Concept cars are the best part of auto shows, garnering oohs and ahhs from onlookers who think they’re glimpsing the future. The cutting-edge technology! The space-age styling! So why don’t they go into production? Are automakers just teasing us? Why doesn’t every vehicle come standard with gullwing doors by now?
For the most part, it comes down to practicality. For instance, the 1950’s Cadillac Debutante concept car boasted a leopard-skin interior with a 24-karat gold instrument panel and fittings. It was… cost-prohibitive. And in 1957, Ford introduced the Ford Nucleon, which was powered by a nuclear reactor. That was deemed problematic, but some show cars did make it to the street. Which concept cars actually became real? Here are a few.
Elon Musk may have a loose grasp on reality, but his sci-fi-styled Cybertruck is actually happening. In 2019, Tesla introduced the cyborg-looking vehicle as a prototype inspired by a DeLorean and an armored personnel carrier. If concept cars are intended to gauge customer interest, the Cybertruck proved that American audiences are into it. Incredibly, this fantasy is coming true.
In 2011, audiences fell in love with this hybrid electric sports car at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The supercar was such a beauty that auto enthusiasts demanded immediate production. Shockingly, Jaguar obeyed. In 2012, this concept car actually became real when Jaguar introduced it under its new name, the F Type Coupe.
This top-rated brand rarely misses, balancing sex appeal with good, old-fashioned reliability. In 1991, it went after BMW and Mercedes with a concept car that imagined a Porsche sedan. The company moved forward with it for a few years, but stopped just short of production. Instead, it used design touches like the control-arm suspension and headlamps on later models. People consider 2009’s Panamera a descendant of the 989.
Audi TT concept
In 1995, Audi was trying to attract American buyers and enter the small sports car market. At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Audi introduced the TT, with a design that drastically departed from its earlier models. When the production model arrived in 1998, it proved shockingly similar to the original prototype.