Hooniverse Asks- What’s The Most Tragic Almost Was?

1972-momo-mirage

Everyone has a dream. For most that dream may be just a few beers and some hot wings at Hooters on a Friday night, but for a select few it’s realizing in metal and rubber their vision of automotive perfection. Take the Momo Mirage above for example. It represents the vision of Alfred Momo, former team manager for Briggs Cuningham, and Peter Kalikow, who sought Momo’s advice after finding the handling of his initially desired Aston Martin to be underwhelming.  The two entered into partnership to build this remarkably clean and powerful touring car, but as is frequently the case, financial difficulties squelched their plans. Such a shame.

It isn’t just individuals with delusions of grandeur that come close to capturing that elusive gold ring. Back in the sixties, Pontiac developed a SOHC straight six with the intent of appearing an automotive technological leader. They also wanted to have a sports car in which to show the engine off, and built the Banshee as its star stage. Unfortunately Chevy caught wind of the project and, feeling it would take sales and hence profits away from the Corvette, got the GM overlords to kill it. So close.

That’s a couple of examples of cars that almost were, which had they been, could possibly have also been great, and maybe still could be. Got that? What do you think, what are some other cars that came within a hair’s breadth of production, and who’s failure to do so you lament? What, in your mind, is the most tragic almost was? 

Image source: SportscarDigest

105 Comments

  1. Getting this out of the way early;
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2009/08/pontiacg8st_red_630.jpg&quot; /img>
    Don't get me wrong, it would've flopped horribly, but been awesome while doing so.
    I also don't know why I think of this now, but Chrysler was mulling the possibility of an AWD LH car (since it would've been a relatively easy conversion with the longitudinal layout) – it's a shame that never saw production. And the Mahindra pickup, at least for North American consumption (which, seems to be mired in importation hell).

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      Wait, wait a minute
      (they built one or maybe a few as concepts… some info is findable with the googles)

    1. That would sooo work as a 1st gen Miata conversion kit.
      Remember, you heard it hear first…..

  2. The Bosley Mark I wasn't intended as a production vehicle, but is a stunning example of what a 19-year-old (when he started) kid with no formal automotive training can design and build himself. Hemi engine with 6 carbs and a 5-speed transmission (in the days when 3 forward gears was the norm) meant 160 MPH was attainable.
    http://www.forgottenfiberglass.com/?p=13563
    <img src="http://www.gatsbyonline.com/Users/8/Images/GatsbyAutomobileDesign/1955_BosleyMk1_01.jpg&quot; width=500>

        1. Probably in your browser cache. Also, you didn't get the URL wrong, their server is filtering the referral header on image URLs (they don't want to pay for bandwidth for someone else' site; my wife has her blog configured this way).

      1. Thank you for posting this for me, Scott.
        I indeed was on my way to post this very image. Doesn't the car evoke the NSX, a bit?
        The Fiero really would've been amazing with a more powerful motor from the factory, too. The 3800SC swaps, or even the mild 3400 swap, the 3.4 DOHC V6, Northstar, EcoTec, Quad4, Cadillac 4.9L and even Chevy 350 swaps make it abundantly clear just how much fun the much maligned Fiero can be- even in shitty 2.8L form the cars are quite fun to drive.

      2. Sort of makes me wonder how much the Solstice would've followed a similar evolution if Pontiac had been allowed to live. Getting the GXP and coupe were great starts, but would've there been more changes, right before GM killed the Solstice off without killing Pontiac?

      1. One of those tantalizingly attainable dreams. There are enough left out there, and they are reasonably affordable. I often envision one in a T-bucket.

          1. By that do you mean the Banshee, or the production LeMans/Tempest?

  3. Two-wheel Tuesday answer: Yamaha GTS 1000. It was actually produced from 1993 to 1999 but the "might-have-been" part of it is that Yamaha gave up on some cool technology. The GTS 1000 was a decade ahead of its time, with ABS, catalytic converter built into the exhaust, and the incredible parallel-arm suspension that gave it far superior stability and ride to its competitors. Even today it feels like a modern bike.
    <img src="http://z1000.riderdestination.com/albums/museum/normal_Yamaha%20GTS1000.jpg&quot; width="500" />

    1. I have a serious like for that bike. Fear of a lack of parts availability has kept me away from it.
      I seem to really have a thing for non traditional motorcycle front suspensions.

    2. That's more along the lines of What's The Most Tragic Case Of People Don't Know A Good Thing When They See It.

      1. As senor IronBalls stated, parts availability is frightening. Otherwise there'd already be one parked outside chez 'six.

