Our Two Cents: What concept car do you wish made production?

There are times when a concept car from a major automaker hits the auto show circuit, grabs you by your soul, and refuses to let go. It all started with Buick’s Y-job, and that car somehow naturally, organically turned into the Holden Efijy (above), a concept car that’s part Y-job, part custom hot-rod, and part rolling tribute to the brand’s storied past. It’s hard to fault this concept, except for the singular fact it never made production after its unveiling in 2005.

So it should come as no surprise that I wanted to ask the staff here at Hagerty Media about their favorite concept car, one that they wished came to production. Let’s see what cars are on our wish list.

Time for turbine

chrysler turbine car
Prestone Rose/Hagerty Drivers Foundation

“It’s gotta be the Chrysler Turbine car! Such a futuristic concept for the time that seemed so close yet so far from being a mass production reality.” — Greg Ingold

Avus for us?


The Audi Avus quattro from 1991. Only slightly complex with its all-wheel-drive, triple-locking differentials, rear steering, and a mid-mounted W-12. And so, so shiny—it was like a funhouse mirror on wheels. — Stefan Lombard

This is a great one, because I have a die-cast of this model and it absolutely takes your breath away when it is in your hand. — Sajeev Mehta

The forgotten Ford GT

Ford GT90 front

“The 1990 Ford GT90! I still support the notion of Ford making this supercar.” — Matt Tuccillo

A UUV for you and me?

custom off-road overland van build

“I don’t know if this qualifies as a concept car, but Toyota dropped a Sienna on a lifted Tacoma chassis several years ago and called the UUV, the Ultimate Utility Vehicle. I honestly don’t know why Toyota, Subaru, Ford, etc. wouldn’t just go ahead and make something like this.

Minivan the WORLD. Put dual sliding doors on EVERYTHING.

Could you imagine a Toyota Sienna TRD Pro? Or a Ford Aerostar Raptor? The world NEEDS factory off-road minivans!” — Ben Woodworth

Marry me, Ben. — Anonymous co-worker

An Avista cruiser?

2016 Buick Avista Concept

“Part of me wants to say 2003 Cadillac Sixteen, because it’s so out there and ambitious. But instead I’m going to say the 2016 Buick Avista, because it was so much more realistic and could have been built on the Alpha platform to give Buick a much-needed shot in the arm. The Cadillac ATS-V (2016–19) should have had the LT1, while the twin-turbo V-6 could have made the Avista into a Grand National.” — Brandan Gillogly

Selections for a Need for Speed 

bmw concept car front
BMW Group

There are tons of good ones from Need For Speed II SE: Ford GT90, Italdesign Cala, Ford Indigo, and the BMW Nazca C2. — Chris Stark

The Microbus for us

vw microbus concept

One of the biggest missed opportunities of my career was, I think, the 2001 debut of the Volkswagen Microbus at the Detroit Auto Show. VW needed a product that would generate some excitement, and totally missed the boat by not building that Microbus, which looks suspiciously like the ID. Buzz that we met decades later. It was a big, big mistake to blow an opportunity to help rejuvenate the sagging minivan market. The Microbus was the star of the Detroit show, which should have told VW something.

But no, instead we got the Routan. — Steven Cole Smith

Top Cat and a fiberglass Poncho?

Damn, I love Cougars, and the El Gato woulda been the sleeker, speedier version of Mercury’s pony car. That fastback design with a nose that would make GTO fanatics weep—hot dog! Er, cat.

I know you said to pick one concept, Sajeev, but it’s super fun to imagine Pontiac sharing a piece of the Corvette pie with the Banshee (XP-833). What would the world look like today? Would Pontiac still be alive and kickin’?” — Cameron Neveu

Serve us up a CERV

1964 CERV II
1964 CERV II Brandan Gillogly

CERV-II. Aside from looking like a car in Speed Racer, imagine what Corvette would be up to now if a production mid-engine, AWD layout debuted in the ’60s instead of 2023.” — Eddy Eckart

The forgotten snake?

1997 Dodge Copperhead

I wish there was some deep, journalistic/economic reasoning behind this choice, but there’s not. The 1997 Dodge Copperhead was the first scale-model car that I was gifted as a 5-year-old. I spent hours looking at the strange front end and those Viper-esque tail lamps, and convinced myself that such a car was a good idea. It almost certainly wasn’t, but to see one cruising around today would make 5-year-old Nate very, very happy.” — Nathan Petroelje

The coolest E-bike?


