Just because an automaker hauls a concept car to an auto show doesn’t mean it will ever get made (we’re looking at you Cadillac Elmiraj, Nissan IDx, and Buick Avista). In fact, more jaw-dropping concept cars never see the world beyond an auto show podium, which is generally the plan from the start. Design teams want to show off their skills and hint at the direction of future models. They want consumers to start paying attention to the models hitting the showrooms; the fancy car at the show is just a tease.
When a concept does make it to production, it’s never the same as the sparkling specimen that captivated audiences at Detroit, Geneva, or Tokyo motor shows. However, it gives critics and car lovers the opportunity to measure the production model set against what could have been. That may be unfair to the car, but after safety requirements, engineering compromises, focus groups, and company bean counters, more than a few former concepts reek of disappointment by the time they hit dealerships.
Though this list is far from exhaustive, here are 10 concept cars (including one van) that fell short after showing so much promise on the auto show circuit.
1. Toyota 86
Many sports car fans love the corner-carving Scion FR-S, but let’s just say the soft-edged final product was a significant departure from the concept. The triangular head and tail lights didn’t make the cut, nor did the aggressively sloped hood. The car will live on after 2017 as the face-lifted Toyota 86, and comes much closer to the original concept, but alas, it still doesn’t have many of the concept’s aggressive lines. Styling may be small potatoes since the car has such fantastic road manners; nonetheless, here’s the notably more sedate Toyota 86: