Concept cars are a useful way for automakers to show off their latest ideas and gauge public reaction before committing to a production run. They’re also great for small businesses to show off their designs, hoping to convince buyers and investors to help them make their dreams come true. Some are ahead of their time, with a fairly recent example being Spyker predicting the luxury SUV trend in 2006, creating a 500 horsepower V12 SUV that, at the time, no one bought because the idea seemed ridiculous.
Fifteen years later, the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga are top sellers, popular with everyone from rappers to wealthy suburban moms. However, history hasn’t been so kind to these ten SUV and crossover concepts, which were dismissed as weird at the time, and today look just as weird. Whether it’s an all-terrain convertible BMW or an apocalypse-ready Ford that looks like a bank vault, these are the ten weirdest SUV concepts that, unsurprisingly, are n were not produced.
ten Fornasari RR99
Fornasari was a boutique Italian manufacturer founded in 1999. In the early 2000s, they found niche success with the RR600, an ugly but luxurious SUV made in small numbers. Their follow-up, however, did not work so well and its failure ultimately led to the death of the company. Called RR99, it looks like the top half of an Aston Martin Rapide has been grafted onto a raised commuter crossover.
The headlights are actually from an Aston Martin and the taillights from a Lamborghini Murcielago. It promised a Chevy powertrain producing around 600 hp, giving it a top speed of 174 mph. This odd mix of random performance auto parts failed to wow potential buyers, and the RR99 never made it past the prototype stage.
9 Volkswagen Concept A
By the mid-2000s, the SUV and crossover trend was beginning to take off, and automakers were looking for new ways to capitalize on this emerging market. Volkswagen decided the best way to do this was to create a vehicle that combined every niche it could think of, and the result was the Concept A.
It was marketed as a rugged coupe crossover sport utility vehicle (what a catchy title) and came with 150 hp and an AWD system. Curiously, this odd concept influenced the design of one production vehicle, namely the VW Tiguan, although it never saw production per se.
8 Audi AI: Trail Quattro
Audi isn’t known for making off-road vehicles, but the AI:Trail Quattro was designed to be just that. Unveiled in 2019, the concept was designed to be an expedition-ready self-driving car that promised to bring drivers back to nature, being built to traverse the Scandinavian wilderness, according to Audi’s press release at the time. .
Sounds cool, but it’s still pretty weird. Will everyone be driving in the near future with futuristic SUVs that look like moon buggies? Well, probably not, but Audi’s design chief has claimed similarly styled Audi SUVs could arrive as early as 2030.
seven Magna Vehma Torrero
The Magna Vehma Torrero was a super SUV before the term even existed, as it was first unveiled in 1989. It was built by Vehma International, a specialist engineering company that was best known for building unique prototypes for the Detroit Big Three.
It featured an 8.1L V8 engine that produced 531 hp and propelled the car to a reported top speed of 150 mph. It also came with a suite of vintage connectivity features, including a built-in telephone, fax machine, and VHS TV.
6 Rinspeed chopper
Swiss automakers Rinspeed are known for their weird and wacky one-offs, but the Chopster isn’t one of their highlights. It is based on a Porsche Cayenne but features revised bodywork and a 600 horsepower turbocharged engine.
The first-generation Cayenne wasn’t exactly considered good-looking even back then, but Rinspeed definitely made it worse with the Chopster. Oddly, the car came with an integrated PlayStation 2 accessible through the infotainment system while driving.
5 Ford SYNus
At first glance, it’s easy to confuse the SYNus concept with a bank vault, but it’s actually an automobile, the one Ford showed off at the American International Auto Show. du Nord in 2005. It’s not entirely clear if it’s an SUV or some kind of minivan, but one thing is clear: it’s absolutely bonkers.
It is bulletproof and featured a 45 inch TV mounted in the back of the car for no apparent reason. What makes it even weirder is that Ford apparently unveiled the car as a way to test market reaction for a Fiesta-sized car in the US, since the Fiesta and SYNus have to roughly the same size. What an incredibly weird way to do it.
4 Sbarro 4×4+2
About incredibly weird, the Sbarro 4×4+2 might not look like a car at all at first glance. It’s based on a Porsche Cayenne, but it’s been modified with an extra pair of wheels and chrome bars front and rear that look like they were stolen straight from someone’s bathroom towel rack. ‘a.
It was spotted hiding in a corner at the 2018 Geneva Auto Show by Carscoops, and in their words, it’s “testing[ed]our gag reflexes. That’s probably the best way to sum it up, because it’s one of the ugliest concept SUVs of all time, as well as being weirdly useless. After all, what was Sbarro trying to do? accomplished by building a six-wheeled chrome-outside Porsche Cayenne?
3 BMW Z18
It might be weird, but this one is arguably one of the coolest vehicles on this list. The BMW Z18 concept explored the idea of combining a Z-class roadster with an off-road SUV, and was BMW’s first-ever 4×4, predating the X5 by four years.
The idea of an open-top off-roader isn’t all that unusual, as the enduring popularity of the Jeep Wrangler proves. But, to see the same idea realized with a BMW roadster is very strange, although props must be given to the engineers at BMW for even being able to make such a strange Frankenstein car in the first place.
2 jeep treo
What would happen if you stuck a Jeep in a shrinking radius? Probably something along the lines of the Treo concept. It’s the size of a Smart car, and its wheels protrude from its sides like a Renault Twizy. But, Jeep made sure to keep that all-important seven-slot grille up front.
To be fair to Jeep, the idea of a pocket SUV isn’t new, as cars like the Suzuki Jimny and Daihatsu Fourtrak had already proven there was a market for the segment. It’s also worth noting that the car was powered by hydrogen, a futuristic technology that has yet to see its full potential thanks to a lack of refueling infrastructure.
1 Renault Racoon
Although apparently named after the infamous rodent, the Renault Racoon bears no resemblance to a real raccoon. But it’s a weird space buggy pod that was amphibious and the driver could only access by removing the entire front end of the car.
It was powered by a 262hp twin-turbo V6 and was designed to show off Renault’s futuristic technology, which is presumably behind the lunar rover’s aesthetic. It featured rain-diffusing glass, remote control entry, satellite navigation, and backup cameras in place of mirrors. As futuristic as it may have seemed at the time, all of these technological features are used in production cars today.
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