Luxury Cars – 10 Coolest European Cars That Never Reached The Roads
Most car fans have now been accustomed to the harsh truth that whatever cool concept car they see from their favorite automaker will probably never see the start of a production line. Mostly this is because concept cars are nowhere near practical. They either don’t have real doors or are too expensive to produce for even an Arabian prince.
But then, some hold a lot of promise. They are not just concept cars. These cars evolved into “production-intent” prototypes that got everyone talking about how cool the final product would be.
Then out of the blues, the ax landed on the entire project.
That was the fate of these 10 European cars. Created by some of the most reputable car companies on the planet, these cars were expected to revolutionize transport, car design, and car technology as we knew it.
10 Lamborghini Italdesign Cala (1995)
If you look at the Lamborghini ItalDesign Cala closely, you might start noticing a few design cues for the iconic Lamborghini Gallardo. But before that 2003 beast was born, Lamborghini introduced the world to the Cala at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show.
This car was intended to replace the Lamborghini Jalpa whose production ended in 1988. It was designed to run on a 395hp 4.0L V10 that was mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Add that to the aluminum chassis and hand-built carbon fiber body, everything about this car was tuned to create a monstrous Lamborghini.
But then, when Volkswagen bought the company in 1998, the Cala project was shelved. That was until 2003 when the Gallardo, which borrowed its styling from this concept car, was born as the spiritual successor of the Jalpa.
9 Jaguar XK-180 (1998)
This car was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jaguar’s iconic XK vehicle. Launched in 1998, the XK-180 was supposed to show what Jaguar’s stylists, engineers, and craftsmen could do.
As far as the engineers are concerned, their bases were well covered. The XK-180 ran on a 4.0L supercharged V8 power unit that produced 450bhp. All this went to the rear wheels through a Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic shifter.
The styling was nothing short of stunning. The XK-180 looked like a stylish roadster. Sadly, all that beauty and power was intended for a one-off build that would never go into production.
8 Bentley Hunaudieres (1999)
If you look at this car, you can’t imagine that the Bugatti Veyron was born out of it. That W16 quad-turbo power unit in the Veyron first appeared as an 8L W16 with only 623bhp. Yes, that is miles off the 1500hp that 16-cylinder monster churns out today. But for a car launched in 1999, the Bentley Hunaudieres was nothing other than legendary.
That difficult to pronounce name was chosen to pay homage to the Hunaudieres straight in Le Mans, where Sir Tim Birkin swept past Rudolf Caracciola in a “blower Bentley”. Thus, this car was built to show what a luxury car maker could do when tasked to build a performance car.
Sadly, this car was never intended for production. However, apart from inspiring the design of the monstrous W-16 in the Veyron, it also paved way for the highly successful Bentley Continental GT.
7 Audi Rosemeyer (2000)
After the world miraculously didn’t end in December 1999, Audi decided to launch a petrolhead miracle in the name of the Audi Rosemeyer. Despite the car’s prophecy also not coming to fruition, this was a concept car that caught the attention of many.
The first most noticeable design feature was that grille we see in the Bugatti Veyron today, plus the headlight styling that is synonymous with Volkswagen’s most powerful car. Ironically, the Audi Rosemeyer was not built as a precursor to the Veyron. Rather, it was built to pay homage to the former Auto Unions “Silver Arrows” Grand Prix racers that were driven by Bernd Rosemeyer, the man this concept car was named after.
6 Volkswagen W12 Nardo (2001)
Volkswagen’s obsession with a production-ready W-layout engine started with the Bentley Hunaudieres. However, the W12 Nardo was an expression of how far they were willing to go with putting this engine in almost every other top-performing car the company was going to produce.
The W12 Nardo, named after the famous Nardo Ring test track, was created by Giorgetto Giugiaro, on instruction from Volkswagen Group. VW wanted a car that was mid-engine, ran on a W12, and was configured to use VW’s Syncro all-wheel-drive system.
