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Seven Concept Cars That Should Have Made it to Production

Concept cars are built to test designs with the public. Some cars are so well-received they go into production. For unknown reasons these beauties weren’t.

For one reason or another, great concepts that are well-received by the public, and in some cases relatively straightforward to produce, are passed over by the automaker brass. Since there’s never a press release after a company decides not to produce a concept car, we never know the exact reason. Some we can assume – unique engines, difficult to produce bodies, technologies included that aren’t yet available are frequent stumbling blocks. Others seem like simple conversions, at least from an outsiders perspective. For whatever reason these cars weren’t made available to public, but we can still appreciate them from afar.

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1977 Chevrolet AeroVette Concept

For decades Chevrolet has been teasing the idea of a mid-engined Corvette, which is probably an indication of the direction where they’d like to see the Corvette brand move. One of the more serious proposals was the 1977 AeroVette Concept, which, originally was powered by a wankel engine (GM held a license for a period of time). The AeroVette was then fitted with a 400 CID V-8, however production vehicles would have been powered the 350. In the end the mid-engine concept was discarded and development on the C4 began.

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1954 Chevrolet Corvette  Nomad Concept

Talk about an easy conversion. There are even kits available that allow you to retrofit the Nomad wagon body onto a C1 Corvette. Had Chevy produced the Corvette Nomad it would have added utility to the two-seater as well as brought an entirely new customer, one looking for a sporty wagon, into Chevrolet dealers. It’s hard to believe that the Nomad wagon concept was passed-over for production.

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2004 Buick Velite

In a decade or two some future writer will look back and share her or his opinion as to which concept cars featured a timeless design. Even at more than 10 years old, the Buick Velite (the name for Napoleon’s elite soldiers) still looks contemporary, particularly graceful, and very much pleasing to the eye. Based on the Camaro (Zeta) platform, it was powered by a  experimental twin-turbo 3.6L V6, rated at 400 HP mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission.  And in a way, Buick is finally getting around to building the Velite, in a way. The Cascada (really a four-cylinder Opel) will debut for the 2016 model year, looking much like a smaller Velite.

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1963 Thunderbird Italien Fastback

Here’s a case where the concept execution was far better looking than the car that went into production. Ford has designed an absolutely gorgeously subtle fastback design for the 1963 Thunderbird. For whatever reason, when the Thunderbird was released to the public, not fastback option was available, and the one design that was available, a very formal roofline with a chunky, C-pillar, was considerably less attractive.

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1962 Ford Avanti

Really not much more than an early design study that ultimately led for the 1964.5 Mustang, the Avanti (also called Allegro in deference to the fact that Studebaker, was, about to launch a sports car named Avanti for the 1963 model year). There’s much more of a European appearance to the Avanti than the Mustang, the more open greenhouse and shorter overhang, particularly in the rear, looking more like a competitor to English sports cars, even Jaguar and Aston Martin, despite it’s Falcon underpinnings. But you can’t argue with success, and the Mustang most definitely succeeded.

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1995 Chrysler Atlantic

Chrysler should have trashed the Prowler and built the Atlantic instead. Period.  The Atlantic was a retro inspirred by Bugatti’s Aérolithe concept car of 1935 . It was built on a only slightly modified Viper chassis, but instead of the Viper’s V-10, Chrysler developed an inline eight cylinder engine, common in the 1930s, from two four cylinder SOHC Chrysler A-588 engines, the straight 8 producing around 360 horsepower. Given it’s virtual identical dimensions to the Viper, the use of the V-10 could well have saved countless development dollars, and given the fact that the Atlantic continues to be one of Chrysler’s most popular concept cars and is still being displayed speaks volumes.

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1998 Plymouth Pronto Spyder

The Plymouth Proto Spyder was a 2-door concept car developed by Chrysler for the Plymouth brand. After the discontinuation of the Plymouth brand the Pronto Spyder may well just have been lost in the process, as construction would have been simple and straightforward. The car was fitted with mid-mounted turbocharged 2.4L, four cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. By using lightweight recycled materials covering a steel chassis in its construction, not only would production cost much less, the vehicle would have weighed in just a little heavier than a second generation Miata but with a great deal more power.

Categories: Gear Grinding

Chris Riley

About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.