June 26, 2017
MOST CONCEPTS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN IDEAS
… concept cars that (of course!) never saw production
by Jim Corbran
I don’t know about you, but when I attend a large, annual auto show I always nose around to see if there are any concept cars on the floor.
My dictionary tells me that the word concept means “…an abstract idea; a general notion.” Back in my younger days I used to get upset when concept/show cars were never put into production. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see a 1956 Nash Rambler Palm Beach, or a 1963 Ford Allegro parked in Mom & Dad’s driveway? But these cars, attractive as they were, were for the most part styling exercises which let the designers go to town often on impractical-to-produce (never mind sell) automobiles.
Look at the Ford Allegro, and you can see how it influenced the first Mustangs with the long hood/short deck design, as well as the single headlights set outboard of a deep-set grille which protruded past it.
Even more interesting, and less likely to see the light of day, was the 1956 Nash Rambler Palm Beach. This car actually appears to be a styling exercise by the Italian designer Pininfarina, who was under contract to Nash. While it might have brought some gawkers into Rambler showrooms, it was so far removed from the the normal Nash/Rambler audience that it can be thought of as nothing more than a show car, one which have hopefully would brought some fresh faces to the Nash/Rambler turntables making the rounds of the auto shows.
Modern day manufacturers are still playing the same games.
In 1981 Ford was showing the Probe III concept. Look closely (past its Citroënishness) and see the rear end of what eventually was sold in the US as the Merkur XR4Ti (badged in Europe as a Ford Sierra). Ford also ended up using the Probe name for a four-seat sporty car which at one time was destined to be the replacement for the Mustang.
Twenty years later, BMW unveiled its X Coupé, which it called a “source of creative inspiration.” It looks more to me like the BMW styling department was trying to get their money’s worth out of a new set of French Curves. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s so unBMW-like (except for the grille) that it makes me wonder how this one got as far as it did. Some of the lines did manage to make it to production cars like the Z-series roadsters, but they were largely panned by the automotive press. Ugh, I say.
I was, however, really hoping that Volkswagen’s XL1 of 2013 was going to production. Well, it kind of did, as VW okayed a limited run of 250 of the 283-mpg hybrid gullwing-doored two passenger cars, with a sticker price of about $120,000 and no planned North American distribution. VW’s UK web page still lists the XL1 under the “future models” banner, so I’m assuming the 250 cars haven’t been built or sold yet. Too bad, because this is the car of the future… NOW!
The post “MOST CONCEPTS ARE NOTHING MORE THAN IDEAS
… concept cars that (of course!) never saw production”
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