Aston Martin Bulldog (1980)
What started out as a private commission turned into a corporate project that catapulted Aston Martin into the limelight when it was unveiled in 1980. There was talk of a limited production run, but ultimately just one Bulldog was built, with a 5340cc V8.
Ferrari Pinin (1980)
Ferrari could have been three decades ahead of its Aston Martin and Porsche rivals, by offering this seriously distinctive four-door saloon. With a five-litre flat-12 up front, it would have had the pace to go with the looks, but 30 years on, still no saloon. Yet…
Lamborghini Athon (1980)
Lamborghini was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy when the Athon was unveiled, so it’s a shame the car never reached showrooms. The company didn’t actually build the concept though; that was down to Bertone, which made it as a tribute.
Ghia AC (1981)
Although the AC 3000ME was unveiled in 1973, it would be another five years before customer cars would be available. Just three years later, this much smarter-looking prototype was revealed, courtesy of styling house Ghia – but it remained a one-off.
Ford Probe IV (1983)
While its predecessor the Probe III entered production as the Sierra, the Probe IV never got anywhere near the showroom. That’s rather a shame really, because even now this ultra-slippery car still looks futuristic in a retro kind of way. If that’s possible.
MG E-XE (1985)
After the MGB went out of production, the only cars MG could put its name to were sporty versions of family cars like the Montego. The E-XE marked a radical step forward, being a true supercar with a mid-mounted 250bhp V6 – but it wasn’t to be.
Nissan Mid-4 (1985)
Nissan produced three different Mid-4 concepts, this one being the first. Power came from a twin-turbo three-litre V6. That engine came from the 300ZX; it was mid-mounted and powered all four wheels. Which is where the name came from. Clever stuff…
IAD Alien (1986)
Alien was an apt name, as this car looked like it had been plucked from a sci-fi movie. The wheels were enclosed for aerodynamic efficiency, which was aided by the 42-inch height. Various engines would be available, with each one just plugging in.
Peugeot Proxima (1986)
Such a flight of fancy as this was never going to be seriously considered for production, but what a road car it would have made. One of three such outlandish hypercars (alongside the Oxia and Quasar), the Proxima packed a 600bhp twin-turbo 2850cc V6.
Volkswagen Scooter (1986)
VW’s take on the lightweight urban commuter vehicle of the 1980s was the Scooter and very neat it was. With glassfibre bodywork the car could top 130mph with just a 90bhp 1.4-litre engine, which could take the ‘car’ from 0-60mph in just 8.5 seconds.
Pontiac Sunfire (1990)
This came from another car manufacturer that’s been ditched because of a lack of consumer interest thanks to one lacklustre product after another. Pontiac’s fate could have been so different if this 190bhp 2.4-litre family car had been put into production.
Volkswagen Microbus (2001)
Only Volkswagen could get away with a concept that was essentially a windowed van, but the Microbus had plenty of retro styling features. Unlike the old Westfalia campers which influenced the Microbus, the concept’s engine was at the front.
Porsche Boxster (1993)
Yes we know the Boxster did make production, but not in the same form as the original concept. All those gorgeous features inside and out were watered down, leaving a great car, but one which never had quite the same presence as the show model.
Chrysler Atlantic (1995)
Heavily influenced by the wild looks of the 1937 Bugatti Atlantic, this fabulous art deco concept by Chrysler also shared similarities in under the bonnet; it was powered by a straight-eight engine created by joining two Neon units. Even now it looks amazing.
Mazda RX-01 (1995)
This is a concept that’s getting on for two decades old, yet if the covers were taken off right now, it would still look amazingly fresh. Beautifully shaped and proportioned, the four-seater (supposedly) RX-01 featured a 220bhp rotary engine, mounted up front.
Renault Fiftie (1996)
Taking visual cues from its 4CV, Renault’s Fiftie also had its 1149cc engine behind the passenger compartment. It looked great and should have been put into production; with such a cute appearance, Renault wouldn’t have been able to make enough.
