Top 5 Concept Cars Never Made: Presence

When a car manufacturer introduces a concept, most car enthusiasts immediately wish that concept was a production car. For the second in our series, we focus on the concepts that have big presence. The auto market is extremely competitive, and that means every manufacturer is doing something every year to grab people’s attention. The product of all of this competition is beautiful, and thought-provoking concept cars. This is the second in the series of Top 5 Concept Cars Never Made, and focuses on recent cars that made a statement, and had real presence. Some of these have already outlived their purpose in introducing a design language, but we wish these cars had made it to production.

2006 Saab Aero

2006-Saab-Aero-X-Concept-F-Side-1280x960Before Saab went bankrupt, they were releasing some pretty interesting designs. Being a boutique brand, they had a loyal following, but being owned by GM meant they had to stand out. The Aero wasn’t just a great design, it was also a tribute to their connection to aviation. They wanted to portray the feeling of getting in and out of a jet, with a fully automated cockpit canopy. The Aero was intended to be a sports car, but was to be environmentally conscious, with a twin-turbo V6 which ran entirely on bioethanol. While we doubt that choice of power plant would have endured, Saab would definitely be turning some heads on the road with the Aero.

2003 Cadillac Sixteen

Cadillac-Sixteen-Concept-Road-Front-1280x960Cadillac began as one of the world’s premiere luxury automobile manufacturers. In the 1930s, they produced some of the most opulent and powerful cars available. While most luxury manufacturers were using Inline 6 and V12 configurations, Cadillac decided to one-up everyone, and introduce the V16. Producing a whopping 185HP, it was said to be nearly silent at idle, and turbine-smooth during acceleration. To invoke the power and prestige of those classic V16 models, Cadillac made this show-stopper of a concept, the Sixteen. This was to signal Cadillac coming back to prominence in the luxury arena. The Sixteen has a long hood to house the V16, which has an output of 1,000 HP. Of course, in 2003, the Bugatti Veyron hadn’t been released yet, and 1,000 HP was unprecedented. That is where the similarities between the two models end. This was a thoroughly modern design, continuing with their “Art and Science” theme. From the hand-stitched Tuscan leather to reclining rear passenger seat to the Cadillac logo made of crystal, everything about this car speaks luxury. The 24 inch polished aluminum wheels look right at home on that lengthy profile, and the extended wheelbase is mitigated by four-wheel steering to give a better turning radius. We realize this car wasn’t a good business case, but it would have helped in the elevation of their cachet.

2007 Ford Interceptor

2007-Ford-Interceptor-Concept-Front-Angle-Studio-1280x960The mid-2000’s saw a resurgence of the American muscle car. Not only in the pony cars, but with 4 door sedans as well. Dodge had the Charger SRT, Chrysler had the 300C SRT, and Cadillac had the CTS-V. Ford wanted to gauge the market for its own 4 door muscle car, so they introduced the Interceptor Concept. It was built on the Mustang chassis, and had a 4.6L V8 cammer, with an output of 400HP. The design featured powerful proportions and some retro muscle car styling cues, while retaining a modern looking package. Yes, they could have built this stylish statement of a muscle car, but they decided to bring back the Taurus.

2005 Maserati Birdcage

2005-Pininfarina-Maserati-Birdcage-Concept-SA-1024x768The Birdcage Concept was created to celebrate Maserati’s 75th anniversary. Its purpose was to be a design exercise while recalling the original “Birdcage”, otherwise known as the Tipo 63. The Tipo 63 was made to race at Le Mans and the 1000km at the Nurburgring. The name comes from the fact that it was built with a lattice work of 200 chromoly steel tubes. Even with the body on the car, some of this “birdcage” was still visible through the front windscreen. Drawing from this very distinctive feature, Maserati teamed with Italian design house, Pininfarina to create a modern tribute to that famous race car. The passenger shell is seamlessly divided into two pieces. The front half of the body hinges forward to allow access into the vehicle, while the rear half of the body hinges rearward to show the mid-mounted 700HP V12. While the Birdcage was only intended to be a birthday present to Maserati, we are sure they could have found a few buyers.

2012 Cadillac Ciel

2011-Cadillac-Ciel-Concept-Studio-Front-And-Side-1280x960Cadillac is great at making concept cars. We could almost do an entire section on them. Top 5 Concept Cars never made: Cadillac. That might happen, but we digress. It seems that until now, Cadillac has only dreamt of competing with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi. They make great concepts, but seem to fall short on actually delivering a real competitor. The Ciel is a fresh design, and a new idea for Cadillac. While it’s not very practical, the Ciel is very modern and sleek with the road presence of a 1959 Series 62. It was inspired by California’s coastal region, and is said to focus on the social journey, with room for 2 couples. The Ciel is full of details like a power-assisted shifter that raises when you start the car, to cashmere blankets that pull out from the seats. While most of this is concept car wizardry, it shows that Cadillac is capable of making a car equivalent to any other luxury manufacturer. Cadillac, it’s time to stop talking about it…

As usual, Let us know if you agree or disagree with this list, and if you have any additions you’d like to see!

About Jerry Horton 35 Articles
I'm not going to pretend someone is writing a bio for me. Here I am. For those who don't know, I play guitar in Papa Roach. Since before I started dreaming of being a rockstar, I was dreaming about cars. My dad made me this way. Before I was born, he had a green 1972 Camaro. He did autocross when I was too young to know what was going on, and when I got a little older, he built a VW Beetle by himself in the carport. We would go to drag races in that car, and he would take down Mustangs and Camaros, much to their astonishment and horror. He took me to Top Fuel drag races in Sonoma, local drags at Sacramento Raceway, and I loved it. I was hooked. When it came time for me to get a car, he asked me if I wanted something older that we could work on, or something newer that would be a little more reliable. I told him I'd like an older car, and he said he found a 62 Chevy Nova with a 350. I was obviously excited, and 2 days later, he told me he had reconsidered. He said it was too much power for me, and ended up getting me a 1987 Mustang. 4 cylinder. I was extremely disappointed, and didn't want to talk to him for a while, but in the end it was the right decision. I drove that thing like an idiot, and ended up getting in 5 accidents (One was my fault). Fast-forward to the year 2000, and our first major record blows up, which allows me to get my dream car. The Dodge Viper. At the time it came out, the Viper was viewed as the modern-day Cobra; a motor with wheels. It scared the crap out of me, but over the years, I was able to show it respect, and get a lot out of it. Now, here we are. I created DriveKulture initially because the guys in my band aren't car guys. I needed an outlet; a place to share my ideas and opinions about new cars, sports cars, and kustom cars (yes that's custom with a "K"). I now see DriveKulture as not only a place where my car friends and I can interact, but also as a place for education. For a long time, I had pre-conceived notions about certain cars, and couldn't understand why someone would want them. In reading articles and talking with owners, I can see that they have slightly different tastes than I do, but their passion for cars are the same. I want to expose people to different types of cars, and try and convey what makes these different kinds of cars great. Welcome to DriveKulture.


  1. What ever happened to the concept GTO that they never built compared to that “GTO” that they built with a car from Austrailia?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.