50 Coolest Concept Cars
Concept Cars…they’re like a myth, but closer. You can almost reach out and touch them so you know they’re real, but they seem to be just on the other side of the divide between real and make believe. Sure, they are “in the works” but until we see one of these on the road, we’re still holding our breath. BUT…the reason we’re all here is because these 50 concept cars are downright cool. No other way to put it!
50. BMW Nazca C2
The BMW Nazca C2 concept first appeared during the 1991 Tokyo Motor Show. It is also called the Italdesign Nazca C2 thanks to the design work from Italdesign. It was the evolution of the popular Nazca M12, also from 1991. The C2 redesigned the front, including moving the headlamps next to the kidney grille. It also had a new engine modified by Alpina to deliver an extra 50 horsepower over the M12, 350 horsepower total. Its top speed was 193 mph.
49. GFG Style Kangaroo
The GFT Style Kangaroo comes from the father and son duo involving Giorgetto Giugiaro. It has an unconventional off-road ride height, eye-catching gullwing doors, and the proportions of a supercar. This fully-electric vehicle can reach 155 miles per hour and travel over 280 miles. It just needs 3.5 seconds to reach 62 mph from a stop. The rear turn signals on this concept are unique due to their massive size and detail. Each of the many dots is its own small LED light prism.
48. Volkswagen Golf W12-650
Some refer to this concept car as the most unique Golf ever. It was created as a concept for the GTI Festival in 2007. In eight weeks, the team made a model that ran. It featured a 6.0-liter bi-turbo engine from the Bentley Continental GT, a VW DSG gearbox, axles and rear brakes from a Lambo Gallardo, and front brakes from an Audi RS4. It had a carbon-fiber roof, no rear seats, 650 horsepower, and 554 pound-feet of torque. It reached 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.
47. Jeep Wrangler Trailcat
We saw the Jeep Wrangler Trailcat concept in 2016 during the Easter Safari Fest. It takes the Jeep Wrangler and adds in the 707-horsepower V8 Hellcat engine from the Dodge Charger and Challenger. The Trailcat does wonders off-road thanks to this engine combined with a 6-speed manual transmission. The wheelbase is 12 inches longer than the stock Wrangler, a necessary change to fit the engine. It also has Fox shocks, 39.5-inch tires, and a two-inch lift plus Dana 60 axles, rock rails, and some stylistic changes.
46. Yamaha OX99-11
The Yamaha OX99-11 was a concept car that was pegged for production in 1994, with three prototypes arriving in 1992. Ypsilon Technology, a Yamaha subsidiary, and IAD, an engineering consultancy from England, designed it together. It made use of the new 3.5-liter V12 engine that Yamaha had created for racing development. The auto has dramatic aluminum bodywork, a carbon-fiber tub, a central seating position, and a glass canopy reminiscent of a fighter jet. There is also a tandem seat behind the driver.
45. Bentley Hunaudières
The Bentley Hunaudières is a concept car that was displayed at the 1999 Geneva Salon International de l’Auto. It runs on a naturally-aspirated 8.0-liter Volkswagen engine that Bentley modified to create 623 bhp and 561 pound-feet. It also featured a 5-speed manual transmission and it could reach 217 mph. Although this concept never reached production, it did lead to the Bugatti Veyron, which is still a favorite among auto enthusiasts. The auto is a two-door coupe with an RMR layout.
44. Volkswagen ID. Buggy
The Volkswagen ID. Buggy is one of many ID concepts from the automaker and easily one of the more fun ones. This concept is part of the VW modular electric drive matrix. It has clear inspiration from the 1960s’ Beetle-based Buggies. It has a retro appearance and is off-road-oriented with its numerous skid plates, tall ride height, and all-terrain tires. The body features plastic, steel, and aluminum. It lacks a roof and doors but has a roll bar. There are also tow hooks.
43. 1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket
Straight from the manufacturer: “The Oldsmobile Golden Rocket was a two-seater show car built by Oldsmobile for the 1956 General Motors Motorama. … The car was featured in the promotional short film Design for Dreaming along with the rest of the 1956 General Motors lineup.”