  4. Two cars for your consideration:
    For starters, we have a RWD turbo Reatta, and for the coup de grâce, a GNX-powered Electra Estate. It's hard to see in this article, but 0-60 in five seconds with &frac14; mile times in the 13s.
    <img src="http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j129/hoopd87/PrototypeReatta01_zps11026f47.jpg&quot; width=500>
    <img src="http://i79.photobucket.com/albums/j129/hoopd87/PrototypeReatta02_zps41297611.jpg&quot; width=500>

  5. The 9-5 were supposed to be one of the new cars that can save Saab, but the plug was pulled too early. I really like the new 9-5 (although I haven't got the chance to get in one), and they've made some production pilot wagons before the doors were closed. Shame…
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2011/03/saab-9-5-sportcombi.jpg"&gt;
    Also, the E34 M5 convertible. BMW was afraid that this car would cannibalize the sales of the 3-series convertible, so they decided to cancel it. I imagine this would've been a great grand tourer to cover massive distance in speed & comfort.
    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2009/10/e34m5c00-1256843174.jpg"&gt;

    1. Really? That's the MOST TRAGIC?
      I'd have put that way down the list slightly below the Saab 98…

      1. <img src="http://gallery.p6club.com/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=5156&g2_serialNumber=2"&gt; Yes, I'm really I'm being serious. It could have been worse. <img src="http://flipacars.com/pics/Rover/rover-sd1-estate-02.jpg"&gt; And the 210 would have had a 2.5L I6, if the Soviets hadn't stopped the Poles, it really would have been something, a real crap of the dog to the nose moment. <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4f/Warszawa_210_inside.jpg/500px-Warszawa_210_inside.jpg"&gt;

      2. trag•ic (ˈtrædʒ ɪk) also trag′i•cal,
        adj.
        1. dreadful, calamitous, disastrous, or fatal: a tragic event.
        2. extremely mournful, melancholy, or pathetic.
        No, I think he may be right.

  6. Chevy Corvette Astro II concept.
    I mean, c'mon, look at it!
    But Chevy was trying to keep up time-wise with Ford's street legal version of the GT40 and concept Mach 2. To do so, Chevy used an off-the-shelf TWO-speed transaxle off a 63 Tempest for this car–vs Ford's race-developed and -proven gearbox. No quick solution to that one, so no mid-engine 60s Vette.
    Dang. Dang for us all.
    <img src="http://images.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/Corvette-XP880.jpg&quot; width=400>

    1. Frickin' Jaguar. They create the most lust-worthy car in years, then tell us they were only joking.
      Bastards.

  7. I'm feeling sentimental for cars that didn't exist, or did in precious few numbers.
    There's no cure for this is there?

    1. No, but it is possible for the disease to progress to the point where you buy something that was produced in precious few numbers, provided you have the bank.
      When this happens you can potentially become super cool though, depending on what you're obsession is, so it's not all bad.

    2. I think that is the initial stimulus that eventually leads lots of otherwise sane guys to to build their own one-off custom somethingorother.

  8. Jeep Concepts:
    Dakar, because it might've prevented the Liberty.
    <img src="https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRMBVx6rzpD9iGbDzFpdiV7TlpikFaPGXxqXehfLfdcpf667n1x&quot; width=400>
    Rescue, because shaming the H2 would've been awesome:
    <img src="http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-2004/2004-Jeep-Rescue-Concept-FA-1600×1200.jpg&quot; width=400>
    Gladiator, because, well, of course:
    <img src="http://www.jeep.com/shared/autoshow/concept_vehicles/images/gladiator_static.jpg&quot; width=400>

  9. The VW EA128, a German Corvair fighter that utilized the Porsche 911's suspension, steering and engine (albeit detuned). Both a sedan and a wagon prototype were built.
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5237/5864892876_2f068e6a11_o.jpg&quot; width="500" />
    <img src="http://images.thesamba.com/vw/gallery/pix/236754.jpg&quot; />
    Runner up would be Oldsmobile's 32-valve hemi 455.
    <img src="http://www.streetlegaltv.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/10/files/2011/06/Hemi455Olds.jpg&quot; width="500" />

    1. It would be so much better without those hood strakes and that GIANT chrysler wing badge.

  10. The Porsche 542 AKA the Studebaker Z-87
    <img src="http://imageshack.us/scaled/landing/682/1954studebaker542bypors.png"width=500&gt;
    "Porsche built a car for Studebaker in August, 1952 with a 120-degree V-6 engine . This was the Porsche Type 542, also known as the Z-87 car at Studebaker. Though it was looked at then, it didn't get serious review until 1956 when Studebaker's director of experimental engineering tested the car and reported on it. The director's name: John Z. DeLorean, who later went on to other cars and other activities. He didn't like the Porsche effort and compared it unfavorably to the comfort and ride of the 1956 Champion and Commander."

    1. I swear there are no side windows, and is there even a top? It's like Ford going back to it's roots, cool!

  11. PRV V8. Everyone's favorite frog motor from hell started out with eight cylinders but ended up getting downsized due to the oil crisis. Had the original plan proceeded, we would have ended up with things like Volvo 284 and Talbot Tagora V8.

    1. First thought: "The DeLorean coulda had a V-8!"
      Second thought: "…although maybe increasing both power and polar moment at the same time wouldn't have been such a great idea…"

  12. Holden Torana GTR-X – 3.3 litre inline six with triple carburettors, 190bhp, 210 km/h (130 mph) top speed, weighed slightly less than a Datsun 240Z, had room under the hood for the Holden V8 which was being developed at the time, prototype was shown in 1970 and could have been production ready by 1972 – Holden even went to the trouble of producing brochures as below. Now imagine it as a potential replacement for the Buick Opel GT.
    <img src="http://www.cartype.com/pics/4226/full/holden_gtr-x_sr1_70.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://www.canberratoranaclub.com/images/gtrx/Holden_GTR-X_Concept_1970_011.jpg"&gt;

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