The concept car is one of the most important aspects of the automotive industry. If there are no concept cars, then there will be no production model. The automakers utilize the concept cars to see what the consumer has an appetite for and if the car has much of a splash, then the model will usually make it to production in some form or another.
Some of the most popular cars nowadays started out as mere concepts and when the market was ready, the automaker sent the car to production. Then, there are some models such as the Pontiac Aztek that were sent to the market anyway and became legendary flops.
During the last few decades, we've seen an abundance of concept cars which became production models, introducing the world and the automotive industry to some new concepts which really pushed the envelope for design and what a car really should be. Car designers are some of the most creative people on the planet, so naturally, creating a car from scratch and sending it to market can be an exhilarating experience like nothing else.
However, we've also seen many concept cars which were deemed too extreme or otherwise overbearing in many aspects and these cars were flops as well. What we are going to be taking a look at are the concept cars that made it, and went on to become a piece of the current automotive landscape by offering something different than the status quo.
20 1997 Mini ACV 30
Quite a few years before the Mini actually made its return to the U.S. market, the 1997 Mini ACV 30 took the world by storm and showed us what the future car might look like.
The Mini-Cooper is a sales success in many aspects, with a loyal customer base that has remained fiercely defensive of the car. The 1997 Mini ACV 30 was an interesting concept, at a time when SUV models were roaming the streets and taking all of the sales attention away from smaller and more fuel-efficient cars.
19 2005 Jeep Rescue Concept
The Jeep brand has come a long way since the AMC days. With the ongoing improvements in quality and style, the brand looks to have a healthy future.
The 2005 Jeep Rescue Concept was one of a kind concept that showed where the brand wanted to go and what type of vehicle designs were resting in their future. Giving us a glimpse of where the brand was headed, the 2005 Jeep Rescue Concept was a one of a kind beach-inspired concept, to say the least, that really got the automotive press going.
18 1999 BMW Z9 Gran Turismo
Perhaps one of the most iconic cars of the late nineties, the BMW was a luxurious little roadster that really made driving fun. Similar to the Mazda Miata in terms of design, but with the usual BMW twist, the 1999 BMW Z9 Gran Turismo was a one of a kind concept car that really connected the driver to the road in every aspect.
BMW models are known for being some of the best driving vehicles on the road, and the 1999 BMW Z9 Gran Turismo was a crowd pleaser among the auto show circuit.
17 1999 Bugatti Veyron EB 18.4 Concept
There is no doubt that the Bugatti Veyron is one of the most popular cars to date, with one of a kind design that has attracted all kinds of clientele. The 1999 Bugatti Veyron EB 18.4 Concept is very similar to the actual production model that hit the streets, combining a one of a kind style with the legendary performance that matches the Bugatti brand in every aspect.
The 1999 Bugatti Veyron EB 18.4 Concept is also a well known among the speed circuit as well, breaking many records.
16 1994 Volkswagen Concept One
The nineties was a bad time for Volkswagen as the company was in debt and their products were stale - a turnaround was needed and fast. Thus, the Concept One was born. The retro-inspired Beetle drove the crowds crazy, so much so that the company put the car into production a few years later and the new Beetle became one of the hottest selling VW models of all-time.
A new Beetle convertible was also created, which sold quite well, the car remains a smash hit to this day.
15 2006 Dodge Challenger Concept
When the Chevrolet Camaro ended production in 2002, Ford was left as the only muscle car maker on the market. But, when Dodge released the Dodge Challenger Concept it was a sign of things to come and the crowds went crazy.
Consumers were hungry for more than the Mustang could offer, and the Challenger was that signature blend of Mopar performance that everyone had been yearning for. Dodge put the Challenger into production around 2010 and the car became a popular Mustang alternative since.
14 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics
In what ultimately became the BMW I8, the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics was a one of a kind concept car that showed how BMW could make a supercar for the future. With a beautiful design that looked second to none, the 2009 BMW Vision EfficientDynamics was one of a kind concept car that really drove the crowds mad.
Not to mention the fact that the I8 has become quite a hit with various entertainment stars, who have featured the rare supercar in a good amount of music videos over the last few years.
13 Ford Bronco Concept
The Ford Bronco was one of the most revolutionary SUVs to roam the streets, known for a rugged exterior and a one of a kind design that separates this legendary vehicle from the pack. Not to mention the Bronco was also synonymous during the nineties for the O.J. Simpson trial, which has made the SUV a cultural icon.
Many consumers were dismayed when Ford discontinued the Bronco, but due to consumer feedback a Bronco concept emerged and it has been confirmed that this concept will go into production in 2020.
12 2002 Ford GT-40 Concept
One of the most iconic concept cars of the last decade was the 2002 Ford GT-40 Concept, which took the iconic race car into the new decade. Up until this time Ford had not sold a supercar to the general public, and thus there was an enormous outpouring of support for this future car to make it into production.