42. Chrysler ME Four-Twelve
The Chrysler ME Four-Twelve is a concept car that the automaker revealed in 2004. The name stands for Mid-Engine featuring Four turbos on the Twelve-cylinder engine. Two of these concepts were produced, including one with limited operation and one that ran fully. It used a 6.0-liter V12 and a 7-speed semi-automatic built by Ricardo. That engine was modified to produce 850 horsepower, which would have made it the most powerful and fastest road-ready production vehicle. Its chassis tub was aluminum and carbon-fiber honeycomb with a lightweight carbon-fiber body.
41. Mercedes Benz C112
Mercedes-Benz created the experimental C112 as a mid-engine concept car in 1991. This was a chance for the automaker to test out various features. It was supposed to the road-legal version of the C11 Group C prototype, which was a racing car. The C112 concept featured a 6.0-liter V12 that could deliver 428 pound-feet and 402 horsepower. Carrozzerria Coggiolo built the body, including pop-up headlamps and an electronically-controlled front spoiler. The auto also had gullwing doors and features to minimize aerodynamic drag.
40. Mercedes Benz Ener-G-Force
The Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force is a concept SUV from the automaker that builds on the G-Class with a futuristic and environmentally-friendly design. The concept was created specifically for Law Enforcement and Emergency Services. Power comes from a concept version of the company’s zero-emission F-Cell Hydrogen fuel cell tech. This system stores recycled water in roof tanks and transforms them into energy via a hydro-tech converter. It delivers a drivetrain similar to all-wheel drive via four electric motors, one for each wheel.
39. Audi e-Tron GT
The e-Tron GT is a concept vehicle that will likely become reality within the next few years. Based on recent news, it seems likely that it will hit production in 2020. It is the automaker’s introduction to the segment of all-electric grand touring vehicles. This EV has 590 horsepower and a 90-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. It comes with all-wheel drive and only needs 3.5 seconds to reach 62 mph. It has a range of about 248.5 miles and can recharge to 80 percent in 20 minutes.
38. Chevrolet Aerovette
Chevrolet created the Aerovette concept in the late 1960s as Experimental Project 882, known as XP-882. It featured a mid-engine configuration with a transversely-mounted V8. At first, only two prototypes were made before the program was canceled due to cost and impracticality. One of the prototypes got a second life when DeLorean asked Chevy to clean up the prototype and show it off during the 1970 New York Auto Show. DeLorean worked on the chassis more in 1972, with a new code and a new life for the concept.
37. BMW Turbo
The 1972 BMW Turbo was the very first concept car from the automaker. It featured eye-catching gullwing doors and pop-up headlights and made its debut during the 1972 Paris Motor Show. It could reach 155 mph and only needed 6.6 seconds to reach 62 mph from a stop. It had a mid-mounted 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder for 400 horsepower and rear-wheel drive. This concept was our preview for the M1’s design and was the first turbo road car from the automaker.
36. Holden Hurricane
Straight from the manufacturer itself: “The Holden Hurricane is a two-seat concept car built by Holden in 1969. The Hurricane was one of the most advanced vehicles for its time, with Holdendescribing it as a research vehicle, allowing them to study design trends, propulsion systems and other long range developments”.
35. Honda Sports EV
The Honda Sports EV concept takes the Urban EV concept from the automaker and makes it performance-oriented. It arrived during the Frankfurt Auto Show in late 2017. This concept car is a small hatchback that looks similar to the first Civic. At the time, Honda was clear that this concept car had no specifications or planned range. It simply showed the company’s vision. The automaker did indicate that if the car ever makes production, it would arrive in Japan first.
34. Scania AXL Autonomous Concept
With no cab, not even room for a human – this work truck makes no apologies for its nature of self reliance. We don’t know too much about the specs yet – especially because the technical ones are more important than the analog ones – but we know that it is slated for production. So it will become a reality soon.
33. Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet
The Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Cabriolet is an upgrade over the already impressive Vision 6 coupe concept, offering the convertible version. This auto debuted during the Monterey Car Week in 2017 and it caught the car lovers’ attention from the start. It is a rich blue color with white leather interior, a combination which makes you picture the luxury of a yacht. The vehicle is over 20 feet long with 24-inch wheels that have rose-gold center-locking hubs. The 750-horsepower vehicle is all-electric.
32. Chrysler Atlantic
The Chrysler Atlantic concept car first went on display in 1995. Bob Hubbach designed it with inspiration from the Bugatti Atlantique. The auto’s history actually began with a napkin sketch made by Bob Lutz, the Chrysler President, in 1993. The Atlantic has retro-styling, such as a straight-8 engine made from two four-cylinder engines and an Art Deco interior with matching gauges. The concept has about 360 horsepower and had large wheels for the time. This concept car remains popular today.
31. Toyota GR HV
The Toyota GR HV offers a targa sports car that gets its inspiration from the Toyota 86 but is hybrid-powered. It has a standard automatic transmission, switchable 6-speed manual mode, and new fascia. Toyota never released performance figures for this concept, but we do know that it was both wider and longer than the 86 that it is based on. Experts believe that this car will become a future Toyota, since the concept seemed very production-ready, both inside and out.
30. Maserati Birdcage
The Maserati Birdcage, also known as the Tipo 60 and Tipo 61, was revolutionary for sports car design. Giulio Alfieri, the chief engineer, had limited funding available, requiring innovation. He used about 200 small-section tubes in triangular formations to create a space frame, reinforcing it in high-stress areas. This resulted in a lightweight vehicle with exceptional torsional rigidity. It had independent front suspension and a De Dion rear axle. The Tipo 60 arrived for racing amidst some criticism but was eventually successful.
29. Mini Cooper Rocketman
Mini Cooper showed off the Rocketman concept car in 2011. It featured dual-hinged doors, projection taillights, a fiber-optic Union Jack sitting on the roof, and a trackball on its steering wheel, all of which helped it stand out. It was created for two people with an option for 3+1 with a carbon-fiber space frame to keep it lightweight, resulting in an impressive 80 mpg. Recently, we learned that the Rocketman may actually make it into production in China as an electric car.
28. Pininfarina HK GT
During the 2018 Geneva Auto Show, Pininfarina showed off its Hybrid Kinetic GT. This is the company’s fourth combined effort with Hybrid Kinetic Group. The HK GT features a long illuminated grille, leading to the high-tech headlights. There are traditional lights in the sculpted rare, which is also where you will find a squared back window and sleep spoiler lip. This concept is a 2+2 with gullwing doors and a glowing interior, including a floating dash. The white seats have orange and gray stitching.
27. Buick Avista
The Buick Avista concept car appeared in 2016 as a concept coupe that easily turned heads. Since its debut, the Avista has not entered production, but it has clearly inspired many recent Buicks, with the fascia being featured on several production models. This 2+2 grand tourer has a 400-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 and rear-wheel drive. At its debut, Buick had not had a rear-wheel-drive vehicle in years. The Avista has an 8-speed automatic and features Magnetic Ride Control from GM.
26. Mazda RX-Vision
The Mazda RX-Vision shows off what Mazda believes rotary-powered sports cars will look like in the future. It appeared back in 2015 and continues to appeal to enthusiasts, despite the lack of potential production. It uses the SKYACTIV-R engine, which has rotors and otherwise limited details. In terms of design, the concept looks like a grand tourer with sports car influences. It is flowing and the interior is minimalistic. You should not expect to see a production version of this concept anytime soon as Mazda is clear that it is not working on mass-produced rotaries.
