Hyundai N Vision 74

24 Concept Cars That Were Ahead Of Their Time

Concept cars are about pushing design limits before moving towards a compromise vehicle.

Some concepts become production vehicles, and a few are almost identical to their concept form. However, many ideas don’t manage to do so.

This list will showcase some of the best concepts that never made it to production. They were a stretch too far, pushed designers to the limits, and perhaps arrived too soon.

Ferrari Modulo

Ferrari Modulo
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Ferrari 512S Modulo, designed by Paolo Martin, debuted at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show. It was a low, wedge-shaped concept sports car with a canopy-style glass roof and an intended V12 engine producing 550 hp. 

The Modulo underwent brief testing before reverting to a show car, but the design never made it to production. In 2014, James Glickenhaus bought the Modulo and restored it to running condition but kept as much of the original concept as possible.

Alfa Romeo B.A.T. Concept Cars

Alfa Romeo BAT 5
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

This trio of concept cars wowed the crowds at the Turin Motor Shows of 1953, 1954, and 1955, and they went under the hammer a few years ago. The Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica (B.A.T.) concepts had an Alfa Romeo 1900 road car chassis but coachbuilding bodies from Franco Scaglione.

The cars had remarkable designs, with streamlining and covered wheels playing a big part in their looks. The B.A.T. 5, the first in the series, has a drag coefficient of just 0.23. Helping it to its top speed of 125 mph.

1967 Lamborghini Marzal

Lamborghini Marzal
Image Credit:Matti Blume/WikiCommons.

Lamborghini’s Marzal concept car still looks dramatic, even in 2024. The Bertone-designed Marzal is the first concept to sport the iconic wedge design that would become so famous in the decades to come.

The Marzazl had glass doors, rear-glass louvers, and rectangular headlights in a horizontal grille. It had plenty of power thanks to its 2.0-liter inline-six, but Lamborghini would produce just one example. The company always viewed the car as an advertisement rather than a production vehicle.

Mazda RX-Vision Concept

Mazda RX-Vision Concept
Image Credit: Mazda.

The Mazda RX-Vision concept is one of the most dramatic cars the Japanese manufacturer has produced. Yet, it also looks like a prime candidate for production. It never had an engine, but Mazda said the 2.6-liter Skyactive-R rotary engine would likely go under the hood.

Mazda portrayed the concept as “a vision for the future that Mazda hopes to one day make into a reality,” but so far, it is a reality that has yet to transpire. However, with rumors of a new Mazda R.X. sports car, the RX-Vision Concept may see the light of day again.

1981-1985 Ford Probe

Ford Probe concept
Image Credit: Pinterest.

The concept cars were a massive upgrade compared to the Ford Probe that entered production. Ford would produce five Probe concepts, with the fifth, the 1985 Prove V, the most radical. Aerodynamic performance was a vital point of the concept, with a drag coefficient as low as 0.152.

The Probe V did influence how the Probe sports coupe would look, while Probe III was the most production-ready of the set. This concept would lead to the Ford Sierra. Other innovations on the fifth concept were the 1.6-liter turbo-four slanted to 70 degrees and the flush doors, windows, and flat underbody.

2010 Jaguar C-X75

2010 Jaguar C-X75
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Hybrid supercars, hypercars, and sports cars are no longer the stuff of dreams. However, in 2010, Jaguar pursued the concept earlier than others with the dramatic C-X75. The supercar had four electric motors and two gas turbines serving as range extenders, allowing for an overall range of 559 miles. 

The five prototypes, however, had a 1.6-liter twin-turbocharged inline-four under the hood, plus two electric motors to produce 890 hp. The C-X75, however, came at a time when hybrids were not a significant focus, and the economic recession of the early 2010s saw Jaguar sadly shelve the project.

Lamborghini Bravo Concept

Lamborghini Bravo Concept
Image Credit: Amzamus93/Flickr.

In the 1970s, Lamborghini worked on the Bravo Concept in preparation to replace the Uracco. Bertone undertook much of the design work on the car, which would have had a 3.0-liter 300 hp V8 under the hood.

It officially debuted at the 1974 Turin Motor Show, and the prototype used an Urraco chassis. The Bravo design was a stretch too far, but some of its styling features would make their way into the Countach. Today, the sole Bravo prototype is part of the Bertone Collection.

Lamborghini Zagato Raptor

Lamborghini Zagato Raptor
Image Credit: MARCO ANTONIO DA SILVA/Flickr.

Italian coachbuilders Zagto are well known for their outlandish creations. But the Lamborghini Zagato Raptor is a cut above the rest. The body sports a Zagato “double bubble” design and an innovative door design, with the whole middle section of the car swiveling up and forward.

