Concept cars are a key way for automakers to show off their latest ideas and gauge public reaction before committing to production. Most mainstream cars are first shown in concept or pre-production form, but every year many design studies are released that are never destined to find their way into the hands of customers. These design studies can be crazier than any production car, with a more ‘exterior’ design that pushes the boundaries of what a car can look like.
Sometimes these crazier concepts are groundbreaking, introducing a new design language or feature that is adopted across a company’s lineup. But, for every breakthrough idea presented for the first time as a concept, there is an equal number of total flops, and that’s what this list looks at. We’ll cover ten of the worst concepts of all time that are so big we’re glad they never made it to the roads.
ten Suzuki Q Concept
Combining a car and a bike into one vehicle is an idea that’s been around for a while now, and has never been very successful. Even Mercedes tried and couldn’t do it, so it’s no surprise that when Suzuki tried to make it work, it failed. The Q-Concept is a microcar that’s supposed to combine the practicality of a car with the size of a motorcycle, but it comes with some serious limitations.
The main problem is the fact that it only has a measly six mile range, and the second problem is that it’s hideous. And anyway, Renault already has the weird-looking city car covered in the Twizy, and a Twizy can go up to 56 miles before needing a recharge.
9 Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo
Mercedes has a long-standing reputation for its timeless style and clean designs. So when the Vision Tokyo was unveiled, many enthusiasts scratched their heads. It was supposed to be the brand’s vision for the future, and what a vision it was.
The concept’s oversized grille gives it the appearance of a hungry basking shark, and the rest of the car vaguely resembles a large metal loaf of bread. There’s something to be said for trying to make minivans cool again, but it’s definitely not the way to do it.
8 Dodge Super8 Hemi
The idea for the Dodge Super8 Hemi was to combine ’50s styling with the lines of a modern car, which in theory sounds like a solid proposition. Unfortunately, the oddly proportioned mess Dodge showed at the 2001 North American International Auto Show left most people skeptical.
The car was unusual enough to spark some interest, and it ended up appearing in a few major video games of the time. It’s pretty unlikely, though, that anyone would actually want to drive a car like this in real life, so it’s a good job that Dodge never tried to make a production version.
7 Citroen Karine
Citroën is one of those companies that always seems to come up with innovative ideas, like the weird but brilliant C4 Cactus that uses plastic panels to solve the problem of parking doors. However, for every brilliant idea, there’s another dud, and the Karin wasn’t one of their best moments.
Designer Peter Fiore decided the concept had to look like a pyramid for some reason, and quickly sketched out a car that was so weird it’s a wonder Citroën bosses even gave the go-ahead to build the version. concept. It was too weird and impractical to be of any use, and unsurprisingly it never made it to the roads.
6 Sbarro 4×4+2
The Geneva International Motor Show is always a gold mine of weird and wonderful concepts, but this off-road Sbarro concept really takes the cake. He was spotted by Carscoops at the 2018 show, on the stand of the Swiss car manufacturer’s boutique.
Apparently it’s based on a Porsche Cayenne, but it’s been heavily modified to suit off-road racing. There are huge cutouts on the side of the car that show the third axle, although it’s unclear why a race truck would need six wheels in the first place. It’s not Sbarro’s only hideous concept either, as they have a strong track record for horrors, as we’ll see later.
5 Art & Tech Lamborghini Sogna
When young Japanese car designer Ryoji Yamazaki set out to create his very first sports car, there were many suitable candidates he could have based his design on. For example, his native Japan made a slew of qualifying cars at the time, including the Honda NSX and Toyota Supra. Instead, he decided to take a Lamborghini Diablo and re-sculpt it in a way that will always be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons.
It’s as if the car has been given a fat suit, as the previous sleek design now looks saggy and overflowing. What’s even worse is that this vomit green custom Lambo concept received a provisional price tag of $1.6 million, which would have made it one of the most expensive cars in the world at the time. Luckily, no collector was willing to buy this monstrosity, and Yamazaki had to shut down his Art & Tech outfit due to a lack of sales.
4 Porsche C88
With the rest of this list filled with horrible horrors, maybe some readers look at this car and think it’s not so bad. Well, it might not be the ugliest car ever made, but the reason it deserves a place here is because it’s a Porsche.
Yes, Porsche’s financial situation got so bad in the 90s that they considered selling this economy car in China to try and make some extra money. It’s not only horribly boring, it’s a crime for the Porsche name, and such an embarrassment that Porsche wouldn’t even want to put its name on it when they sold it. Fortunately, they canceled the C88 program before it reached Chinese dealerships.
3 Sbarro Autobau
Sbarro is the only manufacturer to appear on this list twice, and it’s easy to see why. The Autobau concept is an absolute atrocity of a car, with nearly every aspect of it wrong in one way or another. Every angle and accent seems to be stretched more than necessary, and it all looks very cheap for what would no doubt have been a very expensive car to build.
It’s so awful that Jalopnik called it the ugliest car ever, and it’s hard to disagree with them. Although, that said, when they wrote this article, the Bulgarian Sin S1 sports car had yet to be released, and that surely gives it a good run for its money.
2 Toyota Rhombus
The Rhombus isn’t just ugly, it’s made by a company that should have known. It was supposedly developed for young shoppers in China who wanted something unique and quirky, but it’s hard to see anyone spending their hard-earned money on it.
It is fully electric and has a driver’s seat that swivels to create a lounge-like space where drivers and passengers can relax. It’s one of Toyota’s many quirky ideas, but this one seems particularly pointless because no one will. want to “chill” in the back of a cramped town car when they could just, you know, get out of it.
1 Rinspeed X-Trem VUM
If there’s one company that excels at making ridiculous concept cars, it’s Rinspeed. Over the years they have produced everything from a Porsche 911 pickup truck to a hotrod with a scuba scooter mounted in the bed. Yes, you read the last sentence correctly.
In terms of sheer ugliness, however, nothing comes close to their 1999 X-Trem MUV, which is so bad it’s almost awe-inspiring. The front looks like a deformed Chrysler PT Cruiser, and the cargo area features a miniature crane and a hovercraft for some reason. It’s a gloriously over-the-top piece of engineering, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one of the most hideous concept cars ever made.
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