25. Maybach Exelero
The Maybach Exelero was a concept sports car that Stola made as part of a collaboration with DaimlerChrysler. This high-performance auto was a one-off and debuted in 2005 at Berlin’s Tempodrom. It runs on a twin-turbocharged V12 engine that Maybach made to have a 9.2:1 compression ratio, 690 horsepower, and 752 pound-feet of torque. It can reach 218 mph and just needs 4.4 seconds to reach 62 mph. It has 23-inch wheels, vented disc brakes, ABS, and materials like glossy black carbon fiber, leather, neoprene, and aluminum.
24. Audi Avus
The Audi Avus, also known as the Avus Quattro, is a concept supercar that arrived at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1991. It featured a lightweight, safe aluminum space frame. This was just the second opportunity to showcase the company’s new aluminum architecture. The Avus runs on a 6.0-liter W12 engine with 502 horsepower, although the version at the auto show had a precision dummy. The concept also has three lockable differentials and rear-wheel steering. You can see it in Audi’s museum in Germany.
23. Volvo Tundra
Bertone designed and built the Volvo Tundra concept in 1979. Bertone’s instructions were to start with the Volvo 343 and create “something delicious.” The Tundra had a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine producing 70 horsepower and a digital speedometer that was modern for its time. The design was an evolution of the previous Reliant FW11 prototype, a five-door. Volvo thought the design was too modern, which would not allow for sales. Instead, Bertone modified the concept slightly and sold it to Citroen, leading to the Citroen BX.
22. Toyota S-FR
The Toyota S-FR is one of the older concepts on this list, debuting in late 2015, but it continues to get attention. The name indicates “Small, Front-Engine, Rear-Drive.” It is a compact sports coupe that is entry-level. A few years ago, there were rumors that it would make it to production, but those proved fruitless. Experts at the time indicated that it had a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder for 130 horsepower. Many enthusiasts are still disappointed that the S-FR does not seem to have a future in production.
21. Cadillac Sixteen
The Cadillac Sixteen is a concept car that Cadillac debuted in 2003. It includes a proprietary-developed 13.6-liter V16 engine with 32 valves. This engine is exclusive to the concept vehicle and works with a 4-speed automatic transmission with electric controls and rear-wheel drive. The Displacement on Demand tech could shut down eight or twelve cylinders to conserve efficiency. The engine generated at least 1,000 bhp and 1,000 pound-feet without forced induction. This concept did not ever enter production, but the 2008 Cadillac CTS and other autos bore its design language.
20. Nissan IDx
Nissan showed off its IDx concept car during the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. The auto gets inspiration from the Datsun 510 and is Nissan’s participation in the craze of RWD tuners. The concept is designed to appeal to racing gamers and younger buyers. This auto is also called the IDx Freeflow and there is also a NISMO version. The NISMO concept uses a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder from the Juke NISMO. The Nissan IDx was well-received, leading to many hoping it will make it to production.
19. Lincoln Continental
The Lincoln Continental Concept is a relatively recent concept from the automaker, offering quiet luxury in a full-size sedan that is all-new and should be arriving soon. The exterior has a sophisticated silhouette and a one-piece grille with a Lincoln Star graphic repeating. There are E-latch door handles for discreteness and quiet entry, plus Approach Detection that lights as you approach. It runs on a new 3.0-liter V6 EcoBoost and has Lincoln Drive Control so you can choose from three driving modes.
18. Bugatti Galibier
The Bugatti Galibier, also known as the 16C Galibier, was going to be Bugatti’s second model, joining the Veyron. This concept arrived in 2009 at an invitation-only event. It was announced as the most powerful, elegant, and exclusive four-door in the world. It featured a two-tone paint scheme, an elegant butterfly hood with electrical openings to show off the engine, and an opulent interior with leather. It also had a split-window hatchback and an 8.0-liter twin-supercharged W16 engine with undisclosed performance.
17. Volkswagen W12 Nardo
The Volkswagen W12 Nardo, also called the Volkswagen W12 Coupe, began in 1997. The car is commonly found in multiple racing games despite its concept status. The vehicle was created based on the request to create a sports car that could accommodate a mid-placed 12-cylinder engine and Syncro four-wheel drive. The Nardo was the 2001 incarnation, appearing in bright orange at the Tokyo Motor Show. It had 591 bhp and 458 pound-feet, with a zero-to-62 mph time of 3.5 seconds and top speed of 221.8 mph.