E-bike concept honda

“Long before electric motorcycles were being taken seriously, Honda put the concept into enthusiasts’ minds with the RC-E. The design called back to the seemingly timeless flowy design of ’60s race bikes and even incorporated the Honda Racing Corporation red/yellow/silver color scheme. With modern battery and motor tech, this looks like it would be a really fun bike to ride.” — Kyle Smith

This car coulda roamed your town

2002 Lincoln Continental Concept
2002 Lincoln Continental Concept Lincoln

I know I am a creature of habit when it comes to my tastes in cars, but the fact that the redesigned Lincoln Town Car (2003) didn’t become the production version of this 2002 Lincoln Continental Concept is beyond tragic. Imagine this as your next cab in Manhattan, or a limo for prom. Or, well, perhaps something to aspire to when your grandparents want to sell their 2004 Town Car?

2008 Lincoln Town Car: Signature Limited
2008 Lincoln Town Car: Signature Limited. © 2007 Ford Motor Company

No matter, because this re-design of the 2003 Town Car was likely to come to fruition, according to a book (probably this one) I read by an industry insider. But it was jettisoned in a last-minute effort to cut costs, so those pricey rear-hinged doors never stood a chance. Or perhaps it was never meant to be, for the same reason the Retro Thunderbird rotted on the vine: Ford had no money to make the Continental Concept a reality, and the company likely regretted making it in the first place.” — Sajeev Mehta




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    Now let wow down here a bit. Before we get to wishing show cars into production let get a bit real about this.

    Many in the 80’s were upset that many show cars failed to make production. The same in the 90’s and then some began to find ways to being built. Then what happened? We found out why Show Cars are not made into production cars.

    Lets take look.

    How about the Viper. Hot, Noisy, no roll up windows or solid roof.

    The SSR. Cool looing truck and it was little changed. But you had to open the doors to adjust the seats and the chassis flexed like a rubber band.

    The Camaro went to production with few changed. This made for an odd interior that was redesigned. Also blind spots many complained about.

    Aztec Need i say more.

    Prowler good idea just never made it to what it should have been.

    The Turbine car was cool but it used tons of fuel and just was not practical. Buy a T Bird as it was designed by the same guy.

    Most of the cars listed above would have faired poorly if built. Small limited market segments and or just cars not designed for real people

    The Buick was the closest but even it would have needed changes as it sat too low on too large of wheels.

    The only car that I can think of that was a prototype but not a show car that may have done well was the DOJC V6 Fiero GT 1989. The car was ready for production when it was killed. Few ever saw it.

    But it did live on with us. the styling was lifted for the 4th gen F body, Dash panel went in to the Camaro and Firebird untouched. The interior trim found a way into the C5 Corvette as did many of the ideas of space frame. The C5 lead designer came from the Fiero as did the interior designer.

    We all must remember show cars are just that show cars. They are cool low and neat but much of that in real life is often a compromise.

    The low roofs we complain about not getting are cool but even the Chopped Merc owner gets tired of hitting his head at times.

    Well now, THERE’S a bucket of ice cold water thrown on the question if I ever saw one. So Sajeev, do you feel a bit like a coach on the sidelines getting doused for LOSING the game? 😂

    One (or the only one?) of them went up for auction around 2017, because it was so popular I assume it will be in good hands with whomever won it. This isn’t one of those forgotten concepts that sells for under $20,000 after 20 years to forget them.

    Just a cold bucket of reality. Too many people today have a hard time depressing fantasy from reality.

    Cars have to live and survive in the real world with a number of different owners.

    It is great to dream but there is a point you need to face reality.

    Few show cars can even roll under their own power let alone hold up under private ownership.

    Hmm that may be why they call em show cars.

    I think you’re missing a key point here, hyperV6. The question is actually about “concept cars”, not “show cars”, which are really separate meanings, no? The word “concept” indicates to me that this is “something for the public to view that is introducing ideas and designs that we are floating as potential things that will make it into our future production vehicles”. That’s not really fantasy, is it? The term “show car” is generally understood to mean ‘this is something fun/radical/silly/highly-engineered for you to look at” – in other words, fantasy.

    Actually Concept and show cars are the same thing. It is advanced thinking and presentation of future thinking ideas.

