Here are some of the weirdest American concept cars of the 2000s

Concept cars are a way for a manufacturer to showcase their new designs and evaluate them based on public opinion. In many cases, aspects of these designs make it into production, although the majority of concept cars never see the light of day.

Since concept cars don’t need to adhere to any rules or regulations, they can have features and technologies that might not be seen in cars for at least 10 years in the future. These are features like having a custom drone to explore the road or the ability to have a full augmented reality interface on the windshield. Although some of these types of technologies have been implemented on a small scale in production cars, they have yet to be fully integrated into production cars.

The world of American concept cars is among the most interesting – experimenting with strange designs from relatively quiet manufacturers. Some fascinating examples are the Buick Cielo and the Dodge Super8 HEMI – both of which influenced production cars after their introduction. So, let’s recap some of the weirdest American concept cars of the 2000s.

ten 2000 Buick Sky


buick skyo concept
Through Buick

The Buick Cielo was an interesting concept from the Detroit Auto Show in 2000. It was based on the Buick Regal GS of the time and featured a 240 hp V6. The centerpiece of the Cielo was that it had a retractable roof. The concept cannot be called a convertible because the side roof structure remains in place after the three-piece roof has retracted into the boot – much like the Citroën C3 Pluriel.


1999-buick-cielo-concept (1)
Through Buick

The weirdness continues with the exterior design, very Buick of that era, but with a more ostentatious look. Flowing lines, bright orange paint and rather conspicuous 20-inch wheels made the Cielo stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, it was never produced, despite producing a production-ready prototype.


9 2006 Chrysler Imperial


2006-64858-chrysler-imperial-concept1
Via Stellantis

In 2006, Chrysler decided to revive its Imperial nameplate as the world slowly began to buy large, expensive luxury cars. They unveiled their Imperial Concept and, while impressive, it was an almost blatant copycat of another famous luxury brand that had been relaunched three years earlier.


Imperial Chrysler
Via Stellantis

Aside from the copy, the Imperial Concept looked big and fat, like it had been stung by a bee and swelled up. Luxury was good, but the rest did not please critics and journalists. Today, you could say the Chrysler Imperial Concept looks like a Chinese knockoff of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, or better yet, a less polished version of the upcoming Aurus Senat. Certainly a coincidence for Chrysler.

Related: The 1959 Imperial Speedster Is The Jet-Age Sports Car Chrysler Never Built

8 2001 Dodge Super8 HEMI


Dodge Super 8 Hemi
Via Dodge

The Dodge Super8 HEMI was a concept car based on many Dodge and Chrysler SUVs and pickup trucks of the era, but in car form. The result was a rather large vehicle with an interesting roofline, massive wheels, and the same boat lines found on the Chrysler Sebring.


Dodge Super 8 Hemi
Via Dodge

The nice thing about the Super8 HEMI was the new naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V8 under the hood, which produced 350 hp. Thanks to the gearing of the 4-speed automatic transmission, the Super 8 HEMI could hit 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. Although the car was never produced, Hot Wheels mass-produced a chopped-top version of the car for its 2005 “Drop Top” series.


7 2002 Chevrolet Bel-Air


chevrolet bel air 2002 concept
Through GM

The 2002 Chevrolet Bel Air Concept was built by GM to test the waters and see if a new convertible would be viable. Unfortunately, the Bel Air Concept was by no means successful as it was criticized for its design and the fact that it was based on an SUV platform – making it too tall to look sporty or luxurious.


15. Chevrolet Bel Air Concept
Through GM

The Bel Air Concept featured a 3.5-liter V6 producing 315 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission. The car was never produced, although it was driven in various events as a show car. Unfortunately, it was spotted in a GM parking lot in 2006 being dismantled.

Related: This Is The Best Feature Of The 1957 Chevy Bel Air

6 2002 GM AUTOnomy


GMC AUTONOMY CONCEPT
Through GM

In 2002, GM unveiled a concept car that the company thought was the future. The GM AUTOnomy concept was a self-driving car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell – 20 years before those two technologies were available on production cars.


gm-autonomy-concept
Through GM

The car not only had futuristic technology, but it was designed to be aerodynamic – not completely different from VW’s current electric platforms. Thanks to the bespoke chassis, the interior was open and offered plenty of space for passengers. The car itself was never produced, but some features have made their way into GM cars, especially their new GM BT1 electric platform.


5 2007 Ford Airstream


2007_ford_airstream_concept_100011113_h
Through Ford

The 2007 Ford Airstream Concept is a minivan-crossover-MPV type car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell electric drivetrain, called HySeries reader. The vehicle had a retro-futuristic design, appearing to be right at home in films such as blade runner, Judge Dredd, Where Total recall.


Ford Airstream-Concept
Through Ford

The Airstream could travel 25 miles on electric power alone, before the hydrogen fuel cell kicked in, producing an additional 280 miles of range. Although only a concept, some design elements have been produced in vehicles such as the Ford Flex, Ford F-150 and Ford Transit.

4 2007 Ford Interceptor


The front of the Interceptor Concept
Ford

The Ford Interceptor Concept was originally designed to be a modern take on classic 1960s muscle cars like the Ford Galaxie. Instead of producing it to be their new big sedan, the Interceptor concept was used to style the sixth-generation Ford Taurus – which wasn’t all that exciting.


Concept Interceptor rear 3/4 view
Ford

The Interceptor Concept was powered by a Ford Racing 5.0-liter V8 producing 600 hp, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The engine was essentially an upgraded 4.6-liter V8 used in the Mustang – and was capable of running on E-85 ethanol fuel.

Related: These are the best features of the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO


3 2005 Chrysler Firepower


Chrysler Firepower front 3/4 view
Chrysler

The Chrysler Firepower – aside from having one of the best names in any concept car – is one of the best looking concept cars of the 2000s. It was based on the Dodge Viper, however, everything from the styling, interior and transmission, has been changed. Instead of the 8.3-liter V10, the Firepower featured a hybrid 6.1-liter V8 developing 425 hp mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.


The back of the Chrysler Firepower
Chrysler

The Firepower was the larger and more luxurious version of the Chrysler Crossfire, however, the Firepower was much nicer. The Firepower was to be put into production, but Chrysler could not find a way to make it production-ready.


2 Pontiac GT2000


1999 Pontiac GTO concept car
By: Pontiac

The 2000 Pontiac GTO Concept caused a stir when it was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show. It had much of the same styling cues as the Chevrolet Camaro, with the design heavily influenced by the GTO of the 1960s and 1970s.


1999 Pontiac GTO concept car
By: Pontiac

Unfortunately, the car never got beyond the concept stage and instead of being produced as its own model, the GTO was instead based on the Holden Monaro coupé – which was a disappointing alternative.

Related: 5 Best & 5 Worst Pontiac GTOs Ever Made

1 2005 Ford SYNus


Ford Synus
Through Ford

The 2005 Ford SYNus was a bulletproof minivan based on the Fiesta sedan with the Mondeo’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel. The SYNus was built as an armored car from the ground up and could almost be an armored version of the Ford Airstream – two years before the Airstream was unveiled.


Ford Synus
Through Ford

The SYNus had a “safe mode” that locked down and isolated the cabin, turning it into a small mobile fortress. Fortunately, the SYNus was never produced – probably because the name is reminiscent of a nasal cavity.


Dodge Super 8 Hemi

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