16. Subaru F-624 Estremo
Subaru built the F-624 Estremo as a concept car in 1987. It was a four-door vehicle with a unique, bubbly shape. It featured full-time four-wheel drive, a continuously variable transmission, 4ws, and continuously variable front/rear torque split. It had an electropneumatic suspension, electric variable-assist steering without a hydraulic pump, and ABS brakes. The 2.4-liter twin-turbocharged engine was a unique variation of the Subaru 2.7-liter flat-6 found in production models. Its appearance is a clear vision of what we expected from the future of automobiles in the 1980s.
15. Mitsubishi Concept-RA
The Mitsubishi Concept-RA was revealed in 2008 during the North American International Auto Show. The auto features an aluminum space frame chassis. The 2.2-liter clean-diesel engine under the hood produces 310 pound-feet and 201 horsepower. It also features a dual-clutch automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The auto has a sleek plastic-resin body and features like the Active Steering tech unique to Mitsubishi. It also features Super-All Wheel Control, which includes active yaw control, active stability control, and an active center differential.
14. Saleen S5S Raptor
Saleen showed off its S5S Raptor concept car during the New York International Auto Show in 2008. The ASC design studio created it in 2007 and it features a 5.0-liter supercharged Saleen engine with 650 horsepower. This engine lets it reach 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds and finish a quarter-mile in 10.9 seconds. The concept is powered by ethanol. This is one concept that was expected to reach production and has since appeared in some sports-car-oriented video games.
13. Lamborghini Estoque
The Lamborghini Estoque concept car was created to offer drivability and high-performance at the same time. This four-door supercar considers itself a practical GT and a top-class super sports car. It has oversized wheels, a wide track, a long wheelbase, and a low silhouette to show off its performance specs. It is a mid-engine auto with two seats and four doors. It debuted during the 2008 Paris Motor Show and was Lamborghini’s first front-engine auto since the LM002 and had a 5.2-liter V10.
12. TOYOTA KIKAI
The TOYOTA KIKAI made its debut in Europe at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show with the goal of celebrating, reinforcing, and exploring machines’ fundamental appeal. It is unique in that it shows off the machinery that is typically hidden in an auto’s bodywork. You can see everything, including the full hybrid powertrain with its 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and electric motor. As a Toyota hybrid, it has easy handling, comfort, and silent running. There are sliding doors and three seats inside.
11. Dome Zero
The Dome Zero concept came from DOME Co. Ltd and this prototype sports car was shown off in 1978 at the Geneva Auto Show. Minoru Hayashi started the Dome project in 1975, aiming to create sports cars based on auto racing knowledge. The Zero would be the first production auto, with limited sales in Japan. This goal was never achieved as the regulatory bodies never approved it. It was a two-door auto with a 2.8-liter Nissan I6 engine and a 5-speed manual transmission.
10. Italdesign Alfa Romeo Scighera
The Italdesign Alfa Romeo Scighera is a futuristic concept car from Italdesign in Turin, Italy. The design was led by Fabrizio Giugiaro in 1997. The name of the concepts translates to “mist.” The idea behind the Scighera was to create a racecar that let people drive on the road. It combined classic and modern design elements, including Formula One inspiration. Its all-aluminum body is based on the 164 and features aluminum-carbon-fiber composite. The auto runs on a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 400 horsepower and 327 pound-feet.
9. Jaguar C-X75
The Jaguar C-X75 is a concept car that Jaguar created in a partnership with Williams F1, a Formula One team. This hybrid-electric seats two and debuted during the Paris Motor Show in 2010. It has four YASA electric motors, producing a combined 778 horsepower. The batteries get their charge from a pair of diesel-fed micro-gas turbines. A limited production of this concept was announced in 2011 but canceled the following year. There were still five developmental prototypes, including one in a James Bond film.
