Concept cars are a fascinating breed.
More than anything, they are the result of a studio being tasked with finding a new design language for a manufacturer. Sometimes, the results are so impressive that the public demands that the concept becomes reality.
It’s always great to see a stunning concept make its way to the forecourt – here are 11 examples of road-going cars that looked like they came straight out of a motor show.
The current R35 GT-R has been on the market since 2007, and while it is quite long in the tooth, some will be surprised to know how long the key elements of the design have been around.
As far back as the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, the baseline for what the Skyline GT-R’s successor would look like was present, and by 2005’s GT-R concept (pictured above), the design was all but fully-formed into the car we know today.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
First revealed at the Detroit Motor Show in 2003, the V8 Vantage is a prime example of the copy and paste method of taking a design from concept to production.
It wouldn’t be until mid-2005 that we saw the final version, with only the slightest revisions from the early concept.
By 2003, Le Mans was the stomping ground of the four-ringed Germans and its R8 Le Mans Prototype.
To commemorate the brand’s blossoming relationship with the iconic 24 Hour race, Audi christened its mid-engined supercar concept as the ‘Le Mans Quattro’.
The Le Mans Quattro arrived in dealerships just three years on from the concept car’s unveiling; fittingly, it was now badged as the R8.
With a track record of pushing concepts to reality with the TT, it’s no surprise that Audi stuck to its guns with this supercar.
While the architecture of the RX-8 can be traced back to the mid-90’s, and the suicide doors first made themselves known on the 1999 RX-EVOLVE concept, the cars’ styling really came to light in 2001, with the RX-8 concept shown above.
It became a little curvier by the time production commenced in February 2003, but the relationship between the pair is obvious to almost anyone.
It wasn’t just a majority of the motoring community that wanted a new NSX after the original was ditched in 2005.
As far back as the 2007 Acura Advanced Sports Concept, the foundations for the new NSX that’s lauded today were evident – the rear-end of the car, seen here, is practically identical! We were meant to see a new NSX based on that concept by 2010, until the economy scuppered Honda’s plans. However, by the 2012 Detroit Motor Show, we got to see the design that would form the bulk of the NSX that saw the light of day some four years later.
Mitsubishi Evolution X
Launched in 2008 to an almost unanimous ‘meh’, it could be argued that the Evolution X killed the Evo badge. However, the truth is that the models’ purpose as a homologation car for rallying had become moot, as Mitsubishi had all but left the sport by the time the car launched.
The last Evo made its first impression in 2005 with the concept car above. The styling of the car is certainly not bad, and we’d argue that this concept is marginally better than the final product.
The fourth generation of Mondeo – launched in 2007 – was very well-received by the press for its striking good looks.
Said good looks can be traced back to the Iosis concept of 2005, which was one of many cars designed to showcase Ford’s new ‘Kinetic’ design language.
While it was less of a sweeping coupe by the time it arrived, the finished product stayed relatively true to the initial vision.
The idea of a small, drop-top Porsche to sit below the 911 was not new by the time the first-generation Boxster arrived in 1996.
While earlier Porsche design studies had shown the general idea of the Boxster, it was not until this 1993 concept that we got a real flavour for how the car would look. The final product was pleasing to the eye, but we do wish it had kept hold of the wonderful wheels on the concept version.
Chevrolet Camaro (Fifth gen)
The 2006 Chevrolet Camaro concept is the spitting image of the car that it spawned, and quite how it took Chevrolet three years to put it into production is beyond us. With that said, we’d like to think that management saw Ford’s new Mustang, summoned the design team, and only started considering propulsion after the unveiling of the concept.
Another case of a nearly identical road car arriving long after the concept can be seen with the outlandish Prowler.
Launched in 1997, this car was almost identical to the Prowler concept displayed for the first time four years earlier. As such, it followed in the footsteps of a fellow Chrysler Group brainchild – the Dodge Viper – in being a concept car that shocked all by actually making it to the showroom.
The i8 was always intended as the centrepiece of BMW’s electric vision. Not only is that clear from its flagship status, but also through concepts predating the final production model by several years.
Above, we see the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics, which was unveiled in 2009. Even the cars’ concept – a three-cylinder turbocharged diesel with two electric motors – is one that draws obvious comparisons to the i8 launched in 2014.
While the unique glass doors never made it to production, the i8 was clearly a long-standing vision long before it made its way to forecourts.