• 10 Concepts That Transitioned Nicely to Production Cars

Some of the best concept cars that saw the light of day

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Concept cars are awesome. They not only show us the future of car brands but also give designers the opportunity to unleash their creativity, giving us some jaw-dropping automotive marvels. Due to the countless regulations, however, production models often look significantly different than the prototypes we see at car shows.

That said, every now and then we get to see concepts that actually come true with a design very close or sometimes identical to the initially-intended. Here are 10 concept cars that made great transitions to production.

Ford GT / 2002 Ford GT-40 Concept

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The Ford GT-40 is a legendary piece of machinery. It was specifically built to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And defeat Ferrari it did, taking four consecutive wins.

Ford took almost half a century to revive the legend until finally, in 2002 it managed. That year, at the Detroit Auto Show, Ford came up with a modern-day Ferrari-killer. Design-wise, the 2002 GT-40 Concept was an exact copy of the original 1960s legend. The 2003 production version dropped the “40” from the name, as it was now taller than 40 inches, but the American supercar looked exactly the same as the concept.

Read our full reviews on the Ford GT / 2002 Ford GT-40 Concept

Lexus LC / 2012 LC-LF Concept

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With Toyota and Lexus, we rarely get a car that closely resembles the concept. Because of this, when Lexus announced the future production of a gran-tourer based on the 2012 LF-LC, people were skeptical. They were wrong.

Instead of going for a more docile look, Lexus simply put the concept car into production, as it was.

The production vehicle ended up looking so magnificent and sophisticated that it was often compared to cars like Aston Martin’s DB-11. And let’s not forget the amazing 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V-8 with 470 horsepower.

Read our full review on the Lexus LC / 2012 LC-LF Concept

Audi R8 / 2003 Audi Le Mans Quattro Concept

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The manufacturer from Ingolstadt may have a rich history, but in the past, its cars were often described as docile and somewhat unremarkable when it comes to their styling. Things started changing around the mid-2000s, especially after Audi announced they are going to make a mid-engine sports car. The 2003 Le Mans Concept was another Le Mans inspired study. It was meant to commemorate the manufacturer’s three consecutive wins in the endurance race. The study led to the creation of the Audi R8, which looked exactly the same. It even retained the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Read our full review on the Audi R8

Dodge Viper / 1989 Dodge Viper Concept

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Back in the late 1980s, Bob Lutz, Lee Iacocca, and later Carol Shelby collaborated in order to produce one of the most brutal American sports cars ever conceived – the Dodge Viper. The idea was to capture the spirit of the Shelby Cobra and recreate it using 1990s technology. Big engine, no safety features, manual gearbox, and not a lot of weight. A stunning red roadster was unveiled at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show. The concept featured a 5.9-liter V-8, as the V-10 was still in development. It would eventually evolve into the first generation Dodge Viper RT-10 while retaining all the original distinctive design features.

Read our full review on the Dodge Viper

Porsche Boxster / 1993 Boxster Concept

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Despite their colorful portfolio, Porsche wasn’t doing so great in the 1990s. Despite the brand having the rear-engine 911 and front-engine 944, 928, and 968 models, they lacked a compact mid-engine model.

The Boxster Concept was introduced in 1993, and despite its modern design, it called back to the 550 Spyder.

The production version that followed adopted the design of the concept, without any significant changes. The name “Boxster” came from the boxer engine working in the car, and the fact it was a roadster. The “Baby Porsche” came in the nick of time, to save the company from its financial situation, at least until the Cayenne SUV was ready.

Read our full review on the Porsche Boxster

Lexus LFA / 2005 LFA Concept

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This is probably the modern-day supercar that took the longest time to develop. Toyota was looking for a way to get some of that Formula 1 magic on public roads. Lexus stepped up to the challenge. A special team was hand-picked and a special facility was created, where this extraordinary car would be built. Prototypes were spotted testing as early as 2005.

Mid-way through the development process, it was decided that the chassis had to be carbon fiber instead of aluminum.

Regardless, what came up was a Japanese supercar like nothing else before it. Although the concept was stunning, the production LFA looked even better, while retaining the same futuristic design. Moreover, its 552-horsepower naturally-aspirated high-revving V-10 engine is the stuff of legends.

Read our full review on the Lexus LFA / 2005 LFA Concept

Chevrolet Camaro / 2006 Camaro Concept

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In the early 2000s, American manufacturers started implementing the retro-futurism design, to recreate the 1960s glory of the muscle car era. One of the most stunning concepts was the 2006 Camaro. Both exterior and interior-wise, it was an obvious throwback to the 1960s classic. The car was also featured in the 2007 Transformers movie and instantly became recognizable as “Bumblebee”. Luckily, they decided to leave the design as it was for the production version. The design of the fifth-generation Camaro became so popular that a couple of tuning companies offered to bring back some of the elements from the concept, such as the exhaust tip, which mimicked the shape of the taillights. The production model also kept the engine – a 6.0-liter V-8, later replaced by a 6.2-liter.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Camaro

Acura NSX / 2012 NSX Concept

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The 2012 NSX Concept may have been far from Honda’s original idea of a successor to the original 1990s sports car, but there is no denying the fact, it looks stunning. The production vehicle looks virtually the same as the 2012 concept, and even the all-wheel-drive system and hybrid powertrain were carried over to the production car. It featured Acura’s SH-AWD system and a 3.5-liter V-6 which together with three electric motors produces 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet (645 Nm). Responsible for the gear changes was a nine-speed dual-clutch-automatic.

Read our full review on the Acura NSX / 2012 NSX Concept

Jaguar F-Type / 2011 C-X16 Concept

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The Coventry-based British carmaker is known for its heritage and sticking to its traditions. However, Jaguar started getting bolder around the late 2000s and started giving us some bold styling and more modern technology. One of the cars that came as a result was the C-X16 Concept. With this, Jaguar decided to make a spiritual successor to one of their most iconic cars – the 1960s E-type.

Although the clamshell front hood was dropped, the car screamed modern-day E-Type from every angle.

Luckily, the exact same design, courtesy of Ian Callum, made it into production, making the F-type one of the most beautiful cars of our time.

Read our full review on the Jaguar F-Type / 2011 C-X16 Concept

Nissan GTR / 2005 GTR Proto

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In 2005 one thing was certain. A new Godzilla was on its way. At that time, the Tokyo Motor Show unveiled GTR Proto showed the potential future design of the Supercar slayer. The design was groundbreaking, as it was a long way from the boxy forms of the R34. At the same time, the concept retained the signature for the model four round taillights, which in one form or another were featured on all generations before it. The design was more functional than anything else, although it still gave the car immense presence. With the exception of two small vents on the front bumper, which were connected to the headlights via carbon-fiber trim pieces, the production version R35 looked identical.

Read our full review on the Nissan GTR

Honorable mention: Chevrolet Corvette C8

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Over the years, there have been many attempts to make a mid-engine Corvette, the first ones dating back to the 1960s. At the time, the idea was considered too bold and controversial by the majority of people surrounding it. It seems in almost every decade since the 1960s there has been at least one project for a mid-engine Corvette. The first one is the 1964 CERV II, followed by the 1968 XP-880, which would eventually lead to the 1976 Corvette, powered by a variety of engines, including a four-rotor version, before receiving a 6.6-liter V-8. In 1986, the Corvette Indy Concept showed what a mid-engine C5 might look like. It was followed by the CERV III, which was also the first all-wheel-drive Corvette. None of these cars made it to production. We would not get a production mid-engine Corvette until 2020.

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Corvette C8

Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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