Thus, Ford decided to greenlight the legendary model and send it into production by offering a one of a kind production car that was very similar to the concept in most aspects.
11 2005 Lexus LFA Concept
There hasn’t been a luxury sports car in the Lexus lineup since the SC430 was taken off of the market in 2010. The 2005 Lexus LF-A Concept was a one of a kind sports car that gave the brand a real image of high-end performance while staying true to the signature build quality that has made the Lexus brand synonymous among luxury buyers.
The Lexus LF-A ended up being a production model, and one of the most highly anticipated Lexus models to date.
10 1993 Plymouth Prowler Concept
Perhaps one of the most iconic cars of the nineties, the Prowler was part of the Plymouth revitalization that occurred right at the end of the decade. The Prowler was part of two retro-inspired models which included the hot-selling PT Cruiser - the two models were going to mark a new design direction for Plymouth.
Although the Prowler looked like a muscle car, the final product was a far cry from a muscle car, incorporating the same V6 engine that you would find in most Chrysler sedans.
9 1995 Audi TT Concept
The Audi brand has always been a special part of the automotive industry in Germany, offering something different than Mercedes and the traditional players in terms of design and quality.
The 1995 Audi TT Concept was a new direction for the brand in terms of design and quality, and the concept ended up going into production in 1999. The 1995 Audi TT Concept was one of a kind sports car, and the production model is actually very similar to the concept which went over very well with the consumers who liked the car.
8 2007 Chevy Volt Concept
Electric cars have become all the rage since the economic downturn and the rise of the Tesla, which showed that an electric car could be mass-produced. Naturally, GM didn’t want to lose a piece of this action and thus the Chevrolet Volt Concept was born.
The car caused such a splash that a production version was created, although it varies much different in style than the concept car in many aspects. The Volt remains a good seller for GM since the concept hit the auto shows and remains a part of the Chevrolet lineup today.
7 2007 Fisker Hybrid Sedan Concept
Technology has finally advanced far enough to enjoy the concept of a fully electric vehicle, and with models like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt who could argue? The 2007 Fisker Hybrid Sedan Concept was a one of a kind concept car that took the world by storm, offering the first fully electric sports car.
The 2007 Fisker Hybrid Sedan Concept was very similar to the actual production model that hit the roads, which proved to be quite popular with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio.
6 2009 Tesla Model S Show Car
Tesla has taken the world by storm, offering one of the first mass-produced electric vehicles with a range that is comparable to many gasoline vehicles. This one of a kind design and commitment to creating one of the worlds finest electric vehicles made the Tesla a hit with all kinds of different customers.
The 2009 Tesla Model S Show Car was very similar to the actual production model which hit dealerships to much fanfare. When it comes to an innovative concept going into reality, the 2009 Tesla Model S Show Car is a winning combination.
5 2011 Jaguar C-X16 Concept
After a few decades of disappointing sales numbers, the Jaguar brand finally seems to be back on good terms with the consumer base, and their cars have increased quite a bit in terms of quality and performance.
The 2011 Jaguar C-X16 Concept was an innovative idea that took the luxury segment by storm, showing that the historic automaker still had what it takes to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and other brands. The 2011 Jaguar C-X16 Concept is a one of a kind car that really goes to show what the brand has to offer.
4 2012 Acura NSX Concept
During the nineties, the NSX was one of the most anticipated and also one of the most innovative sports cars to hit the market - the model was also very rare. The 2012 Acura NSX Concept showed the world that Acura was ready to return to the supercar market.
This new model showed off all of the advances that Honda made in the last few years since the demise of the original NSX model. The 2012 Acura NSX Concept lead to the production of what is the current generation NSX model.
3 2008 Land Rover LRX Concept
Land Rover continues to make a serious comeback in recent years, and with the 2008 Land Rover LRX Concept, the company was back on the steady path to success.
Offering a new blend of style and comfort that hadn’t been seen on an SUV before, the 2008 Land Rover LRX Concept was an innovative look at what the company could do since departing from the Ford Motor Company. The 2008 Land Rover LRX Concept spawned many new models from the Land Rover lineup featuring the characteristics of the concept.
2 2006 Kia Soul Concept
For the Kia brand every year is a make or break time for them, and the Kia Soul concept was one of those make or break concept cars that were designed to send the brand in a new direction.
The 2006 Kia Soul Concept ultimately went into production, and to everyone's surprise has become one of the best selling Kia models of all-time. It would appear that consumers are crazy for the one of a kind styling, and the peppy performance that the compact hatchback has to offer.
1 1993 Porsche Boxster Concept
The Porsche brand has come a long way since its inception, and its vehicles are still some of the most popular models on the road, with good reason. The Porsche Boxster was one such example, being one of the most popular sports cars of the late nineties and offering the first modern incarnation of what a Porsche should be.
The 1993 Porsche Boxster Concept was very similar to the production model in many aspects, which went over well with consumers and the automotive press that were looking forward to the model.
Sources: Motor Trend