Suzuki C2 (1997)
here haven’t been many high spots for Suzuki over the years; aside from the Cappuccino the carmaker hasn’t built many greats. The C2 could have been the Cappuccino’s successor, but probably not with the 250bhp 1.6-litre V8 fitted to the concept…
Volkswagen W12 (1997)
Volkswagen produced no fewer than three different variations on the W12 theme, including coupé and roadster editions, and even endurance tested the car at speed. But it was all in vain because the car never saw the light of day, thanks to other projects.
Plymouth Pronto Spyder (1998)
The Pronto Spyder was a seriously gorgeous roadster designed to compete with the Porsche Boxster. Plymouth reckoned it could offer the car for half the price of its Stuttgart rival, but sadly the 225bhp 2.5-litre drop-top remained just a concept.
Bentley Hunaudières (1999)
An engine with 12 cylinders is special, but one with 16 is epic. The Hunaudières had 623bhp on tap thanks to its V16 powerplant and was capable of 200mph. Being a Bentley, it also had a sumptuous interior with a turned-aluminium dashboard.
SEAT Formula (1999)
SEAT had a formula all right, it was that of the Lotus Elise. The concept featured a mid-mounted four-cylinder petrol engine, minimalist design and utilised lightweight materials. The car also had a spoiler that was raised at speeds above 30mph.
Jaguar F-Type (2000)
With those cat-like rear haunches and the long bonnet, the F-Type’s styling could be nothing but Jaguar. But whereas Jaguars of the time had become somewhat portly, the three-litre V6 F-Type went back to basics with a lightweight aluminium design.
Audi Avantissimo (2001)
Volkswagen Futura (1991)
Imagine if your Golf looked like this; two decades after the Futura was unveiled, it still looks futuristic enough to stop onlookers in their tracks. Power came from a supercharged 1.7-litre petrol engine; inside there was sat-nav along with noise cancellation
Dodge Razor (2002)
Built back in the days when Chrysler was wedded to Mercedes, the Razor used all sorts of Merc underpinnings such as its 250bhp turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox. With these, 140mph was on the cards.
Bertone Birusa (2003)
The Birusa had low-slung styling with an aggressive front end. Access to the car’s interior was through a pair of gullwing doors that were electrically assisted. A front-mounted 400bhp V8 engine provided the grunt to go with those menacing looks.
Cadillac Sixteen (2003)
Of course there was never any chance of anything as outlandish as the Sixteen ever reaching production, but what a car it would have made. And yet perhaps the idea wasn’t all that crazy; before the second world war, Caddy built more V16s than anyone else.
Honda HSC (2003)
Everyone hoped the HSC would be the second-generation NSX, but having developed a sensational-looking car, Honda came over all green and said it would be building lots of hybrid city cars and electric family cars instead. All very worthy, but how dull.
Italdesign Moray (2003)
Created to celebrate half a century of the Chevrolet Corvette, the Moray was Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro’s tribute to an American legend. Power came from a 400bhp six-litre V8 and that glass canopy could be removed to turn the Moray into a roadster.
Lancia Fulvietta (2003)
Lancia has been on a downward spiral in recent years, so when the fabulous retro-inspired Fulvietta arrived, many people thought it might be the saviour of this once-great Italian marque. Power came from a 1.8-litre four-pot. Sadly it wasn’t to be…
Lincoln Navicross (2003)
Although it looked just like any other large luxury saloon concept, the Navicross was much more than that as it was a sporty alternative to a full-blown SUV. Power came from a supercharged 4.2-litre V8 putting out somewhere in the region of 400bhp.
Mercury Messenger (2003)
Ford has canned the Mercury brand altogether, and if you saw its final product range it would be easy to see why. If only the company had produced cars like the Messenger, its factories would have been running flat out, instead. A 4.6-litre V8 was fitted.
Vauxhall VX Lightning (2003)
Vauxhall built the VX Lightning as a 100th birthday present to itself, so what a shame the company didn’t go on to offer a production version. Instead we got the VX220, which is a cracking car, but not as sensational a looker as the VX Lightning.
Chevrolet Nomad (2004)
The glassed areas of the Nomad were extremely shallow and the car looked as if it had received a hot-rod style roof chop. The engine wasn’t a typical Detroit V8, however; instead the car was fitted with a four-cylinder turbocharged unit producing 250bhp.
