QOTD: What's the Best Auto Show Concept to Never Hit Showrooms?

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Brace yourself. Detroit is coming. Car blogs will be bursting with news and hot takes from frosty southeast Michigan as the North American International Auto Show opens on Monday. Every utterance from any executive will be tweeted, every statement will be parsed, and every press release will be copied and pasted.

Naturally, TTAC will be there in force. And while the numerous reveals of production-ready cars will be the highlight for most, I’m personally looking forward to the concepts. The weird, the funky, or even the batshit crazy — those far-from-production ideas are what make the major auto shows great.

Plenty of oddballs have graced show stands over the years, many of which have hinted at future designs, but never sold in their own forms. Very few — the original Viper comes to mind — were remarkably unchanged from their show form, but there are plenty of cars relegated to locked hangars, never to see the light of day.

Those kooky vehicles deserve a place in the sun, so I’m giving them a chance. Which concept, new or old, would you like to see on the road?

My pick: The Dodge Razor — a tiny sports car, co-branded with the maker of those cheap aluminum scooters that were everywhere 15 years ago, and built with a similar mentality. Rear-wheel drive and lightweight — I’ve seen mention of 250 hp and 2,500 pounds — it was also meant to be cheap.

How cheap? $14,500 in 2002, to be precise, which translates to about $19,500 today, is dirt cheap for a legitimate sports car. The 2002 NAIAS was my first Detroit show, and I was spellbound when I stumbled into the Dodge booth. The Neon SRT-4 was there, too, but a real sports car was compelling.

Ford’s GT was revealed at the same show, but it wasn’t on my radar. I could potentially afford the Razor, unlike nearly everything else on the floor.

It wasn’t to be. Chrysler had a few financial crises to weather, and cutting a low-margin, low-volume sports car was obvious even to them. I consoled myself the next summer with an old Miata, which still haunts my garage to this day. It’s a sale that could have gone to a Dodge dealer. Sigh.

So, which concept did you lust over? Which one would you buy if you had the chance?

[Image: Zombieite/Flickr]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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