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Ten Concepts Detroit Should Have Built Page 3


The 1999 and 2004 Nomad concepts are occasionally on display at The General Motors Heritage Collection.

 

Revisit the recent Nomad concept

 

 

Lincoln Continental, 2002

2002 Lincoln Continental concept

2002 Lincoln Continental concept

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Few production designs age as gracefully as the 1961-63 Lincoln Continental. Its clean, restrained lines still stand out as the antithesis of the finned and chromed beasts that preceded it. As the Continental progressed through the decades, it lost its styling edge. But when the Continental concept debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in January of 2002, it was clear somebody in Dearborn found what was once lost.

 

In the two weeks that separated the L.A. show from the Detroit Auto Show, Ford Motor Company announced the results of one of their many restructuring plans. The production Continental was canceled, making the concept a PR nightmare … "Gee, Mr. Ford, you just killed the Continental, what's this concept about?" For the Detroit show, the newly out-of-the-spotlight concept was shunned and parked in a dark corner of the Lincoln display.

 

Lincoln is still struggling to find its way in terms of design. The MKR that debuted in Detroit this past January, while attractive, looks far more contrived than the 2002 Continental. With the success of Ford's current Mustang, how much better off would Lincoln have been had they taken the historically inspired path with this Continental? With the average Lincoln Mercury dealer selling fewer than half a dozen cars per month, the company probably wouldn't be worse off.

 

The 2002 Continental is stored at a facility near Ford's World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

 

More on Lincoln’s 2002 Continental concept

 

 

Cadillac Sixteen, 2003

2003 Cadillac Sixteen concept

2003 Cadillac Sixteen concept

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It is hard to imagine that ex-GM Design Chief Wayne Cherry was responsible for both the production Aztek and the Cadillac Sixteen luxury-sedan concept. Talk about schizophrenic.

 

Meant to spearhead Cadillac's phoenix-like rise from the abyss, under its gullwing hood purrs a V-16 engine displacing 13.6 liters and producing an incredible 1000 horsepower and 1000 lb-ft of torque. The Sixteen is an evocation of Cadillac's heritage, with 24-inch tires, a super-luxurious cabin that seats four, an all-glass roof, invisible B-pillars, and extensive use of real crystal for both interior and exterior decor.

 

At this point, production for the Sixteen has been officially ruled out, but even the most myopic can tell that its grille and vertical headlamps have influenced current Cadillac design language. Unlike Volkswagen, with their misguided Phaeton, Cadillac could have pulled off the Sixteen. Cadillac has the history (including a V-16 engine in its past) to pull off such a move with genuine legitimacy. Too bad they didn't give it a try.

 

The Sixteen is occasionally on display at The General Motors Heritage Collection.

 

We drive Cadillac’s Sixteen concept

 

 

Ford Reflex, 2006

2006 Ford Reflex concept

2006 Ford Reflex concept

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Automotive Gnostics from New York (sorry, is that snickering I hear?) have predicted the imminent death of Ford Motor Company (plus GM and Chrysler) more times than we care to remember. Helping demonstrate that FoMoCo has life within is the show-stopping Reflex, introduced at the annual Detroit auto show in 2006.

 

Most obvious, the coupe's styling looks like nothing else, mercifully achieved without resorting to the cartoonish or weird. The bold, stepped rear fenders give this small car an impressively solid stance. While the butterfly doors would certainly never make production, one can easily envision this shape making production with standard portals.

 

What's more remarkable than the efficient design (it seats two up front and one in the rear), is the diesel-electric hybrid powertrain. The hybrid combo drives the front wheels, while an electric motor drives the rear axle, giving the little sports car all-wheel drive. Integrated solar panels to top off the on-board lithium-ion battery pack while parked. With the powertrain skewed toward delivering torque, the Reflex promised great off-the-line acceleration. Ford expected fuel economy to reach 65 mpg.

 

We actually drove the Reflex in the late spring of 2006. The dramatic butterfly doors open only so far, meaning you have to duck while climbing in. Once inside, everything is concept-car phony … for looks only. As a matter of fact, the team responsible for the car didn't even have time to install the working diesel-electric powertrain that Ford engineers developed and tested. The Reflex moves under the power of a golf-car motor. Steering is likewise cobbled together, as the chassis bears no resemblance to anything in Ford's production stable. The result was a less than fanciful drive, but just seeing the car is enough to know what "could be" if the Reflex were brought to market. It's not too late, Ford.

 

Currently, the Reflex is still making appearances at industry functions and auto shows.

 

More on the Ford Reflex concept

 

DISCUSS: Which Concept Cars Should Be Built?

 

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