We get news of cool new cars for enthusiasts to drool over all the time, we see some artist's renderings and get even more hyped, and then wait (mostly) patiently for the car's release. Sometimes though, that release never comes, be it because of the automaker changing focus, the market for the car disappearing, or more often than not, the automaker running into financial trouble. Whatever the reason may be, in recent years we have been promised many cars that enthusiasts would absolutely love, only for the company to suddenly decide they can't be bothered. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the coolest cars that could've been.
Artist's renderings were about as far as we got with this car. (credit: TopSpeed.com)
Back in 2012, hype was building and building for the launch of the new, third-generation Viper over at FCA. What was going to be different about this car was that for the first time, the Viper wouldn't be sold under the Dodge brand but as the first standalone car from newly separated SRT. FCA's ambitious plan to make SRT its own brand natually didn' t just involve the Viper however.
Their next course of action was to be another standalone car, the Barracuda. Originally intended to be the replacement for the Dodge Challenger, the SRT Barracuda was initially to be made on the same LX platform that the current Challenger was using, but would have a brand-new engine. That engine was rumoured by many sources to be a 6.2L supercharged Hemi V8. Speculated to produce slightly north of 500 bhp, we now know that this engine is actually the 700+ bhp Hellcat engine. At the time though, around 500 bhp sounded exactly like what the Barracuda would need to take the fight to the lighter Camaro SS and Mustang GT. Slated for a release as a 2015 model year car, the fate of the Barracuda came when SRT was disbanded as a standalone brand and reintroduced as a performance arm for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep, and FCA decided it was best to just facelift the Challenger instead of introducing a whole new model. In the end though, we did end up with the hilariously powerful Challenger Hellcat instead, so it's not an entirely sad story.
Better still, the rumour mill that gave us an idea of what the 2015 SRT Barracuda could be is still working away, and some sources say that the Barracuda nameplate could still make a comeback. Sources say that if it does return we can expect two things. Firstly that it will most likely fall under the Dodge umbrella, and secondly, that it very well could be underpinned by the same platform as the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The few sources still churning out the rumours cite a recent name trademark by FCA as their reason to believe such a car could be revealed by 2020, so hope still remains.
This one actually made it pretty far in the development phase. (credit: Lotus)
The 2010 Paris Motor Show sticks out in recent memory for the metaphorical bomb that Lotus dropped quite literally out of nowhere. The extremely ambitious then-Lotus chief, Dany Bahar (also the former head of Ferrari's marketing department) unveiled five concept cars, and announced that we could expect to see all of them on the roads in the next few years. These included a new Elise, a mid-engined Elan that would replace the Evora, the Aston-rivalling Elite grand-tourer, and the Panamera-rivalling Eterne luxury sports sedan. Alongside all of those was also the announcement of a city car, called the Ethos, and the star of the Lotus stand that year, a completely new Esprit.
Bahar announced that the Esprit would be the first of these cars to reach the roads, and would compete with the then-new Ferrari 458 Italia. Trouble was, they didn't know how it would do that because they didn't know what would power it. So, first they turned to current engine suppliers Toyota, and decided to use the 2UR-GSE 5.0L V8 from the Lexus IS-F. Then for reasons unbeknownst to anyone outside the company, they decided that the Lexus V8 just wouldn't do. So they began the incredibly labour-intensive and expensive process of making their own V8, and decided to boost its output with a KERS system. Going completely against the traditional narrative of the plucky British sports car manufacturer, they unbelievably got this engine setup running, and running well no less. They even had a test mule running too. However, they forgot about one crucial detail, funding. Their then-owners had decided that all of the other concepts would be scrapped, so they could fund the Esprit project, but then even that was not enough, and the Esprit was canned to save the company.
Now, Lotus is owned by Geely and their ambitions have been curtailed somewhat. They currently plan on a new Elise by around 2020 and possibly even a sports SUV/CUV to boost revenues. If they continue where they are going now, who knows, a new Esprit could may well see the light of day after all.
Caterham's Porsche Cayman rival that never was. (credit: Jalopnik)
Let's go back to 2012 once again, when Caterham decided it needed another car to sell alongside the aged and popular Seven. To achieve this, they did a deal with Renault to make a new mid-engined compact sports car. If you think the proportions of the above design study look oddly familiar, you'd be correct because this car does currently exist, albeit as the Alpine A110.
Destined to be a joint deal in the vein of the 86/BRZ deal, details on the ill-fated Caterham version of the A110, codenamed C120, were initially scarce, until Top Gear magazine uncovered some interesting facts on it, as well as getting the picture of the early model shown in the title image. The C120 and the A110 were to share around 85% of their components, although the Caterham would've also been offered with a manual transmission, among other things. In the end, Caterham couldn't keep up with the funding schedule set by Renault, and they pulled out of the deal, and Renault went on to release the well-received Alpine A110 this past year.
Chevrolet Code 130R
Planned for production, but never made it past the concept phase. (credit: Motor Trend)
Once again winding the clock back to 2012 (which now seems like a bumper year for ill-fated sports cars), Chevrolet turned up to the Detroit Auto Show with two sports car concepts. One of them was the Tru 140S, a FWD sports car which didn't seem like much more than a 2-door Cruze with a fancy name and big concept wheels, and the Code 130R. The latter was obviously the more interesting prospect, chiefly because it was RWD and seemed much more like the enthusiast's choice. Chevrolet obviously agreed and said they would make it to compete with the venerable Mazda MX-5 and the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S.
Although it was just a concept, GM had all the pieces in place to make it a reality. They would use a shortened version of the Cadillac ATS platform, and powering the rear wheels would be a 1.4L Ecotec turbo 4-cylinder making about the same amount of power as the MX-5. So, it was pretty much production-ready, but Chevrolet left it on the proverbial shelf for 3 years to see if the market would allow the car sell. Sure enough, when the sales of BRZ/86's began to dip, Chevrolet pulled the plug on the small sports car for good in 2015.
Stunning 4-seater that could've been the antidote to the pig-ugly Panamera. (credit: Evo)
Back in 2008, Lamborghini was beginning to enter a new era. The super-limited-production Reventon supercar foreshadowed a new styling direction for the Italian brand, and at the '08 Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini showed their vision of how the company could branch out into new markets. Specifically into the high-performance luxury sedan market currently occupied by the Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche Panamera.
What they came up with was nothing short of striking, the Estoque sedan concept. Initially said to house the 5.2L V10 from the Gallardo, the car's performance would've been more than a match for the contemporary Panamera Turbo. Although Lamborghini stated that it would probably cost in the realm of $230,000, the Estoque was intended to be to sports sedans what the Rolls-Royce Phantom is to luxury sedans. Further comments from Lambo stated that it could even have a V12, or maybe even a hybrid powertrain or diesel (oh dear god). Whatever the powerplant, it was a truly stunning 4-seater not entirely unlike the Espada of old. Like all these stories, this one stops abruptly when just a year after the concepts reveal, it was consigned to the bin.
Focus then was directed into the Urus concept vehicle and the SUV eventually made it into production this year, where it is sure to sell like hotcakes. The extra revenue could lead to a Lambo 4-seater somewhere down the line, as Lamborghini has since expressed interest in making one, but it will not look like or carry the name of the Estoque, and could even be electric.