A concept car, also known as a prototype, is a car designed in order to showcase something new in the world of the automobile industry. It is made to test people’s reaction to the new designs, styling, and technology.
It all started in 1938 with Harley Earl, the General Motors designer, who first came up with this idea and introduced Buick Y-Job to the world. During the 1950s, the popularity of traveling automobile shows really exploded, and they’ve been popular ever since. Millions of people visit these kinds of shows every year, where they have an exclusive opportunity to see all the latest innovations in the automobile industry.
While on one hand it can be very interesting to see new designs, features, engines, and other innovations, on the other hand, sometimes the whole idea can just go terribly wrong, and that has been the case with some of the worst concept cars in the history. While some people love thinking outside of the box, sometimes they take the whole thing just one step too far, to the point where the idea is no longer appealing.
Here are 15 worst concept cars from the past decade:
15. Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo Concept
This is one of the newest examples of concept cars gone wrong. Vision Tokyo was supposed to be an homage to the urban Generation Z, which basically are people born after 1995. However, it seemed more like an homage to an oversized, weirdly shaped toaster. And when we say “oversized”, we mean that quite literally because this concept was indeed impressively large. But its size wasn’t really that big of an issue. It’s the other things that make it maybe just a tiny bit too futuristic. Passengers enter the car by opening the left side of the vehicle, which swings open in an unconventional way. Giant wheels with light effect seem like something that would look great on a spaceship, and the windows are coated. If you look inside, you’ll see nothing like conventional front/rear seats since it was replaced by a couch wrapped around a central area. Altogether, this fantasy machine seems like a bit too much.
14. Lexus LF-SA
Lexus has chosen an interesting way of celebrating their 25th anniversary by making something new and controversial, and that’s how LF-SA was created. It was presented at the 2015 Geneva motor show and the opinions were divided; some people loved it, but most of the people hated it.
The idea behind it was to make something small and stylish for the European roads with tight parking spots. Being only 11.3 feet long and about half that wide, we must admit that it indeed is a small and compact car. But the “stylish” part is up for discussion since it’s hard to see anything stylish about it. It actually resembles something that belongs to the Star Wars set.
The interesting thing to wrap your head around is actually the fact that it is a two-plus-two. The driver’s seat is fixed in place, but you can adjust the steering wheel and the pedals while looking at the hologram-style digital instrument panel in front of you.
13. Bentley EXP 9 F
People have been describing this car as vulgar and baroque, and the name Iron Man was also mentioned more than once. EXP 9 F has some similarities to 2012 Bentley Mulsanne, such as headlights and the blocky rear haunches. Mulsanne’s fans probably find this concept interesting and pretty; the others – not so much.
The interior can also be described as quite heavy-handed. There is a bunch of wood lines, leather draping, as well as some chrome and aluminum details. You will also find a full picnic set in the rear compartment if you’re in the mood for some futuristic kind of a camping trip. There’s also a TFT gauge-cluster screen, topped up with touch-sensitive controls, as well as a motorized widescreen infotainment display. There’s a cool compartment for drinks to go with all of that.
12. Suzuki Regina
Suzuki is quite successful in producing small vehicles that have been very popular in global markets lately. However, there have been some concepts that made people doubt the quality of the idea behind them.
Suzuki Regina has some elements of NSU Prinz 4 and the Citroën DS but is nowhere near that cool. This blob-like car is a combination of all dorky elements that could come to one’s mind. From a frowning fascia, to lights resembling flirty girls’ eyes, to rear-wheel spats… It’s all crammed into the design of this little vehicle. The original idea behind it might be good, but yet again, it has been taken just a little bit too far to be cool.
However, in all fairness, Regina has some good sides too; for example, the fuel economy (75 mpg on gasoline), as well as impressive weight claims (1609 pounds). Unfortunately, the good things about Regina weren’t able to outweigh the bad ones.
