Are there any examples of concept cars which, while not representative of the vehicles in the manufacturer’s immediate lineup, actually become something of a reality five or ten years down the line? More specifically, can you provide some images of concept cars that actually look like the cars we have on the road today (Isuzu VehiCROSS and similarly rare instances to be omitted, I suppose). Thanks!
Fantastic question. But 5 or 10 years down the line? That’s a bit of a stretch, as most concept cars (made by companies that are in business to market something profitable) show a future that’s a bit more readily available. Now there are plenty of design firms that make pure dream cars, mostly of the Italian variety. Hence the Giorgio Moroder Love above.
Well, at least in the past: 1970s Italdesign, Ghia, Pininfarina, Bertone, etc foretold of a future with wedgy angles for all of us. But more palatable futures? Maybe more like 5-6 years max from the major automakers. That’s far more doable.
And since I am of a certain age, my concept cars will reflect it. Let’s start with my favorite: the Oldsmobile Aurora. When the production model came out, I was shocked to see the product specialist let me on the table to sit in it. Wait…that’s not a concept car?
But oh my damn son, the production model had all the same lines and looked almost as radical. What a lovely car, one that I truly miss as their terrible resale value and headgasket-eating Northstar V8s seal their fate in the scrapyard.
The Lamborghini Portofino concept (made when owned by Chrysler in 1987, IIRC) was definitely a Dodge Intrepid in the making. The cab-forward greenhouse, the wheels and especially the rear end styling. Just add the Dodge Viper’s nose and…
The similarly insane, second generation, Chrysler LHS. While I didn’t appreciate this design until the Bentley-Truck Chrysler 300 replaced it (and the Chrysler Concorde from whence it came), they were a well styled piece. Unless you lived in a state that required a front license plate. Oops.
Yep. Dat hardtop roofline. Who ever thought Mercedes would bring back insane pillarless styling to the roof? Impressive…just don’t own one outside of the warranty period: combined with the usual Mercedes component quality of this era (and the obligatory Super Bowl stadium joke), the CL’s hydraulic suspension will put you in the poor house. But it might be worth it.
And the 1986 Pontiac Trans Sport concept was pretty far out there.
If anything, the production model was even crazier. That dustbuster nose fares better in an accident, but the original’s design was a bit more conventional and appealing for your eyeballs…even if your insurance company begs to differ.
Supposedly the original Lexus SC concept car started off as plaster filled balloons in Toyota’s Calty design studio. They were apparently squeezing and forming this stuff until this concept car came to mind.
How many times will you now wish that designers had balloons and plaster at their disposal, huh?
On to the cars that got me interested in the styling biz: the 1981 Ford Probe III. The other Probes (up to Probe V) were far more radical, but the III foreshadowed a radical change in mainstream sedans for Europe. It ushered advanced design and cutting edge aerospace technology to people on a Toyota Camry budget.
Yup, that’s the 1982 Ford Sierra: the salesman’s spaceship. The Jellymould, not to be confused with Lexus’ plaster filled balloons. While I think the wedge-nose Sierra looked more radical (with the Ghia front end) than the round-nose Probe III, I have my bias: here’s my 1983 Sierra Ghia in Dallas, en route to my garage.
While not nearly as historically relevant as the Sierra/Probe, the Ford Contour concept was just nuts. While you see a lot of 2006 Honda Civic in the nose, plenty of Prius in the roof, there’s something else going on here.
That’s right: the ovoid nightmare Ford Taurus that nobody liked. Except me, I thought it was a brilliantly executed design. Far too radical for its time? Yes, but it will age well. Especially as a (timing gear eating) V8 powered Taurus SHO with the Ford Contour concept paint and chrome wheels. It’s still a stunner, even if you hate it.
BAM SON: the 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII. Even the insane directional wheels kinda made production. That Continental-kitted butt with full length tail light? Yup. The coke bottle profile, buttery smooth lines and some insane V8 motor with 4 cams and 32 valves hidden under concept car plastics that will power the SVT Mustang Cobra in three years? Indeed. Even the Marque X interior logically made production into the Mark VIII.
Here’s my (unverifiable) personal proof: heading to the press preview night at the 2007 Houston Auto Show. A night that inspired a somewhat famous General Motors Deathwatch, I rolled up in my 1995 Mark VIII: factory HID lights blasting and that 4-cam V8 monster rumbling through Kooks headers. The guard at the gate did something I’d never expect.
Let’s go back to that night in 2007:
Guard: There you go. Man, that’s a nice car!
Me: Thanks. (driving off)
Guard: Wait, wait, wait…WAAAAIT!
Me: (stopped) What?
Guard: Remember you gotta enter from the back!
Me: But the show entrance is up front!
Guard: The door for the cars is out back.
Guard: That’s a show car right? That’s going in the show…right?
Me: Dude, this was a concept car back in 1992!
Guard: (dumbfounded face and general remarks of genuine disbelief) Man I thought it’d be in the showrooms pretty soon!
Me: Nope! But you can find plenty of them in the junkyards!
Off to you, folks.