Auto manufacturers use concept cars to showcase new styling or technology. These cars are introduced at various auto shows to gauge consumer interest. Sometimes the design is close to a planned production vehicle, but usually they are extreme examples of future designs.
One of the more famous concept-to-production flops was the Pontiac Aztek. The show car was funky (and fun) for its day, but the production version was compromised by financial restrictions. I like the Aztek, but I am in the minority.
Related Article: Pontiac Aztek: Love For The Angry Toaster
My track record for picking winners is tainted, but many failed concepts would have been great to own as a production car. My favorites from the past twenty years are shown below. In nearly every case, these would have been fun and affordable vehicles to buy.
2002 Dodge Razor
The Dodge Razor was introduced at the 2002 North American International Auto Show. Interestingly, the Razor was a partnership between Dodge and scooter manufacturer Razor, who was responsible for part of its design.
The Razor used a 2.4 L turbocharged engine. Its top speed was claimed to be over 140 mph and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. The Razor, a rear-wheel drive vehicle, uses a six-speed manual transmission.
There was a rumor that the Dodge Razor was gong to be built as the Dodge Scooter. While this never happened, the basic styling can be seen in the 2004 Chrysler Crossfire. Not a bad thing.
2006 Volkswagen GX3
The concept GX3 was a three-wheeled vehicle (reverse trike) introduced in 2006. At the time, I was excited by its design and unique character, but blown away by its proposed sub-$20,000 price. Keep in mind, this concept appeared on the scene well before the 2015 Polaris Slingshot and the 2016 Vanderhall autocycle. VW was ahead of its time.
Sadly, VW’s legal staff killed the idea citing safety concerns. The GX3 would have been classified as a motorcycle, so it would not require typical safety equipment (airbags, ABS brakes, etc.). This design would be a success today, if it were allowed to live.
2008 Hummer Hx
Revealed at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Hx concept was a two door compact SUV. If produced, it would have been a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler.
I’m sure the timing of GM’s bankruptcy killed any chance of the Hx making it into production. Rumor had it that this would have been the H4, slotted below the H2 and H3 in size. Of all of the Hummer models, I think the proposed H4 would have been a real winner.
2012 Chevrolet Code 130R
The Code 130R was a rear-wheel-drive, four-seat coupe with “heritage performance–inspired styling” (according to Chevrolet) with flared fenders, straight sides, and crossflag emblems. When I saw it at the Detroit show in 2012. I thought it would be a grear Camaro replacement. There was something about this car that spoke to me. I like tossable coupes, and this car made more sense than the current generation Camaro.
The Code 130R was roughly the same size and proportion as a BMW 1-series, and it’s slightly larger than the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GR86 twins. It is very similar to the Nissan IDx concept shown below. How fun!
2013 Nissan IDx
The Nissan IDx was a concept car introduced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. It was supposedly inspired by the Datsun 510, a small sedan sold from 1968-1973. The original 510 was popular among tuners and was often modded for autocross events.
The IDx concept was Nissan’s answer to the RWD tuner craze, and would be a direct competitor to today’s Toyota GR86/Subaru BRZ twins.
I like its funky design and compact dimensions. It just looks like a blast to drive and is my favorite on the list of vehicles shown here.
2016 Buick Avista
The Buick Avista was a two door, four passenger coupe unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
The Avista concept car shared the same Alpha platform as the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe and sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro. Power came from a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine producing 400 hp, backed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.
This concept car was met with critical acclaim, winning the 2016 EyesOn Design award. I saw this car at the show, and was really impressed with its style and stance. In truth, I stood at the display for long time watching this car spin on the turntable. This was one of the most beautiful, production capable concepts that GM should have built.
I really feel this should have been the design direction for the Camaro. GM missed an opportunity by not building the Avista or styling the Camaro after it.
Final Thoughts and Questions
As you can tell, I like small, fun, affordable two-door vehicles. Give them distinctive styling and I’m all in!
Let me know your thoughts if you have a favorite from my selections, or one of your own. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message me through the Vehicle Nanny Instagram or Facebook pages.
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