The best cars never made

We take a look at some of the best cars to have never reached production 

Each year, with each passing annual motor show, the car buying public is teasingly tempted with scores of cars that are beyond its reach. Either by price (because the most coveted cars are usually not the cheapest), or by the fact that the cars on show aren’t currently on sale, nor ever will be. Manufacturers have gotten wise to the fact that they can generate plenty of interest by showing off weird and wacky concepts (which of course do serve a purpose as guinea pigs and development cars for forthcoming technologies). A lot of the time the concepts cars are purposefully ‘out-there’, but every now and then a model is revealed – between the motorised hamster balls and hovercars – which actually looks and drives like a production car. Yet, even these often don’t get put into production. Here we take a look at some of the best cars that could have been – some which were only ever meant to be ambitious pipe dreams, and some which were cruelly pulled at the last minute.

Cadillac Cien

02detroit ciencon

What is it? First unveiled in 2002, it is a two door high-performance coupé with a 7.5 litre V12 engine and 750bhp, which celebrated the 100 year anniversary of the American manufacturer. One of the best examples of Cadillac’s “Art & Science” design theme.

Why should it be in production? A credible Cadillac sportscar would introduce variation to the market. So too would its angular looks. Its V12 engine wouldn’t have gone amiss, either.

Why will it never be in production? Cadillac deemed it too impractical.

Any alternatives? Lookswise a Lamborghini Murcielago.

Hyundai Qarmaq

hyundai qarmaq

What is it? A crossover SUV with ecofriendly credentials. Lightweight and produced with recycled plastic (made from reclaimed drinks bottles), it’s an uncommon and imaginative approach to being environmentally friendly.

Why should it be in production? Anything that making driving more environmentally responsible and cleaner is a good thing.

Why will it never be in production? Risk, probably. It’s a bit too out there for the moment. Hyundai have said that 30 technologies developed for the Qarmaq are already finding their way into Hyundai production cars.

Any alternatives? The Nissan Juke wears a vaguely similar look. BMW X1, too.

Maserati Birdcage

maserati birdcage

What is it? A sleek, hyper-low slung sportscar which was designed by Pininfarina on their 75th anniversary for Maserati. Like the Saab Aero X, it has no doors, instead employing a bubble roof cockpit.

Why should it be in production? Mostly for its looks. We’re fickle.

Why will it never be in production? There are no windows which can be opened; because it is so low slung anyone driving even a slightly raised car could risk missing it. In short: it looks good, but it is impossibly impractical.

Any alternatives? The VW XL1, the Nissan Cube? Anything that stands out on the road.

Saab Aero X

saab aero x

What is it? A space age coupé with no doors; the roof opens and side panels lift up to reveal a cockpit, rather than a simple door opening. Its 400bhp 2.8 litre twin-turbo V6 engine runs on bio-ethanol.

Why should it be in production? The ridiculous canopy roof, the ethanol-powered engine, the 180 degree windscreen. Bold ideas for a company that need them. Sometimes the industry needs something as audacious as this.

Why will it never be in production? Precisely all the reasons listed above.

Any alternatives? The Audi R8.

Jaguar C-X75

Jaguar C-X75

What is it? A hybrid supercar with a 200mph+ top speed, a 0-60 sprint in under three seconds, around 900bhp, and CO2 emissions under 100g/km.

Why should it be in production? Because it’s a supercar that can get to a speed that will get you a driving ban which is green enough to be road-tax exempt.

Why will it never be in production? Despite being primed for a production run (albeit a very limited one), Jaguar decided at the last minute that the economy wasn’t ready for such a car. Sensibility is always a buzzkill.

Any alternatives? The McLaren P1; a Tesla Model S for the more sensible-minded.

Vauxhall Opel Monza

vauxhall opel monza

What is it? A concept introducing the new Vauxhall design language. Beautifully designed, with arching gull-wing doors round off a sleek style that looks like no other Vauxhall before it.

Why should it be in production? Again, looks.

Why will it never be in production? It’s too out there. But don’t rule it out entirely.

Any alternatives? A Delorean. For the doors.

Peugeot Onyx

peugeot onyx

What is it? First shown at this year’s major motor shows, the Onyx is the most recent teaser on our list, and being the rawest, it hurts the most. Looks wise it couldn’t look less like a Peugeot; its sharp carbon fibre shell is low and fierce. Under its black and gold hood is a 3.7 litre V8 hybrid which generates up to 680bhp.

Why should it be built? It looks like nothing else on the roads.

Why will it never be built? The concept car cost £1,000,000 to build. The costs behind it could never be worked out to make it a viable production car.

Any alternatives? The Audi TT or the Veyron.

Ford GT90

ford gt90

What is it? At the time of its release in 1994, the Ford GT90 was nothing short of astounding. Featuring a 48 valve quad-turbocharged V12, 720Bhp and a top speed of 250mph, it is not a car for the faint hearted. Considering that 19 years later the fastest street legal car only manages about 20mph more, the abilities of the GT90 are even more impressive.

Why should it be in production? Because imagine what supercars would be today if they had the GT90 to contend with over the last 20 years.

Why will it never be in production? It cost a reported $3m to build, and at the time selling cars at a loss wasn’t yet a operable business model.

Any alternatives? The Veyron.


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