Every year, car companies use the Detroit Auto Show, as it's popularly known, to introduce production vehicles and show off concept cars that offer hints about future models. This year, the American Big Three are under more pressure than ever to dazzle the marketplace. But will that dazzle ever make it to the dealership? Here's a quick look at five concept cars of the recent past and how they've been repurposed—or forgotten.
Date Of Birth: 2000
Claim to Fame: A proposed successor to Jaguar's iconic E-Type—and a worthy rival to the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3.
Cause of Death: Unknown. Jaguar announced plans to produce the vehicle, then shelved it in 2002.
Survived By: Jaguar's XK convertible, given its similar lines, although the XK is larger than the F-Type.
Date Of Birth: 2003
Claim to Fame: Named after its 10-cylinder, 427-cubic-inch engine, this four-door concept had the menacing look and muscle of '60s sedans.
Cause of Death: Lack of demand for a V-10 sedan is one suspect.
Survived By: The 427's distinctive three-bar chrome grille. It has been used on every Ford car introduced since.
Date Of Birth: Once in 1999, and again in 2004
Claim to Fame: GM made a Nomad station wagon in the '50s, and has twice tried to bring back the idea of a powerful wagon.
Cause of Death: Insufficient demand. The automotive media swooned for the 2004 version but consumers didn't.
Survived By: Chevrolet's HHR crossover vehicle, which takes some styling cues from the 1999 Nomad.
Date Of Birth: 1997
Claim to Fame: Inspired by the look of '40s cars, especially the company's own Newport Phaeton. It featured a rear compartment separated from the front seats by a windscreen.
Cause of Death: Impracticality. Plus, Chrysler merged with Mercedes in 1998, eliminating the need for a luxury sedan.
Survived By: The bold fender lines of the Chrysler 300.
Date Of Birth: 2003
Claim to Fame: Named for its 16-cylinder engine, this ultraluxury sedan had 1,000 horsepower, reclining rear seats, and an estimated $250,000 sticker price.
Cause of Death: Competition from Maybach and Bentley.
Survived By: The look of the new, much-cheaper CTS sedan. And Cadillac still wants to compete with the BMW 7 series and the Mercedes S-Class.
A version of this article appeared in the December 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.