation that the French marque wanted to pursue an SUV instead, but so far the newest model out of Molsheim is the Veyron succeeding Chiron.
Reimagining a true automotive icon is not only challenging but potentially damaging to the brand if it gets things wrong. That wasn’t the case for BMW with the M1 Homage. This modern reinterpretation of the classic German supercar capture the imagination of every petrolhead, and there was a glimmer of hope for production. However, BMW execs killed the M division project.
Sadly, this 3.5-litre supercar would go no further than its concept stage. There was genuine outrage from potential buyers desperate to add such a car to their collection, however, BMW never revealed why it never pursued production.