    These cars are exaggerated and shown as a designer conceived it in his head.

    These cars do not adhere to real world physics and laws.

    As I pointed out few of these cars make production, those who did often had to have many changes.

    We did see some of the concept cars or show cars make production closer to the concept and many were disappointed that they held many flaws.

    It used to be at Motorama the public understood these were not production cars though the 53 Vette did make production. They were a peak at styling and features more than cars.

    Today so many people see these cars and mistake them as production able cars and they just were never going to make the cut.

    It is the public that just don’t understand reality and dream cars.

    The list above only a couple of these could have even been considered even practical to try to produce physically or financially.

    Sorry I’m just a realist.

    Who wrote elsewhere, ” if you are going to dream dream big”, which I submit is all that Sajeev asked us to do. I read and re-read his column, and nowhere did he ask anyone to start a gofundme to start a pie-in-the-sky automobile production facility. Realism is fine, but from time-to-time, it’s okay to engage in a little fantasy (ask Jiminy Cricket).

    Look I seen years of people begging for concepts to go production.

    Then when one is put in production it falls short of their expectations as they can’t be built as shown or if they did it would be a mess of a car.

    As you say dream that is what they are dream cars nothing more. But some people need to wake up and stop complaining about these cars not being as shown or that there is just no business case for them.

    It is ok to dream but keep it real.

    So you are convinced that all the people (besides you) who responded to this request for a “wish” have become completely detached from reality.
    Sir, no offense, but I fear that you spring may be a le-e-e-tle too tightly wound.

    Now no where at no time did I say all.

    But on the web there is a segment of folks that can not distinguish between concept and product capable designs.

    In decades past it was easy as Ford would show a six wheel Nuclear powered car.

    But today many have shown some cars like a Sixteen that really never had a chance at production.

    Then when a mfg tries to build a concept into a street production car due to demand it fails because it was never really something considered for the road like the SSR.

    I just tire of seeing the same cycle repeat itself over and over.

    My point is keep the wishes real.

    Sorry. Hypery6 is right. Easy to exercise imagination; REALLY hard to do so and generate revenue. There’s a BIG difference between just entertainment and innovative genius. many of these were answers to questions no one was asking.

    So now, apparently, the word “wish” stands for:
    W – write a business case for your stupid thought
    I – instigate action to finance your losing project
    S – start building a factory and buying raw materials to build this thing that’ll never work
    H – hurtle yourself onto your sword when your nonsensical dreaming proves to be unworkable and ruins you life

    The Avista concept looks a more like a Maserati MC20 to me when I squint a bit.

    Not that’s a bad thing, sense we all know that most Buick’s are a whole lot more reliable than a Maserati is,,For Sure! LOL
    At least the one I take care of in a large collection isn’t all that reliable with < 30K and several trips back to the dealership. It's pretty and fun to drive , but problematic at times.

    What a “Debbie Downer” sourpuss justification for killing some swell idea cars. A visit to current dealers and traditional annual new car shows is really boring and vanilla now. Everything has morphed into SUVs and trucks. Yawn. GM’s Bill Mitchell might have been a wacky guy, but he sure knew how to spur some of GM’s most beautiful and and iconic designs into production. We need more such visionaries to give cars pizzazz to once again awaken the dormant American car lust . Wouldn’t building beautiful cars be just as easy as building dull and ugly cars on purpose?

    Really? The best part of the Viper was the lack of windows and the roof. Later Vipers were better, with the last version being a mature machine capable of hot lapping Willow Springs, and then driving home, in cool A/C comfort. Sometimes, the show cars grow up. And lets not forget the Chrysler Crossfire. Actually a pretty nice car, based on a Mercedes SLK platform. Fun with the supercharged engine. Nicely built.
    Some of the other stuff was just silly. The SSR? What was that?
    Just about every car starts out as a show car, or a concept, and grows from there. How the car gets developed really depends on the team doing the production car.
    If you want to compare these show cars to production cars, well, I suspect that you would not be interested in a Corvette, Miata, Boxter, Alfa 4C, Lotus Elise, just about every Ferrari… and all those cool rally homologation specials like the Renault R5Turbo, Peugeot 205/16, and the Audi Quattro Sport. None are really that “practical” nor are they perfect, but they are all fun to drive, and have a willing bunch of buyers.

