We love motor shows. Not just because of the booth babes, but because of the cars, remember. And during all good motor shows, there are always a good number of concept cars to be seen. Most of them are wild – too wild in fact and never make it to production. But then again, a large majority are green lit and some even retain a lot of the quirky design cues of the prototypes. There have been some unforgettable concepts that were destined for greatness from the very beginning and then there were those that should never have seen the light of day. In fact there have been so many good, bad and ugly concepts but we’ve whittled it down to our 12 favourites that have long since been forgotten…
1: 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Manta Ray
Bill Mitchell redesigned his Mako Shark and called it the Manta Ray. He really loved deep sea fishing… It had a dramatically pointed nose, a fastback roof and a power-deployed rear spoiler. This was one of Bill’s favourite cars for his own personal transportation. You couldn’t complain about the 430bhp V8. And you’ve got to love its gun slit vertical window.
2: 2012 Denza NEV
It was at the 2012 Beijing motor show where Denza revealed its fully-electric family hauler. The company, a joint venture between Daimler and BYD, called the car the NEV – which stood for New Electric Vehicle. That was er, imaginative…
3: 1962 Mustang Roadster
Dan Gurney introduced this one at the 1962 US Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, and it sure created a buzz what with its rear-mounted V4 engine. It was the most unlikely of Fords at the time. Then in 1964, the Mustang name appeared on a sporty coupe which yep, created more buzz…
4: 1955 Lincoln Futura
Legendary car customizer George Barris bought the Futura from Ford for $1 in 1966 while working on the Batman TV show. If that sounds like a bargain, it was; the experimental concept cost $250,000 to make in Italy a decade earlier and it was created so buyers could see the future of American cars. But don’t be too impressed – the Futura really only flaunted its new power-steering and power brakes...
5: 1955 Chrysler Falcon
When Virgil Exner quit Studebaker in the late Forties, he went to Chrysler and with his design skill and the craftsmanship of Italy's Ghia Coachworks, they came up with the Falcon. It was about the same size as the Thunderbird and the Corvette and many reckon this was one of Exner’s best works.
6: 1969 Buick Century Cruiser
It was as comfortable as your living room. No wait, it was your living room; it had a pull-out refrigerator, a TV and a table! It could seat four adults in the semi-reclining, swivelling contoured seats too. What’s more, you could insert a programmable card into a slot and the car would drive to the destination by itself. Hmm, this was almost 50 years ago. Autonomous cars really should be the norm by now…
7: 2001 Nissan Kino
This was a compact minivan with six independent seats that were arranged in three rows. It had three doors on the driver’s side and two on the passenger’s side. No, the designer team were not drunk. But they might have been angry about something – just look at the Kino’s aggressive little face!
8: 2009 Bugatti 16C Galibier
They called it the ‘most exclusive, elegant and powerful four door automobile in the world’ back then. It was named after a Type 57 four door and Alpine mountain road. It had 987bhp, was made almost entirely out of carbon fibre and had nine layers of paint.
9: 2006 Lotus APX
The name stood for “Aluminium Performance Crossover.” It was very light then (1,566kg), but you’d have guessed as much this being a Lotus. It was four-wheel drive and had a supercharged, front-mounted, 3.0-litre V6 which made 300 horses.
10: 2000 Maserati Buran
Named after the wind that blows across Siberia and designed by Italdesign, this MPV revealed at the Geneva motor show was massive. It was 4,963mm long, 1,950mm wide and 1,630mm high. It had a wheelbase of 2,930mm. Power came from a 3.2 litre V8 making 370 horses. This was 16 years ago – and only now do we have something nearly as big in the Levante…
11: 2001 Volkswagen W12 Coupe
This was pretty audacious for VW back in 2001. The original supercar concept debuted at the 1997 Tokyo motor show and had a 420 horsepower 5.6-litre W12 engine. Four years later, VW gave us the W12 Coupe with a 6.0-litre W12 that had 591 horses and could hit 100kph in 3.5 seconds.
12: 2006 Lamborghini Concept S
About 10 years ago, Lamborghini showcased this at the Geneva motor show and it wowed everyone with its wild bodywork, open cockpit and a pair of low-profile wind deflectors. Then they repeated the trick with the Aventador J…