Volume VIII, Number 3

Should they have built them?
American and Japanese Concept Cars in Small Scale
By Doug Breithaupt

The creation of concept cars is now expected of every automotive manufacturer. These models provide a test of new design and engineering ideas and often provide clues to future production models. Often these concept cars would not be practical for production and most remain a one-off design study that circulates through the auto shows. Many are broken up after their show days are done. Some survive in the collections of manufacturers of private parties.

Toy car makers have the luxury of putting these concept cars into production and many are remembered primarily as a result of their fame in miniature. The following models all represent American and Japanese concept cars. From my collection, I have selected one car per manufacturer as an example of what might have been. Concept cars that actually reached production, like the VW Concept 1, have not been included. This month, we will consider concept cars from the United States and Japan. To see the European concept cars featured last month, click here.

AMC AMX II - Hot Wheels
This sleek mid-engine car was designed by Dick Teague and could have been a winner for AMC.

Buick Wildcat - Hot Wheels
This mid-engine Buick could have given the company a whole new image.

Cadillac Sixteen - Hot Wheels
A version of this car may still be built to compete with Maybach, Bentley and other high rollers.

Chevrolet Bel Air - Maisto
This clean, stylish convertible could be what Chevy needs but will it be built?

Chrysler Atlantic - Matchbox
They built the Viper, Prowler, and P.T. Cruiser and left the beautiful Atlantic as a dream of what might have been. What a shame.

Corvette Indy - Johnny Lightning
If Corvette had only had the courage to do the Indy, Ferrari might have some competition.

Dodge Charger Mk. III - Matchbox
This radical Charger could have been the Viper of the 1970's but Dodge gave us a Cordoba cousin instead.

Jeep Compass - Racing Champions
This little Jeep could be a great Mini on steroids and will now be built.

Lincoln Futura - Johnny Lightning
The Capped Crusaders ended up with this famous concept and the '57 Lincoln did borrow the fins.

Ford Mustang II - Johnny Lightning
Much sleeker than the production Mustang that followed, imagine a fastback version!

Oldsmobile Aerotech Quad 4- Matchbox
It's not your father's Oldsmobile or your's either. The Aerotech was too radical.

Plymouth Pronto Spyder - Maisto
A mid-engine Plymouth to challenge the Miata might have given the company new life.

Pontiac Banshee - Hot Wheels
Future Firebirds did get some Banshee styling but the name alone was a winner

Saturn Sky Concept - Maisto
GM could use a little roadster in the Saturn line-up but it should have been built 10 years ago.

Ford Shelby Cobra Concept - Hot Wheels
This car was so ugly that even Ford apologized and a new concept was produced.

Datsun 126X - Wheeler
Japan went exotic in the early 1970's with a variety of mid-engine concepts but none reached production.

Honda Spocket - Hot Wheels
While the Spocket is still a concept, Honda is now offering a real pick-up truck.

 Hyundai Spyder Concept - Hot Wheels
Looking a bit 'insect-like', Hyundai's Spyder has a radical look.

Mazda RX-500 - Tomica
This Mazda could have challenged Ferrari and Lamborghini with rotary power.

 Mitsubishi X2S - Zylmex
This car led to the successful, U.S. built Diamond Star Eclipse, Talon and Laser models.

Suzuki GSX/R-4 - Hot Wheels
Another Asian concept from Hot Wheels, the GSX/R-4 is not expected for serious consideration.

 Toyota EX7 - Tomica
This mid-engine Toyota concept joins the Mazda and Datsun exotics of the early 1970's as still-born supercars.