11. Suzuki Q Concept
Just like Regina, the Q Concept was another one of Suzuki’s 2011 effort, but if Regina was bad, Q Concept was definitely worse. There is one word that could describe this car perfectly and that word is a “fishbowl”. If you look at it from another angle, it looks sort of like an oversized portable CD player.
With a range of just about 6 miles, it’s hard to really call the Q Concept a car. It is actually a combination of a car and a motorcycle. Since the cabin is completely see-through, you’ll have no privacy in it at all. Longer exposure to sunlight could also be a problem since you’d probably fry inside that fishbowl.
The only good thing about this concept is its size. Since it’s only 2.5 meters long, it is super compact, and yet more practical and comfortable than a motorcycle. That is if you like to drive up and down your street because you won’t get much further with it.
10. Tang Hua Book of Songs/ Detroit Fish/ Strip of Cloud
Tang Hua is a Chinese company that presented 3 super bizarre concepts at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show: Book of Songs, Detroit Fish, and Strip of Clouds. It’s impossible to choose the worst one. The whole idea behind them is just unfortunate. It’s just a bunch of yellow, weirdly shaped fiberglass. They all look like magnified children’s toys, but with an engine.
Detroit Fish was actually the only amphibious crossover at the Detroit Auto Show, which makes the name at least little bit more logical. Tang Hua’s marketing team stated at the time that they would like to sell one of these “fishes” to the former U.S. president George W. Bush, believing that he would find a good use for it on his Texas ranch.
It is hard to determine if this was a serious idea or the whole thing was just a giant joke. However, it somehow makes the people behind Tang Hua likable, even though this concept trio was a complete catastrophe.
9. Chrysler Imperial
It seems like this concept has been a part of some kind of contest of who can come up with the largest and the most impractical car possible. If stretching a car was a competing category, Chrysler Imperial concept would be a winner. If you thought Chrysler 300’s 120-inch wheelbase was already stretched enough, it might come to you as a surprise that Chrysler decided to take it one step further and the Imperial’s wheelbase was stretched three inches over that. The overall length is actually 17 over the 300’s. Not only was it longer, it was also nearly 6 inches taller.
In their defense, Chrysler claimed that this concept was inspired by Imperial sedans of the 1930s and 1950s. It’s kind of hard to see that though. If you look at it closely, you could easily see some elements of Rolls Royce Phantom’s design, such as center-opening doors and upright grille.
8. Peugeot Moovie
Around 10 years ago, Peugeot decided to organize a so-called Peugeot Design competition, so they invited enthusiasts of automotive styling from all over the world to design a car of their dreams. It was supposed to be a design for the near future. It could go both ways; it could either be very interesting in a good way or in a bad one. Unfortunately, it was the second one. André Costa, a Portuguese designer, was a winner. His Peugeot Moovie had something in common with a movie indeed. The movie The Fifth Element to be specific, since it looked like something Bruce Willis would ride in that role. However, it would be very difficult to imagine placing something like this on today’s world’s roads. But Peugeot really liked the idea and they turned it into a concept car. Other people find it a bit too futuristic to begin with and they have a problem wrapping their heads around this sort of a design.
7. Ford SYNus
Ford SYNus concept was basically one big metal square of a car. It was based on the European Ford Fiesta and it was actually an SUV-type vehicle with kind of an armory look to it. Truth be told, it looked like a huge metal safe on wheels since the tailgate was completely windowless, and it even had a four-spoke spin handle.
Although this concept seemed pretty massive, it was actually designed to fit an urban environment. However, it would be hard to imagine somebody using it to pick up kids from school or to go to buy groceries at the nearest store. It really looked like something that would belong to a bank, police, or army, rather than an urban housewife.
6. Aston Martin Lagonda
Aston Martin Lagonda concept was despicable simply because that car looked downright evil. It was hard to define what was wrong with Lagonda 2009 concept, but it seemed like some kind of a monster was about to rise from the headlights. It was presented at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show and the designer Marek Reichman said that he believed that nothing like this had ever been made before. “Luckily”, one might add. Generally speaking, this concept was loathed by every other designer who spoke about it in public. It was said to be brutal and blocky. It seemed that no one out there liked it at the moment.
The Lagonda was designed mainly for Russian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern markets where privacy is quite an important thing. That explains some details such as the slit of a rear window, as well as a high belt-line at the back.
5. Mercedes-Benz SLS E-Cell
Mercedes managed to make a fully electric version of its gullwing SLS and it actually worked pretty well, too. So how did this car find its way to this list of 15 worst concept cars from the past decade? Well, this is a great example of how one detail can completely ruin the whole idea. In this case, it was a thing that usually isn’t really that important when we talk about cars, but it made all the difference here. We’re, of course, talking about that neon green color that they used for this concept. It just seemed like too obvious a way of shooting for the headlines by drawing all of the attention to that “eco” color. It’s like the car is screaming: “Look at me! I’m eco! I’m green! I’m from the future!” If something makes your eyes hurt while looking at it, that doesn’t really make it futuristic. It just makes it badly executed.
4. Suzuki Mobile Terrace
To put it simply, this concept is just wrong. Everything about it looks wrong. It was presented at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show and it seemed sort of like a greenhouse on wheels, slightly resembling something like the world’s strangest glass microbus with the bifurcated doors in the middle. When you look at it, it is kind of hard to tell in which direction it’s supposed to be driven. It looks like it could go both ways.
There are six seats in three rows that can face forward for the classic glass microbus look, or you can rearrange the seats, along with the dashboard that can be converted to some sort of a table, to get something like a bedroom/terrace effect, not to mention the shag carpet in the middle. Now add the glass all around that and you have your new Mobile Terrace. Altogether, the whole thing is completely bizarre.
3. Acura Advanced Sedan
When you think of futuristic cars, most people think of bright, colorful, small, compact concepts. On the other hand, there are people who think of cars like the famous Batmobile. Acura goes under the second category, with added rough and dark features to make it even more terrifying. If the goal of the futuristic approach was to scare people, Acura Advanced Sedan would be the absolute number one.
According to Dave Marek, the head of Acura’s Advanced Design Studio, the idea behind this concept was to create a luxury sedan that could compete with cars like Bentley and Maybach in the near future. Unfortunately, the concept itself is quite off-putting simply because it is hard to look at since it makes you slightly uncomfortable because of how brutal it seems. Like some of the previous concepts, this car, too, looks like something evil that wants to attack you as soon as it gets a chance.
2. Scion Hako
The Scion Hako was a concept car presented by the automaker Scion, Toyota’s youth brand, at the 2008 New York International Auto Show. Scion is actually quite hip with the kids but a thing can only be so edgy before it goes over the edge, and that is what happened with this particular concept. Everything seems to be too much. The box is too boxy, straight lines are too straight, the robotic look to it looks overly robotic, etc. It has been said that the inspiration behind this car was the growing popularity of American vintage style between young Japanese trendsetters. However, in reality, this is really hard to see.
The interior is a little bit more fortunate than the exterior, but it still goes slightly over the top with all the futuristic details. There are screens everywhere; the passenger has 2 LCD screens, there are displays in the back, connected to video cameras placed on the outside of the car. Who needs all of that?
1. Trabant NT
There are some things that have been popular at some point in time, but no one would really like to go back to them. One of those things, for sure, is the Trabant. It was basically a plastic little car from former East Germany and no one really missed it too much over the last years.
However, a model car maker from Germany Herpa Miniaturmodelle GmbH presented a concept car at the Frankfurt Motor Show called the New Trabant, and it wasn’t cheap, nor was it easy to make. The new concept has a 64-horsepower electric motor and it can achieve speeds of 80 miles per hour, with a range up to 155 miles.
Nevertheless, some things are better left in the past, and while some level of nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing, remaking an old plastic car that was a horrible concept to begin with, might not be the best idea.
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