Once upon a time, the idea of the concept car was understood as an expression of what was theoretically possible, what the future might look like when automotive dreams ran wild. These often impractical concepts stirred the imagination and the soul and set consumers to imagining the impossible. There was a time when the concept car was a real thing. I can't be alone in thinking that time has passed.
*This is an article from APiDA Online, written by our resident concept car curmudgeon and Let's Just Drive contributor Matthew Kolabinski. If you'd like to see more of these types of editorials, check us out here.*
The story's original article can be found here.
Contemporary concept cars aren't flights of fancy and evolutionary dead ends any longer as; instead, they have been reduced to little more than clairvoyant prophets forecasting the immediate future with incredible accuracy. They showcase what a new headlight treatment will look like, in a generation or two, or they tell us what sort of design cues are going to remain and what is going to change. Not to put too fine a point on it but watching the big names roll out their newest ideas is a lot like watching paint dry, for the most part. I can't be excited about a new Camry or Accord and there are probably others like me.
However, every now and then something truly amazing sneaks through the gaps and the market reacts with overwhelming positivity. Polls, opinions and internet hacks will support the concept and promote it across their blogs and articles only to in turn see those ideas, those concepts, fail to make it to market and be consigned to the depths of indifference. Instead a look at the future of bland, the future of boring, is offered up. I just can't believe some of the great ideas that never see the production line.
Cadillac is renowned for its ability to conceptualize exactly what customers want and then not deliver. From the Sixteen to the Ciel, to the Cien, to the Elmiraj, Cadillac has been continuously teasing us with what could be, but isn't, even though it already runs and drives.
Clearly no one wants these things to exist.
They do have a couple recent smash hits to their credit in the ATS and CTS but with a name like Cadillac, not having an outrageous land yacht in the line-up seems almost sacrilegious particularly when that brand stood head and shoulders above the competition during the heyday of concept cars.
The cheese-hating Top Gear presenters loved it, but Americans can't bring themselves to make it?!
Another GM brand that struck gold was Chevrolet with the Code 130 R. This would have been a small, rear-wheel drive platform which, when it made the rounds a few years back, was met with enthusiastic reception and would have been excellently positioned to capitalize on the demographic crying for exactly that; a small 2+2, rear-wheel coupe – most of whom ended up buying one of the Toyota-Subaru twins.
It looks like a Camaro and a BMW 1M had a sexy, sexy baby.
But don't for a second think that this a mainly American thing.
This year Kia stunned the car community with the stunning GT-4 Stinger and the crowds were...um..stung. This beautiful, low-slung coupe proposes a rear-wheel drive platform with the option to row your own gears and it fixes the one issue that Subaru and Toyota haven't in the twins; power. The thing is, this isn't a concept car but an almost production ready example of what Kia is going to offer. Touted about as a concept car, the likelihood is that Kia was merely hedging its' bets on the off chance the market said, "No, we don't want another great looking sports coupe for a great price." This isn't a new concept; it's a proven and accepted idea that's been in production for as long as the horse stopped being a viable mode of transport.