The final 591bhp creation in 2001 was iconic. It did a 0-62mph run in 3.5 seconds and maxed the speedo at the Nardo Ring at 357km/h. It’s been featured in games such as Asphalt 8, Gran Turismo, and Project Gotham Racing 3.
5 Saab Aero-X (2006)
The Saab Aero-X was a car built to show what the future of car design was going to look like. And this Scandinavian take on the automobile stole the show at the Salon Internationale de l’Auto in 2006. And it wasn’t only because of the design.
The power unit was a unique one. Back when no automaker cared whether petrol chokes Mother Nature, Saab released the Aero-X with a 2.8L twin-turbocharged V6 that produced 400hp out of pure ethanol.
Then, while you were soaking in all that power, the plush interior with no buttons whatsoever was designed to blow you away. The Aero-X ditched the traditional dials and buttons for graphic 3D images that were used to display data to the driver and passengers.
The car naturally attracted a lot of attention. However, the company announced that building it was not their top priority.
4 BMW M1 Hommage (2008)
Anything BMW, with an M, is bound to attract a lot of attention. And the BMW M1 Hommage did that in a very unique way. Launched in 2008, the M1 Hommage was intended to be the contemporary take of what a BMW M1 should be. That inspired the last word on its name since the Hommage paid homage to the only supercar BMW had ever built.
The M1 Hommage thus sported a contemporary wedge-design that drew inspiration from the original wedge design of the M1. And since that M1 was the birth child of the iconic BMW Turbo Concept that was launched in 1972, this 2008 creation sported the same hypnotic red coat that the Turbo had in 1972.
People eagerly waited for the production of the M1 Hommage. However, BMW not only refused to put this car on the line, but they also didn’t launch another supercar inspired by it.
3 Lamborghini Estoque (2008)
Who thought Lamborghini would ever think of producing a front-engine vehicle after massive successes with the mid-engine layout? Well, the Lamborghini Estoque was that experiment that tried to test those waters. What’s even more interesting, is that the Estoque was a four-door sedan, not a two-door, two-seater, sports car.
Everything else, however, was pure Lamborghini. At the front sat a 5.2L FSI V10 that Lambo sourced from the Gallardo. It was even speculated that they would swap this for a V12, a V8, or a turbo-diesel once the car hits the production line.
Sadly, this unique car was a one-off. Lamborghini stated that they were using it to see whether they could get a hold of the four-door vehicle market. And guess what, the Urus was born in 2018.
2 Jaguar UAR C-X75 (2010)
The Jaguar UAR C-X75 was destined to be the first Aston Martin Valkyrie or AMG One. This was a hybrid-electric born out of a collaboration between Jaguar Cars and Williams F1 racing.
The design told the whole story. The C-X75 sat only two, with a 778hp hybrid-electric unit powering four YASA motors that sat on each wheel. Unlike conventional hybrid systems that used a four-stroke engine for recharging, the C-X75 used micro gas turbines instead.
Despite being launched as a design study, Jaguar announced intentions to produce 250 examples of the C-X75 between 2013 and 2015. Sadly, the entire project was axed in 2012 due to the global economic crisis that was going on.
1 Peugeot Onyx (2012)
This concept car stole the show at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. And that wasn’t simply because people were staring at a supercar created by a French automaker. Rather, the raw beauty of this shining beauty was stunning.
That shine came from the clever choice of materials Peugeot selected to make the Onyx’s bodywork. The doors were made from pure copper sheets, with the starkly contrasting matte black panels being made out of carbon fiber.
The performance figures were also mind-blowing. Going to the rear wheels was 600hp produced by a diesel-hybrid 3.7L V8 engine. With the hybrid system on, Peugeot estimated that the output could get boosted to about 680hp, with a combined peak torque of 1,061lb-ft.
Sadly, everyone’s heart sunk when Peugeot announced that the Onyx would never be produced. Rather, they were using it to show what the future of styling and technology was headed.
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