Under the hood, the Zagato Raptor had a 5.7-liter Lamborghini V12 from the Diablo, producing 492 hp. It was widely believed that the concept was ready for production, but it didn’t happen for whatever reason. The concept was undoubtedly futuristic and bolder than some of Lamborghini’s designs. 

Polestar 6 L.A. Concept Edition

Polestar 6 concept
Image Credit: Polestar.

Polestar is making a name for itself in the electric vehicle world, but one of its most outlandish vehicles is the Polestar 6 L.A. Concept. The concept will enter production as the Polestar 6 unique edition roadster.

Demand for the concept was incredibly high, with the build slots for the 500 production models filled up within a week. The stylish design also sports a potent powertrain. The concept has dual-electric motors producing 884 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. Even with all that power, the range is still impressive, with the E.P.A. range estimated at 370+ miles.

Hyundai N Vision 74

Hyundai N Vision 74
Image Credit: Hyundai.

Out of all the most recent modern concepts, Hyundai’s N Vision 74 is one many want to see produced. Hyundai based the N Vision 74 Concept on a restored 1974 Hyundai Pony Coupe, combining a hydrogen fuel cell with a 62.4 kWh battery and two electric motors.

The result is a sports car with 670 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. The design and the powertrain attracted worldwide attention and acclaim, and the retro-future-inspired design continued to show how good Hyundai’s designers are.

Hyundai RN22e

Hyundai RN22e
Image Credit: Hyundai.

Alongside the N Vision 74, Hyundai also removed the covers on the exceptional RN22e. The new Ioniq 6 serves as the basis for the RN22e, and this time, it has electric power under the hood. The RN22e is longer and broader than the regular Ioniq 6, and the power output of the upgraded motors is 577 hp.

Aerodynamic modifications such as the new rear wing and front lip further enhanced the look of the RN22e. The RN22e will preview a high-performance Ioniq 6 N model, similar to the already-announced Hyundai Ioniq 5 N.

1995 Chrysler Atlantic

1995 Chrysler Atlantic
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 1995 Chrysler Atlantic is one of the most fascinating cars of the 1990s, yet it has never entered production. Bob Hubbach designed it to invoke the Bugatti Type 57 Atlantic and Talbot Lago of the 1930s. 

Chrysler pushed on hard with the project. The company even created an all-new, 4.0-liter straight-engine for the Atlantic. This would have used two inline-fours from the Chrysler Neon merged. The concept was hugely popular, but sadly, despite this popularity and demand, Chrysler never put the car into production.

Peugeot Inception

Peugeot Inception
Image Credit: Peugeot.

For many years, Peugeot’s design language has been tame and bland. So, there was a massive shock when it took the covers off its Inception electric car concept at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show. The exterior is sleek and curvy, with sharp angles and claw-like taillights.

The car will use the future STLA Large platform dedicated to Peugeot’s electric vehicles. The upcoming electric Peuget 3008 will use this same platform. The Inception will never become a serious production car, but the design shows what Peugeot can do and how far it has come in recent years. 

1972 Volvo VESC

1972 Volvo VESC
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The Volvo VESC won no beauty contests, but it was an important concept. Following the gas crisis of the 1970s, fuel economy and fewer emissions were the critical targets. This also meant safety became another area of focus. Swedish manufacturer Volvo was at the forefront with the VESC or Volvo Experimental Safety Car.

Massive safety bumpers, a slanted front end, and other safety innovations helped minimize pedestrian injuries. The VESC was also one of the first cars to focus heavily on its crumple zones, and it had airbags in the front and rear.

1960 Plymouth X.N.R.

Plymouth XNR
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 1960s were a fantastic period for lovers of concept cars. Plymouth’s X.N.R. highlighted the craziness designers sometimes go to with their creations. The X.N.R. used the Valiant as its basis, and the roadster was an American take on Le Mans racers of the 1950s.

The slim sports car had a “coke bottle” design, similar to modern Formula 1 cars. This design made its production debut on the Chevrolet C3 Corvette. Plymouth built just one X.N.R. concept, and in August 2012, the X.N.R. sold for $935,000 at R.M. Sotheby’s Monterey auction.

Porsche 919 Street Concept

Porsche 919 Street concept
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

When Porsche took the covers off the 919 Street Concept, calls for its production immediately began. As the name suggests, it is a road-legal hypercar based on the 919 Hybrid LMP1 car that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, beating the likes of Audi and Toyota.

The 919 Street would have had 900 hp and a carbon fiber monocoque, the same setup used in the LMP1 racer. Porsche is looking to produce a new hypercar to succeed the 918 Spyder, which makes the decision not to create the 919 Street unusual.

1938 Buick Y-Job

1938 Buick Y-Job
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Despite its unusual name, the Y-Job is an important concept car. Many believe it is the first true concept car, and it was undoubtedly ahead of its time when it debuted in 1938. The Y-Job had features such as hidden, power-operated headlights, an innovation around 20 years ahead of their time.

