A wonderful concept car that was never built is a sad thing. There have been a few of those in recent times, of all shapes and sizes; each is a loss to car culture. The same goes when you look back through the history books.
Of course, sometimes the reason why a car didn’t make the street is as obvious as a zebra dressed in pink tights. A car powered by a gas turbine and electric motors was never likely to get past the money-men, for a start, let alone a small family car with a W12 and less ground clearance than roadkill. But both make it onto our shortlist of concepts that we wish were made real.
We can’t argue against the fact that Maserati has been doing what it needs to in order to turn a profit, but the constant delays to the Alfieri’s planned birth – and the fact that its core concept keeps changing – suggests that this flagship sports car might end up being something totally different, if it ever gets built at all.
The original 2014 concept blew us away with its stunning Italian lines. It was like a natural quantum leap for the GranTurismo, with a 4.7-litre Ferrari-based V8 and a short wheelbase for agility. Production was then knocked back from 2016 to 2020, while the engine lost two cylinders, gained turbos and even added all-wheel drive. The latest news suggests a 2022 launch… and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
If we called the C-X75 the Sinclair C5 of its generation, you’d probably think we’d gone mad. But this four-motor concept supercar, which used a pair of compact, diesel-fed turbines to provide surprisingly efficient charge to the batteries, was – and still is – way ahead of its time.
The first working concept arrived with 778bhp at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. People lost their minds over it and it so, so nearly made production, with an estimated retail price of £900,000. Some 250 were going to be built but time ran out as Jaguar lost confidence that it could sell them all. That was a mistake, looking at how positive the test mule reviews were and how much rival exotic cars have since been sold for. This was, we think, a missed opportunity.
Mercedes has never been very keen on mid-engined cars. The closest it tends to get are front-mid-mounted V8s and V6s in its long-nosed brutes fettled by AMG. It has dabbled in mid-engined concepts a few times, though, and our favourite is the C112.
Built to follow on from the C111 series of wildly differing wedge-shaped prototypes in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a more focused spin-off from Mercedes’ top-level motorsport activities. You’ll notice it looks a bit like a Le Mans racer of the era. It had a central chassis weighing just 59kg, gullwing doors and a 6.0-litre naturally-aspirated V12 in the middle with 402bhp. For 1991, it was ballistic, but it was never built.
When this stunner emerged last year in the company of its smaller, stubbier Urban EV cousin, it was the latter that took most of the love and it’s the latter that is being rushed through to the production stage.
That leaves the Sports EV, a natural electrically-driven MX-5 and GT86 rival, waiting in the wings. There isn’t a bad angle anywhere on it. Provided Honda leaves it just as it is, its showroom appeal will kick more or less anything else compact and sporty right out of the park. We keep hoping that this one will be a reality eventually.
Probably the craziest inclusion on this list is a Volkswagen Golf. Not just any old shopping-spec Golf, though. This was a GTI with the back seats removed and a whacking great W12 where they used to be, linked to the rear wheels.
The handling was never really set up on this one-off 641bhp monster, so it drove like death’s cold hand on your shoulder. Think ‘phase one Clio V6’ but much, much nastier. It also used the dim-witted automatic gearbox from the Phaeton super-saloon and was much the worse for it. Still, if all the kinks were ironed out, VW-style, then this concept could have made an incredible production car.
This one might – might – end up being made, but there’s no sign of it yet. What a looker; rippling muscles and purposeful bulges in all the right places. It screams ‘fast estate’ louder than anything this side of an Audi RS 6. We love the bonnet scoop, too.
If a next-generation hybrid WRX STI arrives and sells well for the first time in a long time, this rapid wagon could follow. Measuring a reasonable 4.78 metres long it’s nice and compact, but practical enough to cope with everyday family life. Pray to whatever god you believe in that it happens, and brings at least 300bhp with it.
It would be a good list of concepts without a weirdly-named Japanese effort. The ‘Toybox Joy’ Cruiser (no, really) slipped under the radar at 2017’s Tokyo Motor Show, sketched to combine the muscular, overbearing front end of an American SUV with the practicality and space of a people-carrier or minivan.
It’s a proper lifestyle machine, with neat touches like passenger seats that fold totally flat to allow all sorts of huge items to slot straight in. Toyota said that even a three-metre surfboard would slide in, let alone bikes. We can’t see the TJ ever being made, but we’d love it to be: it’s utilitarian in a way that most supposed SUVs could never be.