8. Audi Quattro
Audi debuted its Quattro concept vehicle at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The concept was designed to honor the original Audi Quattro’s 30th anniversary. The new Quattro concept was based on the Audi RS5 with a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine that was modified and the automaker’s sixth-generation Quattro transmission. Reports indicated a potential limited production run, but that never materialized. You can, however, find parts of the concept’s design language in production versions of the Audi R8 and Audi TT. Its instrument cluster and infotainment also turned into the virtual cockpit system.
7. Lotus Eterne
The Lotus Eterne was among the five concept vehicles the automaker showed off during the Paris Motor Show in 2010. This four-door luxury saloon was supposed to appear similar to a stretched Elite. It ran on a 5.0-liter V8 with 620 horsepower. This “hybrid sports sedan” was created to compete with the Aston Martin Rapide and the Porsche Panamera. The concept did not feature an interior, with Lotus instead blacking out the windows. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition due to internal problems with the company.
6. Ford Shelby GR-1
The Ford Shelby GR-1 is a concept car of a high-performance nature. It first appeared in the form of a clay model at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The fully-functional concept appeared at the North American International Auto Show the next year. This concept has clear inspiration from the Shelby Daytona. It borrows the running gear and chassis from the Shelby Cobra Concept and features an all-aluminum 6.4-liter V10 engine. Its official rating is for 605 horsepower and 501 pound-feet. Control comes via a 6-speed manual.
5. Mercedes Benz C111
The Mercedes-Benz C111 concept was actually part of the experimental autos that the automaker made from the 1960s to the 1970s. C11 platform was the company’s testbed during this time, letting it test Wankel engines, diesel engines, turbochargers, and more. The first C111 arrived in 1969 with a mid-mounted three-rotor fuel-injected Wankel engine and fiberglass body shell. The second version was the next year with a four-rotor engine that produced 350 horsepower and could reach 186 mph. From there, the company paired it with diesel engines.
4. Ferrari Mythos
The Ferrari Mythos concept car features a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive. The Testarossa’s mechanical underpinnings serve as this concept’s basis. Pininfarina designed the concept with Ferrari developing it. The auto appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1989. Its 4.9-liter Ferrari flat-12 engine came from the Testarossa, producing 261 pound-feet and 390 horsepower. It used a 5-speed manual, also from the Testarossa, but a helical coil suspension system. The top speed was likely around 180 mph but that is unconfirmed.
3. Dodge M4S
The Dodge M4S is a high-performance sports coupe that Dodge created in 1981 to demonstrate the technology. Bob Ackerman, the then-current design chief of the company, designed it. The name describes the auto, a “Midengine, 4 cylinder, Sport” car. Dodge wanted to turn the M4S into a fully-functional prototype. The drag coefficient was an impressive 0.236. The M4S rose to fame when it appeared in the 1986 movie The Wraith. Testing confirmed a top speed at 194.8 mph and a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.1 seconds.
2. Cadillac Ciel
The automaker refers to the Cadillac Ciel as a modern version of the four-seat convertibles from its past, offering open-air American luxury. It has a carefully crafted silhouette designed to be irresistible. The interior offers a high level of connectivity and privacy. It features cut-and-sewn leather seating and Olive wood grain that was handpicked and kiln-dried. The instrument panel is brushed aluminum. This hybrid electric first debuted during the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Its 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 produces 425 horsepower along with a hybrid system.
1. Saab Aero-X
Saab built the Aero-X concept, unveiling it during the 2006 Salon International de l’Auto. It runs on a 2.8-liter turbocharged V6 that uses pure ethanol. This engine produces 400 horsepower for a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 158 mph. The 7-speed manual transmission features paddle shifters and there is four-wheel drive. The windscreen and doors connect, so the auto has a cockpit canopy. The result is 180-degree views for the driver. Despite the enthusiasm, this concept is unlikely to enter production anytime soon.
Time will tell if your favorite concept car becomes a reality.