Concept cars are the ultimate way for manufacturers to show off their latest ideas and designs without the practical constraints of putting a vehicle into production. They are also a way for companies to gauge public reaction to these ideas without any significant financial commitment. As a result, many concept cars never get past this stage, as their function is simply a display tool and nothing else.
Even so, it is frustrating for reducers when a company comes up with an amazing idea and then never does anything with it. British sports car makers are particularly bad at it, unveiling ideas that could have drastically changed the course of their brands, but then faltered ahead of production. Usually that’s because of cash flow issues or conservative bosses overtaking the design teams, but either way, we want these ten concepts to have made their way into the hands of the customers.
ten Caterham AeroSeven
Caterham has found niche success as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of open top roadsters. They’re also a bit of a one-ride pony, as their only model, the Seven, has been made in almost exactly the same way since they bought the design rights in 1973.
In 2013, they tried to differentiate themselves from this original design with the AeroSeven. It is still a traditional Caterham, but it could have been the start of an expansion into different sports car markets. The company ultimately decided not to pursue the idea, but a few employees left to train Zenos, a boutique automaker who made the E10, which looks like the AeroSeven concept.
9 MG EX-E
MG’s history is unusual, but they are best remembered as the sports arm of Rover Group, the doomed British conglomerate that went bankrupt in the early 2000s. One of the reasons the entire group suffered from a lack of innovation within the company, which prevented its cars from competing with the competition.
The MG EX-E seemed like an exciting prospect, in theory, being a mid-engined sports car with a 3.0-liter V6 developing 250 hp. It was built on the chassis and powertrain of the MG 6R4 rally car, so it would have been quite possible to put the car into production. Unfortunately, the business leaders didn’t approve and the EX-E never made it past the concept stage.
8 Lotus m200
The Lotus Elan had sparked some controversy when it was first released, as it was the first Lotus FWD of all time. Still, it turned out to be a commercial success, and in 1991 Lotus was looking for ways to build on its foundation. The M200 was a proposal on how to do it, as it was essentially an Elan scaled down into a streamlined speedster form.
The M200 was designed to be a true enthusiast’s car and further reinforce the fact that front-wheel drive doesn’t have to mean less fun. It’s a shame it could never be produced, although its eventual replacement was the Elise, a car so good that it kept Lotus solvent for the next twenty years. Looking at it this way, maybe no one should be too angry that the M200 didn’t do it.
seven TVR Cerbera Speed 12
It takes a lot for a company as lopsided as TVR to admit a car is too powerful, but that’s exactly what the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 did. Developed with the idea of becoming the fastest car in the world, the Speed 12 was fitted with a 7.7L V12 developing over 800hp and allowing a theoretical top speed of 240mph.
However, its immense power coupled with the fact that it was RWD only meant that it was almost impossible to drive it at regular speeds on public roads. This ultimately led to the abandonment of the entire project after only three prototypes were built.
6 Aston Martin CC100 Speedster
Aston Martin is currently experiencing serious financial problems, having suffered one of its biggest quarterly losses. It’s not entirely clear which route is the best to bring the company back to a profit, but there is an argument to be made that Aston has not diversified its lineup quickly enough.
The CC100 Speedster was a unique concept designed to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary, but it could have been turned into a limited-series car with very little additional development required. A car marking such an important anniversary would have been likely to meet high demand, and the company had not made a speedster at this point in decades. A second CC100 would have been built at the behest of a private customer, but making it a limited series of 20 or even 50 would certainly have helped Aston’s bottom line.
5 Bentley Hunaudières
A British concept with less British names, the Hunaudières take their name from the long straight line of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was made at a time of experimentation for Bentley, as they had just been taken over by the VW Group and there was some uncertainty about their role in the future.
Les Hunaudières envisioned a future where Bentley made supercars and hypercars, with the concept featuring an 8.0L W16 engine developing 623 hp. Ultimately, it was decided that Bugatti would become the group’s hypercar brand, and the Hunaudières were left to be just a reminder of what could have been a very different path for the brand.
4 Opel XVR
There are more than a hint of Corvette C3 design here, but the Vauxhall XVR actually predates the C3 by about a year. Unveiled in 1966, the XVR was a demonstration of the design prowess of Vauxhall, a sports car for the future.
Considering that Vauxhall and Chevrolet were owned by General Motors at the time, there’s a good chance news of the XVR concept caught on in the United States and influenced the design of the C3. It’s just a shame the XVR never got a chance to produce on its own, as it looks amazing and is totally different from other Vauxhall products then and today.
3 Lotus Emotion
This Bertone styling concept was originally intended for a very different purpose before it became a Lotus. Allegedly, this was Bertone’s design proposal for the Bugatti EB110, which was refused by company executives in favor of Marcello Gandini’s design.
Faced with a freshly designed supercar for which they had no buyer, Bertone then tried to convince Lotus that the design should be the successor to the Espirit, from which the Emotion concept was born. Lotus decided against the idea, which was probably reasonable, but it’s still a shame Bertone couldn’t find a way to market this timelessly styled design.
2 Mini Superleggera Vision
It might seem odd at first, but think about it and a Mini sports car actually makes a lot of sense. The Superleggera Vision was designed to take on models like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and it certainly looks the part, combining classic Mini styling with plunging bodywork courtesy of Italian body builders Superleggera.
The decline in the sports car market was probably the reason the Superleggera Vision was never produced, but at one point Mini seriously considered making it available to customers. Would it have been a resounding success? Who knows, but it sure would’ve been a really cool addition to the small sports car segment if given a chance.
1 Bentley EXP100 GT
This futuristic Bentley concept was created to explore what their cars might look like in 2035. This is grand touring luxury with a design unlike anything the company is making today. Like most futuristic cars, the EXP100 is fully electric, with four motors, one at each wheel.
Bentley will inevitably have to modify its powertrains to be fully electric in the future, as new government regulations mean there will ultimately be no option to sell new ICE cars. But it’s a shame that Bentley couldn’t make a customer version of the EXP100 simply because of its wacky design. The VW Group already has production hybrid technology that could be used for the car, although the EXP100 is highly unlikely to ever be seen on the roads.
The Los Angeles Auto Show showcased some amazing concept cars that you must see and we must talk about!
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