Chrysler ME412 (2004)
If only Chrysler hadn’t gone bust, this might have been a production reality – but then again, probably not. With its six-litre 850bhp V12, Chrysler reckoned 250mph was in sight. So instead of a Bugatti on your drive, you could have had a Chrysler.
Opel Trixx (2004)
Opel has a history of producing neatly styled city cars, like its Junior and Maxx. The Trixx was way ahead of these, however, with its modern exterior styling and clever interior that provided seating in a 3+1 configuration. A 70bhp 1.3CDTi engine was fitted.
Saturn Curve (2004)
Saturn didn’t make many good-looking cars during its relatively brief lifetime – indeed the 230bhp 2.2-litre Curve sportster is perhaps the only one you could genuinely call a looker. If it had reached showrooms, perhaps the brand would have survived.
Subaru B9 Scrambler (2004)
Small affordable roadsters have been all the rage ever since the Mazda MX-5 emerged over two decades ago. So it’s a shame that Subaru never had the courage to inject some interest into its range by building a production version of the 140bhp Scrambler.
Holden Efijy (2005)
OK, so we know the Efijy was never meant to suggest a production car in the offing, but how cool would it be to have a model like this in your range? With a 654bhp V8 up front and that sensational styling, this would have been a winner, guaranteed.
Pininfarina Birdcage (2005)
Now that’s what we call a birthday present; when Pininfarina notched up 75 years in business, it built this homage to a rather highly regarded Maserati. A fully developed runner, the 2005 Birdcage was fitted with a mid-mounted 700+bhp 5998cc V12.
Saab Aero X (2005)
Will Saab survive or not? Nobody knows whether this quirky Swedish marque will make it, but one thing is for sure – if it created production cars that looked anything like as good the Aero X, survival would be guaranteed. We’ll take ours in white please.
Shelby GR-1 (2005)
Any car that packs a 6.4-litre V10 is fine by us, and when it’s as neatly styled as this – well that’s just a bonus. But sadly Ford was too busy to put the GR-1 into production, although a fully functioning prototype was built, complete with a 605bhp engine.
Citroën C-Airplay (2006)
It’s taken Citroën a long time to rediscover its mojo, but five years ago it was teasing us with this brilliant supermini, which looked far better than anything on the market. Just 3.3 metres long and with a 110bhp engine, it would have been just the ticket.
Lamborghini Miura (2006)
Many people thought Lamborghini sold out just by producing the Miura concept, as it shamelessly recreated one of its previous models – although sadly not as a running concept. If you’ve got a car that looks this good, why banish it to the history books?
Mazda Kabura (2006)
This was one that was supposed to make production, but Mazda never saw it through which was a great shame. This affordable 3+1 sportster was around the same size as an MX-5, and priced much the same. Power came from a 158bhp 2-litre four-pot.
Nissan Urge (2006)
An online survey by Nissan concluded that young Americans wanted a sports car that offered performance with technology. This rear-wheel-drive sportster was the result; Nissan didn’t specify which powerplant was to be fitted, but ultimately it didn’t matter.
Volkswagen GX-3 (2006)
Believe it or not, VW talked seriously of putting the GX-3 into production. But the threat of lawsuits as a result of injuries sustained in potential crashes in the US meant it didn’t happen. A 1.25-litre petrol engine produced 125bhp to give a 125mph top speed.
Dodge Demon (2007)
It’s another one of those affordable two-seater drop-tops, this time with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine powering the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. Sharply styled inside and out, this could have been Chrysler’s saviour. Or maybe not…
Mazda Taiki (2007)
Of course nothing this outlandish could ever reach production, but wouldn’t it be nice to think that such a thing might be possible? Up front was a rotary engine which drove the rear wheels via a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. There was seating for two.
Renault DeZir (2010)
Take a look at Renault’s recent offerings and you could be forgiven for thinking the brand had forgotten how to design a decent-looking car. Then along comes the DeZir and all is fine with the world once more. So when will its production cars look this good?