Power windows were another first for the Buick, and these became a production feature on the 1940 Packard 40. Wraparound bumpers and wider, lower, and longer proportions were yet more advanced features in 1938.

1951 G.M./Buick LeSabre

1951 LeSabre
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

During the 1950s, automotive manufacturers drew heavy inspiration from aviation as the jet age began. One of the first to do this is the 1951 G.M./Buick LeSabre. 

The LeSabre sported a front grille similar to the Curtis P-40 Warhawk, with the fins at the back resembling the rudders of the American fighter. Between the rudders was a jet-engine intake. The concept is the spiritual successor to the Buick Y-Job, and under the hood, the LeSabre had a 215 ci supercharged 3.5-liter V8 engine.

Ferrari 250 P5 Pininfarina

Ferrari 250 P5 Pininfarina
Image Credit: Supercars.net.

Some of the very best concept cars came from Ferrari. The 250 P5 was a Pininfarina concept from 1968 that debuted at that year’s Geneva Motor Show. Ferrari built the car on P4 chassis #0862, and it was fully functional with a 3.0-liter V12 under the hood.

It was a radical design, with a transparent teardrop canopy for incredible visibility and gullwing doors that made getting in and out of the car easy. The interior, however, was very spartan, and Ferrari decided against pursuing the teardrop design.

Ferrari F.Z. 93

Ferrari F.Z. 93
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

You likely expect automotive artistry if two brands like Ferrari and Zagato collaborate. The Ferrari F.Z. 93 was the exception to that unwritten rule.

Zagato wanted to morph a Ferrari 512 TR with design elements from the 1991 Ferrari F1 car. It even had a 4.9-liter V12 under the hood, producing 390 hp. The 93 also had a “double bubble” roof, and Zagato took F1 inspiration for the nose designs of the supercar. However, there is no escaping the fact that it doesn’t look like an F1 car, and the F.Z. 93 is a rare misstep for the coachbuilder.

Toyota Alessandro Volta

Toyota Alessandro Volta
Image Credit: Norbert Schnitzler/WikiCommons.

Toyota’s Alessandro Volta again comes from an era when hybrid performance cars were ahead of their time. Toyota launched the Volta in 2004, and the concept was an impressive early attempt at a hybrid sports car.

Under the hood was a 3.3-liter V6 engine with two electric motors. Combined, these produced 402 hp, and the Volta also had all-wheel drive. Its carbon fiber chassis made it light, weighing just 2,755 lbs. The three-seat cabin with its flat floor was novel as the steering wheel slid from left to right, meaning the driver could use any of the seats.

Nissan Trail Runner Concept

Nissan Trail Runner Concept
Image Credit: Pinterest.

Off-road and performance are two segments that now mix more frequently. Just look at the Porsche 911 Dakar or the Lamborghini Hurracan Sterrato. Before both of these, though, we had the 1997 Nissan Trail Hunter Concept.

The Trail Hunter had a modest 1.8-liter engine under the hood, producing 155 hp. It had all-wheel drive, and the raised suspension gave the Trail Runner an interesting stance. Two spoilers were at the back, and the bumper also housed the spare wheel. Unlike many modern off-roaders, the Trail Runner was not an oversized monstrosity.

Citroën Karin

Citroen Karin
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

Citroen once used to produce some of the most “out-there” vehicles in the world. The Karin is among the best, debuting at the 1980 Paris Motor Show. The design made the Karin look like a pyramid, and the driver sat in the middle with two passengers in the back.

Mechanically, the Karin was quite simple. Under the hood, a four-cylinder engine powered the front wheels and used the company’s famous hydropneumatic suspension. While indeed too radical for production, the Karin is a reminder that Citroen could push the boat out with its designs.

Peugeot Quasar

Peugeot Quasar
Image Credit: Wiki Commons

The Peugeot Quasar is another forgotten French concept car. This concept shared many components with the 205 Turbo 16, the Group B rally version of the Peugeot 205. 

Following its success in Group B rally, Peugeot asked two designers to create a concept based on the chassis and engine of the 206 Turbo 16. Gerard Welter came up with the body, while Paul Bracq took on the challenge of the interior. His work produced a radical, digital interior, while Welter produced a sleek, smooth, and aerodynamic-looking car. Today, the concept is on display at the Peugeot Adventure Museum.

Henry Kelsall

Author: Henry Kelsall

Title: Writer

Bio:

Henry has freelanced for over eight years now, mostly in automotive matters, but he has also dabbled in other forms of writing too. He has a lot of love for Japanese classics and American muscle cars, in particular the Honda NSX and first-generation Ford Mustang. When not writing, Henry is often found at classic car events or watching motorsports at home, but he also has a curious passion for steam trains.

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