Hooniverse Asks: What Concept Car From the Past Could Still be a Viable Production Model Now?

There are generally three kind of show cars that auto manufacturers trot out at the varied Auto Expos. There’s the thinly disguised impending production model, typically devoid of such necessities as functional mirrors, door handles, or non-crazy train thin tires, but otherwise ready to pop off the line. Next there’s the production model that’s decked out in some sort of special use packaging – maybe a Jeep Compass intended to scale Everest, or a Mini Cooper with a fold-out hotdog stand. The last – and this focus of today’s query – are the pure show cars, the concepts that let the designers and engineers stretch their muscles and color, so to speak, outside the lines.
It’s that last group that almost never ever reaches the dealer floor, although your can see many pine for that day. Some actually have translated from show to go, the most notable example being the Dodge Viper, which in first-generation production guise seemed a carbon copy (ask your dad) of its Dais Darling progenitor. That’s one of the few exceptions to the rule, and what we are looking for today is what other show cars from days gone by could still pass for production today. Cars like Pininfarina’s glorious Ferrari Pinin above, or Ford’s frantic attempt to take on the perceived threat the Fiero could have been, the Cobra 230ME. What other concept cars do you think could be pulled out, dusted off, and put into production today?
Image: Vehiclejar


  1. OK, so the Chevrolet Aerovette might look a little dated in this age of scoops, spoilers, and surface detailing. It’s still amazing and badass looking and I don’t think it would take all that much work to make it more current.

  2. The 2001 Ford 49 Concept has alway appealed to me as an ‘American Executive Car’. It was a 2001 reimagining of the 49 Ford. In this suggestion, I am presuming high quality, a good engine, and suitable suspension so as to avoid the fate of the sad, sad Thunderbird reissue. On first seeing that Thunderbird, one of my older friends said, “That car reminds me of me – exactly the same as I was 40 years ago but fatter, softer, and slower.”

      1. I was going to do the Sixteen but wondered whether it was too recent of a concept. At any rate, the Sixteen looks like a true flagship Caddy as opposed to the new CT6, which looks too much like the XLS for comfort.

      1. I deny the obvious minimal similarities and opt to be highly disappointed by your reply.

  3. There’s a bunch of concept cars that still look surprisingly fresh for their age, like the 1995 Acura CL-X, 1995 Lincoln L2K or even the 1980 Jaguar XJ-41 (google them), but the oldest concept I could actually imagine hitting the showroom floors tomorrow with minor changes is the 1999 Pontiac GTO. It’s like they predicted the modern Camaro.

      1. The same Alfa V6 but the RZ was based on the Alfetta/75 RWD floorplan and the Proteo was based on 164 transverse engine AWD running gear. Also it had a folding hard top.

    1. Restrained, but sharp, looks light, fast and elegant. Great choice – new to me.

    2. Q: “If Alfa is going rear drive only, how else can FCA repurpose their
      downmarket FWD Fiat running gear with a heritage-laden upmarket brand?”

      A: Chrysler…

      1. “heritage laden UPMARKET brand”. Unlike Chrysler in Europe. Or outside America in the rest of the world. Chrysler became a sort of sub Ford mass market brand.

        1. Actually, the same is true in the US. At one time, Chrysler competed against Lincoln and Cadillac. Then it slid down to Buick/Oldsmobile/Mercury status. But by the 2000s when Plymouth was killed off, the down-market PT Cruiser became a Chrysler instead of the more logical Dodge (which used to be between Chrysler and Plymouth).
          I THINK FCA plans to move Chrysler back upmarket a bit (hence the exchange of cars with Lancia), but we’ll have to see what happens.

      1. An interesting idea, but it should be remembered that Chrysler was something of a design leader in the 1990s before the Daimler takeover. They had a whole string of attractive concept cars. Also, the LH production cars were fairly sleek for American sedans.

        1. Oh please, even the DaimlerChrysler years brought forth many formidable concepts.

      1. Wow.
        Their photocopier sure needs cleaning.
        The images they worked off must have been veerry blurry.

        1. Speaking as an Accounting Professional, I see 95 percent of the functionality at 30 percent of the cost. We’re saving a fortune by shaving off some of that unnecessary gingerbread from the show car. Besides, if customers don’t like it, what are they going to do about it ? Buy a Japanese car? Hah! That’ll be the day!

    1. They could have simply offered it as the new body of the Transporter and sold millions…

  4. This 1981 Ford Cockpit concept would make a dandy pure electric or hybrid city car. So much more interesting than a Smart.

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