Concept cars are a staple part of a car manufacturer’s product cycle, being a way of gauging public opinion on future models, showcasing the design direction an entire range of cars is likely to take, or just being a creative outlet for car designers to pen their craziest fantasies.
Sometimes, however, car manufacturers dare to put these wild creations into production. Recent examples include the BMW i3 and i8, which despite looking like extras from Blade Runner, will shake up the electric car market when they grace showrooms early next year.
But for every wild creation that sees the light of day, there are a number that are canned last minute and forever relegated to the history books. Here is our run down of the top five cars that didn’t quite make it (but we sincerely wish had):
Audi R8 e-tron
An all-electric car to get the pulses of even the most ardent petrolheads racing. The battery powered R8 e-tron beat its V8 petrol-powered sibling in the dash from 0-62mph by a whopping 0.2 seconds, and all without that car’s O-Zone layer-destroying emissions. However, the lightweight engineering that made it fast – including heapings of carbon-fibre – ultimately led to the e-tron’s downfall, making it too expensive to be a viable commercial proposition. All is not lost, however, with aspects of the technology filtering down into the forthcoming A3 e-tron hatchback.
Audi Quattro Concept
Not to be confused with the rather ungainly Quattro Sport Concept shown at last month’s Frankfurt motor show, Audi had originally planned to revive its iconic Quattro model of the 1980s with this stunning concept, unveiled at the Paris motor show in 2010. Using elements of the current RS5 coupe, it used a heavily turbocharged 2.5-litre motor developing 402bhp, but was shelved when Audi lost its nerve due to the global economic crisis.
A car based on a Ferrari F430 and styled to look like a modern interpretation of the iconic Lancia Stratos would have been to many (this writer included) the perfect blend of style and performance. A one-off model surfaced in 2010, clothed in a carbon-fibre body and using the F430’s sonorous 4.3-litre V8; the brainchild of a wealthy German businessman who wanted to put it into limited-run production. However, Ferrari refused to supply the necessary tooling – claiming that they were already gearing up to produce the replacement 458 Italia – and even banned supplying companies from getting involved with the project.
Jaguar’s spiritual successor to its iconic 80s XJ220 had jaws dropping when it was first unveiled at the 2010 Paris motor show, not only in its gorgeous lines, but also the gas-turbine powerplant Jaguar planned to fit it with. As time progressed the radical engine was replaced with a conventional piston motor and plug-in hybrid system, but still offered huge power, coupled to low emissions and fuel economy. Ultimately it was the ongoing global economic woe that spelt the end for the C-X75. Company bosses felt it was just the wrong time to release a car with a c£1million price tag and the project was cancelled. A shame really, considering it could have been a real contender in the new crop of hybrid hypercars.
A radical departure for the normally unbearably sensible German marque, the GX3 three-wheeler wowed crowds at the 2006 Los Angeles motor show. It formed part of a new eco strategy from VW, being light and powered by an efficient 125bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. It would have proved an intriguing proposition, with a projected price of around $17,000 in its target US market. However, its three-wheeled status saw it classified as a motorcycle, meaning customers would have been forced to wear safety helmets by law. It would have cost VW too much to make the necessary revisions to get it reclassified and would have moved the GX3 away from its target market, so now it resides forever in the concept-car graveyard in the sky.