    Low roof or not, that Holden STILL yanks my ya ya ! Even though the rear end treatment might just be a bit over the top and that part could have been toned down just a bit.

    It never bothered me all that much driving my chopped 49 Merc around and the smiles per miles I’d get , well outweighed the occasional head bumping . I miss that ride dearly and in hind site she’s the woman that got away and I still “pine” for it, 40 years later . I wish I knew what ever happened to it ?

    Car club buddy of mine has a first gen Viper. No real top, boiling hot foot well, side dump exhaust just behind your ear, log truck suspension.
    Attracts attention like a Kardashian on meth, sounds like Godzilla’s John Deere, moves as if shot out of a cannon and brakes like you tossed out the anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald. Everything about it is way overboard. That was the point. It was an exercise in excess, a middle finger to the ‘Vette, Ferrari, Porsche aficionados, a sledge hammer against rapiers and katanas. The only equivalent is the newer Nissan GT-R, a heavy handed mechanical/analog answer to questions asked by those of us who enjoy involvement in the driving experience. I’ve been privileged and blessed to be allowed to drive both, although they exist far outside of my income stream. Don’t knock something you haven’t tried, ‘k?

    The turbine car got similar fuel economy to other cars in it’s class. Add to that, it would run on anything that would burn. Back in the day they couldn’t use gasoline because the lead would plate out on the turbine blades. Since the introduction of lead free gasoline and engine management technology, the turbine would, today, run quite nicely on gasoline, as well as diesel, biofuel, E85 or anything else available at the pump. The only true flex-fuel power plant. Today’s more precise fuel management systems would probably also result in increased fuel economy and lower emissions.

    BTW, the Chrysler turbine car DID get built. 55 units were produced and placed on the nations highways for real world consumer testing.

    If I had the choice, the ME-4/12. So much better than what the SLR became, imo.
    But, that Avista is definitely a close second.

    I always liked the Plymouth XNR from 1960. At the time of immense twin tailfins, this car dared to place just ONE behind the driver – near heresy for a Detroit builder in that era. By today’s standards, it’s just weird looking, but in 1960, this was what was thought to be a “space-age” look and was kind of like the show cars of Big Daddy that would rock the circuit just a bit later.

    Jaguar’s original F-Type concept and the Cadillac Cien jump to mind. Also the Lamborghini Asterion. All 3 were even more gorgeous in person.

    Sanjeev I know you get it but many really have no clue.

    Many call out the Cadillac 16. But the trouble was it was not really a real car. It hardly could roll from the truck to show ground. I watched it.

    That is not to say a similar V8 could have been styled that way. But it would not have been the show car.

    The cars that fair the best are production cars turned into show cars a 90% of them are production ready.

    My favorite the Solstice and Sky were great show cars but made not so great street cars.

    In 53’ when the Corvette came out, they also did a concept of a Corvette wagon. It was a big hit at the show. So Chevy made it, well half of it. They took the roof and put it on the Bel Air and called it the Nomad. One of the coolest looking cars of the fifties.

    That Holden concept holds up –late 40s GM vibe but not at the same time. And it looks good.

    The Volt 2-door coupe concept had multiple members of my family excited (not caring that it was EV) and then they make it… not really look like the concept.

    The one that saddens me most is the Nissan iDX concept cars (two versions with quite different flavor) that could have, should have been a modern 510. The floating roof (glass in C pillar) isn’t my favourite detail, but a rwd 2door subcompact coupe with some boxy lines –yes please.

    If I ruled the world (or at least Stellantis), I would bring back the Turbine car today as a hybrid or EV and retain the name, as much electricity is indeed created by turbines nowadays.

    My dad drove Chrysler’s turbine powered car. He wasn’t a hot rodder but knew and appreciated performance. We had enjoyed Granatelli’s foray into Indy turbines but he was very disappointed in the Chrysler. “No accelloration” was his diagnosis. Didn’t buy one.

    I would say the Chrysler Turbine. Still looks good today, and with improved technology and materials, maybe the turbine could work. Will see if Jay Leno gets his running again.
    My second choice is the Aston Martin Bulldog

    The Buick Avista was on my list. Glad to see it made Hagerty’s. The Lincoln concept shown here was also a contender. Too bad when Ford actually made the new Lincoln, it did not have the physical presence held by a Bentley or a Rolls. Trying to make it the size of a BMW 7 series was its downfall IMO.

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